2018 NFL Combine: I seent it!
The 2018 NFL Combine has come and gone and I am back to follow up on the players I was keeping my eyes on throughout the process. Saquon Barkley, D.J. Moore and Mike Gesiki stole the show with their crazy athleticism and we saw a few players come out of nowhere and put themselves on the dynasty map, I’m looking at you Dylan Cantrell! Overall I think this is a good group and the depth at RB, WR and even TE made itself known. It’s a great year to have third and fourth round rookie picks in your dynasty leagues! All updates are in bold.
Lamar Jackson, Louisville
I can’t wait for some draft pundits to highlight Jackson’s 40 yard dash time and speculate around him converting to a wide receiver. Then as Jackson nails most of his throws in the drills pump him up as a passer. Jackson is my QB1 going into the combine and I don’t think that’s going to change. The people who think Jackson should be a wide receiver should find a new line of work. He’s going to be a blast to watch at the combine and at the next level.
So exactly what I’d say would happen, happened. Lamar being asked to workout at WR caused him not to run his forty yard dash at the combine which was disappointing. Lamar started slowly in the passing drills as it appeared he was trying to be too cute on some of his throws. His deep ball looked pretty good and was able to drop numerous throws in the bucket. Overall I think he had an OK combine and he is still my QB1 in this class. Once the helmet is on, Lamar is gonna shine.
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Is he Johnny Manziel? Hell no! Talk about a lazy narrative. Mayfield has the best opportunity to rise on the draft boards with a great combine. Some people say he’s too short, inconsistent and doesn’t pass from the pocket very well. I’m a heart over height guy so I have zero concerns there but will be watching how well he passes from the pocket in drills.
I really liked what I saw from Baker on his drop back passes. His accuracy was good when his feet were calm and he looked comfortable. We all know what he can do when he rolls out so it was important for me to see this facet of his game in the drills. His ball velocity was a pleasant surprise as he hit 60 miles per hour on the radar gun. I didn’t think he had that in him.
Josh Rosen, UCLA
I know Rosen has the skills on the field to be a top QB in the draft but I’m really looking forward to hear about how his team interviews went and what his wonderlic score is. There have been some character concerns around Rosen and while they may be unwarranted in the scheme of things I think we need some reassurance around his interview results.
Rosen had the best footwork out of this group and looked the most like an NFL Quarterback. I really wish one of these QB’s would have stepped up and went balls to the wall in drills. I didn’t see the effort and drive that I wanted to from this group. They all kind of just took it easy. Show me some leg drive, grunt out a few throws, act like it’s game speed out there boys!
Sam Darnold, USC
Unfortunately, Sam Darnold will not throw at the combine and will opt to throw at USC’s pro day in March. One of the biggest critiques of Darnolds game is his throwing motion. It may be unconventional but Sam makes NFL caliber throws when it matters and overall I don’t think him not throwing at the combine will effect his draft value.
Darnold gets an incomplete because he didn’t throw. I’ll be keeping an eye on his pro day March 21st.
Kyle Lauletta, Richmond
After watching the Senior Bowl I came away impressed with Lauletta. His poise, accuracy and arm strength are all things that jumped out at me. He has drawn some Jimmy Garappollo comparisons and that has automatically linked him with the New England Patriots during the draft process. I’ll be watching both his measurables and on field performance very closely and I would not be shocked to hear his name as a riser post combine.
I loved seeing Lauletta’s draft stock rise after his workouts. He tested very well athletically and looked pretty good during the on field drills. If he lands in a spot where there is an aging quarterback in front of him he will be on my dynasty radar as a late round sleeper. The perfect kind of player you want on your taxi squad for the future. New England possibly? We shall see.
Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Many people who’s opinion I value are calling Barkley a “generational” talent at the running back position. I want to see if the hype is real. I think we will have an answer after the combine.
Short answer: The hype is legit. Good luck trying to trade for the 1.01 without giving up your first born now.
Mark Walton, Miami
Walton missed the majority of his junior season with an ankle injury so he is a player with a lot to prove at the combine. I love the way Walton totes the rock. Balance, power and speed are Walton’s game. I’m interested to see how he tests in the three cone drill and short shuttle. His weight is also an important factor for his draft stock. If he comes in light he may be forced to be a third down, satellite back which ultimately isn’t a bad thing but I think he has a three down skill set.
