Sunday was the biggest day for the Mid-American Conference at the 2014 National Football League Combine. The day's activities included on-field workouts for quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs. Five of the MAC's 10 players at the Combine had their workouts on Sunday.
We'll start with Dri Archer, because quite frankly, Archer stole the show. The former Kent State star turned heads with unofficial 40-yard dash times of 4.29 and 4.28 that ultimately became 4.26 when official times were announced. No other running back was better than 4.41, and Archer was ultimately the fastest player on the field on Sunday. His official time was also just .02 slower than the Combine record, owned by Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans.
Archer was also one of the best in the vertical jump, as he posted a height of 38 inches. This indicates that Archer has an explosive base (as if his speed didn't already). What was surprising for Archer was his performance in the bench press. He put together 20 reps at 225 pounds, which was just one less than possible #1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney and one more than Ohio State star back Carlos Hyde.
None of this really changes the fact that Archer's size prevents him from being an every-down running back or a receiver on the outside. However, these numbers will help him increasingly be considered for package roles where a team finds ways to get him in space, either out of the backfield or in the slot. In any event, Archer helped his draft stock today.
If you want to watch the several videos posted about Archer by NFL.com, check out our FanShot from Sunday afternoon.
David Fluellen of the Toledo Rockets was the MAC's other running back in action today. Fluellen ran a 4.72 in the 40-yard dash. On the surface, that's not particularly impressive, but it shouldn't be a big negative for him given his size (5'11", 224). His distances in the broad and vertical jumps were both in the middle of the pack, and he did not participate in the bench press.
Fluellen is a strong, tough runner with a good base. He made good impressions at the Senior Bowl and appeared to continue that trend on Sunday. If he has a good pro day next month, there's no reason to believe that he can't be a third-day pick in the NFL Draft.
The MAC's two quarterbacks at the Combine, Jordan Lynch and Keith Wenning, have been met with less positive reviews since the draft process began. In the workouts, Wenning did fairly well in the three-cone and 20-yard shuttle drills, but he had one of the worst 40-yard dash times (5.00). Lynch did as most of us should have expected in these drills. He was sixth with a 4.76 time in the 40, but his 3-cone time was best among quarterbacks. His shuttle time was also in the top five. This indicates that Lynch isn't fast, but he's quick in short spaces and can change direction quickly.
Unfortunately, throwing was the most important issue for both of these players, and neither stood out on Sunday. It was particularly important for Lynch to make a positive impression after how badly he played at the East-West Shrine Game, and it just didn't appear to happen. Both will have pro day opportunities to change the minds of scouts, but for both, draft prospects are not solid. Lynch may ultimately be pressured to change positions.
The lone wide receiver from the MAC to participate was Willie Snead of the Ball St. Cardinals. Unfortunately, there's not much positive to report for one of Ball State's all-time best receivers. His 40-yard dash time was just 4.62. For context, Snead ranked 39th among receivers, and only six players ran slower times. Recent history shows that highly-productive MAC receivers with unimpressive 40 times just don't get opportunities. That may not be fair, but it's what happens -- just ask former BGSU wide receiver Freddie Barnes.
Snead ranked toward the bottom with just 11 reps on the bench press and also fared poorly in the broad and vertical jumps. His times in the shuttle and cone drills were near the bottom of the receivers pool, as well.
This doesn't mean that he can't succeed in certain roles at the next level. After all, you don't catch as many balls as Snead did without having some skills that would transfer to the NFL. If NFL teams believe that he can be productive as a possession receiver in the slot, he might find a role. However, history indicates that he may ultimately have to find a home as an undrafted free agent. His pro day will be particularly important.
Defense becomes the focal point at the NFL Combine on Monday. Defensive linemen and linebackers will be on the field, which means that Ball State's Jonathan Newsome and Khalil Mack of the Buffalo Bulls will get to show their stuff. Expect a lot of talk about Mack in the next 24 hours.