Former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, the SEC’s co-defensive player of the year last season, was among the losers who performed at the week-long NFL scouting combine, which ended Tuesday.
Sam, who played for the Falcons coaching staff in the Senior Bowl, is trying to become the first openly gay player in the NFL. Before his workout, Sam said he wanted to be judged as a football player.
Perhaps distracted by the hoopla surrounding his announcement, he did not perform well in football drills. He’ll have the opportunity to improve on his workout numbers at Missouri’s Pro Day.
Here’s a look at the combine winners and losers:
Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn: He showed his strength and agility in Indianapolis. He weighed in at 332 pounds, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.92 seconds and lifted 225 pounds 32 times. He had more-athletic numbers than Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews, who appeared a little stiff, and Michigan’s Taylor Lewan.
Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh: Former Falcons standout Chuck Smith, who trains defensive linemen, was quick to point out a comparable player when it was suggested that Donald was too small for the NFL at 6-foot-1, 285 pounds. He noted that Cincinnati’s Geno Atkins, a former Georgia standout and two-time Pro Bowler, is 6-1, 286. Donald ranked as a top performer among the defensive linemen in the 40-yard dash (4.68), three-cone drill (7.11 seconds) and bench press (35 reps).
AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama: With some of the top quarterbacks not throwing, McCarron made the most of his opportunity. “What happens with Alabama quarterbacks is they kind of get grouped into, ‘Oh, he’s another game manager,’” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. “This is a bigger kid; he’s over 6-3 and he’s 220 pounds. … I don’t think he has a huge arm, but he has a good arm.”
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson: He solidified his spot as the top receiver in the draft and could go as high as No. 2 to St. Louis. “He’s going to be an exciting player to watch for many years,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “There’s no question about that.”
Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State: He showed that he can be a deep threat as he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.33 seconds. “Cooks had a really good day, ran fast,” Mayock said. “He’s a kid I thought that kind of made a statement that, ‘I’m a first-round pick,’ and this is one of the best wide receiver drafts I’ve ever seen, so that was significant.”
Sam: He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.91 seconds, lifted 225 pounds only 17 times and did not show much lower body explosion with a vertical leap of 25 1/2 inches.
Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech: He was shaky in the pass-catching drills and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.74 seconds. “The tight ends were a little disappointing,” Mayock said. “Amaro didn’t run as fast as I thought he would run.”
Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas: He didn’t show much flexibility for an edge rusher. “Quite frankly, I expected more (based on video),” Mayock said. “I thought he was going to be more explosive off the edge. … I didn’t see the explosion that I wanted to see for an edge rusher.”
Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama: He was considered a first-round pick before the combine, but some medical red flags appeared during his examinations.
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina: His work ethic will continue to get questioned after he passed on field drills and lifted 225 pounds only 21 times. He did nothing to sway his detractors, but he’s fast.
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