The Combine. The time when the nation’s top college players converge in Indianapolis, IN at Lucas Oil Stadium for the most important interview of their lives. Whether you love it or hate it, the Combine will influence how teams evaluate prospect. Let’s take a look at some of the winners and losers.
DK Metcalf, WR Ole Miss
Perhaps the biggest winner of the Combine. He looked like a man amongst boys. “Batman,” as he is being called, solidified himself as a high first round pick. His 4.33 was incredible for a man his size (6’3’’ and 228 pounds). He did well in the Gauntlet, catching most passes, but it did look like he wasn’t going full speed. Add in his 40.5’ vertical and you got the best combine of all wide receivers.
DK Metcalf did not have great stats last year because he only played 7 games — 26 receptions, 569 yards, 5 TDs. The fact that analysts were still talking about Metcalf and were saying things like “I thought Julio was God’s gift to wide receivers, this young man right here makes me think there is a second coming” further confirm my beliefs that Metcalf will be an early first rounder. Chances are he goes to the Bills at 9th overall
Andre Dillard, OT Washington St
Dillard was near the top of my list for offensive tackles in the upcoming draft. I recently put together a mock draft that included the Colts pulling a surprise pick and taking him at 34th overall. After his showing in the Combine, I doubt that happens. I would now project him to go in the first round as a possible target for the Vikings (18) or the Texans (23).
Drew Lock, QB Missouri
Lock came into the year as the number one rated QB, and he demonstrated why at the Combine. I personally like Dwayne Haskins and Kyler Murray more and I find claims that he leapfrogged one or both of them to be ridiculous. However, there is little doubt that his throws had the most zip out of the group.
Noah Fant, TE Iowa
Everyone has been talking about TJ Hockenson as a sleeper pick to the Colts at 26. Both Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron are in contract years next season, and Doyle is recovering from surgery.
However, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Fant stole the show. While he isn’t as refined as Hockenson in areas like route running, blocking and catching, he is by far a better athlete. Fant finished better in the 40 (4.59), vertical jump, broad jump, and 3-cone. Still, Hockenson is projected to be the first TE off the board, and he is being mocked from the mid-teens to the late 20s. The earlier Hockenson goes, the better for Fant.
Kahale Warring, TE SDSU
I came away from the Combine thoroughly impressed with Warring. I can’t say I knew who he was before today, but you could tell there were separate tiers in the tight end group. Warring was absolutely in the upper echelon, and he proved so with impressive number — 3rd in vertical leap (36.5), 3rd in broad jump (10’2’’), and 6th in 40-yard dash (4.67).
He was one of the better route runners and I liked his hands in drills. This led me to go back to his college film. His game film left me to conclude that he played well in limited reps (never played more than 9 games in a season) and that it is a struggle to get a good view of his NFL prospects because SDSU has a run heavy offense.
As of now he is CBS’s #304 prospect and #20 TE. In my opinion, he has a late 4th round grade but he will likely be there in the 6th. My post-Combine TE top ranking right now has to be something like:
- T.J. Hockenson
- Noah Fant
- Irv Smith Jr.
- Jace Sternberg
- Kaden Smith
- Josh Oliver
- Kahale Warring
- Caleb Wilson
Andy Isabella, WR UMass
You could put every WR not named DK Metcalf in the “loser” category because after he dominated the discussion about his potential. However, Isabella tied for-1st with his 4.31 40-dash and proved that he belonged in all other drills. One knock against him was his height, and he measured in at 5’9”, not ideal for a Colts offense with a small WR in T.Y. Hilton. I still think Isabella helped himself and the Colts should take a look at him in the 3rd-4th round range.
Justice Hill, RB Oklahoma St.
This years running back group doesn’t really excite. Fans were spoiled the last couple of off-seasons with players like Zeke, Kamara, CMC, Fournette, Saquon, Mitchel, Mack, Mixon, Chris Carson, Chubb, Conner, Lindsay, Cook, etc. This year the unanimous number one running back, Josh Jacobs, started 3 games.
After Jacobs, I think that there are just a bunch of guys, in no particular order. Justice Hill, graded by CBS as the 102th prospect in the pre-combine big boards, certainly earned the right to separate himself a bit from his peers. His numbers, #1 in 40 (4.40), Vert (40’), Broad (10’10’’) for the RB group, clearly display his athleticism. From what I’m seeing, the Steelers along with some other teams have shown some interest. As of now, he seems to have a high 3rd round grade.
Tyree Jackson, QB Buffalo
This kid seems like he has so much fun, to go along with unlimited potential. He didn’t have a QB guru growing up so he just learned how to throw from YouTube clips, which along with his God-given talent, was just enough to help him produce at Buffalo.
I like his demeanor. He was enjoying playing football and just being out there, a smile on his face at all times. Started off booming the ball so fast, every single WR dropped it. Then Steve Smith told him to tone it down a bit and he had a strong since.
While I’m not saying he’s going to go in the first round, I wanted to acknowledge his improvement since the Senior Bowl, where his throwing motion was long and unorthodox. At the Combine, it seemed shorter and he was a lot more accurate. If Josh Allen can get drafted 7th overall due to a big arm, and pretty much nothing else, someone will give this kid a late round flyer and try to develop him.
I don’t think Jackson’s game IQ and play comprehension is super high, so if a team drafts him, he would have to sit and learn for a few seasons.
T.J. Hockenson, TE Iowa
Not the athlete his teammate is, but his catching was exceptionally fluid and natural. I liked his hand-placement when the ball was approaching and his tape displays his elite route running.
Parris Campbell, WR Ohio State
4.31, tied with Isabella for the fastest time, showed his track background and athleticism. One of the many Ohio State products who impressed in Indy.
Miles Boykin, WR Notre Dame
I watched pretty much every single ND game this year and Boykin really impressed me. I liked his production and the way he played, but I had some serious worries about his deep speed and athleticism. Those were put to rest as Boykin’s had one of the better statistical performances with a 4.42 40-dash, 11’8’’ Broad and 43.5” (!) Vert.
Hakeem Butler, WR Iowa State
Butler’s biggest win might have come on weight-in day when he was recorded at 6’5’’ and 227 pounds. His stats speak for themselves: 60 catches, 1,318 yards, 9 TDs. However, to measure at his height, have 83 inch wingspan, have hands the size of the largest NBA players at 10.75,” and run a 4.48 second 40 is absolutely incredible. Butler is one of the WR the Colts should target to play on the perimeter.
Lil’Jordan Humphrey, WR Texas
Humphrey carried sleeper status into the Combine. A lot of of scouts seemed to enjoy his tape and in this draft we have seen 2 previous “sleeper picks” (Ridley Riley and Deebo Samuel) burst onto the scene and push themselves up draft boards. Humphrey, however, utterly flopped. His 4.75 40-dash raised major red flags and brought into doubt his ability to win one-on-one matchups.
For reference, Stanford’s Jake Bailey ran a 4.72. Jake Bailey is a kicker.
To further emphasize his lack of speed, on every deep pass during drills, Humphrey wasn’t fast enough to make a play on the ball. He doesn’t have that second gear.
Kaden Smith, TE Stanford
His blocking was good, which is rare for current TE prospects, but his hands were unsteady and his lack of speed was apparent. His college tape is very good, but he hurt himself at the Combine.
Josh Rosen, QB Cardinals
“Wait a minute Alvaro, I didn’t see Rosen at the Combine, how could he be a designated loser?” Well, the first part of that is correct, as Josh Rosen was drafted last year as the 10th overall pick and struggled mightily in Arizona after infamously saying that the 9 picks before him had been “mistakes”.
It has surfaced that the Cardinals are seriously considering using the top pick on Kyler Murray. In fact, the team’s new head coach stated that he “would take him [Murray] number one overall.” (UPDATE: Bleacher report broke a story that the Murray buzz is real and went as far as to predict he would be the Number 1 overall pick).
Now, all of this noise could just mean that the team holding the 1st pick is taking a close look at a very talented prospect. Or, it could be that after publicly stating that Rosen is “their guy”, the Cardinals are having second thoughts and would like to take Murray.
In my opinion, having taken a look at what Kingsbury ran in college, what Murray excelled in and how Rosen played, I think the best course of action would be.
- Try to trade Rosen for a second round pick (settle for third if there are no offers), try and do the guy a solid and send him somewhere that doesn’t have swish cheese for an Offensive Line (Jags, Pats and Bucs are all destinations I would consider). Post writing note: Josh Rosen has deleted all his Cardinal related pictures on Instagram.
- Draft Murray at Number 1 overall
- Do everything, and by everything I mean EVERYTHING, to get a solid OL in front of Murray (Yody Cajuste at 33 and Ja’Wuan James in FA would be a start)
Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, WR Oklahoma
If you are a WR, the most important drill is the 40-dash. If you’re a fast WR and you run in the 4.2s, you’re going in the first round. Brown was predicted to do just that, but a foot injury prevented him from participating in the Combine.
I still think he goes early second-round at worst, but he could have given Metcalf a run for his money for the title of “Best Combine” if he were to break John Ross’ record, which he said he was aiming to do.
Riley Ridley, WR Georgia
This one hurts. Anyone that has been following my scouting and my prospect grading knows that Ridley is one of my favorite players in the draft. Him and Deebo Samuels really needed a strong week to solidify themselves as a late first round pick.
Daniel Jeremiah had Ridley as his 29th best player and Bucky Brooks had him as his 27th. After a 4.6 second 40-yard dash that’s definitely going to slip.
The Colts should take a closer look at him at 59.
Isaac Nauta, TE Georgia
He had a terrible day at the scouting combine, which is a shame because I like him as a blocker and his college film is pretty decent. Overall, what absolutely killed him was a 4.9 40-dash. He’s got to get that up for his pro-day because, to some teams, a time that slow makes him undraftable.
Terry McLaurin, WR Ohio State:
Here is another one of the WR I thought could really help himself during the Combine. McLaurin ran a very good 40-dash at 4.35, but the rest of the day was mediocre at best. 37.5’ vertical was average and a 10’3’’ broad was slightly above average.
I didn’t put McLaurin here because I think his numbers were bad, it’s just that the Combine is made for guys like him to showcase their athleticism, and I don’t think he did that today.
Darell Henderson, RB Memphis:
Him and Bryce Love are the only RBs I’d take a closer look on Day 3 of the draft just because Love is a Heisman talent who was hurt bad last year and Henderson is a small-ish school prospect who put up huge numbers in college.
Kind of like McLaurin, Henderson didn’t do bad: 4.49 40-dash, 22 bench press, 33.5” vert, 10’1’’ Broad. But I thought he could do so much better in all those categories to show off his explosiveness and home-run ability.
Irv Smith Jr., TE Alabama
If I was Smith (which I obviously am not), my goal for the Combine was to walk away with the tag of “Most Athletic TE”. Unfortunately for Smith, Fant was the one assigned that label and Smith honestly didn’t show much. His 4.63 40-dash was good, but his broad jump of 9’2’’ and vert of 32.5’ were pretty bad. The goal would have been to put up O.J. Howard-type numbers (4.51, 10’1’’, 30’) and solidify himself as a 1st rounder.
I think Smith Jr. falls to early/mid-2nd round.