Hello all! Today was a very eventful day for the combine. I'm going to take a look at the Wide Receivers (or Wide-Outs), and analyze whose draft stock went down or up based on today. Lets start with Mike Mayock's Pre-Combine rankings for the top 5 wide receivers. His list is as follows.
Official Statistics from the Combine:
For purpose of brevity, I am going to evaluate the best time/measurement prospects at each event. Let's start with the 40.
40 Yard Dash:
This is one of the more important events at the combine. A prospect's 40 can seperate him from the rest of the pack, and it was truly an eye-opener for some scouts. In this particular event, the lead went to a 3 way tie between Travis Benjamin, Stephen Hill, and Chris Owusu.
For my evaluation of this event, I can see one player who definitely raised his draft stock, and that is Stephen Hill. What seperates this man from the rest is the fact that he is 6'4", where the other two guys who ran his 40 time are at least 4 inches shorter. In the NFL, every inch counts. For a Wide Receiver, height is an extremely important attribute. There are very few wide receivers like Steve Smith who are short yet can be a deep threat and out-jump a defensive back. Now for the player who hurt his draft stock, I would pick Jarrett Boykin. His 4.74 40 time will get him nowhere in the NFL. He is going to need to be a heck of a route runner to get seperation from most defensive backs. A few other notable times, Michael Floyd ran a 4.47 time, and Reuben Randle ran a 4.55. Kendal Wright struggled, running a 4.61.
This event is not as important for wide receivers as events like the Forty, Cones, etc. However, it does give us a gauge on a few things. Number one, the strength of a wide receiver can be the difference between getting off of the line of scrimmage when being pressed and getting pushed into the dirt. In addition, a strong wide receiver is going to have an edge when it comes to blocking and having the ball ripped away in a possession catch situation. The winners in this competition were Jerrell Jackson and Marvin Jones with 22 bench presses apiece, backed up by Ryan Broyles and Junior Hemingway with 21 apiece. This was the one and only event that Ryan Broyles took part in. I think the biggest benificiary of this event is Jerrell Jackson. He is going to need to increase his draft stock however he can. His 4.62 forty time is going to shy away many, even though he was a relatively good route runner and instinctive player in college. Michael Floyd's measurement was a 36.5
Kashif Moore leads the pack with a 43.5 inch vertical jump. Backing him up are Jerrell Jackson (41 inches), Chris Owusu (40.5), Stephen Hill (39.5), and Keshawn Martin (39.5). What jumps out of the page at me is seeing Owusu and Hill's names again. They both are considered middle-to-late rounders (Hill's size helped him into the 2nd-3rd in some Pre-Combine Mocks). These two are both intriguing prospects. For one, Hill played in the largely option-based Georgia Tech offense, one of the beefs many scouts have with him. Owusu played with Andrew Luck at Stanford, and suffered many concussions that kept him out for a large amount of his senior year.
Stephen Hill again in the top of the group, with a 133 inch broad jump. Chris Owusu is also a repeat winner, coming in second with a 129 inch broad jump. Jerrell Jackson (127), Kashif Moore (126), and Mohamed Sanu (126) made the top 5. The big disappointer of this exercise is Dwight Jones, with a 109 inch jump, a full 3 inches behind everyone else. Jones' primary weakness is his weight. He is not very good over the middle and will ne a nonexistent blocker if he can't put weight on. Look for him to try to rebound at his UNC Pro Day.
3 Cone Drill
The 3 cone drill is an important one for wide receivers. The ability to change direction at high speed can help players get open. Speed is deadly, but it can only help so much. There are few athletes who can say they are the fastest person on the field at all times. When playing a defensive back who is faster than you, making a quick and hard cut can get any player open if they stay true to their footwork. And with that, the leader of the 3 Cone Drill was Junior Hemingway with a 6.59 second time. Following him is Danny Coale (6.69), TJ Graham (6.77), Marvin Jones (6.81), and tied Jerrell Jackson and Kashif Moore (6.82). Junior Hemingway's time is definitely intruiging. He is described as a deep threat yet he lacks explosion out of his routes. He also can get jammed up easily. However, being the leading receiver in a drill about running routes makes him certainly appealing. He's a good run blocker who has value as a slot if he can work on his footwork and learn to explode out of his breaks. Having value as a blocker can't hurt him either, giving him value on special teams early on.
Twenty Yard Shuttle
Junior Hemingway again coming away the top prospect in this change of direction drill (or tied at least). He and Eric Page ran a 3.98 second time, backed up by Jarius Wright, Kashif Moore, and Marvin McNutt, followed by a 3 way tie between Jerrell Jackson, Chris Owusu, and Marvin Jones. Stephen Hill and Reuben Randle (both projected second-mid-round picks) struggled with this one.
60 Yard Shuttle
Jerrell Jackson leads this drill, showing again his route running (or at least change of direction) prowess. He logged a 11.08 time, followed by Junior Hemingway (11.16), Keshawn Martin (11.16), and a 3 way tie between Boykin, Coale, and Owusu (11.22). We keep seeing the same names towards the top of the direction drills. These are very important for any receivers looking to eventually play anything more than special teams.
Position Drill Review
Mike Mayock breaks down a few of the top receiver prospects here. All eyes were on Justin Blackmon here, who razzled and dazzled everyone. Michael Floyd also showed great ball skills, though he occassionally looked stiff out of his breaks.
Watching the Gauntlet drill, Mike Mayock often points out when guys were weaving and when they were making double catches and/or body catches. Justin Blackmon had a good drill on his hurt hamstring. One guy that stuck out was Danny Coale. He ran the Gauntlet very well, minus one double catch. In addition, Michael Floyd looked very good in this drill, seamless in his transitions. Stephen Hill also looked very good. This drill was one where a viewer like me could see why certain guys were high projected draft picks.
I always love watching the combine for the guys that nobody is sure about, or the later round guys fighting tooth and nail for an edge over the rest. Stephen Hill was the most impressive guy in my opinion. Michael Floyd looked very good in the positional drills. Many of the wide receivers in this draft are very big, tall prospects. The future is bright for an NFL that has become a passing league in most regards. One thing is certain, it's gonna be a fun ride to the draft!