If you have been paying attention to the NFL scouting combine reports, you are fully aware of the top stories from the last week of rookie workouts. Michael Crabtree learned of a stress fracture in his foot that kept him from running at the combine (though he plans to run at his pro day in March). Andre Smith unexpectedly decided to leave the combine early without telling those in charge why and had taken a rather public flogging for it. Matt Stafford did not throw but did run and jump well in the combine and, according to reports on the NFL Network, was most impressive in meetings with team officials while discussing game strategy. Mark Sanchez took advantage of his opportunities and looked crisp in workouts. None of that (save the Andre Smith story) is a big surprise so far. There will be plenty of analysis on the top performers by the time the draft rolls around later this spring.
There are some guys flying a little below (or maybe even off of) the radar who made compelling statements about their ability to translate to the next level.
Hunter Cantwell, QB, Louisville
One of the tallest QBs in this class (standing 6’4”), Cantwell made good throws and showed some flash of potential while leading receivers, a skill offensive coaches covet. He throws with a lot of velocity (which is not always a good thing) but it is easier to coach touch to guys with a cannon than to develop arm strength on guys who do not have it. Cantwell impressed people by refining his mechanics for a post-season all-star game demonstrating his ability to learn and willingness to be coached. He only has sixteen starts under his belt, but the ability to learn (and the lack of wear and tear) make him a very good mid-round prospect for a team with a solid starter that is looking for a quality backup who may turn into a starter in a few years.
Pat White, QB/WR, West Virginia
I admit, I was not sold on White’s ability to play QB at the next level even after his strong performance in the Senior Bowl. He is not very big (6’0”, 197 lbs.), he played in the spread option offense almost exclusively from the shotgun, his deep throws are not great, and he may not be able to absorb the kind of hits he will take in the NFL. All that noted, White impressed a lot of folks at the combine with his crisp throws on short and intermediate routes, his speed, and his hard work. He may be best as a slot receiver and occasionally used as the “wildcat” back taking direct snaps (though the shelf life of that formation is debatable). White plans to work at QB and WR drills at his pro day and if his hands develop, he could be an interesting weapon for some team to grab somewhere in the second to fourth round.