Combine Focus: Wide receivers

Matt Williamson is a former college and NFL scout and is current co-host of "SNR Drive" on Steelers Nation Radio.

As mentioned in my similar article concerning tight ends, there is a mistake that far too many draft fans make. They go position by position and look to see who ran the fastest 40-yard dashes. That is great and all and obviously it is fantastic for a prospect to be able to run fast, but by taking this approach, fans overlook a massive ingredient in this recipe: weight.

This piece is going to focus on wide receivers. Many consider this group as one of the very best draftable wide receiver classes in years and the Combine, for the most part, didn't hurt many player's stock at this position. For the most part, the Combine testing for wide receivers played out much as expected without too many surprises.

45 wide receivers ran at the Combine. The official times ranged from Alabama's Henry Ruggs' 4.27 to Quintez Cephus from Wisconsin's 4.73. As anyone can see on film, Ruggs has truly rare game changing speed and that was verified on the track in Indianapolis.

Ruggs is a very dangerous player without question, but who are the receivers that are putting up the best numbers at the NFL level right now? Below are the wide receivers that caught the most passes last year along with their Combine weight and 40-yard dash times.

Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints, 149 receptions, 212 pounds, 4.57/40-yard dash
Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers, 104 receptions, 206 pounds, 4.71/40-yard dash
DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans, 104 receptions, 214 pounds, 4.57/40-yard dash
Julian Edelman, New England Patriots, 100 receptions, 198 pounds, 4.52/40-yard dash
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons, 99 receptions, 220 pounds, 4.39/40-yard dash
Allen Robinson, Chicago Bears, 98 receptions, 220 pounds, 4.60/40-yard dash
Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams, 94 receptions, 204 pounds, 4.62/40-yard dash
Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals, 90 receptions, 197 pounds, 4.58/40-yard dash
Robert Woods, Los Angeles Rams, 90 receptions, 201 pounds, 4.51/40-yard dash
DJ Moore, Carolina Panthers, 87 receptions, 190 pounds, 4.56/40-yard dash
Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 86 receptions, 209 pounds, 4.42/40-yard dash
Devante Adams, Green Bay Packers, 84 receptions, 212 pounds, 4.56/40-yard dash
Jarvis Landry, Cleveland Browns, 83 receptions, 205 pounds, 4.77/40-yard dash

Those are some pretty outstanding wide receivers and really, only Jones qualifies as a "Freaky" Combine performer. Jones and Godwin are the only two listed that ran 4.4 or better. If you average out that group's weight and 40 time, we get a weight of 206.8 and a speed of 4.57 in the 40-yard dash. And just as a side note, JuJu Smith Schuster weighed in at 215 pounds and ran a 4.54/40 at the 2017 Combine.

Here are the players that had a similar or better weight and speed combination from their Thursday performance:

Denzel Mims, Baylor, 207 pounds, 4.38/40-yard dash
Antonio Gibson, Memphis, 228 pounds, 4.39/40-yard dash
Chase Claypool, Notre Dame, 238 pounds, 4.42/40-yard dash
Justin Jefferson, LSU, 202 pounds, 4.43/40-yard dash
Tyrie Cleveland, Florida, 209 pounds, 4.46/40-yard dash
Stephen Guidry, Mississippi State, 201 pounds, 4.47/40-yard dash
Jalen Reagor, TCU, 206 pounds, 4.47/40-yard dash
Joe Reed, Virginia, 224 pounds, 4.47/40-yard dash
KJ Osborn, Miami, 203 pounds, 4.48/40-yard dash
Dezmon Patman, Washington State, 225 pounds, 4.48/40-yard dash
Donovan Peoples-Jones, Michigan, 212 pounds, 4.48/40-yard dash
Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State, 205 pounds, 4.50/40-yard dash
Kendrick Rogers, Texas A&M, 208 pounds, 4.51/40-yard dash
Michael Pittman Jr, USC, 223 pounds, 4.52/40-yard dash
Gabriel Davis, Texas A&M, 216 pounds, 4.54/40-yard dash
Marquez Callaway, Tennessee, 205 pounds, 4.55/40-yard dash
Kalaji Lipscomb, Vanderbilt, 207 pounds, 4.57/40-yard dash
Aaron Parker, Rhode Island, 209 pounds, 4.57/40-yard dash

That is quite a long list! Let's also highlight a few other distinguishing traits from this list of 18 prospects.

Mims' numbers jump off the page without question. Also, only three wide outs bested Mims' 10' 11" broad jump. But what is even crazier about Mims is his 6.66 3-cone drill. Not only was that the best time of any wide receiver, but the next closest time was a distant 6.94.

Despite Pittman's great size, he had the second-best shuttle time at 4.14 and the fourth best 3-cone. Usually these drills showcase smaller players that are built low to the ground. Pittman is 6' 4".

Peoples-Jones (11' 7") and Reagor (11' 6") are the only two in this class whose broad jump was over 11 feet. Peoples-Jones also had this group's best vertical jump. His 44.5" inches easily surpassed the 42" posted by Ruggs and Reagor. Meanwhile, Claypool's 40.5" vertical (as well his great 40 time) at 228 pounds also is deserved of much attention with his great size.

Colorado's Laviska Shenault also should be mentioned. He weighed in at 227 pounds and ran a 4.58/40. That in itself is a very good time for a receiver his size, but it also came out right after his workout that Shenault will undergo surgery on Tuesday to repair a core muscle injury that he played with during the 2019 season. Shenault only ran the one 40-yard dash, hung it up after that and didn't compete in any other physical activities at the Combine.

Obviously this doesn't mean that all of the players that hit the desired criteria are going to be hits in the NFL and of course some smaller receivers will go on to have great pro careers, but it does show that there is a plethora of this mold of players at this position.

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