2022 NFL Draft prospects took the field on Thursday for athletic testing drills as a staple part of the pre-draft process. A lot of what transpires tends to be overrated – especially with certain drills – but there are always major takeaways we can glean from NFL Scouting Combine.
Any doubt that Chris Olave would not be a middle-to-top first-round pick was put to rest on Thursday at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Ohio State wide receiver blazed the 40-yard dash with an unofficial 4.26 time (99th percentile). I thought that Olave was fast, but not that fast.
However, it turned out that my initial intuition was right on Olave’s track speed; upon further review his official 40-time measured at 4.39 (90th percentile). It’s still a solid number by all accounts at Olave’s size, but doesn’t put him over the top of his college teammate.
Fellow Buckeye Garrett Wilson tested extremely well with a 4.38 40-time. He solidified his status as one of the top WRs in the class with impressive testing number in addition to his route run savviness. Expect both Ohio State wide receivers to be long gone by the top-24 selections.
Christian Watson was the talk of the town as a standout in the 2022 Senior Bowl. The North Dakota State prospect showed that his 35% dominator rating and No. 1-ranked 4.33 yards per route run were no fluke, even if they came against an easy schedule of opponents.
The 6-foot-4, 211-pound wide receiver earned National WR of the week at the Senior Bowl.
And he continued on his draft stock ascension with a blazing 4.36 40-yard dash during on-field testing. That speed at Watson’s size is absolutely ludicrous.
Based on Christian Watson‘s size and testing numbers, the closest player I can compare him to his Darrius Heyward-Bey
A former 7th OVERALL pick.
Watson’s a 1st-rounder
– Andrew Erickson™ (@AndrewErickson_) March 4, 2022
Combine that with his 38.5″ vertical (84th percentile) AND 136″ broad jump (98th percentile) – all that’s left is calling the dude a certified stud that has likely earned Round 1 draft capital.
DeVante Parker is a close NFL comp to Watson’s size/speed profile and was also selected in the first round back in 2015.
Running back Breece Hall was my No.1-ranked rookie in non-Superflex formats heading into the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine, and his elite showing solidified his status atop the rookie rankings. The Iowa State product measured in a 5-foot-11 and 217 pounds, which was slightly different than his listed playing size in school (6-foot-1, 210 pounds).
Although the slightly stockier build did nothing to impede Hall’s on-field performance because he lit the testing drills ablaze: 4.39 4o-yard dash (93rd percentile), 40″ vertical jump (94th percentile) and 126″ broad jump (92nd percentile).
Pairing Hall’s athleticism with an off-the-charts college production profile – over 4,500 yards from scrimmage and 50 touchdowns – makes him my 1.01 in dynasty rookie drafts.
It’s hard to glean too much from quarterbacks with each passer throwing versus air, but Desmond Ridder flashed big-time potential. The Bearcats quarterback ran a 4.52 40-yard dash (96th percentile), jumped a 36″ vertical (92nd percentile), and 127″ broad jump (98th percentile).
He’s the mobile quarterback for fantasy football that not enough people are talking about.
For any small-school running back to make a living in the NFL, they need to dominate their competition in college. That’s what gives South Dakota State’s Pierre Strong Jr. a chance to make a splash at the next level.
Strong finished with a top-10 career and single-season dominator rating while grading out as PFF’s highest rusher (95.6). His 3.3 yards per play also ranks second among running backs in his class, which is a great indicator of future success. Last year’s late-round standouts in that category included Elijah Mitchell and Rhamondre Stevenson.
The 5-foot-11 and 207-pound back also blazed a 4.37 40-yard dash (95th percentile), tying him with Rutgers’ Isiah Pacheco for the fastest running back time.
Additionally, Strong jumped 36″ in the vertical (72nd percentile) and 124″ in the broad jump (86th percentile).
Strong’s “strong” outing will almost certainly boost his draft stock for both the real-life NFL and fantasy rookie drafts. High-end college RB producers that display above average athleticism tend to hit at the next level.
Say hello to the fastest man on Earth. Well at least by the NFL Combine standards for a short period of time. Baylor’s Tyquan Thorton broke John Ross‘ 4.22 record with an unofficial 4.21 40-yard dash – the fastest mark ever recorded.
Although, he did not hold the record for long as his official time came in just short of the record at 4.28 seconds.
The Baylor wideout was barely on my radar for fantasy football purposes before the NFL Combine, which was clearly an oversight on my part. His speed alone will get him decent draft capital.
Wan’dale Robinson was listed at 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds at Kentucky but came in curiously much smaller when measured at the NFL Scouting Combine. The Nebraska transfer came in at 5-foot-8 and 178 pounds. It’s not ideal to have a wide receiver shave three inches off his height upon being officially measured.
Despite Robinson’s elite production – second in the FBS in yards per route run (3.56) after he started playing fewer RB snaps in the backfield – his smaller size is worth bearing in mind when projecting him at the next level.
It’s like people don’t care Wan’Dale Robinson finished second in the FBS in yards per route run (3.56) after he started playing less RB snaps in the backfield
— Andrew Erickson™ (@AndrewErickson_) February 16, 2022
The closest player comps of recent note include Jaelon Darden, Tavon Austin, and Rondale Moore. Unsurprisingly, Robinson offers speed – 4.44 40-yard dash – but it is somewhat to be expected at his smaller stature.
