Showcasing the talent and skills of prospective NFL rookies, the NFL Scouting Combine is a time for Dynasty Football owners to be on high alert for updates that help them complete their draft boards. The DFF Degenerates Roundtable (@DFF_Degenerates) talk candidly about the good and bad results of the 2018 NFL Combine.
Were there any surprises?
What players gained the most by their performances?
@dibari22: Justin Jackson: He exceeded my expectations in everything he did. I can’t wait to see his landing spot as his fantasy relevance likely depends on what team drafts him.
Nick Chubb: I might have him ahead of Derrius Guice now. He was an all-world freak prior to his injury and he’s looking like he’s back on the road to being an all-world freak again.
Bo Scarbrough: I had very low hopes for him, but big boy delivered. He was much more dynamic and explosive than I thought. Scarbrough could be a 2-down, short-yardage producer with upside from day 1 with the right team.
DJ Moore: I was already high on him coming in, but I’m thinking he might have moved himself into my WR1 spot.
Antonio Callaway: If you removed all the off-the-field baggage (and there is plenty), he’d probably be my WR4 in this class after what I saw out of him at the combine. He looked smooth in everything he did. Can’t wait to see his landing spot.
DJ Chark: Sad times for me. Chark was one of my big late-round sleepers weeks ago, then he blows up at the senior bowl and posts the fastest 40-time. “POOF” there he goes as a sleeper.
@DFF_Walk: I’m going to double down in the great state of Oregon and say that “Rolls” Royce Freeman (5’11”, 229lbs.) and Ryan Nall (6’2”, 232lbs.) were BIG combine surprises as both tested far better athletically then I had expected and will be climbing up my pre-draft rankings accordingly. The clear risers at WR were the DJ’s. DJ Moore absolutely eviscerated the combine and now resides as my WR2 behind only Courtland Sutton in this year’s class. DJ Chark (6’3”, 199lbs.) built on his strong Senior Bowl showing by posting a blazing 4.34 40-yard dash to go along with a 40” vertical jump and 129” broad jump (all top-5 at the position).
@DFF_JamesH: I have beaten this drum for a while and I won’t be stopping any time soon. But Chase Edmonds had a good showing at the combine. His 40-yard dash was okay, and he did well on the bench. However, his most impressive feat of the week, was his ridiculously fast 6.79 seconds in the 3-cone drill, which was the fastest out of all running backs. Not to mention, he also took part in running WR routes on top of the RB events. This guy is going to be huge in the NFL.
@DFF_Madman: The Combine is just a tool I use to fine tune my draft board where I may have biases or slight uncertainty among players I have ranked closely. It just reinforces the list. Saquon Barkley’s performance was a little surprising, in that I didn’t expect him to break the Combine. Being alone at the top of the board, there’s nowhere to go but down. Fortunately, he just continued to impress.
Rashaad Penny did all the right things to maintain my faith in his NFL abilities. He remains a value and I’ll have no trouble taking him in the first round of rookie drafts. As a well-rounded RB who is great on-field, it was a bonus to see him run the same 4.46 second 40-yard dash as supposed genetic freak Kalen Ballage (who is bad at football). They tied for the third best RB time. I haven’t been this excited about a San Diego State RB since Marshall Faulk.
Derrius Guice quietly held onto his spot as the second best RB in this year’s draft class. He’s anything but quiet on the field. There hasn’t been much talk about him since the Combine, which is fine with me as a value shopper.
DJ Moore was already a guy I loved at WR. His height was a nice revelation, but his performance was no surprise – as he solidified his place at the top of my WR list.
While still a sleeper for many, Allen Lazard cemented himself as a prospect you can draft without fear. Yes, a smaller school guy, but stayed for his senior season and continued being a great team player and the heart of the offense. He’s a stud and will eventually cement a viable starting role on an NFL roster.
Mike Gesicki was already my top-ranked tight end and all he did was show off his athleticism. He’s better than most of the WRs in this class. Gesicki is a red zone WR1 in the frame of a TE. He’s not a blocker, but who cares? Do you haul firewood in a Porsche?
@DFF_Thebrain: Tight End Mike Gesicki showed off phenomenal physical tools and was clearly the tight end with the most athletic profile. Tight end isn’t always a sexy position in fantasy but with very few people paying attention to a subpar tight end class, Gesicki has showed enough to be on draft radars in the late second or early third rounds of rookie drafts.
@DFFMemphis: The biggest surprise for me, both good and bad, was Bo Scarbrough. He measured in a 6’1” and 228lbs. and big 10” hands. With a 4.52 40-time, a 129” broad jump, and a second only to Saquon Barkley 40” vertical jump, those are all the surprisingly good metrics. The one metric that gave me pause was his 14 reps on the bench. I know it seems like a useless metric, but that’s one less than Marlon Mack and Alvin Kamara did last year. He’s going to be pegged in a 2-down role in the NFL, but he finished second in receptions last season at Alabama. Scarbrough is a sneaky third-rounder in Dynasty rookie drafts.
