NFL Combine Awards (Fantasy Football)

by Jordan McNamara | Featured Writer
Mar 8, 2018

Even in a stacked RB draft class, Saquon Barkley is the clear front runner

With the 2018 NFL Combine in the books, here are eight combine awards to take away from the week.

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Wounded Workout Warrior – Calvin Ridley (Honorable Mention Auden Tate)
Calvin Ridley measured in at just over 6′ and weighed in at 189 which translates to a thin BMI of 25.3. Ridley’s 4.43 second 40 yard time tied for the fifth best 40 time for a receiver at the combine.

On its face, the casual fantasy football owner will think Ridley is a good athlete and overrate him. However, his speed score of 98.2 is below the average of 100, and good for 17th at the position.

Ridley’s other testing was poor. His vertical jump of 31 inches was the third worst at the position while his 9’2″ broad jump was the worst at the position. He also had a 6.88-second three-cone drill, which is mediocre for his weight.

All combined, Ridley produced a SPARQ score of 99, which is in the bottom 8% of the wide receiver position. Scouts like Ridley’s polish as a route runner, but combined with his low production at Alabama, Ridley’s athleticism points to a low ceiling in the NFL.

Breathe A Sigh of Relief Award – Courtland Sutton
Courtland Sutton entered the combine with questions about his athleticism. As a positional convert at a non-power five school, Sutton did not profile as a traditional Round 1 NFL wide receiver.

Sutton answered his athleticism questions very well. At over 6’3″ and 217 pounds, Sutton ran a respectable 4.54-second, 40-yard dash, for an above average speed score of 102.6. Sutton also jumped well with a 35.5″ vertical jump and 10’4″ broad jump. Sutton’s best numbers were his 4.11-second short shuttle and his 6.57-second three-cone drill, which was the third-best at the position.

Sutton leaves the combine with a much sturdier profile and a stronger dynasty stock. With potential competition like Ridley and Auden Tate struggling athletically at the combine, Sutton should end up no worse than a top-three receiver in this class with the potential to be the top option at the position.

Hype Train Award – D.J. Moore
D.J. Moore had strong support in the metric community before the combine. After the combine, the support will be much broader.

Moore measured in at 6′, which was taller than he was listed at Maryland and a solid 210 pounds. His BMI of 28.5% is a strong athletic frame.

Moore tested very well, running a 4.42-second 40-yard dash, and produced a speed score of 110, which is a first round quality score. His vertical jump of 39.5″ was the second best at the position, and his 11′ broad jump led the position. Moore also produced the third best short shuttle in 4.07 seconds.

With other potential first-round rookie picks like Auden Tate and Calvin Ridley producing lackluster athletic measurements, Moore has the opportunity to be in the top three receivers selected in the NFL Draft.

Chris Conley Award – D.J. Chark
Chris Conley tore up the 2015 Combine. Conley’s college career saw him lead Georgia in receiving for his final two seasons in college, but with lower market share numbers.

D.J. Chark has a similar story. He led LSU in receiving in 2017 and finished as the second-best SPARQ score (97.1%) of the receivers at the combine. His 4.34-second 40-yard dash and 40″ vertical both led the position. He also produced a 10’9″ broad jump which was the third best at the position.

Chark will be a rising name in the pre-draft process, but he represents a boom-bust profile. At the cost of a third-round rookie pick, he has some intrigue, but his strong combine may push him into Round 2 of rookie drafts, where running back is likely to be a better option.

Show Stealer Award – Saquon Barkley
Saquon Barkley entered the combine with high expectations. He was rumored as a potential top-five NFL Draft pick and finished college with an elite production profile. Barkley lived up to expectations on nearly all fronts. Barkley measured in at 6′ and 233 pounds for a solid 31.6 BMI.

