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February 28, 2020

Stock up, stock down: Eagles WR targets after NFL Combine testing

Eagles NFL

On Thursday, the NFL kicked off their first ever prime time coverage of the NFL Combine, and on the first night we got a look at the position of highest importance for the Philadelphia Eagles, wide receiver. Some receivers helped themselves, and some didn't. Let's take a look at whose stock is up, and whose is down.

Stock up

Henry Ruggs, Alabama

Ruggs ran a 4.27 40, and was almost mad about it. The assumption was that he was going to run exceedingly well, and he did. Unless Ruggs is some kind of huge jerk, or he has some kind of unknown medical issue, or he interviews horribly, he's not going to make it to pick No. 21.

Justin Jefferson, LSU

Jefferson's production was outstanding in 2019, and his game tape is widely regarded as very clean. He has inside-outside versatility, and he catches everything, as he made plays at all three levels of the defense for LSU. However, he was not expected to run a fast 40 time, and then, bam, 4.43. 

He was the first-round pick in our overwhelmingly panned Eagles-only mock draft, version 2.0, ha. Jefferson should indeed very much be on the Eagles' radar with their first pick.

Denzel Mims, Baylor

Mims was the best receiver all week at the Senior Bowl, as he put some concerns to bed about his polish as a route runner. He then helped himself at the Combine with an impressive 4.38 40, while also blowing away his competition in the 3-cone drill, posting a 6.66. By comparison, the next closest receiver posted a 6.94.

Mims had good production at Baylor, good size (6'3, 207), good speed, and he seems like a good kid. I wonder if people will begin to talk about him as a potential late first-round pick.

Chase Claypool, Notre Dame

Claypool ran a 4.42 and vertical jumped 40.5" at 6'4, 238. He has a future in the NFL as an Evan Engram-type, who really functions more as a huge slot receiver. A comparison of their measurables at their respective Combines:

 MeasurableChase Claypool Evan Engram 
 Height6'4 6'3 
 Weight238 234 
 40 time4.42 4.42 
 Bench press19 reps 19 reps 
 Vertical jump40.5" 36" 
 Broad jump126" 125" 


And then production:

  1. Claypool: 4 years at Notre Dame, 150-2,159-19
  2. Engram: 4 years at Ole Miss, 162-2,320-15

Engram was something of a surprise pick at 23rd overall in 2017. Maybe Claypool sneaks into the Round 1? At a minimum, he'll go Day 2.

Antonio Gibson, Memphis

Gibson worked out of the slot, as a running back, and as a kick returner for Memphis. He is stoutly built, and he has some juice, as he ran a 4.39(!) at 228 pounds. He's now a lock for Day 2.

You now have my attention

Quez Watkins, Southern Mississippi

Watkins ran a 4.35, after a 64-1178-6 (18.4 YPC) season with Southern Miss. He will force some folks (self included) to take a closer look.

Stock down

Tee Higgins, Clemson

Higgins opted not to compete at the Combine, citing the fact that he played in the BCS National Championship Game, and had less time to prepare (via NFL.com).

"We had a long season and I only had four or five weeks to prepare for this, and I feel like that's not enough time to compared to all these other guys who had two months," Higgins told Colleen Wolfe and Andrew Hawkins as part of NFL Media's Scouting Combine Today. "I just feel like I need to be more prepared to run the 40 and all the other drills."

That's weak, in my opinion. Justin Jefferson played in the National Championship Game too, and he not only competed, but as noted above, ran a better-than-expected 4.43.

I liked Higgins, and even had him as the Eagles' first-round pick in our Eagles-only mock draft, version 1.0. I can understand guys like, saaaayyy, Chase Young or Joe Burrow not working out, because they have nothing to gain from it, but in a wide receiver class this packed with talent, if I'm a general manager, I'd want to see Higgins run and work out in the same settings and conditions as the other players at his position. He chose to stand off to the side, while many of his competitors improved their standing. 

Laviska Shenault, Colorado

Shenault clocked a somewhat disappointing 4.58 on his first run, and then curiously didn't participate on his second run. Shenault is a physical beast and a YAC monster at 6'1, 227, so that's not a deal-breaker, but there was hope that he would also test very well in Indy. That lack of a good timed speed and a long injury history puts his first-round status in question.

Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State

Aiyuk has been one of my favorite wide receiver prospects for months, and many thought that he was going to shine in the 40. Nope. He ran a 4.50, which disappointed him.

He'll for sure run again at his pro day.

Jalen Reagor, TCU

Many wouldn't have been surprised if Reagor ran in the 4.3s or even the high 4.2s. If he had, he might have vaulted into the first round. However, while he certainly looks fast in pads, his timed 4.47 will likely keep him out of Round 1. In fairness, Reagor isn't just considered to be a speed prospect. He's one of the more impressive strength players in this class, and he did show explosiveness, placing second among all receivers in the vertical jump (42") and the broad jump (11'6").

#AsExpected

Jerry Jeudy, Alabama

It's very, very difficult to nitpick anything about Jeudy's game as a receiver. If you really want to try hard, maybe you can point out his smallish frame, or a lack of blazing speed. All Jeudy had to do was run a decent enough time, and he would have been good to go as a top 15 pick. His 4.45 was that and then some. I doubt he'll run at his pro day, and stand on that time. 

CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma

Pretty much the same as Jeudy above. Lamb wasn't expected to blaze a top-tier 40. His game is complete, in that he has great hands, body control, tracking, strength, YAC ability, toughness, slot-outside versatility, etc etc. A 4.50 was good enough.

Where was this athleticism in actual games?

Donovan Peoples-Jones, Michigan

DPJ ran a 4.48, and he crushed both jumps, besting the entire WR class in the vertical jump (44.5") and the broad jump (11'7"). Both jumps were third among receivers since 1999. And yet, in three years at Michigan, he only had 1,327 receiving yards, or 442 per season, and he never led his team in receiving. Why did this extreme athleticism never translate to on-field production?


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