NFL Combine Winners and Losers (Fantasy Football)

Mar 7, 2017
Evan Engram offers teams a unique talent at TE

Evan Engram offers teams a unique talent at TE

R.C. Fischer takes a look the early 2017 NFL Draft valuations ahead of the NFL Combine.

This piece is part of our article program that features quality content from experts exclusively at FantasyPros. For more insight from R.C. head to Fantasy Football Metrics.

I could have gone on with 30–40 names of ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ from the 2017 NFL Combine. This is one of the most loaded-with-talent draft classes I’ve been a part of as a talent evaluator. So many ‘winners,’ which sadly creates some ‘losers’ as well. So, putting on my fantasy GM hat and trying to interpret what I was just a part of the last few days with the proceedings in Indianapolis, here’s my instant reaction “Winners and Losers” list from the 2017 NFL Combine…

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LOSER: Myles Garrett (DE – Texas A&M)

He’s a ‘winner’ from the NFL Combine in the sense that TV analysts covering the NFL Combine thought that every time he breathed, a new universe was created, a land of magical unicorns and rainbows. He got the hype push and the subsequent media stories will follow in lockstep. Here’s the reality… Garrett’s NFL Combine was not much different than Cleveland’s #32 pick last year – DE Emmanuel Ogbah.

  • 6′4.2″/273, 4.63 40-time, 1.58 10-yard split, 35.50″ arms, 10.00″ hands = Ogbah (2016)
  • 6′4.4″/272, 4.64 40-time, 1.63 10-yard split, 35.25″ arms, 10.25″ hands = Garrett (2017)

The 2017 NFL Combine revealed that Garrett is not that much different in size-speed-agility than Ogbah…only the NFL analysts didn’t faint at the sight of Ogbah’s great Combine because they didn’t see it coming. Garrett’s Combine day was built with him as ‘the star’ of the ‘TV show’…so everything he did was the greatest thing ever. In reality, Garrett’s Combine wasn’t radically better than Ogbah’s.

Does Cleveland want/need two Emmanuel Ogbahs? They also drafted DE Carl Nassib last season. They have two young, highly drafted defensive ends on the roster right now. What they need is a quarterback. Garrett’s Combine being ‘very good-not-awesome’ makes it easier for the Browns to address their real need – quarterback. Garrett falls to at least No. 2 overall in the draft post-Combine after people have a chance to digest everything that just occurred and put things from Cleveland’s perspective/needs. Garrett lost his stranglehold on the No. 1 overall spot despite what the fawning analysts portray this week.

If Garrett is a bit more exciting version of Emmanuel Ogbah…how exciting is that for fantasy/IDP? Garrett is better, on paper, than Joey Bosa…so there is that fantasy enthusiasm. With Garrett skipping the agility drills at the Combine, we’ll have to wait and see if he’s hiding an east-west movement issue at his Pro Day (if he even does the agility drills there).

LOSER: Mitch Trubisky (QB – UNC)

I believed it in early January, and I believe it even more now – Mitchell Trubisky is going No. 1 overall to Cleveland. He’s a ‘winner’ from the NFL Combine in that he will get a No. 1 pick contract. He’s a ‘loser’ in the sense that he goes into the quarterback black hole of Cleveland. If I were him, I’d tell Cleveland “No thanks, I’m not playing for you.” However, he really does want to play for Cleveland, as he grew up in the area.

For fantasy, Trubisky’s outlook goes from shaky (Cleveland) to terrific (San Francisco) depending on what team he falls with. Garrett’s non-awesome NFL Combine opened the door for Trubisky to be the clear-cut No. 1 pick overall now. You were already hearing the rumors of that before the Combine, and they’ll intensify every week we move away from the Garrett hype show that just took place.

WINNER: Evan Engram (TE – Ole Miss)

There were all the ‘Jordan Reed‘ comparisons on Engram leading up to the Combine, but Engram is almost an inch taller and came in exponentially faster in 40-time. Engram at a 4.42 40-time (Reed ran a 4.72) is basically a tight end weapon built like we’ve never seen. In the right offense, Engram is going to be a radical game changer and an instant splash in fantasy.

LOSER: O.J. Howard (TE – Alabama)

O.J. Howard has become such a sure thing with his sensational Combine that I believe he’ll go in the top 5–10 overall…and I fear that he will go to the Jets or the Jags. If so, he goes to a team with poor quarterback play, which kills his ability to have an instant impact…and stings his fantasy value.

WINNER: John Ross (WR – Washington)

The 4.22 40-time is going to get him drafted in the first round by a team with a specific need for a speed burner. He will for sure be expected to be an instant starter.

For fantasy, Ross is likely to start day one. So, no worries about getting acclimated to the playbook or earning his spot, etc. He will join a team with a glaring need for what he brings and there will be no delay in him getting on the field.

LOSER: Mike Williams (WR – Clemson)

Williams skipped all the timing events (40-time, shuttle, three-cone), as I thought he would – he had everything to lose and little to gain with the lofty draft status already handed him. He looked solid in the catching/route running drills at the Combine but the whole vibe reminded people of Laquon Treadwell circa 2016.

In 2016, every scout pushed Treadwell as the no-brainer top WR prospect in the draft…so, Treadwell skipped the timing events and then ran slow at his Pro Day – and lost a chunk of his draft momentum. Treadwell was then a flop as a rookie, so football people’s antennae are up on Mike Williams as another pre-hyped Treadwell event about to occur. So many people I spoke with in Indy were whispering the ‘Treadwell’ word with Williams.

We’re in the beginning stages of a shift from Williams as an expected opening day starter (drafted highly) to the guy who has to prove himself (drafted second round or later), which will knock his fantasy expectations and valuations down.

WINNER: Zay Jones (WR – East Carolina) vs. LOSER: WR Cooper Kupp (WR – Eastern Washington)

These guys have been fighting for the ‘bigger’ wide receiver who would be slotted/ranked behind Mike Williams and Corey Davis…and perhaps surpassing them among scouts.

Jones measured and performed in a way to push himself into the first round, and possibly taken ahead of Mike Williams (he should be). His Senior Bowl performance plus his terrific measurements at the Combine (4.45 40-time, 6.79 three-cone, 11′1″ broad) will have him taken highly and on purpose to start right away – a great thing for fantasy.

Kupp came in a little smaller/shorter than Jones, and then ran a disappointing 4.62 40-time…painting him as more of a role-playing WR than an instant starter. The odds have been raised that Kupp will not be seen as an immediate starter in the NFL, and that is troubling for fantasy GMs. I love Kupp, but fear he gets overlooked/buried for a few years.

In a battle of Jones v. Kupp, the NFL Combine revealed Jones the winner.

WINNER: Christian McCaffrey (RB – Stanford)

Two critical things happened for McCaffrey at the NFL Combine: (1) His speed and agility numbers came in very good. Better than expected. Fantasy GMs’ enthusiasm about his speed was confirmed. (2) Much was made of McCaffrey’s hands during the TV coverage of the Combine that it became the theme of the Combine Friday. His hands were not discussed as ‘good hands’ with a nice pat on the head…it was a glowing discussion and the talk of the day.

Now, fantasy GMs have to pray he lands on a team that features him in that role ala what the Chargers did with a healthy Danny Woodhead.

LOSER: Dalvin Cook (RB – Florida State)

Cook’s Combine numbers were between ‘OK’ and ‘awful’ depending on what event you look at. Good speed, weak agility times, small hands, underwhelming broad jump, poor vertical for his size. NFL worthy? Sure. Top running back in the draft or first-round pick? Only for ‘sucker’ personnel departments.

For fantasy purposes, the odds are up that Cook falls to the second round and is not pushed as a main-carry back but part of a committee.

WINNER: Leonard Fournette (RB – LSU)

Took the 240-pound “Is he too heavy?” story and ran a 4.51 40-time – locking in his status as top running back and top 10 pick. His draft momentum was additionally aided by the Dalvin Cook flop. He gets taken top 10-15 and is an instant main-carry, three-down running back.

WINNER: Davis Webb (QB – Cal)

Got a ton of buzz this entire weekend after being quasi-ignored (wrongfully so) to start this process. He’s the QB the scouts/teams are trying to keep quiet. Webb might be an early second-round pick to a team in deep need of a quarterback. Webb is moving from ‘developmental’ quarterback to drafted highly with purpose and could matter for fantasy right away.

WINNER: Jordan Willis (LB – Kansas State)

While everyone fawned over Myles Garrett, Jordan Willis quietly ran the fastest 40-time of all the DL prospects…and the fastest 10-yard split…and the best three-cone…and had the second-best vertical. He should be the buzz/talk of the pass-rushers, and all you’re likely to hear is: “Whaddya know, how ’bout this Willis guy? Now back to how great Myles Garrett is…

Willis may be the sack leader among all rookies in 2017, not Garrett.

WINNER: Obi Melifonwu (DB – UConn)

At 6′4″/224, Melifonwu nearly broke all-time records for the broad jump with his 11′9″ and his vertical of 44″. Running a 4.40 40-time was icing on the cake. He is in the argument for best defensive player in the entire 2017 NFL Draft. He should be a nice transition for fantasy/IDP because he’s going to be a safety and not as likely to convert to corner.

WINNER: Jabrill Peppers (DB/LB – Michigan)

Peppers showed all the hype was well worth it and put the doubters to shame. He’s going to be a top 10 pick and might be as good a fantasy/IDP option out of this draft as there is – because he will be used as a safety and will likely see time on offense as well. If your league counts IDPs for their offensive activity as well, he’s your guy.

LOSERS: Jamal Adams (DB – LSU) and Malik Hooker (DB – Ohio State)

Obi Melifonwu and Jabrill Peppers were so unbelievable that the DB draft board for the mainstream needs to be erased and rewritten. Jamal Adams was just ‘good’ at the Combine times and drills. Adams is not a better NFL prospect than Melifonwu or Peppers.

Malik Hooker, fairly or unfairly, will drop because of his inability to participate. His multiple surgeries are a red flag to begin with, and then you see Peppers and Melifonwu looking like they were designed in a laboratory as perfect human specimens to play safety in the NFL. So, why should an NFL or dynasty team take Hooker so highly when you have other non-injured/non-thin-framed options to choose from?

Small School Winners

Adam Shaheen (TE – Ashland)
I did not think this was possible – but at 6′6.4″/278, Shaheen ran a 4.79 40-time with a 7.09 three-cone. I thought he looked too slow on tape, but the Combine numbers say he’s faster than I scouted. In the past two years of Combines, Shaheen would have become the darling TE prospect with those speed-agility numbers at his size, but instead he’s somewhat lost among the greatest TE class of all time. If he falls into the right NFL spot, he could be a shock fantasy producer – a major red zone threat.

Krishawn Hogan (WR – Marian)
Hogan confirmed every doubt scouts had about his size and physical tools. He came in 6′3″/222 and ran a 4.56 40-time with one of the best three-cones (6.74) of 2017 of any WR prospect at the NFL Combine along with a 36.5″ vertical. Mike Williams would kill for those measurables. Hogan’s draft stock will climb and he may matter for fantasy a lot faster than anyone thought.

NFL Combine Risers and Fallers >>

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