The 2019 NFL combine has come and gone, so it’s time for dynasty fantasy football players to revisit their initial rookie rankings.
By and large, initial rookie rankings were based on their college production and game tape. But the Combine provides hard numbers for their physical and athletic traits, numbers which can undermine or reaffirm initial impressions.
Perhaps a rookie’s college production was skewed by his level of competition. Maybe confirmation bias warped an analysis of game tape. Numbers coming out of the Combine can help dynasty players be more objective when it comes to the rookies they love or hate.
The boys of TCP, Jay and James, have already voiced their opinions about how the Combine affected their assessment of the 2019 dynasty rookie class in their podcast “Dynasty Football NFL Combine Risers and Fallers” (listen here.)
I’d like to provide my own list of rookies whose draft stock is poised to rise or fall based on their performance at the Combine. In this post, I’ll cover wide receiver risers and fallers. In a subsequent post, I’ll discuss running backs.
In both posts, I’ll discuss most of the same players as Jay and James, but hopefully I can provide some slightly different takes. I’ll also use the post-combine March rookie ADP available at the Dynasty League Football (DLF) website to provide some concrete numbers regarding exactly how far the larger dynasty community believes these rookie WRs and RBs should rise or fall.
Wide Receiver Risers
D.K. Metcalf (Pre-Combine DLF ADP:1, Post-Combine DLF ADP: 1)
As not only the DLF pre-Combine WR1, but also the rookie 1.01, Metcalf technically shouldn’t be considered a riser. But for those dynasty players wavering on who to consider the WR1, or even the rookie 1.01, Metcalf’s performance at the Combine could tip the scales. If measuring in at 6’3 and 3/8ths” and weighing in at 228 lbs wasn’t physically impressive enough, his 82 and 7/8ths wingspan, relevant for his catch radius, put him in the 97th percentile of all WRs since 1999. His athletic testing was just as impressive, especially given his size. Confirming his speed and explosiveness, his 40 yard dash time of 4.33 seconds put him in the 95th percentile, his 40.5” vertical in the 93rd, and his 11’2” broad jump in the 97th. Added to his game tape, his physical measurements and athletic test numbers have generated comps to some of the most talented WRs to ever play the game, including Josh Gordon, Julio Jones, and Calvin Johnson.
N’Keal Harry (Pre-C ADP:2, Post-C ADP:2)
Like Metcalf, it’s hard to classify Harry as a riser given his pre-Combine ADP. But if there were Harry doubters out there, his Combine performance should thin their ranks. Though his game tape showed great hands and dominance in contested catches, his routes rarely resulted in significant separation, which may have been attributable to a lack of speed and explosiveness. Some NFL draft and dynasty analysts were even predicting a 40 yard dash in the 4.6 range. But Harry delivered a 4.53 40, good for only the 45th percentile, but respectable nevertheless and above expectations. His vertical jump was 38½ ”, good for the 84th percentile and indicating better than expected explosiveness. His separation issues might be more a matter of technique than athleticism. Considered to be more multi-dimensional than Metcalf, some draft and dynasty analysts aren’t entirely wrong to have him as their WR1.
Hakeem Butler (Pre-C ADP:5, Post-C ADP:3)
Battling preconceptions about the limitations of the tall WR, the 6’5 and 3/8ths” Butler had to impress with his athleticism to move past those preconceptions. And impress he did. With a 4.48 40, Butler broke through the 4.5 threshold that draft and dynasty analysts consider a baseline for WRs. While his time was only good for the 64th percentile, analysts also tend to take size into consideration. His “speed score,” a measurement developed by PlayerProfiler.com that adjusts for size, was 118.9, good for the 97th percentile of speed scores (a speed score above 110 is considered exceptional.) His broad jump of 10’8” inches, the 88th percentile, revealed some explosiveness. His vertical jump of 36” was only good for the 57th percentile, but if you factor in almost an extra 4 inches in height, his vertical bodes well for his high point, contested catch potential. As a result of his Combine, Butler most likely has secured himself a spot among the top 3 WRs in dynasty drafts.
Parris Campbell (Pre-C ADP:23, Post-C ADP:15)
The early buzz on Campbell was that he was a speed demon and explosive playmaker who was still a little raw in his overall development as a wide receiver. But speed seen on tape doesn’t generate the same excitement as speed measured and confirmed in the 40 yard dash. And after Campbell’s 4.31 40 time (96th percentile), draft and dynasty analysts got real excited. Their excitement only grew when he posted a 40” vertical (92nd) and 11’3” broad (98th.) The icing on the cake was his 4.03 20 yard shuttle (90th), indicating exceptional agility to complement his speed and explosiveness. While Campbell still has a good amount of work to do to become a complete wide receiver, it’s clear that he’s got the athletic traits just waiting to be harnessed.
Miles Boykin (Pre-C ADP:61, Post-C ADP: 27)
Despite playing for Notre Dame, one of the most high profile programs in the country, Boykin garnered surprisingly little attention among draft and dynasty analysts before the Combine. But his performance there got them scrambling to dig up his game tape in order to take a closer look. With good size at 6’3¾” and 220 lbs, he smoked his speed and explosion drills. He put up a 4.42 40 (83rd percentile), a 43½” vertical (98th), and a 11’8” broad (99th.) For his size, his agility drills were also outstanding. He delivered a 6.77 3-cone (77th percentile) and a 4.07 20 yard shuttle (86th.) Lance Zierlein of NFL.com was one of the few analysts who had done a scouting report on Boykin by the Combine. Commending his high point and contorting back shoulder contested catches, Zierlein stressed that he struggled against physical corners and needed refinement in his routes. But with his physical and athletic gifts, he was capable of improving, even earning a promising comp to Kenny Golladay.
