NFL Combine Surprises (Fantasy Football)
I had the opportunity to attend the NFL Combine on Saturday to watch the quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends take part in drills. Other than being an amazing experience, I captured some great footage and was able to see some of the best from the 2018 class up close and personal.
This is a first for me in 2018. I do some research but don’t dive into rookies until they are drafted. A player’s landing spot is just as important to me as their measurables. I like to look at everything and give my opinion when I have an entire picture to look at, instead of just the outline. With the amount of depth in this year’s draft, owners have an opportunity to rebuild their rosters regardless of the position in which they draft from.
This is all about surprises from the combine. Even though I was only in attendance on Saturday, I was able to keep track of the running backs as well. There was something from a majority of the position groups that stood out to me. Some were more surprising than others. At this point, though, it’s full steam ahead on rookie breakdowns and there is no turning back.
Nick Chubb was viewed by many fantasy owners as a potential 1.01 draft pick someday. After an injury cut his sophomore season short, Chubb has slowly been working his way back to that same player that used to awe us. With the emergence of Sony Michel, though, Chubb has been overshadowed. That wasn’t the case on Friday.
In every drill that both Michel and Chubb participated in, Chubb bested Michel. That wasn’t the thought from many coming into the combine, especially in the 40-yard dash. Michel just did not do enough to help his stock while Chubb did everything to improve his.
The one thing keeping Michel’s value to fantasy owners afloat is the media’s comparison of him and Alvin Kamara. Any fantasy owner would love to draft a player who could “potentially” put up the same kind of numbers as one of the most electric players we saw in 2017. Even though, deep down, fantasy owners know Michel will most likely not meet those standards, they don’t want to miss that opportunity.
All quarterbacks not named Baker Mayfield looked timid
This class has several QBs that could be good in the NFL and countless others that could find a career as a backup. I was hoping to see all the QBs come out and compete to show who was the best in this class. Baker Mayfield was the only one that stood out to me. Josh Allen had some throws that really showed off the cannon, but pressed too hard to make good throws in the other drills. Mayfield was the only one who looked like he was practicing in game speed. While Mayfield would take snaps, make his drops and his throws like it was game day, everyone else just seemed to be going through the motions and were more worried about making a mistake instead of trying to impress and being confident in their abilities.
Mayfield’s biggest attributes are his passion and leadership abilities, two items you can’t teach and he outshines the rest of the QBs in these areas. It showed on Saturday that he wanted to lead by example and wasn’t afraid of the spotlight. I wasn’t surprised by the way Mayfield handled himself, but I was surprised by everyone else. I didn’t see a performance from another QB that made me believe he should be picked over Mayfield.
Calvin Ridley may be overrated
The general consensus has been this year’s receiver class isn’t very deep with talent. Saturday showed me this class could have plenty of NFL-caliber receivers who could have an impact. There were several who stood out and performed very well at the combine. Calvin Ridley was not one of them.
I think Ridley has a good skill set, but I think he is overhyped as the WR1 in this class. Can Ridley play bigger than what he really is? I heard several people compare his combine to Antonio Brown due to his size and his performance in some of the drills, but it’s dangerous territory comparing Ridley to an all-time great.
Ridley ran a great 40-yard dash but under-performed in all of his other tests. Even in the 40-yard dash, Ridley had several false starts and even stopped in the middle of his run one time to start over. He had a small slip at the beginning, but was the only athlete I saw who stopped themselves to make another run. It would be interesting to see if Ridley could perform well out of the slot with his burst of speed and ability to mismatch with defenders on the inside. Ridley could be dominated by more physical corners on the outside, though.
It was a strong performance on Saturday by several receivers. D.J. Moore may have separated himself from Ridley as the WR1 in this year’s class and several others closed the gap between Ridley and themselves. Owners are going to be jumping at the chance to draft this year’s Kamara or Kareem Hunt. That will help other owners get some great value at the receiver position.
Trey Quinn & Dylan Cantrell = Deep Sleepers
Trey Quinn had an extremely successful season in 2017, playing opposite top receiver prospect Courtland Sutton. 114 catches for 1,236 yards and 13 touchdowns is nothing to scoff at, though, regardless of who plays next to you. Quinn looked quick and sharp in his routes and looks like a player that could be extremely successful in the slot. In PPR leagues, he could become a solid option if drafted into the right situation.
Dylan Cantrell not only impressed on the field, but he impressed in all of his workouts and drills this week. He was in the 97th percentile for his athletic composite score. His numbers aren’t nearly as impressive as Quinn’s, but he has great speed and should play well at the next level.
Both were smooth on the field but lacked the breakaway speed to make big plays in the NFL. They have enough acceleration and make great cuts to be able to break away from defenders long enough to make catches within 10 yards. Both players could be great options for fantasy owners who go running back early in the draft but miss out on the top receivers in the first couple of rounds.