COMBINE 2023 Day Three

March 5, 2023

It was time for some Offense to take over the spotlight at the COMBINE. But I looked forward to it with some degree of trepidation. I did so because as I had expected the CB group on Friday Night showed out with their athleticism. And let’s acknowledge the fact that the Combine is about athleticism, at least in the on-field drills. I have proclaimed that CB group to be one of the best groups heading toward the NFL Draft. Not quite so much for this year’s WR group. There is a wide variety of receiver types this year, and the quality goes deep. But I still am not sold on who the Top 3 might be, and I am not sure how many of these receivers rank as Round One Draftees.

perhaps the most disappointing show came from JORDAN ADDISON who had been projected as possibly the first wideout off the Board for 2023. His 4.49/40 was disappointing, with 20 other WR posting faster times. His less than 9″ hands were concerning to yours truly, And 30 7/8″ arm length is also disappointing, although not a big surprise.

As many of you who read my scouting reports throughout the Fall I have been projecting TREY PALMER as far back as pre-Senior Bowl as likely to be one of, if not the, fastest WR to run a 40-time. Indeed, his 4.33/40 ;ed the WR group.  Was only .007 behind CB TURNER’s Combine leading 4.26. PALMER shut it down after the run, as far as testing was concerned, but he did indeed confirm what the GPS readings proclaimed when he was the fastest guy in Mobile.

Just as a quick comparison number, 7 CB ran sub-4.40-40’s, while 5 WR did the same. In the final analysis there was not a huge difference between the athleticism of the two groups overall.

Two receivers seemed to rise above the crowd yesterday to my eyes. Meaning that the next two guys deserve some serious game tape revisiting by the scouting community.

MATT LANDERS   WR     Arkansas posted the 3rd fastest 40-time by running 4.37. He’s a long prospect at 6’4/200, with 9 1/4″ hands and 32 1/2″ arm length. I do recall him winning some 50/50 balls during the couple of Razorbacks games that I watched last season.

I was a fan of HENRY FORD-WHEATON/WR/WVU coming into this venue in Indy. And I would proclaim him as a big winner here, earning himself a place in my To 100 by the end of the day. He’s tall (6’4) with a solid frame (221 lbs). His arm length was measured at 33 1/2″. And he recorded a 41″ vertical jump. And surprisingly, at that length and weight he ran a sub-7 second 3-Cone drill (6.97).  And just for good measure he made some outstanding catches in the passing drill component. I feel like he went from a Draftable guy, to a Day Two draftee.

It should be mentioned, as a positive not a limitation, that DERIUS DAVIS of TCU who was second fastest in this group (4.36), is somewhat limited as a receiver from scrimmage, but for teams in need of a boost from their return game component of Special Teams play this guy is as quick as he is fast. Coverage unit players have been to known to sprain their ankles trying to respond to some of his cuts and fakes in the open field.

For our discerning Draftniks out there do not be deceived by the on-field lapses and lack of elite speed from LSU invitee JARAY JENKINS, who only recorded a 4.60/40 time. He is considered an elite Special Teamer, especially on coverage units. And as a Gunner this 6’2/205 athlete excels. I expect him to be drafted, albeit in a later round.

Even though we will have to wait a bit for his Pro Day, JAXON SMITH-NJIGBA/Ohio State, was able to to provide some measurables for us, and they were impressive overall. JAXON was a solid 6’005″ at 196 lbs. He had a solid 35″ vertical and a 10’6″ BJ. But most impressive was his work in the all important change of direction drills running the short shuttle in 3.93 and the 3-Cone in 6.57, where below 7 seconds flat is considered the exceptional line. Most players avoid both of these two drills out of fear! I think it is safe to say that SMITH-NJIGBA is back in the hunt for the first WR to be taken in the Draft.

TOP 40-times

4.33   TREY PALMER/Nebraska      6’0/192

4.36   DERIUS DAVIS/TCU    RS       5’8/165

4.37     MATT LANDERS/Arkansas    6’4/200

4.38    BRYCE FORD-WHAETON/West Virginia

4.38     MARVIN MIMS/Oklahoma      5’11/183

4.40     JALIN HYATT/Tennessee       6’001/176

4.40     TRE TUCKER/Cincinnati    RS     5’9/182

4.40     JALEN CROPPER/Fresno State      5’11/172

4.42     JACOB COPELAND/Maryland      5’11/201

4.42     ZAY FLOWERS/Boston College     RS    5’092/182

One of the more interesting group characteristics to me was that the undersized/receiver only type of TE was conspicuous by its absence. WILL MALLORY of Miami(F), which just churned out NFL TE back in the Jimmy Johnson, and a bit later, Hurricanes era of college football dominance, was the lightest weight TE in this year’s group at 239 lbs. And not coincidentally to me, MALLORY had the best 40-time in the group at 4.54 seconds.

Even the arguably best receiver in the TE Group, who could only be measured, not wrk out, DALTON KINCAID/Utah weighed 246 lbs.  11 of the 20 TE weighed 250 lbs. or more.

The surprise lump of clay most likely to be moldable was ZACH KUNTS out of Old Dominion. KUNTS was 6’7/255, with 10 1/4″ hands and 34″ arms. He ran a 4.55/40which was only 1/100th of a second slower than Mallory.

The guy who made scouts salivate, and dream of what he might become in a couple of years of pro ball was DARNELL WASHINGTON/Georgia.  Here is his info sheet for the Combine.

6’065″/264     11″ Hands/34 3/8″Arms/83 6/8″ Wingspan     4.64/40      10’2″ Broad Jump

And on the field he made several one-handed, leaping catches.

And LUKE MUSGRAVE, who was m favorite coming out of the Senior Bowl was on top of his game also. He ran a 4.61/40 at 6’057″/253 lbs.Has 10 3/8″ hands and also cleared 10’5″ in the BJ.

Daniel Jeremiah of NFLN, the man who essentially replace MR. MAYOCK as the networks top Draft analyst, proclaimed near the end of the telecast that he felt there was a chance that 4 TE could go in the First Round, taking some spots away from the WR group in that round.He specifically identified DALTON KINCAID, MICHAEL MAYER, LUKE MUSGRAVE, DARNELL WASHINGTON as those potential Round One TE. That would be a record for TE in Round One as Mr. EISEN interjected. I could see 7-8 in the Top 3 Rounds.

Almost time to watch the final day of the Combine, so I am going to save my QB commentary until tonight or Monday morning. Not sure I ahem a whole lot to add but I want to go on record with some of my thoughts and a positional pecking order heading into Pro Days.