The first day of the 2020 Scouting Combine is in the books, and the NFL’s experiment of a primetime Combine appears to have been a success.
All eyes were on Alabama receiver Henry Ruggs III and his pursuit of the fastest 40-yard dash of all-time. While he ultimately fell 0.05 seconds short of tying the record, he still ran an incredible 4.27 40-yard dash.
Numerous other prospects used the workouts to showcase their skills for NFL teams, and, as always, there were some who failed to do so. Here are some winners and losers from the first day of drills in Indianapolis.
Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri
Okwuegbunam’s tape shows some solid athleticism, but nobody expected to see him running a 4.49 40-yard dash at the Combine.
The Mizzou standout isn’t a high-volume tight end, and his route running could use some work, but the raw athleticism he has for a 6-foot-5, 258-pound tight end is impressive. Even if the rest of his drills were decent at best, his 40 time will certainly send a bunch of NFL scouts back to his tape.
4.49 segundos en las 40 yardas de un ala cerrada ¡Sí! ¡De un ala cerrada!— NFL en Español (@NFLEspanol) February 27, 2020
Albert Okwuegbunam ya se llevó los reflectores en el primero día del Combine. #NFLCombine #NFLEspañol pic.twitter.com/FaS7FwTxjK
Cole Kmet, Notre Dame
In a tight end class that many believe doesn’t have a clear-cut top guy, Kmet did a good job of stating his case in Combine workouts.
His tape showcased good but not great athleticism, so for him to finish in the top five in the class with a 4.70 40-yard dash is great for his stock. He also looked fluid in receiving drills, showing off strong hands and polished body control in the gauntlet drill and making good grabs in the over-the-shoulder drill. Seen by many as a second-round pick, he could be in the cards for the Bears if they draft a tight end early.
Hunter Bryant, Washington
As one of the most highly-touted tight ends in this year’s class, Bryant put together a Combine performance that was relatively disappointing.
Bryant finished with a top 40 time of 4.74, which nearly placed him outside of the top 10 for the tight end position. He looked pretty fluid in receiving drills, but his athleticism has been such a talking point in his game, and the performance he put together was pretty underwhelming.
Mitchell Wilcox, USF
When the most notable thing that happened to you at the Combine is you getting hit in the face with a football, you know you didn’t have a great day.
Wilcox ran a 4.88 40-yard dash and had several drops in pass-catching drills, but the icing on the bad cake was a ball to the face during the gauntlet drill. The late-round target didn’t necessarily do himself any favors, especially considering his tape doesn’t necessarily feature stellar in-line blocking.
USF TE Mitchell Wilcox took a fastball to the face. Ouch pic.twitter.com/Jr32s7TjAC— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) February 27, 2020
Justin Herbert, Oregon
With Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa not performing at the Combine, Herbert found himself the highest-touted quarterback in drills on Thursday, and he certainly delivered.
Herbert showcased fantastic arm strength, a good sense of timing behind his throws, and consistent touch on the deep ball. His throws on the go route were stellar, and he showed off some good touch on corner routes and fades. His athletic testing was pretty good, as well, as he ran a 4.68 40-yard dash and put up a 35.5-inch vertical jump at 6-foot-6 and 236 pounds.
The way the draft order is lined up, Herbert should be selected within the first 10 picks of the draft. His performance in Indianapolis backed up all of the hype.
Jordan Love, Utah State
As Love continues his campaign to climb higher in the first round, he put together a Combine performance that highlighted the strengths in his game.
His accuracy wasn’t as consistent as Herbert’s, but he made his fair share of NFL throws, delivering his balls with great velocity and hitting his receivers in stride on several occasions. His deep ball was impressive, and the anticipation he showed off from intermediate range got the job done.
Otro gran prospecto de QB Jordan Love #NFLCombine2020— FantasyFootballMEX (@FantasyMex) February 28, 2020
Love is likely a redshirt prospect for whoever drafts him in the first round, but the flashes in his tape gives him high-end starting upside. He showed those flashes in spades at the Combine.
Jake Fromm, Georgia
As one of the quarterbacks projected to go on the second day of the draft, Fromm was unable to back up the hype at the Combine this year.
Fromm’s deep accuracy looked shaky at best, overthrowing targets and showing an overall inconsistent sense of timing behind his throws. His arm strength was the trait in question before workouts, but it looked like he tried too hard to prove those concerns wrong, and in doing so, he sacrificed his touch. His athletic testing ended up being subpar, though that was to be expected.
