METAIRIE, La – New Orleans is best known for its food and hospitality as the festive city welcomes all. The New Orleans Saints mirrors the similar function as the town when it comes to the NFL Regional Combine. In return, the discovery platform staged a grouping of offensive talents for NFL scouts to fill their appetites with talented prospects.
Did the NFL scouts get enough of the New Orleans-held RC delights for the two-day event?
Here is what the menu detailed.
Modern medicine has improved rapidly over the past generations. Nevertheless, having the ability of measuring the heart eluded all of the great minds.
Hopefully, the advancement of that technology will be discovered soon so players such as John Russ of Mercer, Dalton Easton of Bryant and Nick Mullens of Southern Mississippi can get a fair examination.
The three quarterbacks have been criticized because they are not towers in the pocket, standing about 6 foot.
But they bring heat.
“It feels great. I always been told that I was too small, too short, too all of this…I have a huge chip on my shoulder, (I’m) ready to compete on any level,” said Russ. “My quarterbacks’ coach Tre Lamb told me to always compete no matter how tall you are.
“They (NFL) only take those who throw the best and have it upstairs.”
Russ is a mobile quarterback who delivers well from the pocket. The confident Russ throws a tight ball, has great feet and balance. Due to the unfamiliarity with the pass catchers at the RC, signal callers can be misjudged.
Instead of allowing receivers dictate how to throw, Russ forced them to adapt to his passes. Russ inspires to be a coach down the road, but he has countless avenues of passing yards to zip through first.
“I threw with Chase Daniel, Andy Dalton (Cincinnati Bengals) and those types of guys,” said Russ. “Being around them, they just slung the ball and that’s all I do. Let it rip.
“That was my mindset. I’m going to be the best quarterback out here and I’m going to make them work for it,” he continued. “I want to coach one day because I have a mind for it. I’m football 24-7. But I want my shot because I know I can play.”
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Playing the quarterback position has never in doubt for Easton. Easton fires the ball with ease, as his throwing moment is nature. From the gate, Easton displayed pinpoint accuracy, which is his entire focus.
“I feel I can make any throw with ease,” said Easton. “I’m very accurate, I stress being accuracy, I know the arm strength is there.”
Many of the smaller institutions identify with the present and implement schemes to generate wins to strengthen programs, which is appropriate. However, those programs miss the preparation piece for their players to get to the next level.
Clearly, Bryant is not a part of that dilemma. Easton is prepared to extend his playing career. If he continues to excite NFL scouts, they will experience how prepared the confident throwing quarterback is.
“I’m sure about my knowledge for the game as a three-year starter in a Pro-style offense, a West Coast, I feel that I have a jump over some kids with that,” Easton. “I may not be playing for a team right now, but I’m preparing mentally for defenses to stay ready.
“Playing in a complex system has prepared me greatly,” he added. “I’m a great worker and great teammate. I’m a student of the game, a film junkie. Always have been and always will be.”
Mullens is a legit package who can pilot a NFL franchise. He commands the pocket with a quick release. The 2015 C-USA Offensive Player of the Year entered his RC trials with a calm demeanor and threw the ball with confidence.
Comparably to Russ and Easton, Mullens forced the pass catchers to adjust to his passes, but challenged them to go to the next level. Mullens’ mechanics is flawless as he throws the ball naturally, and standing 6-1, 195-pounds, he covers at least 10 yards on his five-step drop backs, which gives his protection enough space to operate and him room to step up in the pocket to deliver.
There were some blazers out there who showcased some promise like Rodarius Houston of Miles College, Allswell Opusunju of Southern and Texas Tech’s Reginald Davis.
Tight end Walter Hibbler of West Georgia has good wheels and strong hands, while Bryant’s Taylor Barthelette showed out his athleticism and ball skills.
Rashad Lofton has a unique skill set. His cutting ability and stop, start and go technique is sound. Paired with good hands and decent speed, the 5-10 receiver could meet the demands of a professional wideout.
From West Virginia Wesleyan, Robert Waddell came to the New Orleans’ affair seeking to erase all doubts of him not being a NFL caliber wide receiver. After posting a solid 4.5 40 time, the 5-11, 180-pound receiver caught everyone’s attention. Following his individual drills, the confident receiver made a statement.
“I’m a guy who gives max effort, someone who can not only play offense, but give it my all on special teams as well,” said Waddell.
Waddell caught every pass attempt, making all hand catches away from his body. His route running is crisp and has good springs. The fearless Waddell fits the mode of a solid slot receiver who ventured through a small institution to find success in the NFL.
“I can go over the middle and not be scared,” said Waddell. “I was told that I was going to be hit anyway, so why not catch the ball (grin). Every year I see small guys coming from small schools and that let’s me know that it’s possible.
“I was told that anything is possible. That’s what I was told since being a kid.”