Barkley tied Nick Chubb with a position-high 29 bench press reps and led the position with a 41″ vertical leap. Barkley ran a 4.40-second 40-yard dash which finished only behind Nyheim Hines at the position. Barkley’s speed score was an elite 124.3. About the only place where he disappointed at the combine was he went over the 4.37-second prop line on his 40 time.

Barkley is the clear cut 1.01 in rookie drafts. He is the type of historical player that landing spot does not matter. If you own the 1.01 and he gets drafted by Cleveland, do not fall for the trap that it hurts his value.

Despite his elite profile, Barkley is different than Ezekiel Elliott was in 2016. Elliott was the clear 1.01 in rookie drafts, in a down class. This made the gap between 1.01 and 1.02 enormous.

Barkley’s greatness has stolen the show from the running back position. In doing so, it has overshadowed a deep, talented and potentially historic running back class. While there is a gap between 1.01 and 1.02 in rookie drafts, the gap is not as big as in 2016.

If you own 1.01 and get offers like 1.02, 1.04 and 2.04 for the pick, it is a massive value opportunity. With those picks, you could select Derrius Guice, Nick Chubb, and Royce Freeman, three outstanding athletes with excellent college production profiles. That is a windfall that is potentially available for Barkley, and one that warrants trading down, despite Barkley’s great week.

The Incomplete Award – Ronald Jones
Ronald Jones entered the combine with questions about his weight and pass catching ability. He weighed in at 205 pounds, which is better than expected, but still a major long-term concern. Players in that weight range need to be explosive athletes and excellent pass catchers.

Unfortunately for Jones, he pulled up lame in the 40-yard dash and was unable to complete any pass-catching drills. Without a full profile, significant questions remain about his future.

Jones is likely a top-eight pick in rookie drafts. Based on the questions in his profile, he is a major risk in that area of the draft. Players with rushing and receiving prowess in that area of the draft include Barkley, Guice, Chubb, and Sony Michel. If you select Jones over any of those players, you do so at your own peril.

Further down the list, there are excellent running backs including Rashaad Penny, Royce Freeman, and Kerryon Johnson, as well as the high upside of Kalen Ballage. If you have questions about Jones, you will likely find multiple suitors in your draft looking to trade up for him.

If you can trade a mid-first round rookie pick for a later-first and mid-second round rookie pick, you can potentially select two of Penny, Freeman, Johnson, and Ballage. A trade like this has both a higher floor and a higher ceiling than Jones will return in the NFL.

The Cautious Optimism Award – Mike Gesicki
Mike Gesicki projected to be a strong athlete in straight line explosion. He met those expectations, leading the tight end position with a 4.54-second 40-yard dash, 41.5″ vertical leap, and a 10’9″ broad jump. What was better than expected was his three-cone time of 6.76 seconds and his short shuttle time of 4.10 seconds.

On tape, Gesicki shows a thin lower body and can move awkwardly. Also, he only averaged 11.5 yards per catch at Penn State, a low number considering his athleticism and his strong quarterback play at Penn State.

While he is a riser at the position, Gesicki’s athleticism showed up more at the combine than on tape. Besides, Gesicki does not project as a good run blocker in the NFL. A thorough understanding of his receiving skill set and his landing spot are key factors in Gesicki’s evaluation.

With a creative offensive mind, Gesicki could be a valuable offensive weapon. However, with a traditional offensive mind, Gesicki could be forced into an inline tight end role that does not suit his skill set and create problems for his transition to the NFL. His week warrants optimism about his future, but caution about his landing spot.

Transcendent Week Award – Shaquem Griffin
Shaquem Griffin had an inspirational week. His 20 reps on the bench press while using a prosthetic device went viral. He then ran a 4.38 second 40-yard dash at 227 pounds, the best time by a linebacker since 2003.

Shaquem Griffin plays with an intensity and passion that is contagious and his combine performance showcased his story and ability to a national audience.

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Jordan McNamara is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Jordan, check out his archive and follow him @McNamaraDynasty.

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