Combine backs up film for WR Hunter 

March, 4, 2013

The workout numbers that come out of the NFL combine get plenty of attention, and they are a useful tool for scouts when formulating final evaluation on prospects.

Strong numbers can put a final stamp on a high grade for some players, but for others they simply don't match up to what we see during film study. Some prospects confirm what we've seen on many hours of game tape, while others force us to take a deeper look to see if we missed anything in our initial scouting report.

As far as the 2013 combine goes, three prospects have stood out to me in the days since the combine because of workouts that back up their solid game tapes. On the flip side, a trio of workout warriors got a second look after posting big numbers, but still don't warrant higher grades.

Here's how the film and the workouts for all six -- including a first-round receiver and a big-name cornerback -- stack up.

Walking the walk

Tennessee WR Justin Hunter:
I got four live looks at Hunter in 2012, and watched plenty of tape in addition. He has a long (6-foot-4, 196 pounds), flexible frame, and a loose gait when he opens up and runs. Hunter is also a savvy route-runner who knows how to avoid contact, set up defensive backs and separate from zone coverage, and he consistently shows the ability to go up and play the ball downfield.

All of that showed up in Indianapolis, where Hunter posted a 39.5-inch vertical jump, an 11-foot, 4-inch broad jump and a 4.44-second 40-yard dash. His film matches up, showing his ability to eat up a defender's cushion with his long strides, then use his long arms (32.75 inches) and that explosive leaping ability to make plays when working outside the hashes against defensive backs.

There are some concerns about Hunter's focus in traffic when going over the middle, and he had more than his share of drops this past fall, but his overall skill means he probably has a higher ceiling than speedy-but-raw teammate Cordarrelle Patterson. In the end, Hunter's stellar workout backed up what I saw on his tape and helped solidify his place in the first-round mix.