Saturday marked the second day of drills at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine, and the units that took to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis had no shortage of upside and athletic prowess.
From gunslinging quarterbacks to promising tight ends to speedy wide receivers, there were plenty of standouts during today’s workouts. Though the Chicago Bears don’t really have needs at any of those positions, a team can never have enough offensive weapons. That said, there’s a chance they could consider using a Day 3 selection or two on another target for Mitchell Trubisky.
As I head back home from a fun couple of days in Indianapolis, here are my takeaways from the developments of Saturday’s action.
The consensus top two tight ends in the 2019 draft are both from Iowa: Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson. While the latter is the top player at the position on my draft board, it was the former who put together the more impressive outing.
Fant finished the day with a 4.50 40-yard dash at six-foot-four and 250 pounds, and he posted elite numbers like a 39.5-inch vertical jump, a 6.81 three-cone drill and a 127-inch broad jump, all the best numbers at the tight end position for each drill. In receiving drills, he displayed the body control, hip sharpness and fluid movement of a wide receiver. Though far from an elite blocker at his position, he did show some aggression and upside in blocking drills. He and Hockenson—who finished second behind Fant in all three of the aforementioned workouts—should both be off the board by the time the first round ends.
Alabama’s Irv Smith Jr. managed to stand out as a player who might not be as far off from the Iowan duo as some think. He killed it in receiving drills—the gauntlet in particular—and showed the chops of a legitimate receiving threat at the next level. Though his agility numbers aren’t incredible, he ran a 4.63 40-yard dash at 242 pounds and looked pretty fluid as a route runner. An early third-rounder in my eyes heading into today, he could be an enticing option for teams looking for a pass-catching tight end on Day 2.
The Bears probably won’t focus too much on a tight end in the draft, but if they want to give Adam Shaheen some competition, they could find some solid pieces on Day 3 of the draft. Utah State’s Dax Raymond moved fluidly as a route runner and displayed strong hands in drills. I wasn’t incredibly high on him heading into the combine, but his outing today will surely send me back to the film room to watch some more tape of his. Josh Oliver from San Jose State is a sleeper of mine, and he confirmed my optimism on the field today. He ran a 4.63 40-yard dash at 255 pounds, looked fluid in receiving drills and even came down with a one-handed snag. If Chicago were to look for a tight end in the fourth or fifth round, either one of them would be a very good addition to their roster.
This year marked my third straight year of attending quarterback workouts at the combine, and I can confirm that this year’s group of signal-callers failed to stack up with its two predecessors.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise for people who have watched the 2019 quarterback class, but this year is short on possible franchise quarterback candidates. Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray choosing not to participate in drills brought about an even greater shortage of talent to the group. With the Heisman Trophy winner out, Dwayne Haskins from Ohio State was the most prolific quarterback of the group, and that was proven with both his performance and the outings of his peers.
Haskins wasn’t perfect—I’d rank his day at the combine behind the likes of Trubisky, Deshaun Watson, Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen—but he showed the most promise of the day. He flashed great touch on his deep balls, threw with good timing and anticipation, and the ball placement on some of his sideline passes was solid. He failed to reach five seconds in the 40-yard dash, though he will have a chance to run again at his Pro Day. Murray is still my QB1 despite his tiny frame, but Haskins should be the only other quarterback selected in the top 10.
Missouri’s Drew Lock and Duke’s Daniel Jones both flashed some promise in drills, and both of them could be candidates to come off the board in the back end of the first round. However, neither of them were very consistent with ball placement, so their respective draft stocks stayed about even. Tyree Jackson out of Buffalo was already known to possess elite physical tools, but his 4.59 40-yard dash at six-foot-seven and 249 pounds was simply incredible. Combine that with his monster arm that was on display often on Saturday, and his stock may have improved more than any other quarterback in the class. He’s a major work in progress due to mechanical, accuracy and decision-making issues, but his upside could see him drafted within the first three rounds of the draft.
The Bears could target a quarterback in undrafted free agency, and while none of the fringe draftable prospects were incredibly impressive, I would like to see them take a look at North Dakota State alum Easton Stick. He ran a 4.63 40-yard dash, good enough for the third-best time of the day for quarterbacks. More impressive is his 20-yard shuttle time of 4.05, which tops all quarterbacks and was just two one hundredths of a second away from the best time at any position. That includes wide receivers and running backs. Though he wasn’t stellar in throwing drills, he showed solid accuracy on a handful of his throws. I like his fit in a West Coast offense due to his speed and improvisational skills, so he could be worth courting as a free agent or as a seventh-round pick if Chicago plans on bringing in someone to groom as a backup.
Hey, guys. D.K. Metcalf is pretty awesome.
The Ole Miss receiver, who has less fat in his entire body than I do in my neck alone, capped off an incredible week with lights-out performances in athletic testing and positional drills. The six-foot-three, 228-pound Metcalf had 27 reps in the bench press yesterday, and he put up elite testing numbers in literally every drill he participated in. With a 4.33 40-yard dash, a 40.5-inch vertical jump and a 134-inch broad jump, his numbers would be jaw-dropping for a receiver 30 pounds and three inches his inferior, let alone a beast of a man like himself. It’s not like his draft stock will be incredibly inflated by his performance, either, as his tape was truly impressive in college. He was in a tight race for my top wide receiver with North Carolina State’s Kelvin Harmon due to his neck injury, but he has proven that the injury has not hindered his insane athletic ability. Metcalf projects as a top-15 lock now.
Another big winner of today’s workouts was Ohio State wide out Parris Campbell. He ran a speedy 4.31 40-yard dash and posted a 40-inch vertical jump, a 135-inch broad jump and a 4.03 20-yard shuttle. His routes in drills were crisp and precise, he showed great acceleration coming out of his breaks, and he was able to track down deep balls very well. I had a third-round grade on him heading into today, and if the NFL feels the same way I do about him, he could come off the board at some point in the second round. Arizona State’s N’Keal Harry complemented his 27 bench press reps with a 4.58 40-yard dash and a 38.5-inch vertical at six-foot-two and 228 pounds. He also looked fluid in drills and made a handful of impressive grabs. He could come off the board in the first round, as well.
The Bears could very well look for depth at wide receiver on Day 3, and they’ll have their fair share of options if the choose to do so. Ohio State weapons Terry McLaurin and Johnnie Dixon both looked speedy and crisp in positional drills, and they complemented their route-running abilities with 4.36 and 4.41 40-yard dashes, respectively. The former could be an intriguing target in Round 5, while the latter is an unheralded prospect whom I have yet to formally break down. However, his outing on Saturday caught my eye, so I look forward to breaking his game tape down.
Georgia’s Mecole Hardman will be a receiver I’ll have to rewatch, as he looked even faster and smoother than I expected him to, and that’s saying quite a bit. He showed off great speed with a 4.33 40-yard dash, and he had great hands and body control in the gauntlet drill. He has value as both a punt and kick returner, so his added special teams value could make him an enticing Day 3 selection. If the Bears want to look for a bigger target, then they would be wise to consider Notre Dame’s Miles Boykin. The six-foot-four, 220-pound Tinley Park native ran a speedy 4.42 40-yard dash and posted a nimble 4.07 20-yard shuttle and an insane 43.5-inch vertical jump and 140-inch broad jump, the latter of which being the third-best broad jump in Combine history. He added onto that with good outings in positional drills, but it’ll be his athletic testing that grabs the attention of NFL teams the most. He’s another guy I don’t have a true feeling for yet stock-wise, but he definitely has the physical tools to warrant a draft pick as an X receiver.