A 4.32 40-yard dash combined with a 135″ broad jump is quite the showing. That’s what Calvin Austin put on display at the NFL scouting combine. The mark is the best broad jump ever at the Combine by someone 5’8″ or smaller, per NFL Network research ace @FrontOfficeNFL
Considering he was already a draft riser after a strong performance at the Reese’s Senior Bowl, the Memphis product is staking his claim as a Day 2 selection. Just be wary that his size at 5-foot-8 and 170 pounds will limit his fantasy ceiling, despite the elite athleticism.
If his fantasy draft stock grows exponentially, he’s probably going to be a strong fade in rookie dynasty drafts.
Myself, Derek Brown, and Matt Freedman were watching with bated breath how fast Skyy More would run his 40-yard dash. And to our pleasant surprise, Moore ran a 4.41 40-yard dash (83rd percentile) at 195 pounds. He also jumped 125″ in the broad jump (78th percentile) and 34.5″ (44th percentile) in the vertical jump.
His athletic numbers were better than expected and that deserves praise. There’s no universe where he isn’t selected in the second round. Moore’s 3.40 yards per route run ranked in the 99th percentile among 2022 draft-eligible wide receivers over the past three seasons.
He’s a massive Combine winner.
Purdue WR David Bell posted a 33-inch vertical (20th percentile), 118″ broad jump (30th percentile), and 4.65 40-yard dash time (10th percentile). Not ideal for a wide receiver pegged to potentially sneak into the back-end of Day 1 or top of Day 2.
It’s not too surprising that at 6-foot-1 and 212 Bell wasn’t a burner, but the lack of explosiveness in the jumping drills is worth monitoring.
Bell wasn’t a particularly great separator at the collegiate level and his athletic profile suggests that will continue to be an issue. His 44% separation percentage against single coverage ranks 76th out of 97 qualifying wide receivers (22nd percentile) since 2019.
He’s also been extremely reliant on contested catches. His 28% career contest-target percentage ranks seventh in the FBS over the past three seasons, which is concerning given his tweener size.
Betting on Jerome Ford at +400 odds to run the fastest 40 among the running backs turned out to be one of the worst draft bets of my week. His 4.46 (86th percentile) was blown out of the water by other backs in the class. But what was more surprising was Ford’s lack of explosiveness in the jumping drills.
The Bearcats back’s 31″ vertical (14th percentile) and 118″ broad jump (54th percentile) does create concern that Ford won’t be able to stand out in a crowded backfield. He ran into similar issues in college, based on his lowly 21% career college dominator rating.
R-E-L-A-X about Treylon Burks‘ 4.55 40-yard dash time and less than stellar jumping numbers. The Arkansas wide receiver weighs 225 pounds so asking for anything in the sub 4.4s is expecting D.K. Metcalf athleticism. He isn’t the freak athlete Metcalf is, but he’s still a top-3 wide receiver in this rookie class.
vertical jump: 33.5″
broad jump: 121″
vertical jump: 36″ https://t.co/KoY9VYBU6t
— Andrew Erickson™ (@AndrewErickson_) March 3, 2022
His elite college production and top-notch 32% dominator rating speak for themselves. As does his ability to create yards after the catch – which is hardly presented in testing drills. His 8.5 yards after the catch ranks 14th among 169 qualifying wide receivers (92nd percentile) over the past two seasons.
Burks remains a weapon waiting to be unleashed by an NFL offense. And I hope that the market sours on him in both best ball and dynasty formats post-combine so he can be acquired at a better value.
Things just went from bad to worse on Friday for Notre Dame running back Kyren Williams. For starters, he came in underweight at 5-foot-9 and 194 pounds. Williams was already facing an uphill battle due to his small stature, so coming in lighter than his listed playing weight (199) was not a sign of good preparation.
He would follow up his disheartening weigh-in with an abysmal 4.65 40-yard dash (33rd percentile). That sluggish time is expected from larger running backs, but not from ones at sub-200 pounds. The closest recent comparable small backs running that slow include Devin Singletary, Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed.
Williams still has a strong receiving profile, so the poor showing won’t knock him out of the draft altogether. But the days of him routinely being mocked in Day 2 are over.
I wasn’t expecting much from Alec Pierce, so I was pleasantly surprised when he impressed during the testing drills. A 4.41 40-yard dash and the No. 1 vertical jump (40.5, 93rd percentile) in the class imply that Pierce has the requisite athleticism to be a factor at the NFL level.
With projected Day 2 draft capital per Grindingthemocks.com, Pierce needs to be on your fantasy radar.
Say it ain’t so Cole Turner. I was all over the under on Turner’s 40-yard dash prop and he led me astray. 4.76 isn’t a time for a tight end that wants to be a mismatch nightmare at the next level. Zach Ertz is one of the rare few tight ends to run that sluggish time and carve out a career as a usable fantasy asset. And even he is far from perfect as his inability to break tackles precedes itself.
The Nevada product also struggled mightily to create yards after the catch in college with his poor 2nd-percentile 2.8 yards after the catch per reception.
Turner has come crashing down my rookie tight end rankings.
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