For the last 7 years or so, I’ve been writing blog posts predicting which NFL hopefuls would get drafted and where, purely on their 40 times. Well, I was a little slow this year getting my data together so I was unable to write my prediction’s blog this year. Just got busy.
Now that the draft is over, I’m going to look at this from a different angle. I’m going to analyze the first round draft picks and point out a few that did a bang out job at the combine and see if there is a connection between that and their draft position.
First off, not all the first round draft picks performed at the NFL Combine. For one reason or another some chose to just interview, do one test, or not even come. They all had pro days in their own comfortable conditions, so this analysis is based solely on the athletes that did participate in the 2017 NFL Combine.
- There were two running backs taken in the first round this year. Leonard Fournette of LSU was one of them, but he didn’t attend the combine. Christian McCaffrey was the other going #8 to Carolina. McCaffrey had a tremendous combine according to the experts. In fact, one scout who has been going there for years says McCaffrey’s was the best he had ever seen. Among running backs, McCaffrey had the 4th fastest 40, the 4th fastest 20 yard shuttle, the 2nd highest vertical jump, and the BEST 3 cone drill time. I’d say that isn’t bad.
- There were three wide receivers taken in the first round – all in the top 9 picks. One of those, John Ross, went to the combine. All Ross did was run the fastest 40 ever recorded, breaking Chris Johnson’s record. He ran a 4.22. This got the Bengals attention and they picked him at #9. Hoping his speed will loosen the coverage against them over the top. He only did two other combine tests getting #3 at broad jump and #5 at vertical jump among wide receivers. I assume that 40 time is what sealed the deal. They figured they can teach him how to run better routes and work on his hands if those are issues.
- Let’s look at the #1 overall pick to the Browns, Myles Garrett. He did 4 drills at the combine. Among defensive ends, he ran the 5th fastest 40 time, got 2nd in the standing broad jump and bench press reps, and got 1st in the vertical jump. I don’t know if he takes plays off. I don’t know what type of player he is. But, as far as athleticism goes for a #1 pick, he is pretty manly.
- Offensive tackle, Garett Bolles, was taken #20 by the Denver Broncos and it was the latest an offensive lineman has ever been first drafted in any draft. But, he sure warrants that pick. This guy knocked it out of the park at the combine. Among all offensive lineman, he ran the 2nd fastest 40, got the 4th highest vertical jump, and then place 1st in the 3 cone drill, the 20 yard shuttle, and the standing broad jump. Your offensive tackles are supposed to be the most athletic offensive lineman and Bolles certainly does fit that bill.
- There were two first rounders that were classified as linebackers at the NFL Combine, Jabrill Peppers and T.J. Watt. Between the two of them they got 1st or 2nd in every combine test except the bench press reps. Watt was 5th and Peppers 8th. Experts don’t quite know where Peppers may play, but they certainly liked his athleticism enough to take him in the first round.
- Marshon Lattimore went #11 to the Saints and although he didn’t participate in all the combine drills, he did enough. He was 3rd in the 40, 3rd in the vertical jump, and 2nd in the broad jump among cornerbacks and those were the only three drills he did.
Now, I’m certainly not going to say that you have to have an awesome combine to make it in the first round. Jamal Adams had a so-so combine, but was taken #6 by the Jets. Also, there have been athletes who did great at their combine, but because of position, their school, etc. they didn’t get drafted where they wanted, if they got drafted at all.
The combine doesn’t necessarily reflect how good a football player is. But, the tests that they get put through I think do reflect what type of athlete that person is. If they see something positive there, then maybe they can work on some of the flaws that person has at playing football – i.e. running routes, picking up blocks, dropping balls, etc.
Most of the time, these high draft picks are picked for a reason. The combine results might not show how good a football player that person is, but it definitely can justify what type of physical specimen you are getting and the potential star you might have if coached up properly.
Photo courtesy of Michael Tipton on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rmtip21/