It’s all about stopwatches and cone drills, interviews and physicals. The NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis is meant to make or break the draft ratings of more than 300 players. They began arriving Tuesday for interviews with team personnel and will take the field Friday through Monday.
The Redskins, who have the 15th pick in the first round of the draft April 25-27, need a quarterback as well as help at several other positions: wide receiver, guard, safety, cornerback and inside and outside linebacker. Here are five players the Redskins should watch.
Height, weight and hand size are keys. Everyone knows that Oklahoma’s Heisman Trophy winner can throw, but his dimensions are worrisome. College rosters can’t be trusted, so his reported size of 5-feet-10 and 206 pounds must be verified. Anything less than 5-10 leaves him suspect. Beyond that, his hand size — from thumb to pinkie — is believed to be smaller than the accepted minimum of 9 inches. On the field, scouts want to see quicker reads and more ability to find alternate targets downfield. He also must stop staring down intended receivers: That leads to pick-sixes in the NFL.
The Redskins have been studying him during the offseason, maybe as a Plan B and perhaps even as a Round 2 pick. The Duke quarterback was coached by David Cutcliffe, who developed Peyton and Eli Manning, so Jones should have his mechanics down. He slides through the pocket well and throws with a soft touch, while also being able to muscle it downfield when necessary. NFL personnel experts want to see him release the ball faster and show the ability to go off-script. He excels at the medium-range throws that are the staple of Redskins coach Jay Gruden’s game plan.
The Redskins might go for a wide receiver in the first round, and they need someone who can make plays over the middle. The junior from Arizona State has good hands, excels at getting his arms over defenders for receptions in tight quarters and is elusive enough to get extra yards after the catch. Scouts will watch for more precision in his routes, because the NFL doesn’t allow the freelancing that might work in college. At 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, he has the size and strength to outmuscle cornerbacks. The Redskins also will appreciate his downfield blocking.
The Oklahoma offensive lineman is a possible second-round pick. Ford (6-3 1/2, 330 pounds) plays left guard — a crucial need for the Redskins — and can fill in at tackle. His speed and run-blocking would greatly help the Redskins’ inside run game. Scouts want to be sure about his footwork when he’s matched against a speedy pass rusher, and also will consider his ability to maintain intensity. But scouts say his demeanor matches that of Redskins left tackle Trent Williams: Both love to bury opponents downfield. That tandem could open up the running game on the left side.
The nephew of former Redskins QB Mark Rypien — the MVP of Super Bowl XXVI — could be a great third-day pickup. Like Mark, Brett throws balls with good velocity across the field. Brett, who threw 90 touchdown passes in four seasons at Boise State, needs to show more consistency downfield and greater willingness to improvise, but he plays a gritty game. Would the Redskins care about him if his name weren’t Rypien? Probably not, but like Kirk Cousins in 2012, Rypien could be a solid pick after the Redskins draft a higher-profile quarterback in an earlier round.
Read more from Rick Snider: