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Media Roundup: Combine Receivers on 40 Times, Stats & Stacking Against Competition

NFL Media analysts Mike Mayock and Bucky Brooks each rated Western Michigan's Corey Davis, Clemson's Mike Williams and Washington's John Ross as their top three receiving prospects before the NFL Scouting Combine.

The draft gurus, however, slightly disagreed on the order of the prospects and differed completely on their fourth and fifth spots.

Receivers spoke with members of the media on Friday, covering a wide array of topics in Indianapolis, ranging from whether or not they will run the 40-yard dash on Saturday, to how college coaches helped them grow, to the value of stats and elevating their games to the highest level of competition.

Interviewees included Davis, who said he was really inspired by and still keeps in close contact with new Golden Gophers Head Coach P.J. Fleck during their time at Western Michigan.

Here are highlights from seven top-rated prospects:

Corey Davis, Western Michigan

Pre-combine rankings: Mayock 1st WR, Brooks 3rd WR

On perceived lack of competition throughout his career: "I believe that's the biggest question, just the level of competition, and I know a lot of scouts and a lot of other players think that my level of competition wasn't really that serious just being from the MAC. But I feel like I can play with the best of them. My confidence is up there. I'm not afraid to go up against anyone.

"[I played] against Michigan State my junior year, we played Northwestern, Illinois this year. So I feel my game tape isn't anything to be ashamed of, especially when you play bigger schools."

On how former Broncos and new Golden Gophers Head Coach P.J. Fleck helped his progession:"Tremendously. He's been a great leader to me. He's definitely someone I've looked up to. He's one of the reasons I am who I am to this day, not only the player, but the person. He's helped me mature greatly over these four years. He's coached in the league, so he knows a lot. He's someone I text multiple times for advice. We're always talking. He's definitely a big part of my success.

What's an example of something he helped you with on the field to improve your game? "One of the big things this year, and one of the big reasons I came back, was the contested balls, the 50-50 balls. He's helped me with that tremendously, especially this previous offseason. We were always in the weight room and always working on ways to improve that, and improve my strength. Coach [Matt] Simon, our wide receivers coach was a big part of that, as well."

Mike Williams, Clemson

Pre-combine rankings: Mayock 2nd WR, Brooks 1st WR

Will you run the 40-yard dash at the combine?"Nah, I'll wait 'til my pro day (March 16)."

Why not? "Long season. Haven't had much time to prepare for it, so I'm going to take this week and next week to prepare for it, and run it at my pro day."

How are you preparing for it? "I was doing a couple of drills. You only run the 40 once, ever, in your life. You always be running routes. I was just focusing on what I'm going to be doing for a long time."

Will a poor 40 time hurt you? "I don't think so, at all. Jerry Rice didn't run a fast time. Antonio Brown didn't run a fast time. He's the highest-paid receiver in the league right now. It's all about just playing football if you look at it at the end of the day."

Are you the best WR in the field? "I believe so. If you're here and don't believe you're the best at your position, I don't know why you're here. I feel like everybody should think they're the best at their position."

What makes you the best?"Just how I attack the game. I come out and compete every day and have fun. Compete with some of the best in the ACC, played against some of the best this year, who y'all have some of the best-rated cornerbacks in [Marlon] Humphrey and [Marshon] Lattimore, so I mean, just experience and things like that."

John Ross, Washington

Pre-combine rankings: Mayock 3rd WR, Brooks 2nd WR

On being compared to Brandin Cooks: "Definitely with the explosion piece … the catch and go when he has the ball in space and stuff like that."

On being valuable despite being less than 6 feet tall: "Look at the history. We've got a lot of great guys who set great examples like Brandin Cooks, DeSean [Jackson], T.Y. Hilton, Emmanuel Sanders. All of those guys aren't 6 foot, and they're very productive. Antonio Brown is the highest paid receiver, and he is not 6 foot. Guys before set a great example on why they should give chances to guys like me."

JuJu Smith-Schuster, Southern Cal

Pre-combine rankings: Brooks 4th WR

On being the youngest guy at the combine and if his age is an advantage or disadvantage:"It doesn't affect me. I got a lot of questions [about], 'You are the youngest player, you're immature, you're 20 years old,' but I don't see an age number. I can't change that. I feel like I played football for a very long time through the years. I think the age is actually good. A young dude who's willing to work."

Will it bother you if people say what you run in the 40-yard dash over-rides what you've accomplished on the field? "Yeah, that's not just for me. I think that's for everybody. For myself, I think I prepared right, and I think I'm ready to run tomorrow."

Are you able to play outside and in the slot? "Very inside-outside guy. Very comfortable, especially going into my junior year being double-coveraged a lot coach moved me around, played me inside, had a few touchdowns playing inside and being able to do more 1-on-1s with safeties and linebackers." 

View images from the first day of player workouts Friday at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine.

Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington

Pre-combine rankings: Mayock 4th WR

On the role of special teams: "Not just the return game, but being able to cover punts and kicks and the importance of that, me as a player, I'm willing to step in and do that stuff. I understand to be a successful team, special teams is just as much a part of that. I'm excited about that next step and being able to help with that side of things."

On if the stats he put up in college will carry over to the pros:"I would be the first to tell you that statistics don't mean anything; that statistics at receiver, more than any other position, lie. In the same way, statistics do tell you the story that I've been able to play alongside some very good players and been part of a playing with good receivers, good quarterbacks and a very great coaching staff, that I was blessed to be around for four years, so it really is a product of that. It's not the stats that will transfer, but the player I am and have developed myself into." 

Zay Jones, East Carolina

Pre-combine rankings: Mayock 5th WR

Does the competition factor as a player extend to the combine? "The competitiveness is something that carries over. Just being here with the nation's best, all in one area, you get to see where you match up and match your skill sets to theirs."

How much pride do you have in being invited to the combine? "Great pride. It's such a blessing to be here. So many people helped me along the way to get to this point. I certainly do cherish it. I don't take anything for granted. It's definitely not a process I want to go through again (because) of everything involved with it, but I can look back and be glad I did it and enjoy it."

Isaiah Ford, Virginia Tech

Pre-combine rankings: Brooks tied for 5th WR with Oklahoma's Dede Westbrook

Did you surprise yourself with your true freshman year — 56 catches for 709 yards? "I maybe [produced] more than they thought I would. I always have extremely big goals for myself. Coming in as a freshman, starting and breaking all of the freshman [receiving] records was actually a goal that I set out to do and it's something I accomplished."

How much do the Virginia Tech career records for catches, receiving yards and TD catches mean to you? "Now that look back at it, they're pretty impressive. When you're trying to achieve something, you don't really sit back and look at them because you're so set on keeping your head down and working hard. But now, I'll cherish that for a long time, setting those goals and then actually accomplishing them. It was pretty cool."

In your last year, did you see ACC defenses concentrate more coverage toward you? "It was actually started halfway through my sophomore year and then continued into last year. They started to bracket me on the boundary and funnel me to the safety. It was something I got accustomed to, and I had to learn how to beat double coverage by being more precise in my routes. I think I adjusted pretty well."

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