When wide receivers run at the NFL Scouting Combine, everybody watches. Every year there are surprises and disappointments. A receiver that can run fast quickly rise up boards while the slower receivers get scrutinized even more. Then comes, what I think is the best drill at the combine, the gauntlet. This drill shows what receivers can use their timed speed in game situations and still catch the ball. This is where you can see what players have actual functional speed, the ability to concentrate through traffic and show field awareness. I think the performances at the combine have an effect on the receiver position the most. Speed and the ability to gain separation is everything in the NFL and this was a very fast group. Here is who stood out to me.
Prospects that cemented their grades
Michael Floyd - Notre Dame - Height: 6'3" - Weight: 220 lbs - 40 yard: 4.47 - 10 yard: 1.56 - Vertical: 36.5" - Broad Jump: 10'2"
Floyd came into this event as my 13th ranked player overall and just slightly below my top two WRs. His game wasn't the question. I think he can pretty much do it all as a bigger receiver. He needed to show what type of deep speed he has and he did just that when he posted an official 4.47 time. During drills, Floyd was a little rough in and out of his cuts and dropped a couple balls but that's exactly who he is. If his background checks out with teams, Floyd is a top 20 pick.
Mohamed Sanu - Rutgers - Height: 6'2" - Weight: 211 lbs - 40 yard: 4.67 - Vertical: 36" - Broad Jump: 10'6"
Sanu is a possession receiver and has the ability to catch in traffic and get those tough yards. His 4.67 time didn't hurt him at all. That's exactly the way he looks in games. Even without being the deep threat type, Sanu is highly regarded as a possible number two receiver that goes over the middle. I think he solidified himself as a late 2nd to early 3rd round pick with a good performance in the receiver drills.
Devon Wylie - Fresno - Slot WR - Height: 5'9" - Weight: 187 lbs - 40 yard: 4.39 - Vertical: 39" - Broad Jump: 9'6"
Wylie came into today as my 16th ranked WR and one of the best slot guys. He's been compared Wes Welker, and I know we've heard that before, but Wylie actually deserves the comparison. He very quick and actually has better long speed. He can punt return and already ran many option routes at Fresno. When he ran the 4.39 and had a 39" vertical, Wylie passed the measurement testing. Then he showed good route running and the ability to judge and adjust to the ball in drills. He's a 4th round pick who will contribute on any team.
Prospects that surprised me
Stephen Hill - Georgia Tech - Height: 6'4" - Weight: 215 lbs - 40 yard: 4.36 - 10 yard: 1.20(!) - Vertical: 39.5" - Broad Jump: 11'1"
I was already a big Stephen Hill fan coming into this event. He was my 75th overall player and 7th ranked WR. He played in Georgia Tech's triple option offense and only caught 28 balls this past year. The flip side is, he almost went for 1,000 yards in those limited opportunities with 29 yards per catch. He looked like a freak athlete on tape but also looked raw. Today, Hill blew up the combine in every single drill. He stood out in every drill and looked like a top 20 pick. The questions that scouts had about him like - letting the ball get into his chest - looked to be cleared up. He ran better routes than I expected and just looked to be on another level physically. There's really no way to go back and watch his film again because we've seen it all already. Now you have to wonder what you're getting and how soon can he contribute because the sky is the limit. Stephen Hill might be a late first round pick now.
Tommy Streeter - Miami - Height: 6'5" - Weight: 219 lbs - 40 yard: 4.40 - Vertical: 33" - Broad Jump: 10'5"
Streeter is a lot like Stephen Hill; big, tall, fast guys who are more athlete than receiver at this point. I had him as my 9th ranked WR and in my top 100 as a 3rd round pick. He displayed the rare athletic ability and size that will make teams consider him at the top of round two. When I watched him, I didn't see this type of ability. NFL Network's Michael Irvin said "Streeter was learning a new offense and had to think instead of playing to his full speed." That's what I'll go back and look for now. Maybe I can find some junior or sophomore games where he should be playing at full speed. Until then, his grade will be fluid. He has everything you're looking for; let's see if he does it on the field.
Chris Owusu - Stanford - Height: 6'0 - Weight: 196 lbs - 40 yard: 4.36 - Vertical: 40.5" - Broad Jump: 10'9"
Owusu had a very good career at Stanford when he played. He dealt with various injuries including a bunch of concussions. He was cleared this week at the combine and that put him back on my board and I'm sure many NFL team's boards. I also had questions about Owusu because he played with Andrew Luck. How much did that make him look even better? After today, with the numbers he put up and the way he looked in drills, Owusu will be a steal for whoever drafts him in the middle to late rounds. I'm really looking forward to watching his games more in-depth.
Prospects that made me question my grade
Kendall Wright - Baylor - Height: 5'1/2" - Weight: 196lbs - 40 yard: 4.61 - Vertical: 38.5" - Broad Jump: 10'1"
This will be the ultimate test of Tape vs 40-time. When you watch Baylor games, Wright looks like the fastest player on the field and a vertical deep threat that commands a safety's help. I had Wright as my 10th best player in the draft. While he looked very good in the positional drills, Wright's 4.6-time raises a flag for me. I want to go back and make sure he has the game speed I think he does. He'll get another crack at his pro day and I expect him to perform much better than this.
Dwight Jones - North Carolina - Height: 6'3" - Weight: 230 lbs - 40 yard: 4.55 - 10 yard: 1.62 - Vertical: 33" - Broad Jump: 9'1"
Jones looks the part of a big, strong possession receiver. I didn't expect him to run very fast so the 4.55 was just fine. His 10-yard, vertical and broad jump were all below average. Jones' biggest disappointment of the day was in the positional drills. He looked lazy, ran the wrong routes and gave up on a few balls. You could hear the coaches yelling at him. I had him as a 3rd round pick and a top 100 prospect until today. This isn't about his game, which already had flaws, it's about his effort and ability to receive coaching. Both are negatives I do not want on my team. This is going to hurt him.
Joe Adams - Arkansas - Height: 5'11" - Weight: 179 lbs - 40 yard: 4.55 - Vertical: 33" - Broad Jump: 10'3"
Adams is considered to be a play-maker and elite player in the open field. I have him as a top 100 player and some have even called him a top 40 pick. You could tell he's explosive by his very good broad jump but I would really like more speed out of a top three round pick. Especially at Adams' size, is he just a gadget guy or can he be a number two and win outside? I'll need to go back and look.