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: ‘Small WRs’ (smaller, speedy, slot or possession type WRs)
Tomorrow’s planned group: ‘Big WRs’ (taller, big catch radius, more physical #1-2 WRs)
2019 NFL Combine Scouting Preview/Ranking: ‘Small’ WRs
WR Bisi Johnson, Colorado St. (6’0”/190) *Preview Scouting Grade: F
I have no idea how Johnson got an invite to the NFL Combine. Surely, I’ve seen better WRs than this in the college ranks (like Jon Duhart/Old Dominion or Xavier Ubosi/UAB). Johnson has average size and athleticism, and poor catching skills for the next level (cradle catches the ball too much).
WR Nyqwan Murray, Florida State (5’10”/176) *Preview Scouting Grade: D
Good college WR, but I don’t see a ton of NFL excitement or skills. Pretty fast. Decent hands. Thinner-frame. Not much to offer besides ‘downfield’ and I don’t see him with NFL blazing speed to do just that.
WR Johnnie Dixon, Ohio State (5’11”/198) *Preview Scouting Grade: D
Nothing special. Not terrible, just ‘forgettable’. Drew lesser coverage at OSU, had a moment here and there but most of his games (stat lines and tape) are just ‘meh’. A good college WR who gets lost in the NFL. I didn’t see high-end athleticism, hands, or technique. Raw skills there to be a fringe NFL WR, but not an instant impact/roster maker right away.
WR Terry McLaurin, Ohio State (6’0”/202) *Preview Scouting Grade: D/D+
Erratic, inconsistent WR for Ohio State. Had some flash moments but was mostly a lower priority target in the offense and had more ‘meh’ games than any type of ‘wow’.
WR K.J. Johnson, Fresno State (6’1”/200) *Preview Scouting Grade: D+
He’s not bad…it’s just that there are so many other better NFL prospects here. Reliable hands. Solid WR skills. He may be much better/deserves a higher pre-grade than this, but I just see nothing exciting jumping out at me…compared to the rest of this terrific class of WRs.
WR Darius Slayton, Auburn (6’0”/190) *Preview Scouting Grade: D+/C-
NFL speed+, but WR skills are a ‘minus’. He’s all speed and the QB hitting him on a bomb or an occasional bubble screen…but more so a bomb. That’s all he’s good for/he’s limited.
WR Jakobi Meyers, N.C. State (6’1”/203) *Preview Scouting Grade: D+/C-
Mediocre/OK/good WR who works all over the field. Is reliable…nice for college but not a standout for the NFL. He might hang in the NFL because he’s a grinder/hard worker and decent WR, but I don’t see him as a memorable or future star WR. He might grind his way to success/longevity in the NFL.
WR Jovon Durante, Fla. Atlantic (6’0”/165) *Preview Scouting Grade: D+/C-
Transfer from West Virginia, where he did little. Interesting weapon…thin-framed/skinny but fast. Very fast feet off the snap to get past coverage quick. Had decent hands. The big issue…he’s so thin-framed you worry he’ll not be very durable.
WR Diontae Johnson, Toledo (5’11”/181) *Preview Scouting Grade: D+/C-
Looks like he could be a useful NFL weapon. Returned two kicks and two punts for TDs in his career. Went 74-1,278-13 as a WR in 2017. Is fast and gets open but thin-framed and may be slick for the MAC Conference and ‘meh’ for the NFL.
WR Ryan Davis, Auburn (6’0”/181) *Preview Scouting Grade: C-
Kinda played like a big RB playing WR…and simplistically – a lot of bubble screens, quick slants, etc. It was smart, he’s good after the catch but I don’t see any real, wide-ranging WR skills – just a really good college athlete at WR with so-so hands. Athletically he looks like he belongs, but technically he could get lost. He could develop in a year or two and hang in the NFL for a while.
WR Ashton Dulin, Malone (6’1”/202) *Preview Scouting Grade: C-
Dominated whatever level of play Malone University plays in. It’s hard to get a real read on him because he’s dominating lesser talents on tape. In reality, he’s (listed) 6’1”/202…that’s a good NFL size but not off the charts. He’s not going to be a ‘big WR” like he was at Malone, not is he a speed burner. I’m open to seeing what his Combine looks like but I’m not sure I see a path to him catching draft fire here.
WR Cody Thompson, Toledo (6’1”/205) *Preview Scouting Grade: C-/C
Quality WR, like a younger Chris Hogan…but Thompson is likely to be lost in a sea of great WR prospects this year. He could be a scrappy Week 1 starter for an NFL team…or forgotten/buried for 3-4+ years. All depends upon where he lands. His 40-time being under 4.50 is critical.
WR Hunter Renfrow, Clemson (5’10”/180) *Preview Scouting Grade: C
Boy, was I wrong about Renfrow in my Senior Bowl preview. Watching him at the Senior Bowl week made me a believer, and forced me to take a deeper look – he’s an NFL-worthy WR. He’s like a Cole Beasley-type WR or Adam Humphries – they get open and they’re reliable. The key is – they get open. He’s somewhat uncoverable in his short routes…but has to have a QB who utilizes it…and unless he gets drafted by New England and starts in 2019, it’s not likely to happen. He’s going to be a nice, solid WR without a place to shine. I hope he gets his chance…not many have a better backstory.
WR Alex Wesley, No Colorado (6’0”/178) *Preview Scouting Grade: C
A track star who burned FCS DBs often. Hard to say if his game/speed translates to great WR in the NFL. He’s a bit raw/just a guy who outran inferior athletes. Made an impression on Oakland’s staff at the Senior Bowl, but I was more neutral. I didn’t see him shine or get overwhelmed. The raw tool are enticing here.
