Feb 1, 2022; Mobile, AL, USA; American quarterback Malik Willis of Liberty (7) throws during American practice for the 2022 Senior Bowl at Hancock Whitney Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Liberty’s Malik Willis feels he’s best of QB draft crop

Malik Willis doesn’t lack for confidence and feels he should be the first quarterback selected in the 2022 NFL Draft.

“I don’t make those decisions,” Willis told reporters on Wednesday morning at the NFL combine at Indianapolis.

After a pause, Willis cracked, “I hate that for me.”

Still, Willis is considered a first-round draft choice so he could indeed end up being the first one off the board.

Willis had a solid 2021 season at Liberty as he passed for 2,857 yards, 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, He also rushed for 878 yards and 13 scores. It was his second season as the starter for the Flames after transferring from Auburn.

His performance and skills have put him in position to become an NFL team’s quarterback of the future — or even the present.

Willis has dissected the possibility of that occurring soon.

“Teams always are going to let you know how big your position is,” Willis said. “I mean, you’re the face of the franchise, literally. You’re the face of the city. So, you’ve got to understand everything that comes with that and making sure you’re doing all the right things and making sure you’re doing your job.”

Willis passed for three or more touchdowns on five occasions last season and also posted rushing outputs of 157 and 144 yards in a single game.

He won’t be showing off his running ability in Indianapolis when the quarterbacks hit the field on Thursday. Willis said he will throw at the combine but won’t run or participate in other drills.

One team being mentioned as a possible landing spot for Willis is the Pittsburgh Steelers, who need a replacement for the retired Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers own the 20th pick.

The other quarterbacks pegged as first-round picks are Kenny Pickett of Pitt and Matt Corral of Ole Miss. North Carolina’s Sam Howell is a possible late first-round selection.

–Field Level Media

14 players that need to have a strong Pro Day

Now that the Combine is complete, the next phase in the evaluation process are the pro days. Starting next week, there will be numerous pro days Monday through Friday, through the month of March. When a club really wants to get up close and personal with a prospect, they will schedule a private workout with the player but we wont see many of these until after their school has it’s pro day.
The pro day is important for a number of reasons. First off, the players from a school who weren’t invited to the Combine get to workout in front of NFL evaluators. Every year there are about 35 players who did not get invited to the Combine who end up getting drafted.
Over the years, I have seen some drafted as high as the second round, but the majority of these players start coming off the board starting around the fourth round. While teams are interested in these players because of the way they played during the season, their performance on their pro day is also important in the evaluation process. These non-combine players have to have workout numbers better or similar to invited players at their position.
The pro days are also important for the players that didn’t live up to expectations at the Combine. The players who are happy with their Combine results will not take part in the measurable events such as the 40, the 20 yard shuttle, the 3-cone and the jumps. They will only do the position-specific drills for coaches after the measurable drills are finished.
There are other players who feel they need to improve on some of their combine times in order to keep their value high. After going through the Combine results, here are some players who may want to redo some of their drills.
Ameer Abdullah – Nebraska –  While his jumps and agilities were excellent, he only ran 4.61. He may want to run the 40 again.
Melvin Gordon –  Wisconsin – The same holds true for Gordon. I think every scout in the league felt Gordon would break 4.45. When he ran 4.52 that was a bit disappointing.
Duke Johnson – Miami – He is another running back who ran slower than expected. He may also want to try and improve on his 33.5″ vertical jump. Johnson did not run any of the agilities, so he needs to run those also.
Trae Waynes – Michigan State – While Waynes ran fast, his agility times were slow compared with the other top corner prospects. Slow times in the agility drills can mean a prospect is tight in the knees or hips.
Marcus Peters –  Washington – Marcus looks fast on tape, but he didn’t run fast at Indy. 4.54 is not first round corner speed. His other drills were good enough.
Kevin Johnson – Wake Forest – With Kevin, it’s the same story as Peters, excellent jumps and agilities and an average 40 time.
Ladarius Gunter – Miami – Most felt he would run in the low 4.5’s. He ran in the 4.60’s. He has to run again.
Quinten Rollins – Miami (Ohio) – He ran much slower than anticipated, the problem he may have is Miami (Ohio) does not have an indoor facility and he may want to wait until early April before he attempts to run again.
Danny Shelton – Washington – Every one want to compare Shelton to Ngata, but Ngata ran a 5.13 at Indy and Shelton ran in the 5.6’s. He needs to improve his speed or his value will drop a little.
Justin Hardy – East Carolina – I never thought Hardy was a burner, but his average time of 4.58 is not quite fast enough.
Vince Mayle – Washington State – The same holds true with Mayle as he ran 4.67.
Maxx Williams – Minnesota –  His speed was disappointing in that he ran 4.85, 4.77. He needs to run in the 4.6’s if he wants to be considered as a first round candidate.
Paul Dawson – TCU – No one thought he was going to be a speedster, but 4.95 is way too slow. I would think he will be first in line to run at TCU’s pro day.
Shaq Thompson – Washington – Shaq plays like he can run in the mid 4.5’s. His 40 times were 4.72 and 4.69. If I were him, I’d run again.
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The NFL Combine All-Stars

