We only concern ourselves with the skill guys, so that’s all you’ll read about below.
1) Jerry Jeudy versus CeeDee Lamb: Will measurables and athleticism separate the two, finally? Many project Jeudy as a 4.4-something runner, which I think is fair. He’s come out and said he expect to run low-4.3’s, which would obviously be awesome for big time fanboys like me. I think he surprises folks, and certainly dips under 4.4; not sure he has 4.3 wheels in him (which is okay). Checking in at/over 200-pounds, while maintaining that suggested speed, would also be a big win.
On the other hand, for as much talk and negativity that Jeudy has garnered regarding his build and perceived athleticism, Lamb seems to be flying under the radar. Which I get, to extent. He’s certainly bigger than Jeudy, but can he check-in pushing 200 pounds himself, having an inch or so on the Alabama product? He amassed more counting stats, but going into the next level, we’d like to see him with 4.5 speed or better. Is that doable?
2) Laviska Shenault: Just how athletic is he? Does the (new?) groin injury hinder things? Good point brought up recently by friend of the show and recent pod guest Davis Mattek: Shenault may not be 100% at the Combine. To be clear: The BREAKOUT FINDER loves Shenault. His dynamism and, as a result, DYNAMIC SCORE, are notable. Dynamism matters a lot to us, as it should to you. However, I just can’t get a proper feel for his athleticism. I’ve seen projections all over the place, but I’m certainly not betting on something like a 44-inch vertical or 4.3 speed. Very happy to be wrong here, of course.
3) Antonio Gibson, with the “wide receiver” designation, stinks. Rich Hribar recently likened Gibson’s projection to that of Jaylen Samuels coming out. Similar prospects given the versatility, Samuels got slapped with the tight end designation in fantasy leagues early on which many took advantage of as Reebs pointed out. With Gibson, being pigeonholed as a wideout kinda kills some of the buzz. Hopefully some team (“all it takes is one”, right?) sees the vision and lets him cook out of the backfield full-time (while exploiting defenses by lining him up in the slot and all over the formation).
4) Jonathan Taylor and J.K. Dobbins should put a bow on things, and stop all the ridiculous questions surrounding their respective athleticism. Both were elite testers entering their college programs, and I don’t think strong scores should surprise anyone, despite all the banter leading up the Combine. I’m expecting big days for each player.
5) Jalen Reagor: Top speed score and elite SPARQ athlete? For me, it’s no and yes. I think Reagor is fast as heck, and will run well, but I don’t think you can safely bet on him edging out someone like Alabama speedster (you know who I’m talking about, more on him below). Overall body of work, however, he’s going to raise the bar in all the categories we like. He’s going to profile very well, and should turn in one of the more complete, strong SPARQ-x scores. He’s got my vote for all-around best athlete at the position (sleeper is Longhorns’ Devin Duvernay).
6) Henry Ruggs III: Can he beat John Ross? 4.25 is what we’re told Ruggs ran back at the Alabama junior pro day. That’s hand-timed, of course, so weigh that as you see fit. Now, Ruggs is my boring bet for fastest player at the Combine. Every year, a sneaky cornerback or someone comes out of left field, so that’s always a possibility. But Ruggs has “easy speed”; he just runs faster and more effortlessly than just about anyone. 4.22 is in his range of outcomes, but I think Ross is safe for another year.
7) Does Tee Higgins have a 4.5-something in him, because that would be swell. We like Higgins’ profile generally speaking, but we need to see him answer questions about his long-speed before we can safely lock him inside the top-5. It’s not a death sentence if he “fails”, but would make us feel a lot more giddy about his projections.
8) Donovan Peoples-Jones should be a “sneaky” winner, once all the dust settles. Big time recruit and big time athlete that got caught in a terrible Michigan program. With Bryan Edwards sidelined with an unfortunate foot injury, I’m curious to see what other players at the position make themselves some money at Indianapolis, as several do each year. Who’s got your vote?
9) Hunter Bryant looks to be the class of the tight end position. What other players will inevitably pop during testing that I’ll likely circle around on and fall in love with? Friend of the Underworld, Marcus Mosher, is highlighting Louisiana State’s Stephen Sullivan as a big winner at the position when all is said and done.
10) We know how talented the top of the running back class is. Cam Akers, notably, should show off at the Combine, test very well, and firmly plant his flag at the top of this group. But what happens after the top five or six options (the same question we ask ourselves every year)? Who’s going to separate themselves, athletically, from those second and third tiers. I have some higher-upside dart throws in mind (Bryant’s teammate Salvon Ahmed, being one).
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