Reggie Davis was used sparingly during his time at Georgia. The 6-0, 170-pound receiver was primarily a special teams juggernaut. To investigate why Davis did not receive much playing on the field with the offensive unit on a consistent basics is irrelevant.
Evidently, it was not because of his abilities because Davis is thorough.
Davis showed at the RC, despite having to focus on family uses, and put on a solid performance. Although his time was brief, Davis demonstrated his 4.4 speed, solid route running skills and strong hands.
Davis credits his game to speed, an attribute that can not be taught, but regulated effectively.
“Because of my speed, a team should bring me in because I can do a lot with my speed as a burner and a deep threat,” said Davis, humbly. “I have a track background and my parents have a track background. Anywhere on special team, a gunner…anywhere I’m needed to help the team, put me there. I’ll be there.”
In terms of being ready, Georgia Southern’s Montay Crockett is primed now.
Crockett moved effortlessly throughout his trials with no one misstep and no dropped ball. He ran crisp routes and transitioned smoothly out his breaks.
Crockett was this year’s version of Wendall Williams. Williams posted a 4.19 for his 40 time at the Minnesota-held RC last year. Crockett was close with the Houston Texans’ receiver as he registered a 4.25. Crockett is a complete natural.
“It all starts with leadership and leading by example on and off the field,” said Crockett. “I’ve always been passionate about football, but it’s not about me. (I) see this game bigger than me. “I’m playing for my mother and God…so each day that I step on the field, I’m going to give it my all because I will never let someone out work me.”
Normally, individual drills separate the potentials from the prospects. The 6-0, 185-pound Crockett took it to the next level as he accelerated through all his drills and challenged passers to keep up with his faculties.
Crockett was respectful for 602 snaps for Georgia Southern, and as reliable he was during his collegiate career, he believe his dependability will carry over to the next level.
“Any team can count on me to be reliable,” said Crockett. “I will lead by example. It doesn’t matter how many snaps you get, it’s about the plays you make. No matter if you get in a game with a minute left or you are the starter. Effort is going to get you notice.
“Effort is what I’m going to give me the drive to play another snap.”
The 6-1, 245-pound Cross attended the sessions in New Orleans last year as a tight end, but worked out as a full back to eventually find success in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Monteon played at tight end at Washburn, however, trialed as a fullback. The 6-2, 285-pound talent did well displaying great footwork, balance and hands.
William Young of Southeast Missouri is very elusive and quick, while Aurren Cooksey of Louisiana College is a powerful, fast and runs hard.
Cooksey made one heck of a catch while falling backward into the endzone; he had the awareness to adjust his body to complete an over the head pass.
Marquell Beckwith of Alabama State, Virgil Hammond of Minnesota State-Mankato and Savannah State’s Arshon Spualding did not produce highlights at the RC. Nonetheless, they legitimately can make highlights in the National Football League.
Beckwith was under the gun as the lead for his grouping. Beckwith was the player used to sample all the drills. Instead of cautiously running the example, the 5-9, 190-pound back exploded through the exercises, and followed up with a solid execution.
“(I) always gone first in everything because my last name begins with ‘B,’ so there was no pressure,” said Beckwith.
Beckwith did not get the chance to fulfill everything he wanted to do in his collegiate career, due to some injuries. He is stronger, has a quick first step, light on his feet and moves fluently. Beckwith’s hard work has him where he needs to be – on the path to the NFL.
“Coming out of high school, I signed with Troy University. After three years, I graduated, but I tore my ACL,” said Beckwith. “I transferred to Alabama State. Everything happens for a reason.
“I did not get a chance to do everything I wanted to do in college, but with my God giving talents, and just keep working hard, I will get a chance to play in the NFL. I just have to keep working hard.”
Hammond is a stocky ball carrier, who does not have the greatest speed, but can turn the ball up the field when he needs. Hammond makes catching the ball out the backfield look easy as he transitions in and out his breaks freely.
Hammond has balance, controls his body well and, in his Change of Direction drill, he demonstrated solid footwork and properly kept the high and tight.
Spaulding came into the RC quiet, but confident. The 6-0, 200-pound back is explosive, runs on a high motor and ball skills is essential for his position. The agile back can get his pad level low and deceptively powerful.
What probably was the most impressive showing at the NFL Regional Combine for Spaulding was his ability to track down the deep balls and haul them in.
The versatile back has a tremendous upside.
“In my senior year, I started at wide receiver, but after my second game, they moved me to running back,” said Spaulding. “All four years there (Alabama State), I played all three of the primary positions at receiver, running back and quarterback, so I’m a versatile player.
“Teams don’t have to use me at one position,” he continued. “Whatever they need me to do, I can do. (I) can run routes and can catch. Most running backs are comfortable at catching balls with their chest, but I’m all about taking the ball with my hands and make the plays my team need me to make.”
After these performances, NFL scouts will be elated to spread the joy of the found talents, making them hospitable for clubs and their fan base – like New Orleans does.