Data from the recently completed NFL Combine is still being gathered. Based on the data that is already available, though, it is possible to take a quick crack at identifying those players who performed well and who belong on our annual Combine all-star team. Inclusion on the all-star team is based strictly on the measurable Combine drills and nothing else.
Data used in the analysis comes from NFL.com and from information accumulated by Mike Loyko.
The evaluation included only a player’s performance in the three most important drills for each playing position (as presented in the recent “Which Combine Drills Are Most Important” article). In some cases, data for a drill (e.g., the 20 yard segment of the 40 yard run) is not available. In such cases, the drills evaluated included the data from the top three drills for which data is available (e.g., for a playing position with no data for a “top three drill” immediately available, the fourth most important drill would be included instead).
The additional qualification is that a player must have participated in at least two of the three drills. Hence the exclusion of CB Byron Jones who did not do any of the running drills but blew the roof off the drills in which he did participate.
The All-Star team follows below. Whether performance in Indianapolis translates to performance on Sundays remains to be answered.
Andrew Gallik – Boston College
Mark Glowinski – West Virginia
Laken Tomlinson, Duke
Jake Fisher, Oregon
Ali Marpet, Hobart
Wide Receivers
Chris Conley, Georgia
Kenny Bell, Nebraska
Sammie Coates, Auburn
Tight End
Mycole Pruitt, Southern Illinois
Nick Marshall, Auburn
Small RB (<215 lbs)
Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska
Large RB
David Johnson, Northern Iowa
Small DE (<270 lbs)
Vic Beasley, Clemson
Large DE
Mario Edwards, Florida State
Defensive Tackle
David Parry, Stanford
Inside Linebackers
Eric Kendricks, UCLA
Stephone Anthony, Clemson
Outside Linebackers
Bud Dupree, Kentucky
Edmond Robinson, Newberry
Ronald Darby, Florida State
Jalen Collins, Louisiana State
Justin Cox, Mississippi State
Damarious Randall, Arizona State
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2015 NFL Combine Notebook – Part IV

Going into this year’s Combine, the safety class looked weak compared with the last few years. There have been a few scouts who have told me that they feel there is only one legitimate starter in this year’s class and that’s Alabama’s Landon Collins. There are other players who have a chance to be eventual starters, but it’s not a certainty.
As for the corner class, it has some depth to it, but when you look at the numbers posted yesterday, the athletic talent is average as compared to past years.
Trae Waynes – Michigan State
Waynes didn’t disappoint as he ran a 4.32 in the 40. I was a little disappointed in his agility drills, where he posted times of 7.06 in the 3-cone and 4.39 in the 20 yard shuttle. There are linebackers who had better times. Don’t be surprised if he runs those drills again at the MSU pro day.
Byron Jones – UConn
Jones was the talk of the day after jumping 44.5″ in the vertical and 12’2″ in the long jump to set a combine record. His 20-yard shuttle and 3-cone were also impressive. His 20-yard shuttle time was 3.94 and his 3-come was 6.78. The amazing part about those times is that Jones was just cleared to start working out after having shoulder surgery. He hasn’t spent the last four to six weeks at a training facility preparing for the combine. Those numbers were on pure natural ability. Going into the Combine, Jones wasn’t on many teams’ radars. After that performance, you can bet all 32 clubs will be visiting UConn over the next six weeks.
Kevin Johnson – Wake Forest
Kevin didn’t run as expected, timing 4.52 in the 40, but the rest of his workout was outstanding. He had a 41″ vertical and went 10’10” in the long jump, while his agilities were 3.89 and 6.79 respectively. With Johnson’s height and length and overall athleticism, he is a sure first round pick but I would bet he runs again at his pro day to try and improve on that 4.52.
Steve Nelson – Oregon State
After doing tape work on Nelson, I was excited because I love the way he plays the game. On tape he is quick, feisty and aggressive. What I thought might hurt him was his height. I thought he may be under 5’10, which is the cutoff number for many teams at the corner position. He measured an even 5’10 at Indy with 30 5/8″ arms. With him running 4.49, he will be on every team’s draft board and will most likely be drafted in the second or third round. He is a fun player to watch.
Adrian Amos – Penn State
With the safety position lacking quality depth, Amos really helped himself. At 6000 – 218 he has very good size. I think many people were surprised at how well he tested. He ran the 40 in 4.49, had a 35.5″ vertical jump, 10’2″ long jump and agilities of 4.03 and 7.09. Those were all very good numbers for the safety position.
Anthony Harris from  Virginia and Derron Smith from Fresno State did not workout, so we will have to wait until their pro days to find out what they can do.
Kurtis Drummond – Michigan State
There were mixed opinions on Drummond going into the Combine and if anything, he may have hurt himself with his speed. He ran 4.65 and 4.70 with his two 40’s. He did much better with the other drills, going 39.5 in the vertical and 7.09 in the 3 cone. He didn’t bench, so at the MSU pro day he will need to run again as well as lift.
Cody Prewitt – Ole Miss
Prewitt is another player who will need to run again at his pro day. He ran 4.60 and 4.70 on his two 40’s. With that difference, scouts are wondering which one is right?
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2015 NFL Combine Notebook – Part III

