INDIANAPOLIS—The quarterback-receiver passing sessions at Lucas Oil Stadium certainly aren’t the final word on how this year’s NFL Draft class stacks up, but it further clarified what some of the top players at both positions have to offer.
The Dolphins, who are considering a quarterback at No. 11 overall and would be in the market to add a receiver if Jarvis Landry leaves, had full representation for the drills. Adam Gase, offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains and quarterbacks coach Bo Hardegree were in attendance.
At quarterback, Wyoming’s Josh Allen left no doubt he’s got the strongest arm in this year’s group. While his overall accuracy was hit-and-miss, he showcased his best attribute in when they worked on deep balls down the left side of the field. He got everyone’s attention with a perfectly placed 65-yard throw.
When asked about his personal quarterbacks coach claiming he can throw it 90 yards, he said that’s not quite true, but “he’s not too far off.”
Allen was easily the star of the morning session as Southern California quarterback Sam Darnold opted not to participate.
“I’m going to throw at my pro day,” Darnold said. “I think that’s a good opportunity for teams to be able to look at how I can spin it. I’m going to be throwing to guys I’ve played with. Given all the information I had, I thought that was the best decision.”
He was the only one of the top four prospects who voiced concerns about throwing at the Combine. Josh Rosen and Baker Mayfield were full participants in the afternoon session.
“I mean, ball is ball,” Rosen said. “That’s what we do is we throw the football, so coming in here, I thought, ‘Why not?’”
There was a clear gap between the tier of Rosen, Mayfield and Allen and the rest. Mason Rudolph, Luke Falk and Lamar Jackson—all considered second- or third-round possibilities—couldn’t match the sharpness of the top passers.
Louisville’s Jackson, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner out of Boynton Beach High School, threw in the morning session and reaffirmed teams’ concerns about his throwing accuracy.
Jackson had a bad overthrow on an out route and underthrew two balls in the ensuing mid- to long-range drill before finally connecting on a brilliant pass in stride to Oklahoma State’s Marcell Ateman.
Jackson had some timing issues, throwing late and behind receivers, on various routes and even when he was in sync, the location of his throw wasn’t ideal. When they went to the 50-yard deep routes where Allen excelled, Jackson’s first attempt was wobbly and well short of his receiver. He was much better on the second try and connected on the third as well.
Jackson faced concerns about his accuracy head-on and knows it’s something he needs to fix.
“If you look at film, I notice that myself,” he said. “I’ve been working on it… I feel that’s why they’re doubting me right now.”
Rosen and Mayfield didn’t do much to distance themselves from each other. Mayfield was more accurate overall, especially on shorter throws, but Rosen outdid him on the deepest throws. His highlights were a bomb to Southern Methodist’s Trey Quinn and a nicely placed 60-yard pass to Alabama’s Calvin Ridley. Mayfield’s throws lagged during that drill.
The day before the drills, Mayfield proclaimed himself, “the most accurate quarterback in this draft, by far.”
Among the less heralded prospects, Virginia’s Kurt Benkert showed good accuracy on short-range passes and Texas Tech’s Nic Shimonek and Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta had nice moments in deep ball work. None were consistently impressive, though.
While the emphasis is always on the quarterbacks during these sessions, the receivers are under evaluation as well. None looked better than Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk, a 5-foot-11 prospect projected to go late in the first round.
He ran a 4.47 in the 40-yard dash Friday, then followed it with an exceptional showing in drills. More than anything, his hands stood out as the best among any receiver who participated.
When Kirk hit the gauntlet of catching seven quick passes while running across the field, he did it with machinelike skill. Each pass stuck in his hands with no double-clutching as he breezed through that drill like it was easy.
He played slot at Texas A&M and has the classic skillset to do so in the NFL, but also believes he can be an outside threat.
Ridley is widely thought to be the No. 1 receiver in this year’s class, but wasn’t nearly as impressive as Kirk in the gauntlet. One of his runs got derailed by a dropped pass, and he couldn’t recover quickly enough to get to the next throw.
Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook