Carson Wentz might be from a small school, but it's becoming increasingly apparent that the former North Dakota State quarterback doesn't carry a small-school mentality with him. Wentz left the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis having solidified, if not improved, his standing as one of the draft's elite passers.
"He went to the Senior Bowl, confirmed his status as a top-tier quarterback, came to the combine and I think had the cleanest workout of anybody in terms of arm strength, his feet looked good, he showed his athletic ability," said NFL Media draft expert Mike Mayock. "For my money, he made some money."
The Reese's Senior Bowl was a test for Wentz to face a stiffer level of competition than the Missouri Valley Football Conference provided. He did just that over the course of a week in Mobile, Ala., throwing in practice against cornerbacks such as Minnesota's Eric Murray, Oklahoma State's Kevin Peterson and Virginia's Maurice Canady. The combine was a different kind of challenge -- a more controlled competitive environment in which Wentz's skill set could be judged against other quarterbacks rather than tougher defenses -- and he passed that test, as well.
Next up for Wentz: the North Dakota State pro day on March 26. It remains to be seen how many drills Wentz participates in there given his performance at the combine, but at this point, he has a lot less to prove.
- Plenty of defensive players put themselves in a better draft position at the combine. The offensive players? Collectively, they might have made more money for NFL free agents on the offensive side of the ball than they did for themselves. That's how stark the difference was over four days at Lucas Oil Stadium, and that didn't go unnoticed by NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah. Many of the well-known defensive players turned in impressive showings, including Oklahoma State DE Emmanuel Ogbah, Ohio State LB Darron Lee, Clemson DE Shaq Lawson, Alabama LB Reggie Ragland, FSU's Jalen Ramsey and Georgia's Leonard Floyd. Others not as well known turned in a money-making combine as well: Houston CB William Jackson III, Stony Brook's Victor Ochi, BYU's Bronson Kaufusi.
- Ole Miss OT Laremy Tunsil's 11th-hour decision to skip all but position drills was an odd one. It clearly wasn't pre-planned, as Tunsil, arguably the top prospect in the draft, told NFL Media senior analyst Gil Brandt Wednesday that he would run a sub-5.0 40-yard dash time, and declared much the same to reporters that very day. "I want to be down in the 4.8-4.9 range," Tunsil said. There are legitimate possible reasons for a last-minute change of plans: anything from a minor physical ailment to a death in the family to an unexpected headache could cause a prospect to defer testing until a campus pro day. But if it was simply a best-interest decision by Tunsil, it's hard to imagine why it wasn't part of his camp's combine plan all along.
- Ohio State ran away with College Football 24/7's Olympic-style combine medal count. With a five-medal lead going into the final day of drills, it didn't pick up another on the final day of workouts Monday, but it didn't need to. The Buckeyes had 14 players at the combine, more than any other school, but some schools with very few players in attendance finished surprisingly high. TCU and Cal tied for second with seven medals each. Harvard, with only two players in Indianapolis, tied Oklahoma for third place with six.
- Cody Whitehair played offensive tackle at Kansas State and has long been projected as one of the draft's very best guard prospects, but he revealed at the combine that he might be sliding even further inside. Several clubs have inquired about his thoughts about playing center in the NFL, and Whitehair was not only willing, but prepared. "I've been working on snapping the ball throughout my training the last six weeks," Whitehair said.
- Looking for a center in this draft? Look no further than Alabama's Ryan Kelly, an athletic and experienced three-year SEC starter for whom NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah has the highest of hopes. "I think he's going to be a Pro Bowl player with even All-Pro potential," Jeremiah said.
- NFL Media analyst Charles Davis climbed into the way-back machine for a comparison to Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott, who is expected to be the first running back chosen in the draft. Davis compared Elliott to Super Bowl XXV MVP Ottis Anderson. "Zeke Elliott is that type of a ball carrier. You can not hand it to him enough in any situation," Davis said. "He has the ability to break tackles, has the vision downfield, he's able to get out there and sprint a little bit, and of course finish runs." Elliott would certainly be fortunate to be as durable as Anderson, if not as effective. The former Miami Hurricanes star rushed for 10,273 yards in a lengthy NFL career for a running back (14 years).
- The workout prowess Baylor DE Shawn Oakman displayed via social media set high combine expectations, but apparently too high. Oakman certainly looks the part at 6-7, 270 pounds, but he posted a top-10 finish in only one event among defensive linemen (10-3 broad jump). Beyond that, his 40 time (4.96) didn't impress, nor did the rest of his drill times.
- Speedy Notre Dame WR Will Fuller, projected as a second-round pick, verified his speed with a 4.32 40-yard dash, but NFL clubs were expecting an outstanding time from the Fighting Irish's vertical threat. What they perhaps weren't expecting was the consistency with which he caught the ball, something that could help him inch closer to Round 1. "He can flat out fly, but what people were looking for was something (Fuller showed): Catching the football with his hands, not letting the ball get to his body all the time," Davis said. "(He) showed much more certain hands than we would've thought coming into this workout. I know he helped himself."