One of the strong areas of this year’s draft is edge pass rushers. During the college season, some lined up as 4-3 defensive ends while others were 3-4 outside linebackers. In either case, on passing downs, they were used to rush the passer. Most of these players didn’t disappoint with their workouts yesterday and we could very easily see three of these players go in the top 15 of the NFL draft.
Dante Fowler – Florida
Going into the Combine, he may have been the favorite to get drafted the highest of the group. He didn’t disappoint. At  6025 – 261, he ran a 4.60. Where some hoped he would have done better is in the measurable drills. His vertical was 32.5″. his long jump was 9’4″, and his agilities were 4.32 and 7.40. Those are all good numbers but not outstanding. In the drill work, he moved around well, showing he could both drop into coverage and rush the passer. Fowler can play as a 4-3 end or a 3-4 OLB
Vic Beasley – Clemson
If anyone benefited from his Combine performance, it was Beasley. He stole the show yesterday and may have moved ahead of Fowler. Beasley measured 6030 – 245 and had a workout that most corners would love. He ran the 40 in 4.53, his jumps were rare for a big man with a vertical of 41 and a long jump of 10’10”. His 3-cone was a very quick 6.91. As good as all those were, the best may have been his bench press which was 35 reps. That’s the equivalent of a 470-pound bench press. In his drill work, he was just as outstanding, showing effortless movement and change of direction. He will be a 3-4 OLB
Shane Ray – Missouri
Ray couldn’t help or hurt his draft stock, as all he did was weigh, measure, and bench press. He is coming off a foot injury in his bowl game and we will have to wait for Mizzou’s pro day before we find out how Ray tests out. As for his height and weight, he came in at 6025 – 245 and did 21 reps on the bench. Ray also will be a 3-4 OLB in the NFL.
Randy Gregory – Nebraska
Going into the combine, many thought Gregory would be able to play DE in a 4-3. At 6047 – 235, he won’t be playing defensive end. At that size he has to be a 3-4 OLB. He has the athleticism, running a 4.57 in the 40 and his jumps were 36.5″ in the vertical and 10’5″ in the long jump. Both are excellent numbers. Gregory did not perform the agility drills but looked smooth and explosive doing positional work.
Davis Tull – Tennessee – Chattanooga
Going into the Combine, not many from the media and even in the draftnik community knew much about Tull.  I did my film work on him about a week ago, and he totally dominated FCS competition. I put a fourth round grade on him. After yesterday, that grade just may have to go up. Because of an injury, Tull didn’t do a lot but what he did do was remarkable. He measured 6020 -246 and his jumps were 42.5 in the vertical and 11′ in the long jump. You can bet there will be quite a crowd at Tull’s pro day! With that explosiveness, he could move up to the third round.
Leonard Williams – USC
Williams was looked at as the best defensive tackle entering the Combine. Coming out, I would say he still holds that position. At 6’5 – 302 he ran a 4.97. While some would have liked him to be a bit more explosive, he still showed very good change of direction and body control. He can play a variety of positions. In a 4-3, he can play left end or 3-technique. In a 3-4, he is an ideal 5-technique.
Danny Shelton – Washington
At 6’2 – 339, most knew Shelton wasn’t going to run fast. His 5.64 was slower than expected but his 10 yard time of 1.88 was very good. Where he was impressive, especially for his size, was the vertical jump where he jumped 30.5″ and the 20 yard shuttle, which was 4.65. At 339 pounds, those numbers are impressive. While he may not be a top 10 pick, he will still go in the first round. His tape is way too impressive.
Preston Smith – Mississippi State
Smith had one of the most impressive workouts of the day. He ran 4.74, jumped 34″ and 10’1″ and did 4.28 and 7.07 in the agility drills. Those are good numbers for a 245-pound linebacker and Smith weighed in at 271. With that athleticism, his value shot up.
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Monday Morning MD

