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2023 Combine notebook | QBs show confidence, DBs flaunt athleticism

Oregon defensive back Christian Gonzalez runs the 40-yard dash at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Friday, March 3, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Oregon defensive back Christian Gonzalez runs the 40-yard dash at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Friday, March 3, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

We're continuing to grind through the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine with the quarterbacks and tight ends addressing the media and the defensive backs taking the field for drills. So, let's dive into some of the key highlights from the day. 

-- Washington is not necessarily in the hunt for a young quarterback, but we'll highlight some of the top quarterbacks available, starting with Alabama's Bryce Young. There is not much, if anything, to complain about Young's talent. He can make all the throws, has impressive intelligence and possesses the athletic ability to move out of the pocket with his legs. His size (6-foot, 194 pounds) is where people are a little concerned. Young is pretty dismissive of that criticism, though, insisting that it does not limit what he can do at the NFL level in any way. 

"I've been this size, respectfully, my whole life. I know who I am. I know what I can do. Everyone can speculate and ask whatever questions are necessary, but I'm gonna continue to control what I can control. I'm gonna keep working my hardest to be myself at the position."

-- Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud has plenty of confidence in himself. He believes he would have won two Heisman trophies if he had been able to beat Michigan. Rivalries aside, Stroud is worthy of being one of the top players available in the draft, accounting for more than 8,000 passing yards and 85 touchdowns over the last two seasons. One player he looks up to at his position: Michael Vick, which is why he wore the No. 7 in college.

"He inspired me, not only just to be athletic and use my athleticism, but as a Black quarterback that can stay in the pocket and throw the ball. That's something he was very underrated in."

-- Kentucky's Will Levis could be justified in not wanting to throw at the Combine. Some people believe he could be the best quarterback available and could be one of the first players off the board. But the former Wildcat is going to throw tomorrow. Why?

"Because I've got a cannon," Levis said. "And I'm gonna show it off."

Needless to say, Levis is confident in his ability.

-- It does not take long to see that Anthony Richardson is physically gifted. There aren't many quarterbacks walking around at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds. There are some rumors that Richardson could even be a top five pick, but his critics will point out his skills as a passer as causes for concern. Maybe they are right, but Richardson, who believes he is a blend of Cam Newton and Lamar Jackson, was quick to dismiss them today. When asked about throwing his passes with too much velocity, Richardson responded with, "I don't care if someone complains that I throw the ball too hard. They better catch it."

And what about people who say that he is a project?

"I don't even know what that means."

-- Moving on to the on-field work for the defensive backs, the group put up some impressive times in the 40-yard dash. DJ Turner was the clear standout with an unofficial 4.27. Fans of Joey Porter Jr. and Christian Gonzalez should be pleased as well, as they ran times of the 4.47 and 4.38, respectively. And for all the Maryland Terrapins out there, Jakorian Bennett ran a 4.31, and Deonte Banks ran a 4.35.

-- Players like Banks, Gonzalez and Alabama's Brian Branch flaunted their natural ability to move in space in backpedal and "W" drills. The drills focused on how players moved their hips and changed direction while in coverage, and all three players were smooth while flipping their hips and searching for the ball.

-- Who's ready to learn which defensive back jumped really high and really far? If you're one of those people: good, because that's what this takeaway is all about.

Banks led the cornerback position with a vertical jump of 42 inches. Gonzalez, who is considered to be one of the top cornerbacks in the draft, was not far behind him with a 41.5-inch vertical. But among the defensive backs as a whole, Illinois safety Jartavius Martin led the defensive backs as a whole with a 44-inch jump.

In the broad jump, there were eight cornerbacks who leaped at least 11 feet. That includes Kansas State's Julius Brents and Banks, who had jumps of 11-6 and 11-4, respectively.

-- Here are some of the fastest times for the safety position:

  • Brandon Hill, Pittsburgh: 4.43
  • Daniel Scott, California: 4.45
  • Jartavius Martin, Illinois: 4.46
  • Sydney Brown, Illinois: 4.47
  • Jordan Howard, Minnesota: 4.49
  • Jason Taylor, Oklahoma State: 4.50
  • Chamarri Conner, Virginia Tech: 4.51
  • Tyreque Jones, Boise State: 4.52
  • Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M: 4.52
  • Anthony Johnson, Jr., Iowa State: 4.54

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