Full transparency: The heroes over at the BREAKOUT FINDER TV Patreon got first access to these rankings back on January 31st. Since then, some names have shifted around for me as evaluations and analysis and discussion has pressed forward. That’s what happens this time of year, and that should remain the expectation post-Combine, as well. I’ll call out the changes (movement in player rank) and the reason or reasons behind the changes below. As I did with the initial posting in Patreon, and in the intro to my running back rankings, some important rules surrounding these rankings:
1) These are my personal positional rankings. These are based on my evaluations (film-data-metric mash-up) and subjective opinion. These are not my final rankings, nor are they the BREAKOUT FINDER rookie rankings of any sort (more on that to come at a later date; Mr. Matt Kelley of Player Profiler fame has already unleashed our initial pass at things).
2) Green-highlighted rows indicate a Senior Bowl participant with an “official” weigh-in. All other heights/weights are per the individual player’s respective school website. Final rankings will have official Combine numbers.
Much like the top of the running back group, the three names you see listed here are firmly planted for me. In fact, if you had one name over the other, I’m not arguing with you. Each player as a legitimate argument and claim to the WR1 crown (Jalen Reagor certainly was “underrated” at one point in time, but has had arguably the most steam behind him of any wide receiver leading up to the Combine).
The Jerry Jeudy vs. CeeDee Lamb debates are exhausting. They’re both elite. They’re both special talents that will have high draft capital behind them and likely impact their new teams early. Jeudy has more of the film-watchers in his corner, where his #tape just oozes polish. Lamb, on the other hand, is the more alien-like player the way he bullies defenders. It’s Julio Jones-like, at times. He also has the production, and metrics nerds on his side; I lean Jeudy from a pure testing-standpoint, too. It’s all very close.
Rounding out my top-5, Heny Ruggs III is labeled as a burner, and rightfully so. He’s my bet to torch the forty-yard dash, and is a legit threat to touch John Ross’s Combine record. But he’s a lot more than just a burner and deep threat, although that’s certainly where his future NFL team will look for him to exploit opposing defenses. Ruggs’ game is a lot more well-rounded and complete than given credit for. We need to look beyond the numbers with this one, as well.
Colorado weapon Laviska Shenault Jr. jumped up 10 overall from the 13-spot prior. I still don’t have a very good feel for him as a pure wide receiver, and I’m not sold that he’s going to blow the doors off of the Combine, either. That said, he should still test impressively enough (size-adjusted), and his DYNAMIC SCORE is going to be strong. We like receivers that impact the game all over the field; out of the backfield and on special teams, as Shenault did.
Proactively sliding Donovan Peoples-Jones up the board in anticipation of one of the better Combines. He was a plus-athlete coming out of high school (and the top recruit) that just fell into a terrible situation at Michigan. And, speaking of DYNAMIC SCORE, Peoples-Jones was consistently used on punt returns, which is notable.
I absolutely loved watching K.J. Hamler play football. I’m high on him, which the ranks don’t necessarily reflect, as I want to be even higher on him. The former four-star recruit certainly has the talent, but there should be some flags surrounding his build and slight frame (there’s also an ACL injury history). Here’s to hoping he flies through the forty, posting a 4.3-something, and comes off the board a la Mecole Hardman last year.