A few draft analysts thought Browning helped his stock in Saturday's passing drills.
Washington quarterback Jake Browning and his Washington State counterpart, Gardner Minshew, each vowed to try to enjoy the somewhat surreal ride that is the NFL combine as much as they could — Minshew by being himself, Browning by letting the public see more of what he says is his real self.
As for impressing NFL scouts, they hoped to do that, too, though each has a long way to go — each is regarded as either a late-round pick or a possible undrafted free agent.
Whether and how much they helped themselves the past four days is — as is always the case in these things, but especially with quarterbacks — somewhat of a matter of interpretation.
Minshew displayed some decent athleticism by turning in a 33.5-inch vertical leap and a nine feet, six inch broad jump, each among the top five of the 17 quarterbacks at the combine. He also measured at 10-1/8-inches in hand size, second among all QBs.
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But in the throwing drills, all three of his deep passes were incomplete, though one appeared to be a clear drop. Whether Minshew has the arm to complete deep passes consistently will be the big question facing him when the draft is held April 25-27.
Minshew, though, did what he could to keep things loose, embracing the moment in the same manner he so often did during his one season at Washington State when he his mustache became a subject of school folklore forever.
After running a 4.97 in the 40-yard dash Saturday morning, Minshew laughed and said “that’s all I’ve got.’’ It apparently was as he then turned in the exact same time in his second 40.
Later, after a cut to commercial following one of the passing drills, Minshew looked into the camera and winked.
Minshew understood better than anybody that simply being at the combine was an unexpected gift in a year of them after he had been planning to basically end his football career and transfer from East Carolina to Alabama with designs on learning to coach. Tyler Hilinski’s tragic suicide then set off a domino effect that led to Minshew changing paths and ultimately becoming WSU’s starter and leading all FBS schools in passing yards per game (367.6).
“It makes me extremely grateful,’’ Minshew said on Friday. “I had a lot of people help me get to where I’m at. Washington State giving me the chance, coach (Mike) Leach believing in me, all those guys letting me step in and lead on short notice. It has been an incredible year. And it’s not done, the ride’s only getting better and I’m excited to see what’s going to happen in this next year.’’
Browning predicted Friday that some recent work he has been doing to refine the mechanics in his throwing motion would result in better velocity on this throws and help answer what he thinks is the biggest question about his game — arm strength — the same one dogging Minshew.
The work may well have worked as longtime Tacoma-based NFL draft analyst Rob Rang wrote on NFLDraftScout.com that Browning turned in one of the best performances of the day.
“From a pure accuracy perspective, Browning was as good as any passer on the field during Saturday’s first quarterback session,’’ Rang wrote. “He threw the ball confidently and it came off his hand with as much velocity as at any point I’ve seen it during his four years as Washington’s starting quarterback. A team looking for a quick distributor at quarterback will no doubt be intrigued by the smarts, accuracy and apparently improved arm strength from Browning.’’
Could that be the Seahawks? Seattle is at least intrigued enough by Browning to have new offensive assistant Austin Davis — who was the team’s backup QB in 2017 — meet with Browning at the Combine.
Browning revealed that during a 15-minute meeting with the media Friday that might have somewhat betrayed an image he readily admitted he has willingly cultivated is for being a little button-downed.
A writer from Oregon who covers the Ducks peppered Browning with questions about the UW-Oregon rivalry and which away stadium was his favorite — questions the same reporter also asked other UW players here. Browning, quickly figuring it out, asked the reporter if he was from Oregon after the question about the stadiums. Told yes, he then responded, “Not Oregon. Utah is pretty tough.’’
Such moments, Browning said, may be closer to the real him than he let on during his UW career.
Asked his goal when meeting with teams here, Browning said: “Be authentic. I don’t want to sound too scripted. And (show) that I’ve got nothing to hide kind of give them a taste of my personality and that I may come across pretty straight forward in media stuff but that I actually have somewhat of a personality. And then just football stuff. I think my strength is that I know football and I’m a smart guy so I go in and confirm that with them and be able to talk through a bunch of different stuff.’’
Now for each comes Pro Days (UW’s is April 1 and WSU’s April 3) and, likely, visits to some interested teams.
“After this, stop training for 40s and stuff like that and get ready for football,’’ Browning said.