Former NFL player and scout Bucky Brooks is spotlighting the prospects who make a mark -- for better or worse -- at the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine. On Saturday, the quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends took the field. Here are Brooks' impressions from Indianapolis:
Jared Goff, Cal, QB: The polished pocket passer put on a strong showing to cement his status as the top quarterback in the 2016 class. Goff showed exceptional footwork and mechanics making throws in passing drills. Most importantly, he consistently put the ball within the strike zone while flashing the ability to change ball speeds and trajectory on his throws. Given the importance coaches and scouts place on accuracy and ball placement, Goff's impressive exhibition, in my estimation, makes him the front-runner at the position heading into the pro-day circuit.
Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame: The speedster is squarely in the conversation as a first-round pick after displaying better-than-anticipated hands and ball skills in drills. Fuller's pass-catching skills were questioned by scouts heading into the combine, but he answered those concerns with his solid performance on the turf. With Fuller displaying extraordinary explosiveness and athleticism (4.32-second 40, 33.5-inch vertical, and 10-6 broad jump), his stock is on the rise.
Josh Doctson, WR, TCU: The ultra-productive pass-catcher has all of the tools to be a WR1 at the next level, but questions surrounding his speed and explosiveness have prevented scouts from going all-in on his potential. After clocking a 4.50 40 on Saturday and showing better quickness than anticipated, Doctson has to be in consideration as the top wideout in this class. He is the best ball-adjuster in the draft, and his sticky hands stood out in drills. Doctson exhibited natural pass-catching skills and keen awareness.
Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss: Treadwell made a strong case for the top spot at the position with a stellar performance on the turf. Although he didn't run a 40, he impressed scouts with his spectacular ball skills and strong hands. Treadwell snags the ball effortlessly with his 9 7/8-inch hands, exhibiting exceptional hand-eye coordination and tracking ability. He easily adjusted to balls thrown slightly off the mark, particularly deep throws along the boundary, which is a critical part of expanding the strike zone for the quarterback. With Treadwell also showing outstanding footwork, balance, and body control as a precise route-runner, he's a polished WR1 capable of making an impact from Day 1 in the NFL.
Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State: The search for a viable option after the first two quarterbacks (Goff and Carson Wentz) makes Prescott an intriguing candidate. He was one of the top performers in passing drills, exhibiting outstanding accuracy, timing, and touch. He consistently put the ball on the mark on intermediate throws and showed a deft touch on vertical passes along the boundary. He also showed impressive footwork, balance, and body control when he dropped back, which shows growth after spending his entire college career operating from the shotgun. Considering Prescott's rock-solid intangibles and his impressive leadership skills, it's quite possible several teams could consider him a worthy candidate early on Day 2.
Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State: The Spartans' star quarterback had an opportunity to make a move up the charts with a strong showing on Saturday but blew his chances for a surge up the board when he struggled with ball placement and accuracy in drills. Cook repeatedly missed receivers on routes with high and outside throws that landed well outside of the strike zone. While teams will certainly take Cook's injury into account, the fact that he continued to struggle with his ball placement confirms the questions about his accuracy based on his low completion percentage.
Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State: Jones suffered a strained hamstring while running the 40, which prevented him from showcasing his skills on the NFL's biggest pre-draft stage. He was expected to wow evaluators with his extraordinary arm strength, but the injury left him unable to perform passing drills. With his arm talent considered his most impressive trait, the freakish injury cost him a chance to move up draft boards at the end of the weekend.
Defensive linemen get their chance to impress evaluators on the turf at Lucas Oil Stadium. Scouts are eagerly anticipating DT position drills. Many teams believe there are at least 10 interior defenders worthy of first-round grades. The players will have a chance to cement their status in front of a large contingent of personnel men. Alabama's A'Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed will certainly garner attention as potential run-stoppers, but scouts will also pay close attention to Louisville's Sheldon Rankins, Louisiana Tech's Vernon Butler and UCLA's Kenny Clark to see if they are worthy of top status.
At defensive end, Ohio State's Joey Bosa, Oregon's DeForest Buckner, Clemson's Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd will command attention as explosive pass rushers. Eastern Kentucky's Noah Spence will also attract interest from scouts looking for dynamic sack artists off the edge. Given the Denver Broncos' success on the strength of their pass rush, scouts will cast their eyes to the defensive line to find the next generation of difference-makers.