Weight-Adjusted Combine Performance: WRs
Combine results are much less predictive of WR success than RB success at the next level. In other words, measurables should hold less weight in our WR rookie rankings.
But we shouldn’t ignore WR Combine performances completely. While the Harvard study I referenced in the RB article found that WR is “the only position in which the model can’t significantly predict success,” ESPN’s Brian Burke found 40 time reasonably correlated. The next most predictive Combine metric for WRs: weight.
So let’s take a look at which WRs flashed the best combination of speed and weight at the 2019 Combine. The chart below plots 40 time vs. weight for all Combine WRs since 2015 (207 total). The bold line shows the 40 time we’d expect a WR to run based on his weight. Below the line is faster than expected; above is slower.
It’s crowded below that bold line. And that visually represents the fact that this is a historic WR class in terms of athleticism. Three guys tested as 99th percentile athletes; another 5 tested above the 92nd percentile; and 17 of the 37 who ran tested above the 76th percentile.
Let’s take a look at the 7 big winners — and the 1 loser — in weight-adjusted speed.
D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss
He had the football world buzzing when he blazed a 4.33-second 40. That’s tied for the 7th fastest time by a WR over the past 5 years. The 6 WRs who were faster all weighed 205 pounds or less, with 4 of them sub-190. Metcalf checked in at a rocked-up 228 pounds. By comparison, Julio Jones tipped the scales at 220 pounds at the Combine and posted a 4.34-second 40 time.
Metcalf has some durability concerns and didn’t dominate in college. But he’s an athletic freak. Even with subpar times in the agility drills, he earned a SPARQ score in the 98th percentile.
Parris Campbell, Ohio State
His 4.31-second 40 was tied for the fastest among this year’s WR class and the 3rd fastest at the position over the past 5 years. The only wideouts to post better times were John Ross and J.J. Nelson, who weighed 188 and 156 pounds, respectively. Campbell goes 205. His time was a full 2 tenths of a second faster than weight-based expectation.
Campbell is 1 of 3 WRs in this class to register a SPARQ score in the 99th percentile.
Miles Boykin, Notre Dame
Here’s another 1 of the guys in the 99th Percentile Club. Boykin’s Combine was even more impressive than Metcalf’s or Campbell’s when you consider his performance in the jumping and agility drills.
He showed well in the 40, too, clocking a 4.42 at 220 pounds. That was more than a tenth of a second faster than expected. The only WR at or above Boykin’s weight to run faster over the past 5 years: Metcalf.
Emanuel Hall, Missouri
The 3rd WR in this year’s class to earn a 99th percentile SPARQ score, Hall scorched a 4.39-second 40 at 201 pounds. He’s just the 7th WR over the past 5 years to run sub-4.4 at 200+ pounds.
Hall struggled with injuries throughout his college career but averaged a massive 21.9 yards per catch over his final 3 seasons.
Andy Isabella, UMass
Isabella matched Campbell with a 4.31-second 40 time — impressive even at 188 pounds. It’s .19 seconds faster than we’d expect a guy at that weight to run.
Isabella left the Combine with an 82nd percentile SPARQ score. Coming off a huge 102-1,698-13 line at UMass, he looks like a WR fantasy owners should be interested in.
Mecole Hardman, Georgia
In the Isabella mold, Hardman checked in at 187 pounds and clocked a 4.33-second 40 time.
With just 60 catches across 3 college seasons, he’s not as intriguing a prospect as Isabella. But his speed gives him a shot to be a big-play guy at the next level.
Terry McLaurin, Ohio State
The 208-pounder blazed a 4.35-second 40 time — .17 faster than weight-based expectation. He joined fellow classmates Hall, Metcalf and Campbell as 200+ pound WRs to run sub-4.4. Only 3 WRs did that in the previous 4 years combined: Kevin White, Chris Conley and Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
McLaurin wasn’t a big producer for the Buckeyes and is already 24. But his 95th percentile SPARQ score makes him worth monitoring going forward.
Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Texas
The only WR to really flop in weight-adjusted speed, Humphrey slogged to a 4.75-second 40 at 210 pounds. It makes him the 2nd slowest WR at the Combine over the past 5 years and just the 6th to run 4.7+. Devin Funchess is in that group but weighed 232 pounds at the time.
Humphrey finished with a 29th percentile SPARQ score.