I (and certainly NFL scouts) do not necessarily put a great deal of stock into the results of the so-called Skills Competition held the Friday before the Super Bowl, but this year there were some scouting nuggets to be found.
The quarterbacks competing included:
Oklahoma State's Zac Robinson
Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour
Oregon State's Sean Canfield
Mississippi's Jevan Snead
The wide receivers competing included:
Oklahoma State's Dez Bryant
USC's Damian Williams
Texas' Jordan Shipley
Cincinnati's Mardy Gilyard
Many of the quarterback competitions only reinforced what scouts knew about the passers. Canfield beat the competition in the "accuracy" contest, edging out Robinson in a one on one showdown after they tied during the initial session. Canfield's accuracy wasn't surprising, as the majority of his passes for the Beavers were in the short to intermediate range in which he racked up points. His below average arm-strength showed up when he consistently hit the target low. LeFevour proved the most athletic, winning the "mobility" contest. Snead struggled. Though the ball zipped out of his hands on intermediate passes during all of the drills, he was surprisngly short on the arm-strength competition and sprayed the ball with the inaccuracy scouts had seen throughout his entire junior campaign.
The most consistently impressive quarterback was the Cowboys' Zac Robinson, who faired well in the accuracy and mobility competitions and surprisingly won the arm-strength contest with a toss of 64 yards. Robinson was the only quarterback to drop the football into the target 25 yards away to start the mobility competition and relied on his accuracy on the short and intermediate throws to get into the showdown with Canfield. Considering his strong showing in the Senior Bowl, Robinson has enjoyed a strong off-season so far. If he's able to continue it at the Combine, he could be moving into Top 75 consideration.
Each of the receivers had their moments. Bryant, despite missing almost all of 2009 with the NCAA-imposed suspension, showcased the skills likely to make him the first receiver selected in the 2010 draft. His impressive physique, good speed and agility and unique body control were reminscient of Denver's Brandon Marshall on this day. USC's Damian Williams had a strong performance, as well, and seemed to be the most competitive of the bunch -- something scouts will take note of. Gilyard showed better than expected hand strength during the gauntlet drill in which receivers have to turn and catch passes from four JUGS machines.
The star of the show amonst receivers, however, was Shipley. His strong hands, quick feet and underrated straight-line speed were all impressive. Shipley, already a favorite among scouts due to his intelligence and toughness, helped himself. As a second round pick, he'll out-perform some of the receivers drafted ahead of him as a rookie and over his long-term career, as well.
Michigan State's Brett Swenson won the kicker competition over USC's Jordan Congdon, Mississippi's Joshua Shene and Texas' Hunter Lawrence. Swenson started the competition poorly, missing his first three kicks, but recovered to hit his final 4, including the deep kick of 50-yards to win it.