For the weeks leading up to the NFL Combine event (late Feb.), I go through preview tape of all the prospects attending/invited and give a quick reaction grade and a few sentences on what I’m seeing – a quick guide, of sorts, of what we’re focusing on watching at the event.
It’s a quick eye-test reaction, and grading/scouting typed in pencil. The NFL Combine measurables can/do change things radically for some of the prospects…there’s always a nice (or disappointing) surprise or ten.
After the 2019 NFL Combine results are in, we can load all the results into our computer scouting models to marry up with our performance analytics -- and then start our detailed studies on the top prospects and computer-model sleepers at each position.
Every day for the two weeks leading up to the 2019 NFL Combine we will release another positional preview of the prospects, ranked by our early grades applied.
Today’s group: ‘Big WRs’ (taller, big catch radius, more physical #1-2 WRs)
Tomorrow’s planned group: 'D-Line’ (DTs + 3-4 DEs...not the EDGE DE/OLB types.)
2019 NFL Combine Scouting Preview/Ranking: ‘Big’ WRs
WR DaMarkus Lodge, Ole Miss (6’2”/194) *Preview Scouting Grade: F
Thin-framed. Below-average hands. Average athlete. Workable college WR…not going to make it in the league most likely.
WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Texas (6’3”/220) *Preview Scouting Grade: D-
I just didn’t see anything exciting here at all. I saw a tall/skinny guy running the same tired route over and over and sometimes the QB fired it to him. He did a lot of 5-10 yard sprint and turnaround routes – a lot of standing and waiting for the ball for my taste.
Not an attacking, aggressive WR. He could have more to give, but my intro to him was not good.
WR Travis Fulgham, Old Dominion (6’1”/214) *Preview Scouting Grade: D-
Has moments where he looks like a legit power WR…and Andre Johnson type. But too often cannot get open and/or drops passes in tight windows. Didn’t show out at the Senior Bowl.
WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Stanford (6’2”/220) *Preview Scouting Grade: D+
College-good WR prospect. I heard/saw so much about how good this guy was…and after I watched some preview tape I was like -- what is everyone looking at? He’s a borderline ‘stiff’. Choppy, clunky, non-fluid movement…has size to dominate weaker CBs, but NFL prospect college CBs didn’t have any issue covering him. He was always covered in the tape I watched…just trying to outmuscle CBs for the ball, which he did a few times. No thank you. Looks/moves like a TE more than a WR. I’m expecting a 4.6+ 40-time.
WR Jaylen Smith, Louisville (6’2”/227) *Preview Scouting Grade: D+
Big-body WR, gets himself open with physicality but his hands are way too inconsistent to get excited about becoming a star in the NFL. He has good moments, but then frustrating ones.
WR David Sills, West Virginia (6’4”/204) *Preview Scouting Grade: D+/C+
Years ago, Sills would be an aberration to jump on for the NFL – ‘tall’ and ‘hands’. Now, the NFL is being flooded by 6’4”+ basketball player-like freak WRs from college. Tall and steady isn’t as sexy as the new wave of WR prospects coming in. I have a feeling Sills gets lost in the 2019 tidal wave.
WR Jamarius Way, South Alabama (6’4”/212) *Preview Scouting Grade: C-
Tough to scout… Has the size and shows ability, but the QBs he played with were pretty weak to really get a good feel for his upside. He might be better than I’m seeing. He was good on a bad offense. A JUCO transfer to South Alabama and played two solid years, but no ‘wow’ moments for me.
WR D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss (6’3”/225) *Preview Scouting Grade: C
I’m with the people who think Metcalf is another Laquon Treadwell hype-to-bust prospect. He has the look and athleticism of a star WR, but we you get past his 2-3-4 best plays on his highlight reel and just watch him play-after-play, I don’t know how anyone could see a top WR prospect here. There might be upside and he has raw tools to work with but all I see is a guy running deep down the left hand side of the field 90% of the time. I see no ‘real’ WR skills here……just a few cool college plays. May be more a ‘D’.
*Quick check of two national websites…their #1 WR prospect is…you guessed it: D.K. Metcalf. Long live diverse thought!
WR Anthony Johnson, Buffalo (6’2”/220) *Preview Scouting Grade: C+
Sometimes I watch Johnson and I think he’s more of an ‘A’ hopeful, but then I see stretches of him just ‘OK’. Doesn’t blow corners away getting open but does make catches/is reliable like a #1 WR. Nice size. Waiting to see his 40-time and three-cone to make a change on his grade. I could be undervaluing him.
WR Tyre Brady, Marshall (6’2”/206) *Preview Scouting Grade: C+/B-
Very reliable WR, very nice hands catching the ball. Looks like an average-good athlete. The Oakland staff liked him in the Senior Bowl, but I never really saw him standout in any way. Feels more like a good WR than a great one…one who will be as good as his offense/QB allows. Has a little DeAndre Hopkins feel at times.
WR Jazz Ferguson, Northwestern St. (6’4”/220) *Preview Scouting Grade: C+/B-
Intriguing prospect. Started at LSU, barely played, transferred to Northwestern State and caught 66 passes for 1,117 yards and 13 TDs in 11 games – and was an all-everything performer. Was kind of a mild ‘Randy Moss’ at the FCS level just using his immense size and nice athleticism to win his battles. He did catch 4 passes for 129 yards and had a 71-yard TD at Texas A&M in 2018.
