Philadelphia Eagles News

Pauline: Pass Catchers Shine At Combine

The times were a little quicker today on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium as the receivers and running backs had an opportunity to showcase their skills in front of NFL scouts. The ball carriers were the most impressive group of the day and that may be music to the ears of Eagles fans.

Early in the day a lackluster group of quarterbacks started the workout. Just one passer, Jarrett Brown of West Virginia, improved his draft stock. Brown displayed terrific arm strength and was consistently accurate throwing the ball all day - something he's struggled with in the past.

Several second-tier receivers really stood out during their workout.

Clemson's Jacoby Ford blistered across the field, running both his 40's under 4.3 seconds, then turning in a terrific pass catching workout. Emmanuel Sanders of SMU was a surprise performer at the wideout position. He ran well and was impeccable catching the ball. Considered a late-round pick before the day, Sanders has likely moved into the middle rounds.

In the end, the day belonged to a solid looking group of ball carriers.

Top-rated ball carriers such as Ryan Mathews of Fresno State, Cal's Jahvid Best and Jonathan Dwyer of Georgia Tech all performed at a high level. A number of ball carriers who project as middle and late round picks also looked good.

Anthony Dixon of Mississippi State was unimpressive running the 40 in 4.70 seconds but his work handling the football stood out. Dixon displayed a burst of speed, solid foot quickness and caught the ball well all day. Dixon, who tipped the scales at 233-pounds, is drawing comparisons to Michael Turner of the Atlanta Falcons and will be nicely slotted in the third round.

USC junior Joe McKnight displayed incredible elusiveness during the practice session besides top-level pass catching skills. McKnight's footwork was dizzying as he was able to cutback on a dime without changing speed. He cemented himself as a top 100 selection.

McKnight's teammate, Stafon Johnson, best known for his weightlifting accident last season, also impressed scouts. Johnson displayed effective footwork, caught the ball well and was generally effective all day.

James Starks of Buffalo looked terrific during his combine workout. Barely six months removed from the shoulder surgery that shelved him last season, Starks weighed in at 215-pounds and completed an admirable 15 reps on the bench. He ran his 40 times faster then expected, under 4.5-seconds, and looked terrific throughout the entire practice session.

Check out my pre-draft big board over at Sports Illustrated and get even more Combine insights at

-- Posted by Tony Pauline, 11:12 p.m., February 28

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