Combine Winners and Losers
NFL Draft season kicked off this week at the Combine, where we got heights, weights, speeds and tons of other measurables for the incoming rookie class.
While we don’t wanna overreact to this new data, it’s certainly part of the evaluation process. Being athletic is a good thing.
We’ll be digging deeper into the results and what they mean for your fantasy team over the next few weeks. But for now, here’s a quick look at the biggest winners and losers from the 2020 Combine.
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
We knew Taylor was fast — he ran on Wisconsin’s 4x100 relay team this past year. But a 4.39-second 40 time at 226 pounds?? That’s just freaky. By comparison, Saquon Barkley checked into the 2018 Combine at 230 pounds and clocked a 4.40.
Taylor’s 121.7 Speed Score, which factors in 40 time and weight, places him in the 99th percentile at his position. Other backs in that stratosphere include the aforementioned Barkley, Derrick Henry and Leonard Fournette.
With solid marks in the agility and jumping drills, Taylor finished with a SPARQ (size-adjusted athleticism) score in the 90th percentile among RBs. Throw that on top of his record-setting 6,174 rushing yards over 3 college seasons, and Taylor will be tough to unseat as the top RB in this class.
A.J. Dillon, RB, Boston College
He checked in as the heaviest RB in Indy at 247 pounds. Then he led the position with a 41-inch vertical and 131-inch broad jump. That’s not supposed to happen.
Dillon also ran an impressive 4.53-second 40 time to register a 97th percentile SPARQ score. Although he doesn’t offer much in the passing game, Dillon was a workhorse ball carrier at Boston College. And this athleticism makes him a much more intriguing dynasty prospect.
Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, Michigan
DPJ’s performance in Indianapolis earned him a SPARQ in the 99th percentile among WRs. At 6’2 and 212 pounds, he clocked a 4.48-second 40-yard dash and led all WRs this year with a 44.5-inch vertical and 139-inch broad jump.
His production at Michigan was underwhelming, but this elite athleticism will have us taking a 2nd and 3rd look at his tape.
Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
Jefferson put a big checkmark in the production box with his 111-1,540-18 line this past season. He added a checkmark in the athleticism box with his Combine performance on Thursday night.
The 6’1, 202-pounder blazed a 4.43-second 40 time, prompting NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah to call it “the most important time that we've seen today.”
Jefferson added nice marks in the vertical (43.5”) and broad (126”) jumps to finish with an 82nd percentile SPARQ score. He’s now a good bet to come off the board in the 1st round of the NFL Draft and is in the mix to be a top 3 WR in our pre-draft dynasty rookie rankings.
Chase Claypool, WR, Notre Dame
Claypool joined Calvin Johnson (yeah, Megatron) as the only WRs since 2003 to measure at least 6’4, 235 pounds and run a sub-4.45 second 40-yard dash. Claypool’s 4.42 at 6’4, 238 pounds earned him a speed score in the 99th percentile among WRs. He also registered a big 40.5-inch vertical.
There were questions coming into the Combine about whether Claypool would transition to TE as a pro — but his performance in Indianapolis at least proved he’s athletic enough to stick at WR. We’ll see where he lands in the draft and how his NFL team decides to deploy him.
Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
Mims was a standout performer across the board. His 4.38-second 40 time, 38.5-inch vertical, 131-inch broad and 6.66-second 3-cone all put him in the 84th percentile or better among WRs at the Combine since 2000. And he did it at 6’3, 207 pounds to earn a 95th percentile SPARQ score.
We’re starting to hear some 1st-round buzz for Mims. That type of draft capital would probably bump him into the 1st round of dynasty rookie drafts.
Albert Okwuegbunam, TE, Missouri
It was a mostly disappointing showing from the TE class on Thursday night. Albert O was the big exception.
His 4.49-second 40 time was tied for the 7th fastest by a TE at the Combine since 2000. At 258 pounds, Okwuegbunam earned a speed score of 127.0. That’s 3rd best among TEs since 2000 — notably ahead of recent freak athletes like Evan Engram, O.J. Howard and Noah Fant.
Okwuegbunam had a promising first 2 seasons at Missouri before posting career lows in catches (26) and yards (306) this past year. His stock was resuscitated by this Combine performance, though. Note that measurables are more predictive of fantasy production for TEs than RBs or WRs.
Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Tua never hit the field in Indy. But he’s a winner after the medical exam on his dislocated hip reportedly came back “overwhelmingly positive,” according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Tagovailoa is expected to be ready to hold a personal pro day on April 9. If he shows well there, he should lock himself in as a top 5 pick in the draft — and a top 2 QB in dynasty rookie drafts.
Zack Moss, RB, Utah
Moss has been generating sleeper buzz but lost some appeal with his Combine showing.
The 5’9, 223-pounder trudged to a 4.65-second 40 time and posted a subpar 33-inch vertical. He finished with a SPARQ score in the 27th percentile among RBs.
Moss was a tackle-breaking machine at Utah. But questions remain about whether he has enough juice to succeed at the next level.
Hunter Bryant, TE, Washington
For an undersized, pass-catching TE, Bryant’s Combine showing underwhelmed. The 6’2, 248-pounder ran a 4.74-second 40-yard dash and failed to hit the 55th percentile among TEs in the vertical and broad jumps. He finished with a 32nd percentile SPARQ score.
It wasn’t a performance that precludes Bryant from NFL success. But it at least dings the profile on a guy who enters the league coming off a big 52-catch, 825-yard season.