Because of the cast of characters, Saturday's on-field drills were easily the most anticipated of the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine.
The performances didn't disappoint.
Here are our five takeaways from Day 2 of the on-field action at Lucas Oil Stadium.
40-yard dashes reaffirm what we already knew about Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota
Marcus Mariota (Oregon) clocked the best 40-yard dash of any quarterback (4.52 seconds) and the fastest since Robert Griffin III in 2012. Jameis Winston (Florida State) barely cracked the 5-second mark on his way to one of the slower times among the 13 quarterbacks who ran. Neither came as much surprise, and what transpired during their highly anticipated workouts ultimately didn't change much about how the top two quarterbacks are perceived a little more than two months away from the draft. Mariota's athleticism is one of the main reasons why he's considered a potential No. 1 pick, and Winston is a prototypical drop-back passer -- think Ben Roethlisberger, who ran his 40 in 4.75 seconds at his pro day years ago. Winston's accuracy during quarterback drills drew rave reviews from draft analysts and Mariota validated his decision to throw with a solid performance of his own. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have 10 more weeks to do their homework.
Other QBs remind us it's a year of more promise than proven commodities
One year after five quarterbacks were selected in the first two rounds, there's a real chance Mariota and Winston could be the only two in 2015. There were some good moments from Baylor's Bryce Petty, but concern remains about his ability to adapt to a pro-style offense. UCLA's Brett Hundley, who is the other prospect mentioned in the same breath as Petty when it pertains to who might be the third quarterback drafted, made some good throws and has all sorts of potential. Nevada's Cody Fajardo, who backed up Colin Kaepernick, looked like a legitimate mid-round quarterback. Otherwise, the depth just isn't the same as last year, when 14 quarterbacks were drafted. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock told reporters Saturday that Mariota and Winston were the only two at the position who would be ready to start for a franchise as rookies.
Top WRs show out
There may never be a wide receiver class like last year's, but Kevin White (West Virginia), Amari Cooper (Alabama), DeVante Parker (Louisville), Jaelen Strong (Arizona State), Devin Smith (Ohio State) and Dorial Green-Beckham (Missouri/Oklahoma) appear ready to put up a good fight. White probably had the best day of the six, as the 6-foot-3, 215-pounder notched a 4.35-second 40-yard dash to maintain the momentum he's appeared to build with draft experts, some of whom now believe he's the top wide receiver available. Cooper was just a shade slower (4.42), but he's done little, if anything, to diminish his projections as a top-10 pick. Even on a day in which he didn't post the kind of 40-yard dash he wanted and dropped more passes than he would've liked, Auburn's Sammie Coates drew comparisons to Terrell Owens from NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah.
Hello, Chris Conley
We might have a better idea of how much the Combine's on-field workouts really matter when we see what happens to Chris Conley over the next couple of months. The Georgia wide receiver entered the day ranked by CBSSports.com as the 37th-best wide receiver in the 2015 class and projected as a seventh-round pick/undrafted free agent. He contributed all four years with the Bulldogs and his senior season was his best, but his numbers were relatively ordinary (36 receptions, 657 yards, eight touchdowns). The numbers he posted Saturday were far from it, as he finished in a tie for third among wide receivers in the 40-yard dash (4.35) and set Combine records in the vertical leap (45 inches) and broad jump (11 feet, 7 inches). As noted by Pro Football Talk, Conley's broad jump was 7 inches longer than Bills receiver and Olympic long jumper Marquise Goodwin's at the 2013 Combine.
Nice to meet you, J.J. Nelson
The leader in the clubhouse for the best 40-yard dash at the 2015 NFL Combine weighs a whopping 156 pounds. J.J. Nelson, who hails from Alabama and played all four of his collegiate seasons at UAB, posted a time of 4.28 seconds to edge Miami's Phillip Dorsett (4.33) as the top time of the Combine thus far. (Chris Johnson's Combine record of 4.24 seconds remains safe for now.) Nelson, who caught 35 passes for 655 yards in 2014, is currently projected as an undrafted free agent, but he appears poised to cash in well before he signs an NFL contract. The top three finishers in the 40 will each receive $100,000.
This article is part of the Road to the Draft series, driven by Liberty Ford.
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