With the NFL Combine several weeks in the past, it is now the time of year when Pro Days and Prospect Visits start to affect the incoming rookie values. Much has changed over the last few weeks, so let’s take a look at who’s stock is trending up and who is in on the slide.
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Bryce Young (QB): No. 7 overall | QB2
When Bryce Young chose not to throw at the NFL Combine, it felt like he passed up an opportunity to show his worth next to C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson, and Will Levis, who all threw in the Combine drills. Young’s Combine was always going to be more about how much he weighed and how tall he measured in at, and when Young weighed in at over 200 lbs and measured 5’10”, those worries were put to bed and the focus returned to his quarterback skills. At Alabama’s Pro Day, NFL teams were reportedly impressed by the way that Young throws the ball, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, who said Young’s high release helps him overcome his slightly below-average height. Now that we can put most of these concerns aside, we can focus on who Young is as a prospect, and that is a five-star recruit out of high school who reads the game exceptionally well and understands how to do his job at a truly brilliant level. Young can create outside of structure and is comfortable with all types of passes. Now that Young is starting to meet with teams, we’re hearing more and more reports of them being impressed and he seems to have jumped ahead of Anthony Richardson once more.
One of the big takeaways from Bryce Young's pro day is evaluators noted how high his release is and that he stands tall in his delivery. Doesn't bend much. Watching him live, he throws bigger than he is. Concerns with his measurables are about weight, not height.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 23, 2023
Hendon Hooker: No. 33 overall | QB5
Not too long ago, the idea of Hendon Hooker being drafted inside the first round seemed very unlikely. But ever since the NFL Combine, Hooker’s draft stock has been rising with a growing belief that the NFL is comfortable drafting the 25-year-old out of Tennessee during round one. Hooker tore his ACL in November and if it wasn’t for that, despite the fact he’s an older prospect, he likely would have been a lock for the first round. During his time at Tennessee, Hooker threw for 3,135 yards with 27 passing touchdowns and only two interceptions, as well as rushing for 430 yards on 104 carries and five rushing touchdowns. With Hooker looking more likely to be a late first-round pick, if he does manage to sneak up that far, it could prove better for his long-term prospects, as typically the teams in the back half of the draft are better offenses with quarterbacks in place. Hooker will need time to fully recover from his ACL injury, but his upside is certainly intriguing enough to make him one of the key storylines of the draft.
Israel Abanikanda: No. 21 overall | RB9
After missing the NFL Combine, there were plenty of eyes on Israel Abanikanda during Pittsburgh’s Pro Day, and he failed to disappoint. Abanikanda ran the 40-yard dash anywhere between 4.26 and 4.32 according to reports, which would have been the best time among running backs at the combine. Abanikanda also would have led the position in the vertical jump (41″) and broad jump (10’8″). As a former two-sport athlete and track star, there is much to like about a player who can do all this while weighing 215 lbs. Abanikanda isn’t expected to be highly drafted, but he’s a name worth remembering over the coming weeks.
Darnell Washington: No. 22 overall | TE2
At the NFL Combine, Darnell Washington was measured at 6’6 1/2″, while fellow tight end Zach Kuntz was measured at 6’7″, despite photos of the pair showing Washington was clearly the taller of the two. At Georgia’s Pro Day, Washington was measured at 6’7″ and he can now reclaim the title of the tallest tight end in the draft. This isn’t a huge deal, but it all adds up in the way that prospects are viewed and there is no doubt Washington could be an exciting player in the right offense.
TE Darnell Washington says he measured in at 6-foot-7 at Georgia's Pro Day.
"We got that fixed today." https://t.co/WA6NQO0aAH
— Kipp Adams (@KippLAdams) March 15, 2023
Kayshon Boutte: No. 19 overall | WR7
A year ago, people believed the upside of Kayshon Boutte would be enough to see him locked in as a first-round pick in this year’s draft, but now he seems unlikely to be even a day two pick. Boutte followed up a terrible performance at the Combine with the choice to sit out at LSU’s Pro Day, meaning he won’t have a chance to correct the record on his poor testing figures. Boutte had off-field concerns regarding his behavior during college and, barring outstanding interviews with teams, it seems unlikely he’ll convince them he is worth a high pick in the draft. Boutte’s fantastic yards after the catch ability will need to shine through when he makes it to training camp in order for him to stake a big role.
Quentin Johnston: No. 4 overall | WR3
Before the NFL Combine, Quentin Johnston was the wide receiver one in most mock drafts, often being drafted around pick twelve where the Texans have their second pick. Now, however, Jaxon Smith-Njigba has opened up a gulf between himself and all the other receivers in this class, and it seems likely Smith-Njigba is the only wide receiver taken within the first 15 picks. Whether this is a bad thing for Johnston remains to be seen though, as the later down in the first round he slides, the greater his chance of landing on a better offense. Johnston is, without a doubt, one of the better receivers of the class. But his poor showing in contested catch situations, along with being used predominantly on one side of the field, does raise question marks around whether he deserves to be a top-15 pick.
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