NFL Network is sponsoring our coverage of this week's NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Ind. If you watch this week, you'll see five Hokies try to impress scouts and general managers to improve their draft stock. RB Ryan Williams, QB Tyrod Taylor, RB Darren Evans, CB Rashad Carmichael and DT John Graves will all be in Indy this week and Williams and Taylor may have the most at stake.
Williams ranks among most draft analysts' lists of Top 5 running backs. With a good combine he could move into the first round and earn himself a much larger pay day. Meanwhile, Taylor is trying to prove he has a place in the NFL as a quarterback. His name probably won't be called until the middle to late rounds of the draft, but his goal is to prove himself as a pocket passer in Indy.
Virginia Tech hasn't scheduled its Pro Day yet, so we don't know when Williams' and Taylor's next chance to impress the scouts will be after the combine. In Indy, they'll go through the measurable drills most players go through as well as individual position drills. The measurable drills include the 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, 3-cone drill and shuttle run.
Williams and the rest of the running backs will have their own drills to run, including the read-and-react drill. One of the biggest questions about the combine is what quarterbacks will throw and which ones will wait until their pro day. If Taylor throws in Indy, he'll be given the opportunity to show off his footwork, arm strength and accuracy with the wide receivers that are at the combine.
Williams Eyes First Day Pick
This isn't a very deep draft for running backs so Williams has a chance to make himself a lot of money at the combine. Most draftniks have Mark Ingram as their top running back in the draft. After that, it's pretty much a toss-up between Williams, Illinois' Mikel Leshoure and others.
NFL.com's Bucky Brooks and Mike Mayock have Williams as the No. 4 running back in the draft while our own Mocking the Draft ranks Williams at No. 3. With as few as one back and as many as three likely to go in the first round, Williams needs to have a good combine if he wants to be selected in prime time on the first night of the draft.
What's good for Williams is that a couple of teams late in the first round need running backs. Both New England and New Orleans could take a back and if Williams impresses either of those two teams enough he could find himself getting first-round money.
New England also has the first pick of the second round and that could be a landing spot for Williams if the Patriots think Williams will fall to them in the second round but another choice won't. National Football Post lists Williams as the top value back that could be available in the second round.
Taylor Has a Lot to Prove
If Taylor wants to show he can be a quarterback in the NFL, he'll have to impress at the combine. His results were mixed at the East-West Shrine Game, but some analysts came away with a better impression of his as a quarterback than they had before.
There's no questioning Taylor's athleticism and ability outside the pocket. However, he still has to convince some people that he can be more than just a scrambling quarterback. His height will not do him any favors in the eyes of many scouts. Coming in at No. 11, he's the shortest quarterback in Mocking the Draft's list of Top 25 quarterbacks in the draft. The general opinion of short quarterbacks is that they have trouble seeing over the offensive line and finding receivers down field.
Taylor's accuracy on deep balls improved throughout his time at Tech and he needs to showcase that during the passing tree at the combine, should he choose to throw. Some QBs choose to only go through the measurable drills at the combine and save their passing drills for pro day when they're more comfortable with their surroundings and the receivers.
Taylor is likely going to be taken by a team who already has an established quarterback and can afford to take a project QB in the middle to late rounds. Mocking the Draft thinks the Ravens would be a good fit for Taylor.
If you're looking to track Taylor and Williams' progress at the combine, you won't have to look hard. QBs and RBs both work out on Sunday, so you'll be able to see Taylor, Williams and Evans in one day. Graves and the rest of the defensive linemen get their day in the sun on Monday. Carmichael and the rest of the DBs go Tuesday.
2011 NFL Scouting Combine Schedule
QB and RB Schedule
Thursday, Feb. 24: Travel, registration, re-exam, X-ray, orientation, interviews
Friday, Feb. 25: Measurements, exams, media, psych tests, interviews
Saturday, Feb. 26: NFLPA meeting, psych tests, interviews
Sunday, Feb. 27: Workout (timing, stations, skill drills), departure
NFL Network Coverage (All Times Eastern)
Thursday, Feb. 24: NFL Total Access, 7:00 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 25: Combine Press Conferences, 2:30 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 25: NFL Total Access, 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 26: Workouts (K, OL, TE), 9:00 a.m.
Saturday, Feb. 26: Workouts (K, OL, TE), 2:00 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 26: NFL Total Access, 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 27: Workouts (QB, WR, RB), 9:00 a.m.
Sunday, Feb. 27: Workouts (QB, WR, RB), 2:00 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 27: NFL Total Access, 7:00 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 28: Workouts (LB, DL), 9:00 a.m.
Monday, Feb. 28: NFL Total Access, 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday, March 1: Workouts (DB), 9:00 a.m.
Tuesday, March 1: NFL Total Access, 7:00 p.m.
Wednesday, March 2: Combine Wrap-Up Show, 9:00 p.m.