Questions about his effort, work are whispered…relies too much on his natural talent. Needs work in the weight room. If he works at it and bulks up for the Combine…he could be shock ‘winner’ at the Combine this year.
WR Antoine Wesley, Texas Tech (6’4”/175) *Preview Scouting Grade: B-
A polished college WR – great movement off the snap, nice routes, good hands and speed after the catch. I like everything here except his thin-frame. The frame he can work on…the talent – it’s there. Reminds me of young/college Tyrell Williams.
WR Keelan Doss, Cal Davis (6’3”/204) *Preview Scouting Grade: B-
Doss is another one of ‘those’ WRs in this class…those numerous 6’2”-6’3” WRs with good+ hands and NFL skills. In other years, Doss might be like a top 3 WR prospect. This year, he’ll be top 10 maybe. Great character, hard worker. A little raw, but workable. He’s going to make it in the NFL…the question is where he goes and how fast he gets a chance. He could be a starter at some point in 2019…or buried for years in the NFL.
WR Emmanuel Butler, No. Arizona (6’2”/215) *Preview Scouting Grade: B-
‘A’ grade hands. Great size. Works a little like an Andre Johnson type WR– just imposes his will and makes catches. Dominated FCS corners, but more by out-sizing them, out-leaping them. I didn’t see him burning coverage and getting open all over – just a lot of heaves deep his way and then he’d make miracle catches. There’s definitely something here but I don’t know if it’s more B- or A-…or C. He might be a 4.55+ 40-time guy and then he’s good not ‘wow’ exciting for the analytics crowd.
WR Felton Davis, Michigan State (6’3”/203) *Preview Scouting Grade: B
A real sleeper here…a really nice, talented WR hidden by injury cutting his season/stats short in 2018 and then also working with a nightmarishly bad passing game. Had 4 TD catches in 6 games played in 2018…his 4 TD catches were 50% of the TD passes the QBs had combined for through 6 games (on their way to 11 TD passes for the season).
Good+ hands. Can run the ball after the catch or on end-arounds. Has a thinner frame that if he adds 5-10 pounds of muscle, then he’s a real NFL player/starter.
WR Jalen Hurd, Baylor (6’4”/228) *Preview Scouting Grade: B/B+
Imagine if Tarik Cohen was 6’4”/220+?! Hurd was a top SEC tailback at Tennessee, then got hurt, transferred to Baylor and converted to WR…and worked as an RB (48 carries/3 TDs) and a legit WR (69-946-4). He could be a radical duel-threat weapon in the NFL…IF anyone in the NFL had a creative bone in their body (see: Jaylen Samuels totally wasted opportunity to be a RB-WR-TE threat like he was in college). Hurd has some #1 WR skills…great after the catch with his 1,000+ yard rushing in the SEC tailback experience. Good+ hands. Athletic. Could be the shock WR of this class.
WR Miles Boykin, Notre Dame (6’3”/225) *Preview Scouting Grade: B+
Nice size, but more impressive is his quickness, his bounce off the snap. He can really get off the snap quickly and uses his short speed to get himself open. He has nice hands – catches the ball by snatching it, like a pro. You watch his Stanford tape and you think he’s an ‘A’, and he might be. Looking forward to studying him more.
WR Kelvin Harmon, NC State (6’2”/215) *Preview Scouting Grade: B+/A-
The guy is always open. A lot of times the top WR prospects are big guys who out-muscle or out-leap the CBs, but in Harmon’s case…he’s always 5+ yards past the defenders deploying all kinds of moves and speed to get himself wide open. He’s like a Davante Adams-ish type WR.
WR Jamal Custis, Syracuse (6’5”/213) *Preview Scouting Grade: A-/A
Jamal Custis may have the best highlight tape of any WR I’ve seen since I’ve started scouting football about a decade ago. The catches he makes are surreal…mostly all deep balls down the sidelines, with poorly thrown balls half the time, and Custis was amazing concentration and adjustments to snatch the ball and keep his feet tiptoed on the sidelines. He looks like a Kenny Golladay…sometimes looks like a poor man’s Calvin Johnson.
The only knock I have is that most of what he does is deep…and with his size and ability, that’s NFL-worthy as it is – but I want to see more on his other routes. He caught some slants and bubble screens, but he was used mostly as a deep threat (like Courtland Sutton was at SMU). I think he can add 5-10 pounds of muscle and be a monster in the NFL.
WR Hakeem Butler, Iowa State (6’5”/225) *Preview Scouting Grade: A
If Kenny Golladay and Equanimeous St. Brown were mashed up into a one WR…it would be Hakeem Butler. All I can say is…’wow’. One of the best WR prospects I’ve seen in years, and he may not be the best WR in the 2019 class, that’s how strong this class is.
Butler has it all…tremendous size, great hands, like really great hands, high points with the best of them, has NFL speed and agility, and is tough too. ‘A+’ is waiting if he’s around a 4.50 40-time and 7.0 three-cone area.
Butler had very good college numbers, but he could’ve been great with a better QB/offense. Butler is an example of a 1st-round WR prospect, but I don’t even see him listed in most people’s top 10 WR group. And never top 5.
WR N’Keal Harry, Arizona State (6’2”/220) *Preview Scouting Grade: A
Stellar moves after the catch…such agility/cut-ability for his size. He’s like a giant Barry Sanders at times. I didn’t catch how good he was first glance this summer, but I see it now…big body, uses it correctly to box out defenders. Speed and agility to get open and make hay after the catch. Catches jump balls with ease. He may be the best all-around WR in this draft.