The NFL Network is going all out for their coverage of the 2020 NFL Combine, so we’re giving you guys an open thread to discuss all the on-field action each day. Today it’ll be the quarterbacks, tight ends, and wide receivers going through their workouts and drills, and coverage will start at 3:00 p.m Central.
The NFL Draft prospects will go through the following workouts, 40-yard dash, vertical jump, broad jump, 3 cone drill, and the shuttle run.
Besides the usual drills we’ve seen each year at the combine, this year they’ve added new drills for each position group.
Quarterbacks will still go through a pocket movement drill, run through all their drop backs and roll outs, while throwing various routes to the receivers, but this year they’ll also do a timed smoke/now route drill, and throw end zone fade routes to the wide outs and tight ends.
Receivers and tight ends will also run through the gauntlet drill and an over the shoulder drill, with tight ends also going through a blocking drill.
Now I’ll turn it over to our Senior Draft Analyst, EJ Snyder, so he can go over a few prospects he’ll have his eye on today.
EJ’s prospects to keep an eye on:
QB: Nothing major will be gained or lost at the Combine for top QB’s but there are plenty of nuances to keep an eye on (ball placement, adjustments to WR’s they don’t know, how they respond to the pressure of being in front of the entire NFL, etc.). For lower-round QB’s it’s a great chance to to catch a coach or GM’s eye by being one of the designated throwers, or just nailing their time in the spotlight.
Up High: Joe Burrow - Didn’t attend the Senior Bowl so this is his time to shine... and yours to enjoy it. He’s a special player. Just open your favorite beverage and watch him work.
In the Middle: Jalen Hurts - An established leader at not one but two major college football programs who had a steady but uninspiring Senior Bowl. Opinions about him and his potential to grow as a player vary widely around the league. He could go at the top of Round 2 or he could slide. Either way, he’s got another chance to light it up and scouts will be putting his middle distance and deep ball accuracy under the microscope yet again.
Down Low: Cole McDonald/Jake Luton - Two very different QB’s stylistically who are both looking for the chance to impress. McDonald is a gunslinger with mobility, a loose arm and a willingness to let it rip. He’s fun to watch but can be boom or bust. Can he reign it in and fit the mold GM’s are willing to take a chance on? Luton is much more in the traditional tall, drop-back passer mode. A distributor with size and a classic throwing motion that’s almost mechanical at times. The Combine drills could be a perfect showcase for him.
WR: No position has more depth or pure talent this year than WR. It is, simply put, a historically deep class. Pick your favorite flavor and it’s there: size, speed, hands, technical route runners, jump-ball artists. Honestly there is something for everybody... and every team.
Up High: Henry Ruggs III - Ruggs has been labeled a speed merchant (he is) and overshadowed by his teammate Jerry Jeudy (who is also ridiculously good). Thinking that Ruggs is only a fast guy will get you burned. He might break the 40 record but there is a LOT more to his game than that. Sit back and watch this top-tier talent make evaluators and decision-makers drool.
In the Middle: Michael Pittman Jr. - Pittman marched into Mobile, AL for the Senior Bowl and simply took over the first day of practice. He looked every bit the alpha-number-1 WR at the next level. He’s got impressive size (6’4”, 223) and knows how to use it. Despite all that mass he was quick and sharp into (and out of) his breaks. He’s losing a little buzz simply because there are so many other quality players at his position but don’t sleep on his skill set: it’s varied and complete.
Down Low: Jauan Jennings - If you like big (6’3”, 215), physical WR’s who are aggressive in getting to and running with the ball, Jennings will be preferred viewing for you once he hits the league. He is highly competitive and believes every ball in the air is his - and he’ll mash DB’s to prove it. Don’t pay much attention to his track times (they won’t wow you) but don’t forget about this talented wideout who, in any other year, would be picked much higher than he will be this season.
TE: There is no clear-cut #1 TE this year. Ask 10 different scouts who is on top of their board and you’ll likely get 5 different answers. However there are a lot of quality TE’s with a wide range of skills.
Up High: Adam Trautman - He might come from a small school (Dayton) but there isn’t anything else small about Trautman or his game. Fully 6’5” and 255 pounds, this TE moves like WR with or without the ball in his hands. His movements are so fluid you’ll check your notes for his weight more than once while watching him perform. Trautman told me at the Senior Bowl that he takes great pride in moving another human being off his spot while blocking. He said it was “...more fun than scoring a touchdown”.
In the Middle: Colby Parkinson - This guy is massive (6’7”, 252) and Stanford split him out both wide an in the slot on a majority of their plays. Why? He can run and has great body control. So why haven’t you heard about this phenom? His QB’s struggle to hit the broad side of barn more than 15 yards down the field so Parkinson was forced to leave a TON of yards and TD’s on the field. Keep your eye on him (especially as a red-zone threat): he’ll be a value and he can really play.
Down Low: Josiah Deguara - I’m an unabashed fan of this Move TE from Cincinnati. He’s got sneaky speed, understands route leverage, plays tough with the ball in the air, and hustles. His hands are good and he puts in serious work blocking. Plenty of scouts already know his name and you should too. He’d be a solid later-round addition to the Bears TE corps.
Check out EJ’s latest joint venture with The Film Room’s Brett Kollmann, “Bootleg Football”!
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