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Weekly Five – 2020 NFL Combine Review

Tua Tagovailoa
Photo by Sports Illustrated
Jake Graff
Follow Jake @jakegraff74
Follow Whole Nine Sports @WholeNineSports

Welcome back to the Weekly Five! I’m back this week to bring you my thoughts on a wild weekend at the 2020 NFL Combine this past weekend, and what some of the standout performances (good and bad) mean going forward. Here we go!

1. Receivers Galore

Henry Ruggs III
Photo by Getty Images

The hype is always real for the receiver workouts in Indy, and this group didn’t disappoint. We were all eagerly anticipating Henry Ruggs’ 40 yard dash, and while he didn’t break John Ross’ mark of 4.22, he came dang close; 4.27 is still blazing fast. Ruggs is one of the most explosive players I’ve seen in a while, and this time confirms it. He’s my 9th ranked player in the class as of now.

Another favorite of mine has been Denzel Mims, who’s moved up to my WR5 and dominated last week. The ultimate height/weight/speed guy in this class ran an incredible 4.38; one that had me out of my seat. A 6.66 second 3-cone is also outrageous for a 6’3, 207 pound guy who’s typically looked at as a vertical threat. While his hands and body control vertically are his calling card, these numbers confirm the excellent burst and athleticism I saw on tape.

Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb both came in with respectable times- 4.45 and 4.5 respectively, and Justin Jefferson’s 4.43 is huge for his first-round potential as well. Maybe the biggest surprise of the week overall was Chase Claypool. He’s been talked about as a “move” tight end at the next level, and freakish numbers with a 4.42 40 at 238 pounds are massive for him. I didn’t see that sort of crazy burst on tape, but this does wonders for his projection to NFL teams.

2. A Shaky Tight End Class

Albert Okwuegbunam
Photo by Trevor Ruszkowski, USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of tight ends… this group is not good. Albert Okwuegbunam’s 4.49 is absurd and could help him become one of the first off the board, but he’s unrefined as a route runner and I didn’t see this consistent burst from him on film. I see him as simply a seam buster in the league.

Cole Kmet also helped himself out. At 267 pounds, he put together very solid numbers, but again, I just don’t see this much athleticism on film and he isn’t a consistent separator. Despite that, this will help his stock loads as well. Adam Trautman was okay – his 40 didn’t blow us away but a 6.78 3-cone validates some of the smooth route running that is all over his tape. I’m still confident in his potential success in the NFL.

Brycen Hopkins didn’t do anything to make me want to move him from TE1, but Hunter Bryant, my TE2, was disappointing. He definitely put on weight, which can explain his modest testing, but we were all hoping for better from someone whose game is largely predicated on elite athleticism.

3. Freak Shows

Jonathan Taylor
Photo by Joe Robbins, Getty Images

Every year we get those few guys who we all expect to test out of the stadium, and when they proceed to do so we still marvel at just how freakish they are. Isaiah Simmons is ridiculous, now all that remains is the landing spot. Simmons HAS TO go somewhere with a coaching staff who’s willing to use him effectively. He can absolutely stick as a WILL linebacker, but with this kind of athleticism, you have to develop him into someone you can move around on a matchup by matchup basis to truly maximize his ability.

On another note, the idea that anyone has ever questioned Jonathan Taylor’s burst and long speed is just outlandish. It’s clear on tape, and running sub 4.4 at his size is truly special. He has a legitimate case to be the first back taken, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him go off the board in the first.

Though Jedrick Wills is my and many others’ clear OT1, Tristan Wirfs and Mehki Becton could easily be the first two taken at the position. Wirfs tested in the 98th percentile for the 40 and 99th for the broad and vert. Let that sink in. He’s a mauler who is one of the best athletes ever at the tackle position. Yes please. Becton was more of a surprise than the others. We knew he could move, but I don’t think anyone expected a 5.1 40 at his size. He’s also more than a mauler. I’d agree with Mike Mayock that this is a more impressive time than Ruggs’ 4.27.

4. Don’t Overreact

AJ Epenesa
Photo by Michael Conroy, Associated Press

Ah, the beloved post-combine week, where the hot takes spill out more than ever. In the end, tape trumps all, and poor testing for great players shouldn’t be considered more than just another reason to check the tape. AJ Epenesa had a dreadful combine, make no bones about it. I’m one of his biggest fans, but his testing was flat out disappointing to say the least. He is more than a snap jumper than an explosive rusher, and this goes to confirm that. With his technique and power, he can still be a quality 5-tech and situational edge, but the league is going to hate the numbers he put out. It’s hard to see him going anywhere before the late first round.

Derrick Brown was also a huge disappointment. He came in with one of the worst 3-cone times ever recorded and didn’t do much well anywhere else. It’s difficult to really drop him much, considering his power and upside as an interior rusher, but keep in mind that it may take a while for him to really produce at the next level, with average athleticism and raw technique.

Jalen Reagor is likely another case of too much added weight. His explosiveness is off the charts and his 40 and 3-cone times are not representative of his burst and big play ability on film at all, even though I’m not a huge fan of him. One more to note is Laviska Shenault – he tested injured, and I didn’t expect him to be out there at all, so hopefully he can make a full recovery from his groin and hip issues.

5. Tua’s Medicals

Tua Tagovailoa
Photo by Sports Illustrated

While none of us really know how healthy Tua’s hip is, we know that reports out of Indy were nothing but positive. At least, that’s what was revealed to the general public. Many have said that the vibe around Tagovailoa was shaky at best. The bottom line is, even if he isn’t fully healthy, I’m cautiously optimistic about his future. He has plenty of time to continue to recover, and may not even have to play in year one. That’s especially true if Justin Herbert is QB2 off the board (which seems like a very real possibility).