WR Greg Dortch, Wake Forest (5’9”/165) *Preview Scouting Grade: C
Small but fearless WR who has really nice technique to get open and decent hands. Stats/output was solid, but he could have been better, however, he worked with some erratic QB play that hurt him a bit. He had a game in 2018, vs. Rice, with 11 catches, 163 yards, and 4 TDs. He returned two punts for a TD in a game vs. Towson in 2018. He’s a tough, scrappy, solid WR…but he’s easy to forget/fly below the radar.
WR Mecole Hardman, Georgia (5’11”/175) *Preview Scouting Grade: C+
Like teammate Terry Godwin, Hardman was not helped by the Georgia passing game. Hardman is up for ‘fastest WR at the Combine’ bets. Very fleet of foot, but hard to gauge his WR skills as he was just a deep threat a lot of the time. As a speed weapon he has NFL appeal. 7 receiving TDs in 2018, 2 rushing TDs in 2017, returned a kick for a TD in 2018.
WR Marquise Brown, Oklahoma (5’10”/165) *Preview Scouting Grade: C+/B- (considering injury)
A DeSean Jackson-type of game changer WR. A possible high 4.3s runner. Is a weapon deep and with quick passes/bubble screens. Not a great WR otherwise…but his speed threat is enough to make him a coveted NFL weapon. Didn’t return kicks or punts or carry the ball in college, which is odd and concerns me a touch.
*Going to miss the Combine with Lisfranc injury…that’s a draft stock killer.
WR Deebo Samuel, South Carolina (6’0”/201) *Preview Scouting Grade: C+/B-
I mean…Samuel is good but there are so many WRs in his size-speed range that are as good/better. I’m not sure why Deebo gets so much love ahead of like a Dillion Mitchell/Oregon or Emanuel Hall/Missouri. He’s good/fine but not ‘wow’.
WR Dillon Mitchell, Oregon (6’0”/189) *Preview Scouting Grade: B-
Interesting WR prospect. Doesn’t immediately standout and then the more you watch the more you see him constantly getting open, being savvy losing coverage short and just racing past people deep. My first reaction was ‘another good college WR’ but the more I watched I started thinking he might be more of a surprise performer in the NFL…like a bigger T.Y. Hilton.
WR Riley Ridley, Georgia (6’1”/200) *Preview Scouting Grade: B/B+
He’s his brother Calvin without the Alabama hype…honestly, he might be better than Calvin…which is crazy on a number of levels (the main one being what a waste of a high draft pick Calvin was). They look/play identical-ish on the field. Riley Ridley will be drafted higher/ranked higher because of the ‘Ridley’ name, but he’s due respect – Riley is a very good WR talent.
WR Terry Godwin, Georgia (5’11”/170) *Preview Scouting Grade: B/B+
Tore up the East-West Shrine game and week. Is a naturally talent WR with quick feet that allows him to get open quickly and at will. Reminds me a little of DaeSean Hamilton. Godwin’s Combine speed time will change his draft stock radically (up or down).
WR Gary Jennings, West Va. (6’1”/214) *Preview Scouting Grade: B/B+
There’s something about Jennings I really like, and I can’t totally put my finger on it. Stole my heart at the Senior Bowl, which confirmed the like I had from his preview tape then – just a quiet assassin of a WR. Great hands, gets open, makes catches/reliable. Quietly good all Senior Bowl week, and then had the best single catch in all of the Senior Bowl game. He’s going to be undervalued/underappreciated and be a steal for some team.
WR Emanuel Hall, Missouri (6’1”/196) *Preview Scouting Grade: B/B+
A hidden gem WR prospect…hidden behind erratic Drew Lock’s dysfunction. With a more accurate QB, Hall’s numbers may have doubled last season (37-828-6 in 8 games). A really quality WR, who might be a shock low 4.4 40-time.
WR Parris Campbell, Ohio State (6’1”/205) *Preview Scouting Grade: B/B+
He might be a ‘C’…he might be an ‘A’. I see a reliable WR…very good hands and works underneath with no fear. He’s a legit NFL starter talent, but the question is the speed-agility. I hear tale of him running in the 4.3s, and I don’t see that on tape at all. If he is a 4.3+ runner, then he might should be an ‘A’ grade. He’s like a Sterling Shepard-type WR, to my first glance…very good-to-great depending upon where and when and how often he gets the targets.
WR Stanley Morgan, Nebraska (6’0”/195) *Preview Scouting Grade: B+/A-
He might be a low-key candidate for the best WR in this draft. Great hands. Gets open all the time. Catches passes in traffic or on 50-50 balls. Many ‘spectacular’ type one-handed catches. I was stunned by what I saw because I’ve not heard his name mentioned by anyone. Can’t wait to see his measurables. Someone I trust said ‘Robert Woods’ as a comp…there’s logic in that.
WR A.J. Brown, Ole Miss (6’1”/225) *Preview Scouting Grade: A-
I’ve always thought, every time I’ve previewed him, that A.J. Brown had some Odell Beckham Jr. in him – gets open, makes catches…can be unstoppable. He doesn’t have the speed of OBJ, but he is considerably bigger/thicker. He’s a morph of Quincy Enunwa and OBJ in my mind. A guy who gets open over the middle. Has the size to get physical. Is a reliable, dangerous receiver…especially after the catch. The passing game he played in at Ole Miss did not help him, and he still had nice numbers.
WR Andy Isabella, U Mass (5’9”/190) *Preview Scouting Grade: A
The better Julian Edelman among us, but again we have the NFL problem – only Brady/Belichick have made an Edelman (and Welker) work in the NFL. Everyone else has been just lip servicing about it (see: Trent Taylor/SF).
I think he’s the best all-around WR talent among the ‘Small WR’ group, but we’ll never look back years from now and think that unless he lands perfectly…and I really don’t know where that would be, to be utilized properly.