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2018 Scouting Combine: QB/RB/WR To Watch

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NCAA Football: Louisville at Wake Forest
Lamar Jackson. How will he do at the Combine?
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Combine week! As usual, I’ll be breaking down prospects by the order in which their position group goes first for on field workouts. The second group are the skill position players. Last year, the fastest 40 ever came from this group. Note that the predicted 40 times are my own guesses.

QB

1. Baker Mayfield 6’0 215 Oklahoma RS Senior

- Mayfield’s arm is a plus despite his frame. He can make all the big league throws. Most people will label him a QB that likes to run but he actually does it to extend the play and set up the pass. Pocket awareness has improved immensely since he started at Oklahoma. Footwork is ideal. Climbs the pocket very naturally. The interview process will be interesting. He will participate in the drills. He had a great Senior Bowl by all accounts. Predicted 40 time: 4.6

2. Lamar Jackson 6’2 216 Louisville Junior

- He’s an electric playmaker that can score from anywhere on the field. While he wasn’t a total head case in the pocket in 2016, his pocket awareness has been visibly improved in 2017. Not a finished product in the pocket but the tools are there to mold. A plus arm. Bobby Petrino, as a terrible human as he is, can flat out coach QBs. Louisville’s offense is predicated on its QB being able to make the correct reads on its Mike Mularkey-esque multiple route combinations. He will participate in the drills. The 40 time will be fun to watch with him as will the pocket passing stuff. The best athlete at the position by far. Funny note: He is without an agent currently. His mother is his “adviser”. Predicted 40 time: 4.4

3. Kyle Lauletta 6’3 215 Richmond Senior

- I was impressed with him at the Senior Bowl and watching more Richmond stuff. He has a big league arm and is sneaky athletic. Moves well in the pocket to reset his feet before throwing. He’s been a fast riser up the boards in many mocks. Will participate in on field drills. 40 and agility drills bear watching. Predicted 40: 4.7

4. Josh Rosen 6’4 226 UCLA Junior

- He still has a ton of talent but fate was not kind to him. The medical will be interesting due to the litany of injuries he suffered in college. The interview process will be key for him to sway teams into drafting him high. A lot of arm talent. Fundamentally I think he’s one of the better ones after further watching of UCLA stuff. Predicted 40: 4.8

5. Riley Ferguson 6’2 212 Memphis Senior

- He fit in perfectly with the high octance Tigers offense but will have severe limitations at the next level unless he can correct them in a hurry. Frame isn’t the best in the world. From the games that I watched of him, he has improved his pocket awareness and general football IQ in 2017 but still needs massive development time. RF has a habit of locking onto the first read and never really sees anything else beyond that. Has enough arm talent to get by. He will need to prove to evaluators that he isn’t a system QB and can make all the pro throws. The pocket passing drills will be the biggest thing. Predicted 40: 4.8

6. Quinton Flowers 5’10 214 QB/ATH South Florida Senior

- Flowers participated in the East-West Shrine Game in a variety of positions including QB so he’s willing to move positions at least. A dual threat athlete that can make things happen. The knock on Flowers is his ability in the pocket and accuracy, which isn’t the best in the world at a 58%. Questions about his size will linger in scouts’ minds. Scheme versatile as he underwent development with two vastly different offensive schemes. Will participate in the drills. Unknown as of this writing whether or not he will be doing multiple positions. He should, though. My favorite QB to watch in this class. Great personality and character. Predicted 40: 4.5

RB

1. Saquon Barkley 6’0 233 Penn State Junior

- A quintessential workhorse back that did everything for PSU, including returning kicks. Agility is something special. He can stop and go on a dime. Character and work ethic are major pluses. Solidly built frame. He’s an amazing talent. Production is excellent. The consensus top back in the entire class. He has bulked up by adding 10 pounds to his listed weight. Predicted 40: 4.4

2. Derrius Guice 5’10 224 LSU Junior

- He’s a sudden quick twitch athlete. Agility is a major plus. The medical will be key for him as he was in and out of the lineup in 2017 with knee issues. Didn’t miss a beat as the man in the Tigers offense. A capable receiver out of the backfield. Instincts and vision are a plus. Guice has added weight as well. It will be fun to see him in the drills given this new development. Predicted 40: 4.4

3. Ronald Jones 5’10 205 USC Junior

- A home run threat every play. Explosive runner. He’s an elite athlete that can find any hole in the defense and exploit it for big yards. A perfect fit for any zone scheme as he has some serious plant foot skills. A slippery type of back that relishes contact when needed. Increased production every year. Jones came in two inches shorter and ten pounds heavier than his listing in the Trojans media guide. Hand size has been criticized. Predicted 40: 4.5

4. Sony Michel 5’10 205 Georgia Senior

- Michel is a big play machine. A very natural runner who can find the hole rapidly. Very good athlete in space. Has that make you miss ability. Production is above average for a guy in his role. Knows where the hole is and hits it with authority. He has lost a lot of weight from his projected weight so that should help him during the on field drills. It will be interesting to watch. Predicted 40: 4.4