The most anticipated medical evaluation for this year’s Scouting Combine was Todd Gurley. As a top draft prospect coming off ACL surgery, draft boards could change based on the results. Initial reports indicated the running back refused the physical, but that is just not the case.
In 19 years of attending Combine and performing orthopedic examinations, I have never encountered or heard of a player that refused the physical. The medical evaluation is the main reason for the Combine and is the only chance for all teams to perform full medical testing. It would be silly for any player to refuse the physical examination and Gurley did not do that. He completed all other parts of his physical but simply requested to delay hands-on knee exam for the medical rechecks to be held in six weeks back in Indianapolis. Usually 40-50 players with pending health issues will return. Typically these are players coming off of surgery or ones with recent injuries.
Gurley participated in all parts of the medical evaluation except he did not have manual tests on his reconstructed knee where surgery was only three and a half months ago. He likely also refused Cybex and KT1000 testing as these physical maneuvers could stress the graft. A MRI was performed on the knee. He completed the orthopedic physical in all other ways. He also completed the standard medical evaluation where heart, lung, abdomen, EKG, blood tests etc. are done.
Gurley’s request was not unusual or unreasonable. In my experience, each year there would be several players that would make similar requests. Repeated physical stress on a recently reconstructed ACL can cause soreness and could stretch the graft. In addition, recent shoulder labral or rotator cuff repairs also fall in this same category. These players will be re-evaluated in six weeks.
In the orthopedic exam, Gurley could have more than 32 doctors tugging forcefully on his knee. Some teams will have more than one doctor examine a player. During an anterior drawer test for ACL stability, a doctor will sit on a player’s foot and pull forcefully on the knee with both hands. The ACL exam can be performed gently. I actually feel it is more accurate done that way and one can feel subtleties. I teach my fellows to examine gently but old habits die hard. The majority of doctors still perform it as they were originally taught in residency, which is quite rough and can make a knee sore if done repeatedly.
Another way around this problem could have been to designate one doctor to perform a gentle knee exam at Combines and share his findings while other doctors could witness the process. Gurley has chosen to just wait and let all teams have a chance at the same time at the medical rechecks.
Other testing is sometimes also deferred by players. Prospects have refused MRI evaluations due to claustrophobia. Putting big guys in a small tube can be disconcerting. Typically there are open scanners available or medication can be used to calm anxiety if really warranted.
Gurley’s surgeon put out a supportive words touting how the ex-Georgia player is recovering ahead of schedule. He may indeed be doing quite well but these personal physicians letters mean very little. A doctor can only comment when allowed to by the patient; therefore, you will never see a personal doctor saying his player is doing poorly. Last year, a Washington team doctor wrote a support letter for Cyrus Kouandjio’s knee to other team physicians. The Redskins were in need of lineman and had the first pick on day two when Kouandjio was still available but traded out and did not select him even though their own doctor had written a positive letter.
At this point teams will have to wait as they only have partial data on Gurley. The recheck Combine that is for medical personnel only will complete the picture. If he refuses manual knee testing in six weeks (which I highly doubt), that would then become a big story.
MMMD 1: Jameis Winston throwing shoulder issue
Jameis Winston’s shoulder is a relative non-issue. It is the job of team doctors to go over every player with a fine-toothed comb. Players commonly have multiple MRIs. If there is any question, the body part will be tested. If any single team doctor requests a further evaluation, that test is ordered.
Winston apparently had an electromyogram (EMG) study that confirmed his nerves to his shoulder were ok. He also had a MR arthrogram where die was injected into his shoulder. He complained on NFL Network about that needle stick being the only thing that made his shoulder a little sore and he had no issues.
It is rare to find something that disqualifies a player but it is common to find an issue that downgrades a player’s medical grade. Winston appears to have a common thrower’s suprascapular nerve traction syndrome and doesn’t have a neurogenic or structural cause to his minor shoulder weakness. The EMG ruled out nerve issues and the MRI ruled out cysts, labral and rotator cuff tears. In this case, rehab to keep the shoulder muscles strong should easily take care of Winston’s minor issue. He certainly quieted concerns by throwing well at the Combine workout.