I really wanted Walton to weigh in somewhere in between 215-220 pounds and when he weighed in at 202 pounds my dreams of a three down back were put to sleep. Walton did not participate in the three cone and short shuttle drills unfortunately so I’ll have to wait until March 28th for that data. I came away underwhelmed after watching Walton’s on field drills as he stumbled a few times, dropped numerous passes and just didn’t have the “look” that stands out to me. He’s sliding down my board.
John Kelly, Tennessee
Run angry: The John Kelly story. Talk about a punishing runner, whew boy. The 40 yard dash and agility drills will be very important for Kelly. He had a tough time running outside and on the edge in college but I think he’s more than just an in between the tackles player. Can he be explosive? I sure hope so.
Unfortunately Kelly did not run the 40 yard dash so part of my explosive evaluation will have to wait until his pro day on March 20th. I did like what I saw during the drills especially around Kelly’s footwork as he absolutely attacked the cones every chance he had. 216 pounds was also a fantastic weight for him and I think he has a chance to be a three down back at the next level.
Kalen Ballage, Arizona State
The most polarizing player at the position in 2018, Ballage is about to be a very buzzy name in dynasty draft circles (again). Personally, I LOVE Ballage. Size, speed, athleticism, hands make him such an intriguing prospect. The majority of the concerns around Ballage are based on his usage at ASU and his lack of vision, which is something I noticed on tape. He had a great Senior Bowl week and I think his stock continues to rise after he has an outstanding combine.
The third fastest 40 yard dash time at 4.46, the fourth fastest three cone drill at 6.91 and a top five showing in the broad jump at 122 inches solidified what we already knew about Ballage, he’s a freak. Landing spot is really going to dictate where Ballage gets picked in rookie drafts and he lands in a spot with a creative, open minded OC it will be wheels up.
Nyheim Hines, N.C. State
My first third down passing catching back on this list. Hines can hit the home run in a variety of ways. Kickoff and punt returns, running outside zone scheme plays and catching out of the back field. He’s pretty versatile despite his smaller size. His weigh in will be important for me as he’s currently listed at 5’9″ and 197 pounds. I know the speed is there but I want to see a bit more size in order for him to carve out a role with an NFL team.
Speeeeeeed. 4.38 40 type speed. He projects as a satellite back and could contribute right away on more than just special teams. Very natural hands and some explosiveness made Hines stand out in a a good group of pass catching backs. I’d love to land him in the late third or later in dynasty rookie drafts.
Bo Scarbrough, Alabama
The forgotten man of the running back group, Bo is a player that could shoot up boards with a good combine. There is still a place in the NFL for a big bruising back. Can he be Derrick Henry 2.0? I don’t believe so as his pass catching chops aren’t nearly as good on tape. With that said I’m really watching closely as he goes through those drills to see if he’s made some improvements in that area. For now he’s a two down hammer who will be a great fit for a team with an established third down back. Detroit maybe?
And shoot up the boards he did! Bo tested phenomenally for an athlete his size. 4.52 40 yard dash, 40″ vertical and 129″ broad jump were all in the top five at the position. He looked better than I thought he would in pass catching drills and I came away impressed overall. Bo has an injury history which is no surprise as he is a massive upright running target so that may keep him off of some teams boards. Much like Nyheim Hines, I’d love to snag Bo late in the third wherever I can.
Courtland Sutton, SMU
Once a coveted dynasty option, Sutton has seen his stock fall this season. Sutton used to be in the top three conversation in 2018 dynasty rookie drafts but now questions about speed and separation have tempered expectations. We know he has the size and body control we like to see but the 40 yard dash will single handedly be the most important drill we see Sutton run.
Sutton solidified his status as my WR2 in this class. He tested much better than I thought he would and his 4.54 40 yard dash was exactly what I wanted to see him run. Drills were smooth and he looked the part of a future WR1 in the NFL. He entrenched himself as a first round pick in rookie drafts. Tested better than Alshon Jeffrey at a similar size.
Jordan Lasley, UCLA
I’ll be watching Lasley’s hands in all the pass catching drills extremely closely. I think Lasley has the opportunity to be the most complete receiver in this draft IF he can show improvement in the hands department. According to NFL.com Lasley dropped 21 passes over the last two seasons for a drop rate of 16%. Not so good.
I came away from the combine feeling pretty good about what I saw from Lasley’s hands. He ran a solid gauntlet and looked comfortable on deep passes, which will be his game at the next level. Athletically he tested out pretty well but only eight bench press reps is complete weak sauce. Bulk up bro!