With an absence of the two best quarterbacks, Fromm could have used these drills to prove he belongs in that first-round echelon of signal-callers. However, it’s clear that he has some work to do in order to belong in that group.
Day 3 quarterbacks
While some Day 3 quarterbacks put together fast times in the 40-yard dash—Cole McDonald, Steven Montez and Kelly Bryant all finished in with sub-4.7 times—none of them really stood out in throwing drills.
As one would expect for quarterbacks who are a tier below starting-caliber prospects, they looked, well, a tier below starting-caliber prospects. Accuracy and consistency problems plagued plenty of players on Thursday night, and there weren’t really any quarterbacks to put together a strong enough workout altogether to significantly boost their stock.
Chase Claypool, Notre Dame
Tight end, big slot, wide out, it doesn’t matter. Wherever you want to put Claypool, he will be a physical mismatch.
The 6-foot-4, 238-pound Claypool put up the measurements of a tight end, but his athletic testing and positional drills looked like a wide receiver. He ran a jaw-dropping 4.42 40-yard dash with a massive frame, tallied a 40.5-inch vertical and finished with a 10-foot-6 broad jump. His workouts were impressive, too, as he showcased strong hands and looked fluid in his adjustments to the ball.
Seen by many as an early Day 3 pick heading into the Combine, he could find himself selected in the third round or earlier come April.
Justin Jefferson, LSU
Many knew of Jefferson’s fluidity as a route runner, but very few could have expected him to run as fast as he did.
Jefferson, who was a top-three receiver in the nation in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns, ran a 4.44 40-yard dash, surpassing expectations in the drill. He also looked smooth in positional drills, particularly in the gauntlet drill, where he showcased superb body control and sticky hands.
Justin Jefferson’s body control is fantastic. He’s so smooth. pic.twitter.com/oufvcPPRM4— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) February 28, 2020
Jefferson’s draft stock has teetered on the edge of the first round, but a strong showing at the Combine could have him strongly entrenched in Day 1 territory.
Donovan Peoples-Jones, Michigan
Perhaps no receiver fits the “Combine star” moniker more than Peoples-Jones.
Peoples-Jones ran a solid 4.48 40-yard dash at 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds, a high number for a bigger target. It was his explosiveness, though, that jumped off the page. He led receivers in both the vertical and broad jump, tallying a 44.5-inch and an 11-foot-7 jump, respectively. His vertical jump measured in as the third-best time in Combine history.
Peoples-Jones was solid in positional drills, but it was the numbers he put up in drills that will end up boosting his stock among NFL teams.
Laviska Shenault, Colorado
Shenault only ended up running a 40-yard dash, as he ended up leaving with an injury, but he left teams with a bad taste in their mouths.
The Colorado standout clocked in a 4.59, which ultimately fell short of expectations. With the athleticism he has showcased on tape and the speed he has after the catch, one would have expected a time somewhere in the sub-4.5 range. With the speed and explosiveness the receivers in this class put on display on Thursday, Shenault’s unfortunate injury prevented him from keeping up with his fellow receivers.
Aaron Parker, Rhode Island
The Combine is a great opportunity for small-school prospects to impress NFL teams. Parker managed to do the opposite of that.
In addition to dropping a few passes in the gauntlet drill and other positional workouts, Parker jumped just a 26.5-inch vertical, which is the lowest mark for a wide receiver in the past three Combines. While some receivers have tied that mark, you’d have to go all the way back to 2008 to find a wide out who jumped a worse vertical. That player? Former Bear Earl Bennett.
While Bennett ended up overcoming that to become a third-round pick, don’t expect Parker to be drafted as highly.
EDITOR: Please join us in congratulating Jacob Infante on becoming our new Lead Draft Analyst.
ANNOUNCEMENT— Windy City Gridiron (@WCGridiron) February 27, 2020
Due to his outstanding coverage of the #NFLDraft, not only for us at WCG with his work about the Chicago #Bears, but also at @TheDraftWire, we're proud to announce that @jacobinfante24 is now WCG's Lead Draft Analyst!
But never fear, EJ Snyder isn’t leaving WCG, he’s just moving into a different role.
2/2: So with @thedraftsmanFB transitioning to more podcast content as co-host of @bearsoverbeers on our WCG Podcast channel with @gridironborn, and his great new show, Bootleg Football with @BrettKollmann, he'll now take on the title of WCG's Senior Draft Analyst.— Windy City Gridiron (@WCGridiron) February 27, 2020
Congrats guys! pic.twitter.com/ha9DAcgzxn