In positional drills, Marcell Ateman rounded some of his cuts and looked pretty raw. He didn't clock a great 40 time or vertical leap.
But when defensive backs were added to the mix later on, it didn't matter. Ateman might not run the prettiest routes yet: it's potentially a huge area of improvement. But when the ball goes up, there's only one person coming down with it. Ateman made difficult catch after difficult catch, used his body to shield defenders from the ball and even used his loping gait to outrun defensive backs on deep balls. In one-on-ones, he might have been the most dominant receiver in attendance.
In fact, at one point the coaches put a top defensive back on Ateman in a best-on-best situation, one that Ateman won, but the pass was off. In all, it was a strong showing for the Wylie East receiver who demonstrated his tremendous upside.
Jones can play, too
Ateman's Wylie East teammate, Quan Jones, is a top prospect in his own right, and might be the more ready player right away. While Ateman's ceiling is higher, it isn't hard to suggest that Jones is the more polished of the two, and potentially the safer bet.
Jones ran a little better than Ateman — clocking a 4.67 top time to Ateman's 4.81 — and ran noticeably better routes. In one-on-ones, he didn't quite demonstrate the ability to dominate the cornerback with his body the way Ateman did, but, against pretty chippy coverage, he was able to get open for some big plays.
The two might or might not be a package deal, as they're pretty tight, but most college coaches aren't going to find too many problems with offering both prospects.
The field at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex was a little bit thicker grass that was worn through in spots, and the result was that most of the times were slower than expected. The fastest laser-timed 40-yard dash (there was a malfunction with the equipment at one point) was 4.43 seconds.
One of the workers of the combine told me that it would probably be a pretty safe bet to subtract one-tenth of a second from the overall times to get a more likely clocking (and potentially from the shuttle times, which saw players slipping and sliding quite a bit. That would put Jones at 4.57, Ateman at 4.71 and quarterback J.T. Barrett at 4.69.
Uber-talented South Lake (Fla.) safety Marcel Harris would have run a 4.49 on one of his two attempts. Harris is a top 2013 Texas target.
Harris one of top players
Harris is so built, especially through the lower body, that he looks like he could become a linebacker (if he wasn't one already). But to pigeon-hole him based on his size would be to miss out on a potentially special safety prospect.
Harris came to the Texas camp last summer and impressed the coaches enough that he's in-line for an early offer from the Longhorns. But Texas will have plenty of competition, as Harris figures to get offers from the entire country.
Saturday, he lined up in one-on-ones as a cornerback and showcased his athleticism in picking off two passes while providing great coverage seemingly throughout. He was even more special in 7-on-7 play, when he used his range to drastically affect what the offense was able to do.
Barrett makes an impression
It was Barrett's first combine, and that showed at times. But he also showed an ability to adapt quickly to circumstances and an ability to respond to quick hits of coaching.
There were a number of quarterbacks at the combine, so it was difficult for any quarterback to receive extensive coaching, or even extensive repetitions, yet Barrett improved seemingly rep-to-rep. He took a "sack" on his first go in 7-on-7 for holding onto the ball too long, though he probably wouldn't have taken it in a real situation in that he would have been running downfield.
Then, a few plays later, Barrett sped up his drop, and his sense of urgency, hitting a post route exactly at the moment he broke open for a touchdown.
Make no mistake: there's work to be done in Barrett's game. But in a situation where many quarterbacks struggle with the speed of the game, Barrett was able to speed himself up, without making mistakes.