Draft season has fully kicked off and the rookie craze is in full swing. This week in Indy’s Lucas Oil Stadium, the large majority of draft-able prospects gathered to test their athletic ability and formally interview with teams. Now that we have had a few days to let the dust settle from the 2020 NFL Combine, we can take a step back and deliver the following NFL prospect stock report:
- Denzel Mims, WR – Baylor: During our Senior Day coverage, we noted that Mims was the big winner from the week long event, showing off his excellent hands and pass catching radius against some of the top senior corners in the country. Mims continued the positive momentum at the Combine, posting excellent times in the 40 (4.38s), the 3 cone (6.66s), and 20 yard shuttle (4.43s) along with strong jump numbers (131 inch broad, 38.5 inch vertical). He also measured in at ideal NFL size (6’3 207) with adequate hand and arm size. With those numbers, teams may see Mims as a potential “alpha” wide receiver at the next level.
- Jonathan Taylor, RB – Wisconsin: Most draft analysts have ranked Taylor and Georgia RB D’Andre Swift as 1(a) and 1(b). And although Swift’s combine was also strong, Taylor may have solidified himself as the first running back on most boards. Most suspected he would run fast, he was a high school state track champion after all, but his 4.39 40 was the fastest RB time this year. He also interviewed well, impressing several teams with his knowledge and eloquence. Taylor also has ideal size at 5’10, 226 lbs and a strong collegiate statistical profile suggesting that he can be a true bellcow.
Warren Sharp: “Only RBs to weigh 225+ and hit a combine 40 under 4.45 since 2014: Jonathan Taylor and Saquon Barkley” https://twitter.com/SharpFootball/status/1233561319552561152
- Albert Okwuegbunam, TE – Missouri: Albert O has been quite the headache, not only for spell checkers and editors, but for NFL scouts. Okwuegbunam followed up a strong 2018 season (43/466/6) with a quiet 2019 (26/306/6), dropping him down boards in a relatively weak TE class. He only competed in one test at the Combine, but he absolutely crushed it, running a 4.49 40 yard dash at 258 pounds. There are still questions regarding his side-to-side agility and burst, but his elite underlying analytics (90th percentile college dominator and 92nd percentile breakout age) helped move him up boards.
- A.J. Dillon, RB – Boston College: The Tennessee Titans 2019 playoff run showed us that a successful NFL offense can run through a physically imposing running back. This is great news for Boston College’s A.J. Dillon, who is the closest thing we’ve seen to Titans RB Derrick Henry in years. Dillon assuaged concerns over his athletic profile at almost 250 lbs by running a 4.53 40, putting up 23 reps on the bench press, and jumping out of his shoes (41 inch vertical, 131 inch broad). Even more impressively, Dillon predicted almost these exact results roughly 2 years ago — https://twitter.com/ajdillon7/status/970355315404410881
With several other running backs posting disappointing testing numbers, Dillon likely earned himself some money come April.
- Chase Claypool, WR/TE – Notre Dame: Many scouts and analysts suggested Claypool shift to TE because of his plus size (6’4, 238), hoping he could profile similarly to other “move TEs” that have taken over the NFL. Claypool put on 12 pounds between the Senior Bowl and Combine and still put up incredible athletic numbers for any WR prospect. His 4.42 40 at that weight puts him at a 99th percentile speed score and his jumps (40.5 inch vertical, 126 inch broad) give him a 92nd percentile burst score. Claypool may not be making that move to TE after all…
- Justin Herbert, QB – Oregon: Scouts already knew that Herbert was a good athlete and that he had a cannon for an arm, but he likely cemented his place as QB3 this week in Indy. Herbert tested well (4.68 40, 35.5 inch vertical, and solid agility drills) and showed off his arm strength in passing drills with good downfield accuracy.
Other notable performances: Justin Jefferson (LSU) – great 40 time/drills, Donovan Peoples-Jones (Michigan) – top performer in all testing, Cole Kmet (Notre Dame) – overall athletic package, Henry Ruggs (Alabama) – 4.27 40, Darrynton Evans (Appalachian State) – strong in all events, Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama) – positive medical reports
- Laviska Shenault Jr., WR – Colorado: Shenault is a bit of an enigma, a running back in a wide receiver’s body who excels in YAC situations but with questionable technique and a significant injury history. Shenault supporters predicted he would run a sub 4.5 40 and cement himself as an early selection in the 2020 draft. Shenault disappointed on two fronts. Not only did he run slower than expected (4.58 40), but it was also revealed that his existing groin injury was worse than expected and required surgery. For most players, explaining a poor performance away with injury can be tolerated, but with past shoulder and toe surgeries already on his medical history, scouts may now be wary.
- Jared Pinkney, TE – Vanderbilt: If you look back at early season draft boards, Pinkney would likely appear at the top of most TE rankings. Vanderbilt’s offense disappointed this season and Pinkney’s numbers suffered. Pinkney needed to crush the combine to revive his draft stock and he failed to do so, running a 4.96 40 yard dash in the only athletic testing he participated in. Pinkney will likely be a late selection in this year’s draft.
- Zack Moss, RB – Utah: Moss was sneaking up fantasy rankings and draft boards following the 2019 season, but his combine performance showed the limitations to his game. His 4.65 40 time was reminiscent of David Montgomery, who struggled at times to live up to expectations as a rookie last season. Moss doesn’t look overly fast on tape, so the 40 time was not surprising, but a better time could have silenced many of the doubters. Moss reportedly was dealing with an iffy hamstring, so he can potentially shave some time at his pro day later this month.
- Jake Fromm, QB – Georgia: Fromm’s stock has already dropped over the past few months, with former Georgia QB Justin Fields putting up an excellent season with Ohio State. For Fromm, a performance worse than Fields, or other former Georgia QB Jacob Eason for that matter, was likely to reflect poorly on him. So when Fromm had an up-and-down season with Georgia, he needed a strong offseason to repair his stock. Fromm ran a 5.01 40, the worst of the QB participants, and then was erratic in the throwing drills. Quarterbacks are almost always overdrafted, but Fromm may have eliminated any first round conversation with his performance.
- Tee Higgins, WR – Clemson: For most at the combine, stock is raised or lowered by performance in the testing. For Higgins, his drop will correspond with his absence from drills. Scouts and analysts speculate that Higgins likely would have run a slow 40 and may not have excelled in other athletic testing. Higgins will look to inflate his numbers at the friendlier Clemson pro-day.
Other notable performances: Jalen Reagor (TCU) – disappointing 40 but great burst times, Harrison Bryant (FAU) – disappointing testing all-around, Salvon Ahmed (Washington) – shockingly poor 40 time, Mitchell Wilcox (USF) – hit in face with ball during gauntlet)