NFL Combine: Top Offensive Skill Position Players and Results

Kate Arhar
Senior Sports Editor NFC West / NFC South

By Kate Arhar // @ClvlndK8 

Another NFL Scouting Combine has come and gone leaving fans hungry for the Draft in April! Do these results actually affect when a player is drafted? You betcha!

But how much of an impact do they have? Frankly, it’s hard to tell. History tells us that bad results have a larger effect than any surprisingly good results. Teams largely rely on tape of a player’s actual activity in games to do the largest portion of their rankings.

However, we also know that seeing these guys perform standardized tests under pressure and intense scrutiny tells teams a lot about their character which can also factor into their decisions on Draft Day.

With that being said, let’s take a look at some top performers on the offensive side of the ball…

Joe Burrow, LSU, and Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama, are the most talked-about QBs in this year’s draft class. However, both chose to sit out the measurement portion of the program this year. Tagovailoa did so due to the fact that he hadn’t been cleared from the injury he suffered last season. He has since been allowed to do some limited workouts so perhaps his pro-day will be more interesting to watch. Burrow is clearly the odds-on favorite to get picked at the #1 spot so I’m guessing he felt he could only hurt himself by participating in the workouts.

There were quite a few QBs that did draw some attention and, as a result, are rising up draft boards. Utah State’s Jordan Love is one such player. His deep throws during the workouts were a thing of beauty to behold. They were on target and easily caught by the receivers during the drills.

While he struggled a bit with the shorter passes, I’m willing to overlook that at this point. Short routes or patterns are largely about timing and the relationship between QB and wide receiver. With a different WR up for each of his passes and these being guys he’d never thrown to or worked with before, it seems highly likely that coaching and reps will fix any issues in that aspect of his game. But he clearly excels at the parts of the passing game that are hardest to learn: distance and accuracy.

Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts is another player whose stock is on the rise. He was near the top of the rankings with a 40-yard dash of 4.59 and a verticle jump of 35″. While some folks were asking him about playing a different position in the NFL, it seems to me that a guy who is 6’1″ with 9-3/4″ hands combined with a 69.7% pass completion percentage for 3,851 yards should be just fine as an NFL quarterback.

I know his rushing numbers – 1,298 yards on 233 carries which is 5.6 yards on average – make folks want to turn him into a running back, you just can’t lose that passing talent in an NFL that is more and more becoming an in-the-air game.

Shout-out to Hawaii’s Cole McDonald. Most fans don’t know who he is, but I’ll tell you, he did really well in the workouts. He ran 4.58 in the 40-yard dash and lept 36″ in the vertical jump to lead all QB’s. He even showed great footwork in the 3-cone drill as well as the 20-yard shuttle.

He is heading to the draft after his junior year where he ranked third in the FBS with 4,135 passing yards and eighth with 33 touchdowns (326 of 511, 63.8 completion percentage, 14 interceptions; 101 carries, 383 yards, 3.8 ypc, seven touchdowns) in 14 games (12 starts). He was a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and a second-team all-conference selection for his 2019 efforts. I don’t know where he will land in the draft, but I expect we’ll be talking about him at some point in the next couple of years.

When it comes to the running backs, no one was surprised that Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor sped past everyone else for a time of 4.39 in the dash.  Darrynton Evans (Appalachian State) and Raymond Calais (Louisiana-Lafayette) were right behind him at 4.41 and 4.42 respectively. We’ve all seen Big Ten games featuring Taylor and what he can do on the field, but Evans and Calais are definitely players worth watching for in the NFL. They are getting a lot of notice because of their great combine stats.

For the wide receivers, there’s no doubt that Henry Ruggs III (Alabama), Jerry Jeudy (Alabama) and CeeDee Lamb (Oklahoma) were going to do well. These guys are already top prospects and cemented that status with blazing speed and amazing catches during the drills. But a couple of guys who are now being noticed are Justin Jefferson (LSU), Jalen Reagor (TCU) and Chase Claypool (Notre Dame).

But I’m going to bring someone to your attention that I think can have a huge impact in the NFL: Kendrick Rogers, Texas A&M. I was able to watch the second session of QB/WR drills during the combine, which means that, alphabetically speaking, I was all the receivers from Jauan Jennings (TENN) to Cody White (Michigan State).

Time and time again, I was impressed by Rogers and his awareness of where his feet were on the field of play. Oh, I know some guys made spectacular catches and some other guys had to fight back to the ball if the QB’s throw was off. But Rogers was the only player that I saw who was CONSISTENTLY checking where his feet were and FOUGHT to stay inbounds after the catch. Yeah, I know, these were just drills and they were showing their ability to catch a football. However, that kind of field awareness is HUGE in an actual game and mark my works – this young man clearly knows how important that is to his future!

Which offensive skill position players impressed you or got you to notice them at the Combine? I’d love to hear from you on Twitter!

 

Talk NFL with Kate on Twitter // @ClvlndK8 

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