MMMD 2: Amari Cooper did remove his shirt for examinations
There was some initial rumor that Amari Cooper refused to take his shirt off for the physical examination process. I believe this was a misunderstanding and not a case of an athlete refusing to cooperate.
Cooper did remove his shirt and was very cooperative in most of the six examination rooms where teams are grouped. Apparently there was a minor misunderstanding when he started the process in one room.
The seems to be an issue of high scrutiny for a top draft pick more than a player being difficult or defying authority.
MMMD 3: No major surprises at Scouting Combine
So far this seems to be one of the healthiest Combines in recent memory. There appear to be no big health surprises.
No one was medically disqualified from participating in drills like Star Lotulelei was in 2013. Last year, Austin Seferian-Jenkins was discovered to need foot surgery and was held out of Combine workouts. Also, Cyrus Kouandjio fell out of being a top-ten pick into the second round due to concerns about his knee.
Expect more Combine medical information to leak out over time. It is certainly not my role to call up my team physician friends to get them to spill the beans on players with medical issues. I wouldn’t ask them to betray confidences and they wouldn’t do it anyways. But when private health information becomes public knowledge, it becomes fair game and I will do my best to interpret that information.
MMMD 4: Players do get injured at Scouting Combine
B.J. Dubose injured himself during the 40-yard dash. He was reported to have torn his hamstring. Certainly that is tough luck and hopefully he can recover for his Pro Day.
It does seem like every year someone is injured at Combine even though it is shorts and t-shirts with no contact. Previously, players have torn their ACL doing drills. Recently, a prospect tore his pectoral tendon during bench press testing and needed surgery.
MMMD 5: Giants GM contradicts Odell Beckham medical claim
Odell Beckham Jr. stated he played with two hamstring tears all last season. Giants general manager Jerry Reese contradicted that information by saying if his player were hurt he would have known about it. “I think he’s trying to be a hero.” 
I don’t know if ODB was hurt or not. He certainly played well late in the year. There is no way he had complete tears but it is possible he played through minor partial tears. I am not saying he is embellishing his injury. Patients interpret what a doctor says to them differently. A lay person’s lack of full understanding sometimes leads to false impressions.
What is unusual in this case is that his GM seemed to call out his player. Once a player (name purposely withheld due to privacy) claimed that he played all season with a broken hip. That was not the case but my team never corrected him. They let the player’s interpretation stand.
MMMD 6: DeAndre Hopkins has major wrist surgery
DeAndre Hopkins revealed his wrist surgery in a radio interview. By his description, it seems to be major surgery as he reported a ligament repair and still has pins that need to be removed.
The most likely injury is a scapholunate ligament tear. That is an injury where he could play through to have it fixed in the offseason. If left alone, it would lead to long-term arthritis and loss of motion.
Although this is major wrist surgery and he still needs pins removed, I don’t see it affecting Hopkins much for the 2015 season.
MMMD 7: Blood flow restriction training
Blood flow restriction (BFR) training has been around for decades. It is quite popular in Japan and is called KAATSU. Currently it is finally gaining some traction in the United States as the Texans are reported to use it. BFR training is also currently being tested in the military and by the US Swim team. US Ski team member Bode Miller is an early adopter.
To oversimplify what BFR is, I call it poor man’s altitude training. Instead of thin atmosphere robbing muscles of oxygen, a tourniquet temporarily restricts blood (and thus oxygen).
I have looked into this technology for years and met with Dr. Sato the founder of KAATSU on multiple occasions. I think there is promise with BFR training, especially in early post-op or acute injury patients to preserve muscle when someone isn’t in a position to do heavy exercise. BFR causes quicker fatigue and thus potentially increased benefit with much lower weight resistance.
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Dr. David Chao is a former NFL head team physician with 17 years of sideline, locker and training room experience. He currently has a successful orthopedic/sports medicine practice in San Diego.