Wide Receiver Fallers
D.K. Metcalf, WR (Pre-C ADP:1, Post-C ADP: 1)
Wait…how can Metcalf be both a riser and a faller? Well, as impressive as Metcalf was in his speed and explosion drills, he was abysmal in his agility drills. While other big WRs in this year’s class, as others have done in previous years, opted not to do the 3-cone and 20-yard shuttle knowing they wouldn’t perform well, Metcalf, oozing confidence, went through with them. And it was a disaster. His 7.38 3-cone drill and 4.5 20-yard were good for the 2nd and 3rd percentile respectively. These numbers have provided fodder for Metcalf critics who cast him as a one-dimensional vertical threat and negatively compare him to Stephen Hill, Kevin White, and Dorial Green-Beckham.
Kelvin Harmon (Pre-C ADP:3, Post-C ADP:6)
Capable of getting off press coverage, running strong routes, and winning contested catches, Harmon was neck-and-neck with Metcalf and Harry in the early rookie WR rankings of many draft and dynasty analysts. His physical measurements at the Combine (6’2½” and 221 lbs) confirmed initial eye tests of him fitting the prototypical X-receiver mold. But his athletic testing results reinforced some early concerns about his speed and explosiveness. His 4.6 40 yard dash was down in the 17th percentile, his 32½” vertical jump was in the 16th, and his 9’9” broad was in the 28th. Without the fear of getting beat deep, pro corners may blanket him with tight coverage or jump his routes. His agility drills didn’t provide any consolation, as he put up a 7.15 3-cone (17th) and a 4.32 20 yard shuttle (26th.) Harmon still holds promise as a X-receiver in the NFL based on his technique, but his Combine results lowered his ceiling in the eyes of many analysts.
Riley Ridley (Pre-C ADP:20, Post-C ADP:29)
The early word on Ridley, brother of Calvin, was that he was a polished route runner whose college production was limited by a run-first Georgia offense. But after more digging, analysts began turning up some interesting nuggets of information. For example, Curtis Patrick of the Dynasty Command Center podcast pointed out on a recent episode that 45% of Ridley’s receptions in 2018 were curl routes. With doubts rising about his versatility as a wide receiver, Ridley had to change the narrative at the Combine. But his performance for the most part was sub-par across the board. His lack of speed and explosiveness was exposed when he ran the 40 in 4.58 (22nd percentile), and he jumped 30½ ” in the vertical (5th.) His agility was also red flagged when he delivered a 7.22 3-cone (8th) and a 4.28 20 yard shuttle (35th.) His brother Calvin had similar troubles at his Combine last year, but his athletic concerns were somewhat alleviated by his 4.43 40 and 6.88 3-cone. Whereas his brother demonstrated some redeeming athletic qualities in terms of speed and agility, Ridley did not and subsequently is losing appeal among draft and dynasty analysts.
KeeSean Johnson (Pre-C ADP:29, Post-C ADP:34)
Johnson was a sleeper picks of some analysts, including The Draft Network’s Brad Kelly. Kelly praised Johnson’s refined route running and best-in-class hands, and he envisioned him as a productive possession receiver in the NFL. He also impressed during Shrine game practices, seemingly having a quicker twitch in some Twitter practice videos and consistently beating defensive backs with his route running. But Kelly foresaw some athletic concerns, and they revealed themselves at the Combine. While Kelly might be able to look past them, most other analysts probably won’t. His 4.6 40 put him in the 17th percentile, his 30” vertical in the 4th, and his 9’5” broad in the 28th. As for his agility drills, his 4.23 20 yard shuttle (46th) wasn’t abysmal, but his 7.28 3-cone (7th) was. Johnson probably will still be able to find a role in the NFL with his skill set, but becoming a must-start in fantasy lineups has become questionable.
Lil’ Jordan Humphrey (Pre-C ADP:33, Post-C ADP:39)
Humphrey has good size at 6’3 and 5/8ths” and 210 lbs. He was primarily used as a big slot at Texas, catching a lot of short passes and showing off some talent as a ball carrier. But for his size, he didn’t fare well against press coverage when he actually faced it, and struggled to threaten defenses deep. The Combine revealed why. Humphrey ran an astonishingly bad 4.75 40, placing him in the 2nd percentile. The rest of his Combine was almost as bad, with his 9’11” broad jump, making it to the 41st percentile, being his best score. Without anything exceptional about his play on the field, his poor athleticism makes him nearly undraftable, if not for the NFL, at least for dynasty.
The NFL Combine marks the beginning of the second stage of dynasty rookie draft season. With researching college production and watching game tape defining the first stage, the Combine produces concrete physical and athletic numbers with which to reevaluate initial impressions formed in the first. It also allows for more accurate player comparisons. The foregoing list should give a sense of which wide receivers should be moving up dynasty rookie rankings and which should be moving down in the second stage until the NFL Draft, the start of the third and final stage.