Anthony Miller, Memphis
I love Miller’s compete level and this kid has a ton of fight in his game. He’s explosive out of breaks and has great hands. I expect him to test well overall but I am very interested to see what he runs in the forty yard dash. if he can run a sub 4.5 I’ll be pretty happy with that and we should see his dynasty stock start to rise.
Miller only did the bench press at the combine due to a foot injury he suffered in the Liberty Bowl back in December and his 22 reps came in second in this class. Memphis will be holding their pro day on April 6th. I like Miller more than most so I’m hoping to draft him at a potential discount wherever I can.
Auden Tate, Florida State
First of all, Go Noles! A 6’5″ 225 pound specimen of an outside receiver Tate is a long strider who has great ball skills and body control. His knock will no doubt be speed and strength so I’ll be interested to see his bench press, vertical and 40 yard dash times. People either love or hate Tate in dynasty it seems so maybe we can bring the two sides a little bit closer post combine.
I really wanted Tate to test more like ESB did at the combine but alas, it didn’t happen. A 4.68 40 yard dash is obviously disappointing but I’m not overly surprised as speed isn’t necessarily his game. He will be a red zone specialist at the next level and might struggle to find the field at the next level. I’ve slid him down my draft rankings for now.
Dante Pettis, Washington
An electric return man who should blaze in the 40 yard dash. His father was former long time center fielder and speedster Gary Pettis and his brother is former NFL receiver Austin Pettis. That’s one athletic family! His game reminds me a bit of John Brown. A polished route runner who has take off the top of the defense speed. Look for him to excel in all of the combine drills and shoot up draft boards!
Due to an ankle injury, Pettis did not participate in any of the drills at the combine. He did have bitchin hair though. Washington’s pro day will be March 12th.
Dallas Goedert, South Dakota St.
Even though he looks like a creepy ice cream truck driver, Goedert is in the conversation for the TE1 in this years class. Goedert has drawn some comparisons to Hunter Henry and Zach Ertz early in the draft process. That’s very high praise. Lauded for his hands, body control and three down skillset it will be interesting to see how he tests and if his small school competition level can make the adjustment to the big leagues.
Another player who did not do drills at the combine, Goedert will look to make an impression at South Dakota States pro day on March 30th. Hopefully his hamstring is healed in time for him to participate. Massive upside player at the position.
Hayden Hurst, South Carolina
The oldest player at the combine due to pursuing a major league baseball career, Hurst has the size, speed and skill set to be on the field a ton as a pro. How much will his age (he will be 25 when the season starts) hurt his draft stock?
Hurst moved well in drills and measured out really well physically. Could be a day one starter. Don’t let his age deter you dynasty people!
Tyler Conklin, Central Michigan
A Jones fracture in his foot kept Conklin off the field in much of 2017 and I think he’s flying under the radar at the moment. The combine just might change that though. Athletic with great hands and a former basketball player ( a pretty good recipe for success) can he regain some of the explosiveness?
He looked completely over the foot injury which was great to see. Great vertical and broad jump which wasn’t much of a surprise due to that basketball background I mentioned earlier. Conklin could be a great late round target in TE premium formats.
Jaylen Samuels, N.C. State
Samuels is listed with the tight ends but should be categorized as an offensive weapon. He can play running back, tight end and maybe even some receiver if you needed him too. He’s 5’11” and 223 pounds which also puts him in a weird spot. Most teams will think he’s too small to play the TE position and too big to be WR. Ultimately I think he is a running back. He has some of the most natural hands I’ve seen in this class and if he gets drafted by a team that will use him all over the field that would be best case scenario.
All the things I saw from Samuels tape were confirmed at the combine. Hands, speed and route running ability. The biggest question on Samuels is still around his fit in an NFL offense. This will greatly impact his dynasty draft stock. Love the player and hope I get to love the opportunity come NFL draft time.
Ian Thomas, Indiana
Another athletic specimen who is a bit raw. I see some long term potential with Thomas as a deep dynasty stash in rookie drafts. I haven’t watched any tape on him so it will be fun to have a fresh set of eyes while watching him at the combine.
Measurables off the chart! 11.5″ hands! Thomas has baseball mitts attached to his arms. Thomas ranked in the top five in all of the drills he participated in with the exception of the three cone drill where he missed it by .02 seconds. My evaluation of athletic and raw was spot on. Great taxi squad player and definitely worth a flyer in TE premium formats.
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