The NFL draft combine. Not many things rival its ability to produce that sensation of having your head hit the back of the couch and snap back up as you try to avoid nodding off.
This season’s combine — which featured three Cal athletes — was no different. Other than the caffeine pill-like rush of John Ross breaking the 40-yard dash record, this combine may have been most notable for a quote from the Bears’ most recent quarterback.
“I’ve always been 6-foot-5, 230 pounds and can throw the ball better than anybody,” said Davis Webb, providing the assorted media with the Five Hour Energy of a quote they were looking for.
Aside from the quote — and Ross being robbed of an island because of fine print — the weekend did provide NFL talent evaluators with a chance to judge up to 335 athletes.
Let’s look at how Cal’s representatives did.
Davis Webb (quarterback)
Webb ran his 40-yard dash in 4.79 seconds, while adding in a 33-inch vertical leap. This was 4.5 inches better than what Leonard Fournette, the draft’s top running back prospect, could do.
Webb’s vertical leap put him third among quarterbacks, while his 40-yard dash was fifth at the position. These numbers are unsurprising, portending a quarterback that talking heads are just waiting to call “sneaky athletic.”
Adding that to his arm strength, Webb has the mold of a quarterback that teams fall in love with in the middle rounds. He’s currently working with former Washington Redskins’ head coach Jim Zorn to fix his mechanics — a key for Webb, whose inconsistency in the department led to mediocre accuracy, especially over the middle of the field.
Ranking: Two espresso shots
Chad Hansen (wide receiver)
Because the 40-yard dash time is such a prominent piece of wide receiver evaluation, Chad Hansen’s combine was a bit disappointing.
Hansen recorded a time of 4.53 seconds, a number he’ll definitely be looking to top at his Pro Day on March 24. He managed to outleap his quarterback by two inches, with a solid 35-inch showing in the vertical leap.
For a player who put up such prolific numbers last season — 92 receptions and 1,249 yards in only 10 games — Hansen has flown under the radar throughout the draft process. By not putting up any truly eye-popping numbers, he may have missed his best chance to make a meaningful move up draft boards.
Ranking: One espresso shot
Bradley Northnagel (long snapper)
Northnagel plays a position where speed is not only an afterthought, it’s as relevant as a new John Mayer song.
So the reason they trot these guys out there to run a 40-yard dash is questionable. Northnagel came out on Friday to open up the day’s festivities and threw a 5.30-second time on the board. Don’t buy property on Northnagel Island just yet.
He also put up a 99-inch broad jump and a 25.5-inch vertical leap. Ultimately, none of these numbers matter all that much for a long snapper. What’s important for Northnagel is being one of only two to secure an invite to the combine to begin with this year. Given that, his chances at landing with a team are looking pretty good, and his stock should be unchanged.
Ranking: decaf latte