A few days late but always on time, we’ve left the wide receiver tests at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine in the rear-view mirror, and I have some thoughts. The board has shifted, and will likely continue to shift in the days and weeks that follow. With athletic testing numbers available for most of the class at this point, there were certain players that made some money, a handful of players who maybe lost a few bucks, and other players who didn’t move at all. Let’s allow some of these takes to breathe.
Winner: Justin Jefferson (Louisiana State)
Perhaps some of the concern for Jefferson (6′ 1″, 202 pounds) entering the Combine, gaudy production aside, was just how fast he was. Is he athletic enough to support and justify a possible early-Day 2 selection? Whatever question marks there were, should all be answered now. High scores across the board in the forty (4.43), vertical jump (37.5 inches), and broad jump (126 inches). Would it surprise if he sneaks into the top 32? Adjust your rookie rankings accordingly — we are.
Winner: Denzel Mims (Baylor)
Despite a standout week at the Senior Bowl, Mims (6-3, 207) still got swept aside in a strong class as a whole. That was wrong then, and looks even more wrong now. I think there’s a legit argument to be made that the former Baylor Bear is a top 5 receiver in this class (all my Baylor bias aside). There are no boxes left unchecked; baseline production/film, aced the all-star circuit, and parlayed that into an elite Combine and left no questions athletically (4.38 forty, 38.5-inch vertical jump and 131-inch broad jump). He’s going to go higher versus where he’ll be ranked for many, and rightfully so.
Winner: Donovan Peoples-Jones (Michigan)
I went ahead and proactively slid Peoples-Jones (6-2, 212) up the board prior to the Combine, anticipating some freaky numbers. He did not disappoint: 4.48 forty, 44.5-inch vertical jump (I still can’t get over it), and a 139-inch broad jump. Context, during his time at Michigan, along with a couple of these other prospects, is key as we evaluate. Peoples-Jones’ talent should’ve never been in question, and the BREAKOUT FINDER is a fan of his DYNAMIC SCORE alone. We got answers to his previous perceived athleticism, and he should continue to rise as we get closer to draft day.
Other Winners of note: John Hightower (Boise State), Joe Reed (Virginia), Quez Watkins (Southern Mississippi), Chase Claypool (Notre Dame), and Michael Pittman Jr. (Southern California)
Tried to warn y’all about both Hightower (6-1, 189) and Reed (6-0, 224) prior to the Combine. The BREAKOUT FINDER circled their names as the DYNAMIC SCORES were flashing, and they did nothing but add some zeroes to their eventual paychecks. Watkins (6-0, 185) had some mid-level production and found himself with some opportunities on special teams during his time at school. Dynamic ability aside, Watkins clocked in at 4.35 (added a 36.5-inch vertical and a 125-inch broad jump), adding to the intrigue.
Claypool (6-4, 238) likely finds himself at tight end at the next level, but few players had a more impressive overall athletic profile (size-adjusted), position aside, than Claypool (4.42 forty, 40.5-inch vertical jump, and 126-inch broad jump). You’ve probably seen the “Megatron graphic” floating around your timeline — Claypool is that level of athlete.
Pittman (6-4, 223), similar to Mims in just how underrated and under-the-radar they’ve been, showed up in Indianapolis and put together one of the more impressive performances that hardly anybody was expecting (4.52 forty, 36.5-inch vertical jump, and 121-inch broad jump; and was one of the few wideouts to finish the 3-cone drill in under 7 seconds). He probably should’ve gotten his own blurb here. Couple the testing with his late-career production, and Pittman looks like a sneaky-good value in rookie drafts — and a player that is rising at the right time.
Duh: Henry Ruggs III (Alabama)
All that Ruggs (5-11, 188) versus you-know-who talk was fun — but was it ever really even a contest? Elite, elite, lid-lifting speed, and an insane overall athletic profile. Any “concerns” you may have about his production during his time at Alabama should be eased knowing the type of athlete you’re getting. Don’t overthink it.
other players and situations of note and, last but not least, the losers
Doesn’t matter, they’re not moving: CeeDee Lamb (Oklahoma) and Jerry Jeudy (Alabama): Neither player weighed in as big as we would’ve liked nor ran as fast as we would’ve liked or expected — but that’s okay. High bar for high-level talent, I guess. Although Lamb (6-2, 198) and Jeudy (6-1, 193) didn’t leap over said bar, their bodies of work are pretty self-explanatory. Neither player did anything at the Combine to push themselves outside of the top-2.
Expectations were also high, fell short, but still #good: Jalen Reagor (Texas Christian): He’s not in the same tier as Lamb or Jeudy, but Reagor (5-11, 206) is still going to have an early-impact on Sundays. I think many (myself included, to an extent) got out over their skis when it came to Reagor’s test scores. At the end of the day, his overall athletic profile is still more than adequate (save for the funny 3-cone).
Get well soon: Van Jefferson (Florida) and Bryan Edwards (South Carolina): In terms of Edwards (6-3, 212), he was already a staple inside the top 10 for me. The foot injury is scary, especially for his position, so we’ll have to monitor that closely. Edwards could be a rookie value, or a clear “stay away” red flag as the months go by. Jefferson (6-1, 200), on the other hand, was a player that I, perhaps egregiously, left out of my pre-Combine top 25. He likely belonged closer to the top 15, and certainly a player that could’ve charged toward top 10 status with a strong showing. The #film loves his ability to get open.
“Lost” the weekend, but still holding out hope: Tee Higgins (Clemson): There was legitimate buzz from Higgins (6-4, 216) or his camp, so we can take that for what it’s worth, that he was going to push for a 4.4 or better in the forty. The question around Higgins’ game is his speed, so anything sub-4.5 would’ve been a home run (he already showed out at weigh-ins). He went from talking-up his speed to bowing out of the testing altogether, citing short prep time. Bad look, surely, but I can’t quite justify moving him outside of my top 5 rankings — yet.
Losers or “losers,” whichever way you want to slice it: Laviska Shenault Jr. (Colorado) and Tyler Johnson (Minnesota): Shenault (6-1, 227) needs to fire his agent, as Matt Kelley so eloquently put it. Shortly after farting around during his first 40-yard attempt, he opted to pass on the second run. He went on to announce surgery on the groin that had been bothering him, we can assume. Now, I’ve made it clear: I do not think he’s this top-tier athlete many paint him to be — but he’s clearly a dynamic playmaker, and one that should’ve been advised to sit out testing if he was less than 100%.
Johnson (6-1, 206) has had arguably the worst run of any prospect. From skipping the Shrine Bowl to the missing Senior Bowl invite and now to passing on the Combine events, does anyone have this kid’s back? The numbers will continue to love Johnson, but the way that things are shaping up, we, as fantasy drafters, can’t do much with a late-Day 3 (or worse) selection.