For all of the attention that the quarterbacks will receive for the throwing session of today's Combine, the real stars were the players catching the ball.
Former Syracuse star Mike Williams might have enjoyed the best all-around day. Scouts will certainly have to do their homework on him, but on there is no denying Williams' talent. Unofficially clocking in at 4.49, according to The NFL Network, the 6-1 1/2, 221 pound Williams routinely made eye-popping receptions look easy, extending outside of his frame to pluck passes from the air and showing good fluidity as a route-runner.
His namesake Damian Williams from USC also had a strong session. Williams also was credited with a 4.4 second 40-yard dash and showcased the quick feet and good balance scouts are looking for as a route-runner. He consistently caught the ball with is hands, showing good body control to adjust to poorly thrown passes.
South Florida receiver Carlton Mitchell has been generating talk in scouting circles recently and his performance today will certainly continue his momentum. Mitchell is a good looking athlete at nearly 6-3, 215 pounds, running as fluidly as some wideouts significantly smaller than him. NFL.com listed him as having a 4.49 second 40-yard dash and, unlike some receivers, his speed clearly transfers onto the field.
Following up on a strong week of practice at the Senior Bowl, Ohio's Taylor Price continued to impress today. He is credited with the second fastest time in the 40-yard dash by NFL.com (4.41 seconds) on the day and didn't drop a single pass. In a draft with lots of big names at receiver, Price could be the "small" school kid that sneaks into the second round.
Notre Dame's Golden Tate was the early star of the show, turning in a pair of lightning fast times in the 40-yard dash that The NFL Network unoffially listed at 4.36 and 4.37 seconds. He initially struggled in the catching session, dropping his first three passes in the gauntlet drill, but regained his form, snatching almost every catchable pass the rest of the session.
On the other end of the spectrum, LSU's Brandon LaFell and Texas' Jordan Shipley, while solid during pass-catching drills, were slower than hoped. LaFell was timed by scouts in attendance in the 4.6s. Shipley was only slighter better, being timed in the mid to late 4.5s.