Nick Chubb really showed how much he wants to be a pro and wants to be drafted highly with his Combine performance. Chubb showed up in amazing shape and ready to go. It’s a “little thing,” but little things add up and his performance showed his desire to be a pro. There were still a lot of naysayers regarding his knee, his 2017 season, and the emergence of senior Sony Michel. I could list all his combine metrics, but let’s stick to three:
The 40-time of 4.52 was 6th best among RBs.
The broad jump of 128” was 2nd best among RBs
He also did 38.5” in the vertical jump. Why do I care about these particular metrics? Because they all show lower body strength and explosiveness. It looks like his knee is healthy, so I can see myself drafting him ahead of Guice based on their respective landing spots.
Were there disappointments, surprising or otherwise?
Who lost the most based on their performances?
@dibari22: Ronald Jones II: He got hurt, so this is cheating, but he was a guy I was lower on than most coming in and I wanted to see him flash to give me a reason to move him up in my rankings.
Sony Michel: I saw too little out of him at the combine to be impressed. I’m not discounting his performance in games, but people were expecting a lot more.
Kalen Ballage: He did fine, but all the pre-combine talk of being a “size-speed freak” set the bar a little too high and with everything being measured against Barkley, it was going to be hard to impress anyone without eye-popping numbers.
Sam Darnold: Going into the combine, I wasn’t his biggest fan and his decision to skip the throwing drills seems like a poor decision.
@DFF_Walk: Ronald Jones II is the easy answer. After pulling up lame with a hamstring in his 4.66 40-yard dash, he didn’t participate in the remainder of the combine testing. I was particularly interested in seeing him in the pass-catching drills because there’s very limited tape of him doing it at USC. For me to draft him as a top-5 RB in this class, he must show me he is a 3-down back.
John Kelly opted to not run the 40-yard dash in Indy and then proceeded to post average numbers across the board in the events that he did participate in. I still like him as a Dynasty asset in the middle round of rookie drafts but was hoping for more.
The Dynasty community was buzzing about Auden Tate pre-combine (myself included) but alas the buzz is gone. Poor QB play was the easiest answer during his time in Tallahassee, but perhaps his clear lack of athletic ability contributed more than we all wanted to admit. One of the worst combines for a WR that I have seen in recent years.
@DFF_JamesH: Sony Michel was a disappointment for me. I’ve been putting him above Nick Chubb at every opportunity, but Chubb brought it this week, Michel, on the other hand, did not.
@DFF_Madman: Ronald Jones II’s injury and inability to finish the drills was disappointing. However, this will allow him to become an even greater value. While sad for Jones II, it will be good for me in rookie drafts as he was already a value before this happened. He’s a very good RB, so the naysayers can go pound salt and just keep letting him fall to my draft pick. Talking about RBs being able to catch passes on third downs is a little overstated. I’ve seen him catch, and backs in the NFL have also demonstrated you don’t need to have superpowers to run bubble screens in the NFL.
Auden Tate was the biggest surprise to the contrary at the Combine. I knew he wasn’t an elite sprinter, but his 40-yard dash time was disappointing. However, I remain optimistic about him becoming an X-receiver, just more reserved now. This likely improves my chances to get even greater value in rookie drafts. Getting him in the 2nd Round would be ideal.
Kalen Ballage did nothing to change my mind that he’s not a good football player yet. He needed to kill the combine to gain more traction in rookie drafts. I wasn’t a buyer before and I won’t be a buyer now.
Sony Michel (ME-SHELL) will be a decent NFL RB, but his combine was lackluster. His being drafted at 1.03 in mocks is over. That was too high to begin with, so maybe he’ll become a small value again in the latter half of first rounds.
@DFF_Thebrain: I’m still not sure why Sam Darnold chose not to throw, but with all the other top QB prospects throwing at the combine it hurt Darnold to sit out the drills. By all accounts, Rosen, Mayfield, and Allen looked good throwing the ball, and with Darnold doing little to bolster his stock, he may end up falling down some draft boards.
What NFL Scouting Combine drill do you value most for player evaluations and why?
@dibari22: I look at different things for different positions. With offensive skill position players, I like to see big hands, especially on receivers. I think the 3-cone drill is important to show a player’s agility. I like to see guys who look fluid doing everything. Some players look a little herky-jerky running routes or cutting, others as smooth as silk in the process. I tend to base my evaluations on how a guy looks doing the drills and I ignore the actual numbers. If a guy looks fluid and the movements come naturally to him, that’s most important to me. Watching how a player catches during the gauntlet drill is telling too.
@DFF_Walk: RB – It’s the 3-Cone and Broad Jump. I’m not that concerned with 40-times unless they are extremely high.
WR – 40-yard dash and Vertical Jump. I also pay particular attention to the gauntlet. Do they hold the line, catch cleanly away from their body, effortlessly turn upfield at the end?
TE – Bench Press (Strength is extremely important for a complete TE) and Broad Jump (explosion) but again the gauntlet shows me more than most “measurable testing.”
