NFL Combine – Quarterback & Wide Receiver Highlights

By Ha Kung Wong 

Twitter: @FBGarbageTime

Well, the 2017 NFL Combine is now complete and all the prospects are either riding high on plus performances or looking forward to redeeming themselves at their respective Pro Days.

We’ve already taken a look at running backs and how the top prospects did in the Combine, so let’s now turn to Wide Receivers and Quarterbacks.  Also, if you haven’t done so, don’t forget to check out our special Combine Edition of our weekly Podcast for more thoughts on all position performances.

Wide Receivers

John Ross

Combine Highlights

40 Yard Dash: 4.22 seconds (1st among WRs and fastest NFL Combine time EVER)

Vertical Jump: 37.0 inches (Tied for 5th among WRs)

Broad Jump: 133.0 inches (Tied for 3rd among WRs)

Clearly, John Ross was on everyone’s radar after eating Chris Johnson’s record and osting the fastest ever 40 yard dash time at the NFL Combine.

The question is whether Ross is just another speed demon, or if he’ll be a useful addition to a WR core in the NFL.  He’s shown significant downfield skill and all tracking ability while at Washington, and can play both in the slot and on the outside, as well as being a solid kick returner.  It’s unclear whether any of that will translate, but Ross’ Combine performance at least confirmed his ability to take the top off opposing secondaries and his physical ability to high point 50/50 balls.  He certainly helped his stock going into the draft.

The primary concern will be the lingering injuries, as Ross did tighten up after the 40 and does have a history, missing his 2015 season due to a torn ACL and still dealing with a torn labrum which will require surgery after his Pro Day.  Durability concerns will certainly factor into whether teams want to gamble with Ross in the Draft.

Other WRs that I think helped their case in the NFL Draft include:

Curtis Samuel

Combine Highlights

40 Yard Dash: 4.31 seconds (2nd among WRs)

Vertical Jump: 37.0 inches (Tied for 5th among WRs)

Bench press: 18 reps (5th among WRs)

He was more of a half back at the Ohio State University, but ultimately is a “Swiss Army Tool”.  He ran the ball, caught passes and returned kicks, and he did all three at a relatively competent level throughout the Buckeyes’ title run.  The question is where he fits in the NFL.  He’s more likely a WR than a RB at 196 pounds, and the Combine results confirmed his breakaway speed and his strength.  I’d imagine there will be a team looking for such a utility player, particularly since he can cut his teeth on special teams right away as they figure out how best to use him on offense.

KD Cannon

Combine Highlights

40 Yard Dash: 4.41 seconds (4th among WRs)

Vertical Jump: 37.0 inches (Tied for 5th among WRs)

Cannon was never known as an exceptional route runner, but he excelled at deep stop and go routes.  And he showed off his home run potential with 1,215 receiving yards and 13 TDs on just 87 receptions last year at Baylor, averaging almost 14 yards per catch.  His Combine results demonstrated his breakaway speed, but that was never in doubt.  Having the high end vertical results, though, demonstrated potential for him to be coached out of using his body to catch the ball and perhaps be able to high point deep passes.

Quarterbacks

Mitchell Trubisky

Measurements: 6-2, 222, 9 ½” hands

40 Yard Dash: 4.67 seconds (4th among QBs)

Vertical Jump: 27.5 inches (10th among QBs)

Broad Jump: 116 inches (6th among QBs)

3 Cone Drill: 6.87 seconds (2nd among QBs)

20 Yard Shuttle: 4.25 seconds (4th among QBs)

I’ve already discussed Trubisky and his potential in a previous article, so I’ll stick with his Combine results here.  Most notable was his 40 Yard Dash, 3 Cone Drill and 20 Yard Shuttle, which confirmed his agility

And although he sailed some passes deep, he did demonstrate decent accuracy on shorter routes.

Ultimately, he didn’t improve his stock, but he also didn’t hurt it going into the Draft.  It’s still likely he’ll be one of the first two QBs off the board.

DeShaun Watson

Measurements: 6-2, 221, 9 ¾” hands

40 Yard Dash: 4.66 seconds (3rd among QBs)

Vertical Jump: 32.5 inches (5th among QBs)

Broad Jump: 119 inches (4th among QBs)

3 Cone Drill: 6.95 seconds (5th among QBs)

20 Yard Shuttle: 4.31 seconds (6th among QBs)

There’s no doubt that DeShaun Watson had a terrific college career at Clemson.  Not only did he lead his team to a NCAA National Championship, but he also had the best ever career completion percentage in the ACC (67.4) and second most career TDs in the ACC (116).  Unfortunately, he also had the most INTs in the ACC in 2016 (17) and the second most INTs in the ACC in 2015 (13), leading to significant questions about accuracy and downfield vision.  Watson had been long criticized for his lack of accuracy and over-reliance on his feet to create (drawing poor comps to the likes of RGIII and, eek, Johnny Manziel).

But Watson addressed his critics with on field Combine passing drills, which were basically spot on.

If you’d like to see more of his throwing drills, you can check it out HERE.

Watson also did a lot to improve his stock with his performance in other Combine drills.  He ended up placing in the top 6 among QBs in 40 yard dash, vertical and broad jumps, 3 cone drill and 20 yard shuttle.

Apparently he did well in his Combine interviews as well, as Saints head coach Sean Payton mentioned on NFL Insiders that he thought after meeting Watson that he was going to “continue to win” in the NFL.  Whether that’s true or not is yet to be determined, but Watson certainly increased his stock at the Combine and is now positioned to be the top QB off the board in the Draft.

DeShone Kizer

Measurements: 6-4, 233, 9 ⅞” hands

40 Yard Dash: 4.83 seconds (9th among QBs)

Vertical Jump: 30.5 inches (8th among QBs)

Broad Jump: 107 inches (11th among QBs)

3 Cone Drill: 7.40 seconds (11th among QBs / Last among all participating)

20 Yard Shuttle: 4.53 seconds (12th among QBs / Last among all participating)

It’s hard to lose too much stock in the Combine as a QB prospect, but DeShone Kizer, unfortunately, might have done just that.

He started out strong being listed as Mike Mayock’s number one QB for the draft and with 49ers GM John Lynch saying he was “blown away” with Kizer’s Combine interview.  Plus many draft pundits have noted Kizer’s ideal size and solid arm strength for the NFL.

But when it came to the Combine drills, Kizer left a lot to be desired, ending up 8th or worse on every drill, and coming in last among participating QBs in both the 3 Cone Drill and the 20 Yard Shuttle.

When it came to throwing drills, it was clear he had no problem going deep, working to confirm talk of having a big arm.

But there were issues with short route accuracy, something that was not a concern prior to the Combine. Note this video portion which highlights what should have been sideline throws.

There were also lingering concerns of making bad decisions under pressure and trying to force throws to receivers.  None of this was offset by his Combine performance.  But analysts have noted his ability to stand in the pocket and work through progressions, something that’s essential in the NFL.  His stats in his last year at Notre Dame are notable, putting up 2,705 passing yards, 24 passing TDs with 8 INTs, and adding 509 rushing yards and 7 rushing TDs.  Clearly, he has the on field presence and physical tools to be successful.  The questions is whether any of this will translate to the NFL, and whether the poor Combine showing will push teams to select him out of the first round.

Note that Three Sigma Athlete released their SPARQ scores for QBs at the Combine and rated Watson 3rd, Trubisky 7th and Kizer 10th (out of essentially 12 qualifying QBs).  Note that NFL% of 50 is considered NFL league average.

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