2017 NFL Combine: I Seen’t It
Welcome to my follow up article on how the players I was watching during the combine performed. All updated material will be in BOLD text.
The NFL Combine kicks off it’s on field drills Friday, March 3rd at 8 a.m. and rolls through Monday, March 6th. Here is the current workout itinerary by position;
Friday: Running Backs, Offensive Lineman and Special Teamers
Saturday: Quarterbacks, Wide Receivers and Tight Ends
Sunday: Linebackers and Defensive Lineman
Monday: Defensive Backs
These workouts can be seen on www.nfl.com and the NFL Network.
Dynasty season is upon us and there will be no hotter commodity than rookie picks after the NFL Draft in April. The combine is a huge part of the process and can make or break any prospect. Here are the players that I am looking forward to watching so that I can help form my evaluation of them. Who will rise? Who will fall? Tune in and find out!
Pat Mahomes, Texas Tech
Mahomes is truly the wildcard among Quarterback prospects this year. The arm strength is well documented but how he tests in other drills could really boost his stock much like it did with Carson Wentz last year. I think he solidifies himself as a first round pick, how high is the question?
I thought Mahomes looked pretty good in all of the passing drills but my concerns of an air raid offense QB remain. His arm is the best in the draft and I think he gets taken in round one as a backup behind a veteran. He won’t have any dynasty value in year one obviously but could pay off in the long run. You won’t have to use a high draft pick to get him and if you are a patient, that’s a win win.
Deshone Kizer, Notre Dame
The former Notre Dame Quarterback measured in as the tallest prospect of the consensus top 4 in 2017 at 6’4″. I’ll be keeping an eye on his 40 yard dash time and his accuracy in the passing drills. Accuracy is something he struggled with in 2016 but was that due to constant pressure and lack of playmakers?
Kizer was one of the most disappointing prospects to participate in the combine this year. As I stated above Kizer’s accuracy is a big concern. During the passing drills he was all over the place which was very concerning. He was frequently mocked as the QB1 in the NFL draft and I don’t see how that can happen especially after the outstanding combine Deshaun Watson had.
Samaje Perine, Oklahoma
The raging bull is one of my favorite prospects in this loaded running back class. He has the size at 233 pounds, I think he will show he has the speed and there is zero doubt in my mind he has the power. This man is shredded. If Perine tests well in the three cone and short shuttle he will elevate his stock significantly and will lock up his status as a top ten rookie draft dynasty selection.
Perine had a solid combine and did better than expected in pass catching drills. He tested best in the class on the bench press, ran a 4.65 at 233lbs and had a nice vertical, three cone and 20 yard short shuttle for a man of his size. He’s a first round rookie draft lock for me.
Jamaal Williams, BYU
The son of a collegiate sprinter, Williams has a three down back skill set ready for the NFL. He measured in at 6’0″, 215 lbs with 10 inch hands at the combine and really needs to nail the agility drills to get his name buzzing again in this deep class of backs. I love Williams’ toughness and aggression, his legs never stop churning. His tape reminds me a little bit of Ladanian Tomlinson.
Jamaal Williams didn’t do anything at the combine to set himself apart from the field, which was unfortunate. I’ll be going back to the lab to watch some more tape on him.
Jeremy McNichols, Boise State
Some have called McNichols the best pass catching back in this draft and while I don’t agree, he does excel in that area. I’ll be watching McNichols closely because I think he might get pigeon holed as a third down back by some scouts. He may get drafted as such but if opportunity shows itself he may make a bigger impact in year one than anyone thinks. 314 carries for 1709 yards and 23 Td’s in his Junior year tells me he can handle the load and then some.
McNichols stock is on the rise after a great showing at the combine. He clocked in at 4.49 in the forty and clocked in third in the three cone drill at 6.93. He looked really smooth in all the drills and I still think he could be a three down back in the NFL. You can’t tell me different!
James Conner, Pittsburgh
I’ve saved my favorite for last. Conner is a true between the tackles bell cow type of runner. Defensive players do not like to tackle him and he never shies away from contact. I expect him to excel in all of the on field drills and wow coaches in the interview process. I cannot wait to watch him at the combine. He may be a “sleeper” now but that is about to change.
I thought that Conner would excel in the drills but maybe my hopes were too high and I overvalued him as a prospect. Don’t get me wrong, I still love James Conner and think he will be a solid pro but teams will draft him as roster depth. We all know however that in the NFL even the third back on the depth chart can get opportunities due to injuries, suspensions, fumbling etc. I love Conner anywhere in the third round of rookie drafts.