5. Rashaad Penny 5’11 220 San Diego State Senior

- The record breaking running back that challenged some of Marshall Faulk’s school records needs a bounce back Combine after a “lackluster” Senior Bowl week from some reports. A solid receiving threat out of the backfield as well. The on field drills will be worth keeping an eye on. Not the athlete that Donnell Pumphrey is/was but he will be fun. Predicted 40: 4.6

6. Kerryon Johnson 5’11 213 Auburn Junior

- Johnson is one of the more underrated backs in the class. He has really exploded onto the scene the past two years. Increased production every year, including 285 carries for 1,391 yards and 18 TDs as a junior. He’s been the workhorse back for the Tigers as Kam Pettway (also in Indy) dealt with injuries. After further watching of Auburn’s offense (I watched a ton of Auburn during the year), he’s a very explosive short area burst runner. A decent receiver out of the backfield. Predicted 40: 4.5

7. Nyheim Hines 5’8 198 NC State Junior

- Hines has been a fast riser up the boards during the offseason. A versatile weapon for the Wolfpack as he was also the kick returner along with his running back duties. A great receiver out of the backfield, although he tailed off as a junior in that department. He could be a good change of pace third down type of back at the next level. A potential challenger to the fastest 40 throne. Predicted 40: 4.3

WR

1. Auden Tate 6’4 228 Junior Florida State

- Tate is a physical freak of nature that should test well. He was very limited in college due to injury, lackluster QB play and a system that was archaic for receivers. Jimbo Fisher’s system is predicated on receivers running the absolute perfect route every play or that receiver isn’t getting the ball. Tate is a great athlete. Predicted 40: 4.6

2. DJ Chark 6’2 199 Senior LSU

- Last seen making fools out of defensive backs in Senior Bowl practices and the game. He posted a monster stat line of 5 catches for 160 yards. He’s an exceptional athlete that has tremendous deep speed. Chark joins the litany of former Bayou Bengal receivers that will likely thrive without the horrid QB play in Baton Rouge. He should test well in the agility drills more than anything. Predicted 40: 4.4

3. James Washington 5’11 213 Senior Oklahoma State

- He’s an above average route runner with explosive deep speed. The best receiver in the class, bar none. Ball skills are elite level stuff. He plays bigger than his listed height and will go up and fight for every pass. He’s more compact than most people realize. Physical toughness is not a question. Washington dominated the Senior Bowl in every practice by all reports that I’ve read. He has showed why he’s the Biletnikoff winner. Predicted 40: 4.5

4. Christian Kirk 5’10 201 Junior Texas A&M

- Kirk is arguably the most electrifying athlete at the position in this class. He’s a dynamic return man as well as one of the more underrated receivers. He should test well in the drills. Talent is undeniable. Predicted 40: 4.4

5. DaeSean Hamilton 6’0 203 RS Senior Penn State

- The smoothest and most technically proficient route runner I’ve seen in a number of years. There are no wasted steps with him. The speed question that he has will be answered in short order. He’s not the best athlete but is just a player that you draft and not worry about it. The best receiver not named James Washington at the Senior Bowl. Predicted 40: 4.6

6. Calvin Ridley 6’0 189 Junior Alabama

- Ridley has been one of the best receivers regardless of class for the past two years. Speed is very real. One of better route runners in the class. Amari Cooper he is not but he is pretty close. Predicted 40: 4.4

7. Anthony Miller 5’11 201 RS Senior Memphis

- Miller is the all time leader in just about every receiving category for the Tigers. He’s a good route runner with a ton of speed. He’s been underrated this year but I consider him as one of the best receivers in this class. Hands are a plus. AM is a receiver that makes the system instead of the other way around. He looks to be recovered from his injury that forced him to miss the Senior Bowl, according to his Twitter. Predicted 40: 4.5

8. Bryon Pringle 6’1 205 RS Junior Kansas State

- Pringle is one of the more unknown receiver prospects nationally. He’s the best weapon on offense for the Wildcats. An explosive deep ball specialist that can accelerate past anyone. Agility is a major plus. Pops off the screen every time I watch Kansas State play. Predicted 40: 4.5

9. Keke Coutee 5’9 181 Junior Texas Tech

- Coutee (pronounced as Cutie) is the Red Raiders go to weapon whenever they need a big play. He’s a dynamic athlete at the position and has some special teams value as a return man. Production is there as expected from that program in Lubbock. Projects as a slot receiver that can do some damage on the ground with the ball in his hands. Predicted 40: 4.3

10. Dante Pettis 6’0 186 Senior Washington

- He’s an elite athlete and dynamic return man. Deep speed is something to behold. Pettis is a proven special teams ace with a record nine return touchdowns to show for it. Will be interesting to see if he tests well in the catching portion of the drills. Predicted 40: 4.5

Bonus prospects to watch

1. Antonio Callaway WR Florida

- Tons of talent but also a ton of off field issues.

2. Darren Carrington WR Utah

- See above.

3. Justin Crawford RB West Virginia

- Could newly hired RB coach Tony Dews provide him an opportunity?

4. John Kelly RB Tennessee

- The latest running back that was woefully and quite frankly borderline criminally underused weapon by the former regime in Knoxville.

5. Mason Rudolph QB Oklahoma State

- Can he bounce back from a foot injury that kept him out of the Senior Bowl?