Rotoworld’s NFL Draft team has you covered for the NFL Scouting Combine, giving you the lowdown on the good, the bad and the in-between from the annual evaluating showcase.
On Saturday, wide receivers, tight ends and quarterbacks participated in the speed and agility drills. Below, the most interesting headlines of the day:
D.K. Metcalf Explodes, Implodes in Span of Few Hours
One day, about five billion years in the future, the sun will expand into a red giant while engulfing Mercury, Venus and Earth, then shrink down to a white dwarf (and eventually die out altogether). You can wait five billion years to experience the boiling of our planet’s oceans, or you could just watch D.K. Metcalf’s combine performance. He pulled off the metaphorical lifespan of a star in two days. We’ll break down his combine into four stages.
Stage 1: Metcalf’s first act at the combine was to lift it over his head at 6-foot-3, 228 pounds. He turned in 27 reps on the bench press on Friday. Just 12 offensive linemen bettered that mark. We knew Metcalf was strong. Confirmed.
Stage 2: Leaping lizards! Metcalf launched for a 40-inch vertical jump and a 134-inch broad jump. The vert was tied for third-best among receivers, the broad good for fourth-best. That set the stage for Metcalf to go red giant on Indianapolis.
Stage 3: Bolt of lightning 40-yard dash of 4.33 seconds. He looked like an angry bear or a truck with its brakes out. His general physique, coupled with his absurd athletic marks to that point, had the NFL Network comping him to Batman.
Stage 4: Aaaaand now is when the red giant shrinks into a white dwarf. As impressive as that straight-line run might have been, his agility drills were its equal in opposite. Metcalf bombed out in terrifying style in the 20-yard shuttle and three-cone drill, running the former in 4.50 seconds (fourth-worst for his position) and the latter in 7.38 seconds (third-worst for his position).
He landed in at least the 80th percentile of NFL wideouts in terms of height, weight, bench press, wingspan, arm length, hand size, hand size, vertical jump and broad jump. His three-cone? 2nd percentile. His 20-yard shuttle? 3rd percentile. Those troubling testing marks aren’t going to sink his draft stock -- at this juncture, we would frankly be surprised if he was not drafted within the first 10 picks -- but could tell a dark tale as to his actual pro future.
Trio of Wideouts Surprise with Fun 40 Times
A name you might start to hear a bit more from over the next month-plus would be that of ASU WR N’Keal Harry. Harry’s one of our personal favorites in this class, making the talk of a potential 40-yard dash in the high 4.6’s or low 4.7’s very disturbing to our ears. Sometimes, though, talk is just talk. So it was with Harry running like Alexander Mattison. Just talk. The Sun Devils star came through with a 4.53-second sprint in the 40-yard dash on Saturday while notching jumps of 38.5 inches vertically and 122 inches broad.
Questions on Harry’s speed figure to dwindle, now, leaving us to focus on the 6-foot-2, 228-pounder’s immaculate ability to make difficult catches look easy -- we saw him save Manny Wilkins’ bacon at ASU time-and-again throughout his collegiate career out in the desert -- and his “I can do this all day” confidence.
Harry could come off the board near the end of the first round. Another receiver shooting for that mark would be Iowa State’s Hakeem Butler, though Butler would be considered far more of a longshot. At 6-foot-5, 227 pounds, he has the kind of dimensions that defy the imagination, most notably in his hand size (10 3/4 inches), arm length (35 1/4 inches) and overall wingspan (83 7/8 inches), all of which help him to make the extend-o catches which are his trademark.
Like Harry, Butler came into the combine needing to answer speed questions in testing. That he did in the 40-yard dash, bolting out to a 4.48-second finish. Thumbs up emoji, as the kids say. Unfortunately, Butler did not take part in either the 20-yard shuttle or three-cone drill, leaving his agility still an open question. Presumably, he will run those events on his pro day. While we still have an incomplete picture, here, at least a portion of it has materialized, enough to keep Butler on the periphery of the late Round 1/early-to-mid Round 2 discussion. Iowa State’s pro day will take place on March 26.
Miles Boykin lacks the draft heft of Harry or even Butler, but he’s going to come out of Indianapolis a clear-cut winner. We had pretty tempered expectations on this one. At 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, Boykin’s frame allowed him to repeatedly truck hapless defenders in college. But he wasn’t exactly running away from people with the Fighting Irish. Color us surprised as a rattlesnake on an unexpectedly chilly June day, then, because Boykin came out and destroyed everything in his path during Saturday’s testing. His jumps of 43.5 (vertical) and 140 inches (broad) were mindblowing -- the former was the best in class along with Emanuel Hall’s, the latter was second to (who else) Hall -- and set the table for what was to come. Boykin rocked a 4.42-second 40-yard dash (eight-best at WR), a 6.77-second three-cone drill (best among all wideouts) and a 4.07-second 20-yard shuttle (third-best at WR).
Just a bonkers showing from Boykin, leading to our favorite moment of the entire day, courtesy of Mr. Chase Claypool, who videotaped Notre Dame’s locker room freaking out as Boykin sprinted his 40-yard dash. Just a very cool moment. His performance is going to move the needle. It’s just a matter of how much and how violently. We imagine that NFL front offices are trying to figure out -- as we are -- just what they weren’t seeing with Boykin, because the numbers he posted on Saturday are impossible to ignore
Iowa Tight Ends Perform to Form
As we were still rubbing the sleep from our eyes and pouring our coffee -- the Pacific Time Zone giveth and it taketh away -- Iowa TE Noah Fant was busy running the 40-yard dash in 4.50 seconds as he made good on months (years, really) of hyped athleticism. That was the best run by any tight end in Indianapolis. He and UCLA’s Caleb Wilson (4.56 seconds) were the only tight ends to get in under 4.60 seconds on the 40. That was far from the end of Fant’s day, though, as he also led the position group in the vertical jump (39.5 inches), broad jump (127 inches) and three-cone drill (6.81 seconds) while finishing third in the 20-yard shuttle with a run of 4.22 seconds. Unlike with Boykin, where the transcendent performance in Indianapolis came as a shock to the system, this is exactly what we thought we’d see out of Fant.
His Hawkeyes tight end buddy T.J. Hockenson isn’t bad himself. Hock can’t match Fant in terms of straight-line wheels -- he went 4.70 seconds in the 40 -- but finished bridesmaid to Fant in the vertical and broad jumps as well as the three-cone drill. It will be fascinating to see which player ultimately ends up drafted first. Hockenson has gained more and more steam since the fall (we’ll credit colleague Thor Nystrom for sniffing this one out well before the crowd), and his athletic numbers coupled with his ability as a blocker should seal the deal, theoretically. But NFL teams fall in love with speed. They just do.
Nauta in My House
After arriving in Indianapolis, Georgia TE Isaac Nauta admitted to reporters that he had received a “return to school” recommendation, but decided to gamble on himself with a draft declaration anyway. He may be regretting that decision, now. As much as Fant and Hockenson found success in testing, Nauta found only desolation and failure. He ran a lineman-sluggish 4.91-second 40-yard dash (third-worst for a TE) and posted a 28-inch vertical jump (worst), a 7.45-second three-cone drill (worst) and a 4.43-second 20-yard shuttle (fifth-worst). Oh dear. Just oh dear.
Nauta came to Georgia as a five-star recruit, but never truly blossomed in Athens, with last season’s 30-430-3 receiving line his best at the collegiate level. Any talk of Nauta being a better player in the pros than with Bulldogs took on serious, serious water on Saturday. We understand that playing speed and 40-yard speed are different things, but that 40-time is damning.
Trace McSorley Can’t Throw So...Defensive Back?
McSorley did scoot in with nice wheels in the 40-yard dash, with his 4.57-second sprint best among all quarterbacks in the house. That’s all well and good -- and hit the expectation, as McSorley showed more this last season as a runner than any other time in his career -- but was overshadowed by news that at least one team had asked him to work out at defensive back. For reals. McSorley declined that request, but that doesn’t do a ton to improve the optics. The reality is that McSorley, for his charm as a college player and his plus mobility, is not an NFL quarterback. Defensive back almost certainly isn’t the answer, either, but if you’re already on the draft fringe, any angle is an angle if you’re willing to squash your pride.
Please Stop the Tyree Jackson Hype Train Before It Misses An Easy Turn And Goes Flying Into a River
The Draft Network’s Kyle Crabbs passed along on Saturday that “at least one team” believes that Buffalo QB Tyree Jackson will be in consideration for a top-100 selection. No no no no. The madness must end. Just a small handful of starting NFL QB's in 2018 were selected outside of the second round, none of whom had the extreme accuracy issues that Jackson did in college. Project quarterbacks are not a thing beyond abstraction. Jackson is a pleasing, strong-armed abstraction, to be sure, but an abstraction nonetheless. Taking him with a top-100 pick or near it is essentially just burning a draft pick. Which, hey, you can do it, but why? We’d much rather ramble with a quarterback like Boise State’s Brett Rypien in the later rounds. Rypien doesn’t have Jackson’s golden arm or monster size, but it’s not that difficult to see him eventually developing into some kind of a backup quarterback. Whereas we have to whip out a pair of binoculars to see Jackson’s path to anything.
Andy Isabella Overcomes NFL Timing Failure
Isabella came to Indianapolis as one of just a few players in play to walk away with the 40-yard dash title. Then he posted an unofficial time in the mid-4.4’s and the entire evaluating world cocked their collective head to one side. A short while later, that time was adjusted down down down, with the UMass wideout ultimately posting (in earnest and officially) 4.31 seconds. That’s more like it. Turns out the issue was that the clock had started early. For real, actually, Isabella tied OSU’s Parris Campbell for fastest 40-yard dash on the day. Isabella and Campbell can’t celebrate quite yet, as Monday will see the defensive backs group testing out. Ohio State CB Kendall Sheffield is the kid we have our eye on.