INDIANAPOLIS – Now that NFL teams and the media have had a chance to interview the 322 players at the combine, we all have a better sense of who these college prospects actually are as people.
In our recurring NFL Combine Quick Hits series, the quarterbacks are up next.
2/19 Quick Hits: Offensive Linemen
2/20 Quick Hits: Wide Receivers
*Jameis Winston (pictured above)
College: Florida State
Weight: 231 pounds
Big picture: The maturity question marks are there, but Winston's ability to run a high-powered, pro-style offense is not one of them. From the minute he stepped in at quarterback for his first college game against Pittsburgh, Winston looked like an NFL quarterback. He understands timing throws, his accuracy can be deadly and his knack of avoiding blitzers while standing tall in the pocket is uncanny for a college player.
Scouts say: Winston's eye sight in scanning the field is considered elite, NFL.com says. He has a big arm and a big body to withstand big boy hits. His most attractive quality could be his leadership, though. Teammates at Florida State worshipped his competitiveness. Reports also surfaced his football IQ was off the charts when meeting with teams at the Combine. He reaffirmed at the Combine that he's a prototypical drop-back passer, as his 40-yard dash and other speed tests were among the worst for quarterbacks.
Other notes: With a hard-not-to-like charismatic personality, Winston said during his press conference he plans on winning a Super Bowl and reaching the Hall of Fame in his NFL career … Threw 18 interceptions during his sophomore season, although second-half comebacks became his calling card … As a relief pitcher on Florida State's baseball team, Winston posted a 1.08 ERA with 33 strikeouts in 24 appearances … Became the second freshman to ever win the Heisman Trophy, joining Browns quarterback Duke Johnson Jr. … Boasts two nicknames, "Famous Jameis" and "Jaboo"… Started playing football at the age of 4 with other 7- and 8-year olds … Called Randall Cunningham his favorite quarterback as a kid.
Weight: 222 pounds
Big picture: Pound-for-pound, Mariota is arguably the most athletic quarterback to enter the draft this decade. His creativity outside of the pocket and quick release project to quarterbacks like Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson. Further, in 41 starts, Mariota only had three games with multiple interceptions. As smart and nimble as he is, there are inquiries into whether his success will translate to the next level. Mariota only took five snaps under center at Oregon and the Ducks' spread offense was based on simple underneath routes at a hurry-up, no-huddle pace. And although Mariota is known as a first-class, humble kid, there are questions if he's a fiery leader who can vocally rally the troops in moments of adversity.
Scouts say: Mariota is consistently able to make strong throws on the run outside of the pocket and his accuracy is only a shade under Winston's. But Mariota "sees the rush" more than feels it, according to an NFL.com scouting report, which causes him to leave the pocket more than necessary.
Other notes: Hawaii native, didn't start a game at quarterback until his senior year of high school, where he won the state title … An accomplished high school track athlete in the 200-meter dash and the long jump … Became the first freshman to start at Oregon in 22 years…Secured six different Oregon school records and five more Pac-12 records … Won the 2014 Heisman trophy in a landslide after tallying 38 touchdowns to just two interceptions in 2014 … Originally started being recruited after he sent an email and highlight tape to Oregon offensive line coach Steve Greatwood … Served as his high school football team's academic tutor during study hall.
Weight: 226 pounds
Big picture: An almost-forgotten player in this year's draft class, Hundley worked hard during the Combine to try to show teams he's worthy of the first-round pick some projected him to be in 2014 before returning to school. He's above average at nearly every quarterbacking trait – arm strength, size, and athleticism – but not elite at any particular thing. Hundley was asked to make NFL reads in UCLA's offense, but, like Mariota, was only under center seven times. Not considered a plug-and-play quarterback, but with some time, there's hope Hundley can develop as an NFL starter. Projections have him from anywhere to late first to late third round.
Scouts say: When Hundley bails from the pocket, his completion percentage plummeted to just 32.6 percent. He also took a maddening 125 sacks in three seasons – albeit with shaky offensive line play. Contrary to what some think, Hundley proved he can play from within the pocket, and his three seasons truly helped the Bruins rewrite their image as one of the top teams in the Pac-12
Other notes: Father played college football at Arizona and uncle played at Wichita State … Hundley admitted to the LA Times the pressure of NFL evaluators affected him this past season … Honor roll student who majored in sociology … Draft expert Dane Brugler told Cleveland Browns Daily that NFL teams were pleasantly surprised with how Hundley handled interviews … Lists Donovan McNabb as his favorite quarterback of all-time … Was UCLA's first-ever five-star commit at the quarterback position … Played wide receiver early in his high school career … Became involved in promoting epilepsy awareness after his sister, Paris, was diagnosed with the condition.
Weight: 231 pounds
Big picture: Petty took the torch Robert Griffin III passed him at Baylor and brought the team to even further heights. The highlight of his career was a 21-point comeback against TCU this past season, when he proved his mental toughness and flair for winning. Petty is older (24) than teams want for a future starting quarterback and he wasn't asked to read defenses in Baylor's system. But his leadership qualities have intrigued NFL teams in the second and third rounds.
Scouts say: Petty has better-than-average athleticism and has reliable deep ball accuracy. But like we saw with Griffin in the NFL, running an NFL-style system has been a steep undertaking. Baylor ran an array of screen passes, so Petty's completion percentage (63.1) could be perceived as inflated.
Other notes: Has been working with quarterback guru George Whitfield during the pre-draft process … Play calls at Baylor were used with hand signals instead of a worded playbook … Fought through several injuries, including a bad back, all throughout his senior season … Graduated from Baylor (May of 2013) before ever taking a starting snap under center … Enjoys snack-pack puddings for dessert.
This article is part of the Road to the Draft series, driven by Liberty Ford.
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