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Prospects with High Potential Despite Poor Combine Showings (2022 Fantasy Football)

by Bo McBrayer | @Bo_McBigTime | Featured Writer
Mar 14, 2022
Kenny Pickett

Sometimes, it just isn’t your day. For all of the amazing, stock-boosting displays of athleticism we witnessed at the NFL Scouting Combine, there were still some letdowns. In past years, some prospects who disappointed at the Combine were merely exposed as overhyped and predictably washed out of the league. More often than not, however, great football players overcame their “televised workout” limitations to become future hall of fame superstars in the NFL. Tom Brady, Anquan Boldin, Terrell Suggs, Cooper Kupp, and Drew Brees were afterthoughts following their Combine performances, not living up to some abstract standard of athleticism. Here are a few prospects from the 2022 class that fell flat in Indy, but still have a great chance to become perennial Pro Bowl players.

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Isaiah Spiller (RB – Texas A&M)

Whether or not Spiller’s alleged hip injury played a part in his poor showings in the vertical and broad jumps is immaterial. We really don’t even need to care what his Pro Day 40-time will be. Spiller was a dominant force at running back in the FBS’s toughest conference. He was often the best player on a field full of NFL-level talent. Too many are depressing Spiller’s value because of his poor/non-performance at the Combine, ignoring three seasons of elite film. He will still likely be drafted on Day 2 to one of many running back-starved teams who will feature him at least as a valuable chunk of a committee, with the size and versatility to play every down.

David Bell (WR – Purdue)

The parallels between Bell and Cooper Kupp are uncanny. They are the same height, virtually the same weight, and were 0.01 seconds apart in the 40-yard dash. Kupp was an ultra-productive senior at Eastern Washington, but fell to the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft and was the seventh wide receiver taken. Kupp was discounted because of the school he played for and his perceived lack of desirable athletic traits. Four years later, Kupp compiled the most productive season by a wide receiver in NFL history and took home the receiving triple crown. If you pull up Purdue tape and watch David Bell, you see the same yeoman work ethic that made Kupp into a great player. The quickness, balance, intelligence, and strong hands are all there for Bell, who excelled in the Big Ten Conference for the Boilermakers. David Bell is the embodiment of what Cooper Kupp was quoted as saying, “Speed is a luxury, but quickness is a necessity.” Don’t be surprised if Bell is an immediate success for whichever NFL team he plays for.

Kenny Pickett (QB – Pittsburgh)

Having little baby hands will affect Pickett’s draft placement. There are still NFL teams that care about it enough to move him down (or off) their boards. Even still, Pickett will be able to “handle” the pro game very well with his skillset. He has the arm talent, processing, and mobility to be a successful NFL quarterback. He has no more red flags around him than anyone else in this much-maligned quarterback class. Landing spot matters more at quarterback than with any other position. With the right environment, coaching staff, and surrounding talent, any signal caller with Pickett’s ability can thrive. All quarterbacks fumble, whether they have small hands (like Joe Burrow) or huge hands (like Russell Wilson). I submit that this talking point will fade away like the bickering about DeVonta Smith‘s BMI once Pickett has some starts under his belt. Nobody expected Burrow to lead the Bengals to the Super Bowl in year two. We’re not even expecting a top QB prospect to be able to carry a ball, let alone throw a tight spiral, like he has for his whole life in a competitive capacity. The sooner we move on from this ridiculous knock on Pickett, the less surprised we will be when he is lighting it up in the league.

Cole Turner (TE – Nevada)

Turner is good at football. He is a very large target at 6-6, 246 and is ultra-savvy at finding weaknesses in coverage. So he ran a 4.76 in the 40…and? Future Hall of Fame tight end Jason Witten dragged his corpse down the field in season 17 (at that point slower than the speed of smell) and was still somehow wide open. Turner has very similar traits and that patented toughness bordering on stupid. He also has great hands and knows how to use his body to shield the catch point from defenders (also a Witten trademark). This tight end class doesn’t have a Kyle Pitts or Darren Waller, who might as well be wide receivers. Turner is one of the Combine “disappointments” who still looks like Travis Kelce of Cincinnati or Rob Gronkowski of Arizona in his film for Nevada. Tight ends are notorious for taking a couple years to realize their full potential in the NFL. I believe late-round pick Cole Turner will be worth the wait.

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