Whine or Shine – Notable Good & Bad at the 2020 NFL Combine – Days 1 & 2

By Ha Kung Wong

Twitter: @FBGarbagetime

Day 1 – Thursday

February 27

Tight Ends, Quarterbacks and Wideouts

GOOD

  • Justin Herbert – Quarterback, Oregon

Justin Herbert had plenty of momentum from winning the Rose Bowl at Oregon and then going for 9 of 12 for 83 yards and a touchdown at the Senior Bowl, but he also had plenty to prove with two bigger names ahead of him on most draft big boards.  And although Jordan Love might have gained as much ground, Herbert did well enough to answer most pending questions and keep him slightly ahead.

For the on field drills, Herbert’s athleticism and his throwing ability was on display with the ball coming out well with spot-on placement. He showed an impressive arc on his deep throws, and made it easy for receivers on both in-routes and speed outs to snag the ball.

As far as the measurable drills, among quarterbacks he tied for 3rd in the 40 yard dash (4.68 seconds), tied for 2nd in the Vertical Jump (35.5”), was 3rd in Broad Jump (123.0”), was 1st in the 3 Cone Drill (7.06 seconds) and was 4th in the 20 Yard Shuttle (4.46 seconds).  And during all that, he was seen smiling and conversing with all the other participants, demonstrating his comfort level and collegiality.  All in all, an impressive day and one that should solidify his draft stock.

  • Chase Claypool – Wideout, Notre Dame

I’m admittedly biased being a Notre Dame fan, and with good reason seeing his 2019 production (66 catches, 1,037 yards, 15.7 YPC, 13 TDs) and his touchdown from the Senior Bowl, but Chase Claypool is doing a good job proving he deserves to be on teams’ draft big boards.

There’s been plenty of talk about his measurements (6’4″, 238 pounds) and how he might want to consider moving to tight end, and Claypool himself indicated that he was open to that.  But Claypool’s Combine performance tells another tale, one that leads to being drafted as a wideout.

Claypool was incredibly solid in the on field drills, having no issues tracking and grabbing the ball wherever he was on the field.  And in the measurable drills, Claypool ran the 7th fastest 40 Yard Dash (4.42 seconds) among wideouts.  According to NFL Research, Claypool and Calvin Johnson are the only wide receivers who stood at least 6’4″, 235 pounds and ran a sub-4.45-second 40-yard time.  He went on to also get the fourth-best vertical jump (40.5″) and put up the 5th most reps on Bench Press (19) among this year’s wideouts.  Scouts should keep a close eye on Claypool as a solid wideout option that can be had later in the draft.

  • Quez Watkins – Wideout, Southern Miss

I’ll admit that Quez Watkins wasn’t on my radar, but he is now.  In his last season at Southern Miss, he had the most receiving yards (1,178) and 6th most receiving touchdowns (6) of any wideout in Conference USA, showing great speed and route running.  So, theoretically, he probably should have been on my radar.

But now that Watkins back all that up by showing blazing speed with the second best 40 Yard Dash among wideouts (4.35 seconds) and had a terrific showing in the on field drills, he’s hard to ignore. He demonstrated easy and efficient movement in drills and smooth solid hands on catches that put him on par with all the top wideouts at the Combine.  There might be some question regarding how he does against physical coverage in the NFL, but he definitely improved his draft stock.

BAD

  • Jake Fromm – Quarterback, Georgia

Jake Fromm was a top end draft prospect prior to an up-and-down 2019 season which saw him slip to the 2nd round or later on most big boards.  Unfortunately, he did nothing to improve his stock at the Combine.

During the measurable drills, Fromm was incredibly subpar.  He ran a 5.01-second 40 Yard Dash, the slowest time overall among quarterbacks.  In addition, Fromm posted a 30” vertical jump (9th among quarterbacks), 111” broad jump (10th among quarterbacks), a 4.51-second short shuttle (tied for seventh among quarterbacks), and a 7.27-second time in the three-cone drill (9th among quarterbacks).  Not good.

His hand size, however, came up at 8 and 7/8”, which is exactly one inch smaller than the average NFL quarterback hand size.  Typically, this can be overlooked, but there’s been concern about Fromm’s arm strength, something that Fromm looked to overcome during his on field drills, but ultimately ended up with a good number of over-throws.  Add that to the concerning measurables and the Combine did nothing to move him up draft boards.

Day 2 – Friday

February 28

Placekickers, Special Teams, Offensive Linemen and Running Backs

GOOD

  • Tristan Wirfs – Offensive Tackle, Iowa

As you might recall, I mentioned how much I liked Tristan Wirfs on the podcast.  He’s by far one of my favorite offensive lineman in the Draft, and he did everything he could to prove me right at the Combine.  Wirfs recorded a 40-yard dash of 4.85 seconds, the best time of any offensive lineman this year.  Prior to that, he posted a 36.5” Vertical Jump, the best of any offensive linemen ever and a 121” Broad Jump, which ties offensive lineman Kolton Miller’s Combine record from 2018.  And if that wasn’t enough, he recorded a 7.65-second Three Cone drill, good for 5th best among offensive linemen.

His on field drills were even more impressive.  He moved on a dime in change of direction and pulling drills, moving effortlessly from side to side and back and forth as directed by coaches leading the drills, and he showed surprising agility around the cones.

With all this, you would never have guessed that Wirfs was 6’ 5” and 320 pounds.

I was really high on him before and I think this performance solidifies him in the top 10.

  • Jonathan Taylor – Running Back, Wisconsin

Jonathan Taylor was already considered the top of the running back class along with D’Andre Swift, but I think he did plenty to cement his positioning.  He was the only running back to run the 40 Yard Dash in less than 4.4 seconds (4.39) and he had the 4th best 3 Cone Drill (7.01 seconds) among running backs, all at a solid 226 pounds.  And for the on field drills, Taylor flew through the blue pads and demonstrated significant speed and vision.  There was concern going into the Combine that his lack of receptions his first two years in college might be an issue, but Taylor looked perfectly comfortable catching passes on the field, grabbing passes all around a catch radius that extended far from his body.  Although Swift also performed well, consider the questions on Taylor answered.

  • Darrynton Evans – Running Back, Appalachian State

He’s a little further off the radar, but Darrynton Evans managed to challenge Taylor with his 4.41-second 40, good for 2nd best among running backs, tied for 5th best on the Broad Jump (125.0”) and totally shined during on field drills.  He clearly has significant agility and speed and can catch passes. His height and weight (5’ 10”, 203 lbs.) may keep him in a change of pace role, but his performance definitely cements that potential.

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