Carlos Henderson, Louisiana Tech
Henderson is probably the most hyped prospect going into the combine over the last two weeks. Matt Harmon, of reception perception fame, has decreed Henderson as his favorite WR of this class based on his data. The Harmon bump is real and we have already seen it impact early dynasty mock drafts. Henderson has drawn Jarvis Landry comps by some and I can see why. He’s shifty, aggressive and has quick feet. Henderson has a great opportunity to vault himself into the top five of this class.
Henderson tested well at the combine for the most part and should find himself as a second or early third round pick in the NFL draft. As I said above, many people have comped Henderson to Jarvis Landry but during his drills I just didn’t see it. He had a nice 40 time of 4.46 but a sub par three cone drill at 7.18 which was one of the worst in this wide receiver class but still much better than Landry’s 7.56 at least. Like Landry, he plays with a mean streak and teams will love that. Henderson’s rookie draft stock will be landing spot dependent to me and I have him as a mid to late second round rookie pick at the moment.
Malachi Dupre. LSU
Victim of poor Quarterback play or sub par ability? Dupre is one of the most interesting wide receiver prospects because of these questions. I have only watched Dupre’s 2016 bowl game and in a limited sample size, I really liked what I saw. He’s a long strider that uses his body well in positioning himself to make the catch. He’s not a burner but with his height he could find himself being a red zone weapon at the next level.
I think that Dupre had a sneaky good combine and that he will still fly under the radar in rookie drafts. I’d spend a mid second on him in a heartbeat if he was still on the board and I’m on the clock.
Ryan Switzer, North Carolina
Switzer is going to be a great slot receiver at the next level. He should dominate the three cone drill and the short shuttle. He is as shifty as they come and draws obvious comparisons to Julian Edelman. He isn’t going to score a lot of touchdowns but should be a PPR darling if he lands with a team that gives him a shot to start.
Switzer solidified his status as the best pure slot receiver in this draft. He had the third best three cone drill, the best 20 yard shuttle and ran a respectable 4.51 in the forty. He’s Julian Edelman 2.0 and I hope he lands on a team that gives him a shot to compete for a starting gig. If not, I’d be happy to stash him with a fourth round rookie pick in PPR leagues.
Zay Jones, Eastern Carolina
I absolutely loved what I saw from Jones at the Senior Bowl and hope that he can continue to rise during the process. Great hands and route running ability really set Jones apart from the majority of the other wide receiver prospects. He’s also from an NFL family and from what I hear he is going to do very well in the interview process. He has a chance to get himself into the back end of the first round if he wows in his 40 yard dash. He reminded me a bit of Allen Robinson when I watched him. He isn’t as big as Robinson but his ability to high point and out leap defenders felt familiar. The big question is going to be if he can add some weight and if he is tall enough to play outside in the NFL.
Everything I said above was confirmed after the combine. Jones is legit.
Jordan Leggett, Clemson
This Tight End class is the deepest in recent memory and Jordan Leggett has really flown under the radar up to this point. Leggett has an all around game and excels in running precise routes and having great hands. His combination of size and speed should have him ranked higher but he isn’t as sexy of a prospect as David Njoku or O.J. Howard. I would love to see him wind up with the Patriots in the middle rounds of the draft. That fit would boost his dynasty value ten fold.
Leggett chose to pass on running the forty yard dash over the weekend and based on how the other Tight Ends tested that probably wasn’t a bad idea. We know he isn’t the fastest and makes his hay as a route runner with great hands. He struggled a bit in the pass catching drills, which was surprising but otherwise was solid. This TE group stole the show at the combine and Leggett didn’t “wow” so his rookie draft day price should remain attractive.
Adam Shaheen, Ashland
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, a converted basketball player is going to be an NFL Tight End. It’s a tale as old as time. I love players from small schools as they are so easy to root for. Shaheen possesses the size and strength of your prototypical TE prospect but has some work to do in the blocking game. I’ll be watching his workouts closely at the combine. He could be the name that comes out of nowhere and becomes a household name when the combine is all said and done.
Adam Shaheen made himself some money at the combine. At 279 pounds his numbers really stood out amongst his peers. To put up the numbers he did at that size really speaks to how athletic he is. Love this kid. I’d spend a late rookie pick or a high waiver priority after the draft to secure him for my squads.
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