Prospects With High-Potential Despite Poor Combine
As you likely know, the NFL is a “what have you done for me lately” type of business. That translates to the NFL Draft as well, because there’ll be players who skyrocket up boards because of a great Senior Bowl or a great Combine performance. Unfortunately, there are some who have to move down in order for those players to move up.
The list we’ve compiled for this article today are those guys, the ones who’ve seen their stock drop since the NFL Combine. Whether it be a poor off-the-field drill or a poor showing on-the-field, they’ve found themselves sliding down draft boards. We’re here to tell you not to overreact and simply forget about them. They’re still high-potential players who teams may be getting at a discount due to a poor Combine showing.
Calvin Ridley (WR – Alabama)
This one is too easy, right? He came into the Combine as the consensus No. 1 wide receiver, but his lack of athleticism in the off-field drills have some sliding him down to the third-round. This is somewhat crazy, because the drills in question are the vertical jump and broad jump, where Ridley finished in the bottom-three among all receivers at the Combine. Ridley was never going to be a wide receiver who jumped over defenders, so this shouldn’t affect his draft stock at all. His 40-time was arguably the most important one to him, and he ran that in 4.43 seconds, the sixth-fastest time among the 37 receivers who participated in that event.
Lamar Jackson (QB – Louisville)
It wasn’t a great showing for Jackson at the Combine, but one day shouldn’t erase what many saw in him leading up to this point. We knew that his accuracy was shoddy throughout his time at quarterback, but he made up for his inefficiencies throwing the ball by running the ball. He didn’t participate in the 40-yard dash, which may have changed the overall tone of his critics, because he would’ve crushed that drill. Instead, we watched him throw very tentatively during the drills, not throwing with anticipation or velocity. While it was a bit concerning, do we erase his upside if he improves? As far as I know, Cam Newton has major issues with accuracy, yet he’s doing okay for himself. Jackson comes with risk, sure, but he also comes with massive upside. We’d still expect him to go in the top-half of the first-round.
Auden Tate (WR – Florida State)
Most weren’t expecting Tate to have a great time in the 40-yard dash, but when his official time of 4.68 seconds came in, a lot of analysts moved him down their draft boards. Here’s the thing, though… If you aren’t beating a cornerback with your speed (something Tate was never going to do), you need to beat them with your size, something Tate’s got plenty of as he measured in at 6-foot-5 and 228 pounds with 33 3/4-inch arms (were the longest among wide receivers at the Combine). He’s one of the best wide receivers in the class when it comes to winning contested catch situations, as he knows how to use his body to his advantage. While he’s not a top-three round type guy, he’s someone who does come with plenty of potential, especially around the goal-line.
Simmie Cobbs (WR – Indiana)
There were concerns with Cobbs prior to the Combine, though his performance there didn’t help. He ran a 4.64-second 40-yard dash, which was the fourth-slowest time among receivers. Yeah, he’s 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, but tight end Mike Gesicki is 6-foot-5 and 247 pounds, and he ran it in 4.54 seconds. Cobbs isn’t a physical wide receiver, either, but similar to Auden Tate (above), he’s excellent in contested catch situations. He seemed to high-point the ball well on film, but his vertical jump netted just 30 inches, which was the lowest number by a wide receiver at the Combine. If that day was anything like his tape, it’s understandable, because he was extremely inconsistent from game-to-game in college. While there was a lot of ragging on Cobbs here, he’s flashed on tape at times and has rock-solid size.
Royce Freeman (RB – Oregon)
He’s someone I didn’t expect to nail the Combine, so his stock shouldn’t really be affected by mediocre measurables. His 40-yard dash was actually faster than I thought it would be at 4.54 seconds, but seeing that he was outdone by Nick Chubb and Bo Scarbrough in that drill, his name drops down the list. His 34-inch vertical was very middle-of-the-pack, as was his 9’10” broad jump. Honestly, that’s how many analysts are approaching him – as a very middling prospect. Something that wasn’t shown at the Combine was his 20-yard shuttle of 4.16 seconds, which was the third-fastest. But watching Freeman on film, his instincts and vision are things that won’t show up at the Combine. He reminds me of Jordan Howard, who slipped into the fifth-round of the 2016 draft, only to rush for 2,435 yards and 15 touchdowns over his first two seasons. Freeman has great potential despite a mediocre showing at the Combine.
Jaleel Scott (WR – New Mexico State)
This is a name I wanted to throw into the mix, simply because I think he’s being overlooked throughout the draft process. He’s 6-foot-5 and 218 pounds, so his 4.56-second 40-time may not pop off the page, but he’s extremely fluid for a player as big as he is. His arms also measured at 33 1/2 inches, which were second-longest only to Auden Tate, and his hands were 10 inches, the third-largest among wide receivers. He’s someone who might surprise in the NFL as a projected day three pick.