INDIANAPOLIS -- Quarterbacks Josh Rosen and Josh Allen took full advantage when projected No. 1 overall pick Sam Darnold opted not to throw during Saturday's highly anticipated throwing session at the NFL Scouting Combine, delivering dazzling performances that scouts won't soon forget.
Allen, a physically-imposing quarterback from Wyoming, was the obvious star of the morning quarterback session, at one point drawing audible oohs and aahhs from a normally silent audience of talent evaluators after throwing a particularly pretty deep ball that traveled at least 70 yards in the air inside Lucas Oil Stadium.
While perhaps lacking Allen's best fireball, Rosen was even more impressive when it came to accuracy. The former UCLA Bruins star threw strikes to all levels of the field, including three consecutive picture-perfect vertical routes -- which stood out even more since they came moments after Oklahoma Heisman Trophy winning Baker Mayfield fluttered his three attempts at the same throw.
Allen missed a few passes early, especially to his left, an issue that also shows up on his game tapes. At times, Allen is late syncing his million-dollar right arm with his feet, causing some passes to drift.
Just as he did at the Senior Bowl last month, Allen improved as he went along. While it is dangerous to read too much into a workout in which quarterbacks are throwing against air, Allen's stellar throwing session was evidence that he could be only a few fundamental tweaks away from becoming a much more accurate passer than is suggested by his career 56.2 completion percentage at Wyoming.
While improving accuracy at the highest level is rare, it is not unprecedented. Better fundamentals (and supporting casts) in the NFL have allowed Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco to become quite successful after completing 59.9 and 63.2 percent of their passes at Boston College and Delaware, respectively.
Allen's technique could use some fine-tuning. Rosen, on the other hand, is about as smooth as it gets for a three-year collegian who turned 21 less than a month ago.
Those paying close attention might note that several of Rosen's passes during the afternoon gauntlet drill were dropped, but many of these appeared to be just that -- mistakes by receivers despite well thrown passes.
Mayfield showed the snappy release and surprising velocity (for a shorter quarterback) that helped him complete more than 70 percent of his passes in each of his past two seasons. It also didn't go unnoticed by scouts that the hyper-competitive Mayfield threw three nice balls on post-corner routes to conclude his workout after lofting some ugly duckling deep passes the series before. On those passes -- each going about 50 yards in the air -- receivers had to slow to the point of nearly stopping to wait for the ball.
Those questioning Lamar Jackson's passing skills were quieted Saturday with the live-armed Louisville quarterback enjoying a very solid showing.
On game tapes, Jackson shows the velocity and touch needed at the next level. After Jackson spent much of his time operating out of the shotgun or throwing on the move at Louisville, however, scouts were eager to see if he looked just as natural and accurate when making three-, five- and seven-step drops.
While not quite as impressive as Deshaun Watson's similar showing a year ago, Jackson showed good synchronizing his feet and throwing motion, resulting in good accuracy Saturday and probably solidifying his fate as a first-round pick ... at quarterback, not receiver.
In a testament to this year's rare depth at the position, there were several other noteworthy performances from the so-called second-tier of quarterbacks.
Western Kentucky's Mike White and Richmond's Kyle Lauletta showed the compact throwing motions and accuracy that could justify either or both of them becoming Day Two values.
White was the more impressive of the two on deep balls, but Lauletta, the reigning Senior Bowl MVP, showed off some skills that might validate some opinions that he could be a steal, looking directly ahead when dropping back, moving imaginary safeties with his eyes before turning late to fire precise passes to the short and intermediate levels.
Lauletta's lack of an elite arm did show up on the longer passes, however, as he dropped his arm low in an elongated wind-up to generate extra RPMs, a flaw that not only will leave the football vulnerable to rushers around him in a game, it will tip off savvy NFL defenders where the ball is likely heading before he releases it.
Texas Tech's Nic Shimonek was only invited to the Combine as one of this year's extra passers to make sure that all of the receivers got their fair share of reps. But he took advantage of the opportunity, showing enough arm and accuracy to warrant a closer look by scouts.
With such good passing Friday, there were plenty of pass-catchers who took advantage.
Unfortunately, consensus top-rated wideout Calvin Ridley was not among them.
While Ridley's easy athleticism was obvious in his initial acceleration out of his stance and fluid change of direction, he dropped several very catchable passes. The frustration seemed to get the better of him as the afternoon workout went on, with Ridley losing his feet and taking a hard fall to the turf after slipping on a post-corner route.
After measuring in bigger and more explosive than expected, Maryland wide receiver DJ Moore has been one of the bright spots of the Combine. Throughout most of the Friday's workout, Moore also looked the part of a potential top 40 pick. However, he did fail to track and haul on a couple of passes thrown over his shoulder, including one particularly well-thrown post-corner by Shimonek. With so much of his production at Maryland derived from quick screens and underneath routes, scouts will be looking for improvement by Moore in this area at his Pro Day.
All due respect to Moore, the DJ making the most sweet music this week among receivers is LSU's DJ Chark, who not only wowed scouts with a Combine-best 4.34-second timing in the 40-yard dash and 40-inch vertical, he also ran crisp routes and caught the ball cleanly. So, too, did fellow former SEC star Christian Kirk, who was clocked at 4.47 seconds in 40 yards after weighing in at 201 pounds.
The Southern Methodist duo of Courtland Sutton and Trey Quinn also enjoyed standout workouts with each making several terrific grabs consistent with their game tape. Penn State's DaeSean Hamilton and Boise State's Cedrick Wilson ran sharp routes and caught the ball consistently.