@DFF_JamesH: It depends on position. For wideouts and defensive backs, I look at 40-yard dash times and the vertical jumps. With linemen, I focus on bench press and broad jump. For RBs, I look at agility drills like the 3-cone. I think a lot of it is also about the attitude the players show. The ones that voluntarily opt out of drills annoy me; this is your chance to shine and impress people, so use it.
@DFF_Madman: I look for WRs who can deflect the ball with their own faces and keep running the gauntlet. The 3-cone drill and bench press for RBs. All running drills aside from the 40-yard dash for WRs, and of course all receiving drills. Too bad they can’t really test for RB vision and balance at the Combine, so you have to watch them play football.
@DFF_Thebrain: The broad jump and 3-cone are the drills I look at first for running backs. These show explosiveness best by judging cutting ability and lower body explosion. I don’t put a lot of stock in any drills for quarterbacks, but wideouts are like running backs and tight ends. So, I like seeing good bench numbers and 40-times. Together they show who has a good combination of speed/strength that is vital to the position.
Dumbest NFL Scouting Combine event and why?
@dibari22: The most glaring failure of the combine is the fact that nobody is wearing pads. It’s like scouting deep-sea fishermen without a boat. They play in pads, they practice in pads, why the hell wouldn’t they do their drills in pads? It’s mind-boggling. The other thing that struck me as particularly stupid was the offensive linemen drill that starts with them laying on their backs. If there is a position an offensive lineman should never find himself in – that’s it. While I’m venting, why are receivers, quarterbacks and running backs running their 40s from a 3-point, track-and-field sprinters’ stance? They’re not coming off the line of scrimmage, escaping the pocket or taking a handoff in that position, so who cares how fast they run from that position. It’s enraging.
@DFF_Walk: I’m sure analytics could point to the value of each drill in some meaningful way, but how fast you can run in a straight line for 40 yards isn’t exactly apples to apples translatable to the field (I’m looking at you Breshad Perriman). The value is likely in the splits (quick speed vs pick-up speed). I also take issue with the Bench Press especially after Billy Price tore his pec in the drill. Strength is extremely important in the NFL but promoting someone to max out in a weight-based drill seems strange. The Event did allow us to see Shaquem Griffin throw up 20 inspirational reps though!
@DFF_JamesH: The passing drills for QBs are dumb. No pads, no lineman in your face, no defensive backs or reads to contend with. Just throw it as far as you can and find a receiver. It isn’t even close to the reality of the game and shows nothing about how good a QB is.
@DFF_Madman: The Combine could use different and better drills. The 40-yard dash tells me very little. It’s not a football skill. Case in point is John Ross running 4.55(ish) in the 40 before training, yet running a one-time 4.22 to set a record at the 2017 Combine. Would he have been drafted so highly at 4.55 speed? No. He was drafted too early and I attribute that pick and landing spot on the mystique of having run a 4.22. There is no other reason to draft him that high. Some of the other running drills are better for aggregate analysis and let us compare/ contrast players.
@DFF_Thebrain: The 40-yard dash is so meaningless to many players. Making everyone run it seems like a waste. Who wants to watch a punter run a 40?
Did any QBs impress you or separate themselves from the pack?
@dibari22: Rosen and Mayfield were 1 and 2 on most lists heading into the Combine. They did nothing to lose those rankings and probably spaced themselves from the other signal callers in this class. Josh Allen didn’t seem to have the accuracy issues we’ve seen plague him in the past. Lamar Jackson looked good throwing in between the numbers, but I thought his passes to the outside were a little off at times. Nobody really stepped up or disappointed; it seemed like you got exactly what you thought from all of them.
@DFF_Walk: Short answer NO. Josh Allen did what everyone likely thought. He also tested well athletically and threw the ball very far. By only participating in the throwing portion, Lamar Jackson was a bit disappointing to me.
Kyle Lauletta is the only QB that I feel helped himself in Indy and will likely hear his name called sometime on Friday night with a strong Pro Day to close out his pre-draft process.
@DFF_Madman: Other than Jackson deciding not to run and Darnold deciding not to throw, there were no surprises. Rosen and Darnold are still my top-2 for the NFL. Mayfield, Jackson, Rudolph, Lauletta, and Allen fall in behind them in some order. Allen is a project and you don’t use your first-round picks for projects, but it’s almost guaranteed some team reaches for him as the promise of franchise QBs is seemingly blinding to many GMs. Lauletta may present a nice value to the NFL and Dynasty owners alike.
@DFF_Thebrain: No one separated themselves to me, and my rankings have not changed. However, I will say that if you didn’t at least come away somewhat impressed with Allen and his performance, then either: A) You’re watching the combine wrong, or B) You have made an opinion on Allen and will not budge from it. I’m not an Allen apologist and I wouldn’t take the guy in the first round personally, but there is a lot of Allen hate that goes too far in my opinion.
Thank you for reading! Special thanks to the entire @DFF_Degenerates roundtable. Stay tuned throughout the year as we gather to address hot and cold takes alike to keep our collective finger on the pulse of this beast known as Dynasty Football.