I have two reasons for examining how well the wide receivers performed at the recent 2018 NFL Combine. The first is to see whether the Green Bay Packers can find a wide receiver for the remainder of Aaron Rodgers’ career. Below are NFL Combine summaries of the top 11 2018 wide receiver prospects (roughly in order), based on numerous draft expert lists.
Top 2018 Wide Receiver Prospects
Calvin Ridley (Alabama) – the most highly-acclaimed WR in his class, his seventh percentile vertical jump eliminates him, as does his agility drill percentiles of nine and 61. Other than 4.43 dash, he had no outstanding marks, including 21st percentile weight (189). He might not be gone when the Packers get to pick.
Courtland Sutton (SMU) – his 4.54 (37th percentile) dash time eliminates him. He did well in most other tests, though only one mark reached the 90th percentile.
James Washington (Oklahoma State) – 5’11”, every combine score below average.
Equanimeous St. Brown (Notre Dame) – tall at 6’4 3/4”, but only 214 pounds. Did no agility drills or jump tests, but had 4.48 dash.
Michael Gallup (Colorado State) – his top combine percentile was 63rd in the broad jump.
Auden Tate (Florida State) – Below 10th percentile in dash (4.68) and jumps, but huge at 6’4 7/8” and 228 pounds.
Christian Kirk (Texas A&M) – his height 5’10 3/8” seals his fate. He’s below average in most of his scores.
Keke Coutee (Texas Tech) – 4.43 dash, but only weighs 181. Was below average on most scores.
D.J. Chark (LSU) – a speedster (4.34 dash), though helped by weighing only 199. Great jumper, but so-so bench press (16), and didn’t take either agility drill. His stock following the combine is on the rise.
D.J. Moore (Maryland) – fine dash time (4.42), but smallish at 6’ and 210. Strength percentile of 55 (15 bench presses), one nice agility score, the other only 45th percentile.
Dylan Cantrell (Texas Tech) – his 23 percentile dash time (4.59) eliminates him.
A very inferior class of athletes. I can see why everyone was focusing on D.J. Chark after the combine. So why did he pass up the agility tests?
I guess my views are widely shared. Several prognosticators have only two WRs going in round one – one at 16th and 29th, and another at 24th and 29th.
In my mind, any 4.50 or greater dash time doesn’t merit first-round status, eliminating about half of the above guys.
Based just on combine marks, I’d pass on going after a wide receiver in the first round. It’s likely that one or more of these receivers will be available at the 14th pick in round two: Ridley, Sutton, or Chark. If so, I think the Packers should consider using that pick in hopes of finding Jordy Nelson’s eventual successor.
Janis Is Still the Combine King
My second reason for perusing the combine results is to verify that Jeff Janis is indeed a once-in-a-generation athletic talent – and that Mike McCarthy wasted that talent for four years.
As some of you know, I once did a study of 589 wide receivers who underwent full combine testing since 1999, and the Packers Jeff Janis came out tops overall. No one approached him in 2017 either, and there is no one within shouting distance, athletically, of Janis in this 2018 class.
This makes it over 650 wide receivers, and Janis is still the overall NFL Combine leader at wide receiver. The marks Janis put up in 2014, which indicate no weaknesses in any area, were (percentile ranking among WRs in parentheses):
- 40-yard dash – 4.42 sec. (83)
- 10-yard split – 1.47 sec. (95)
- 20-yard short shuttle – 3.98 sec. (94)
- 3-cone drill – 6.64 sec. (91)
- Vertical Jump – 37.5” (77)
- Bench presses – 20 reps (89)
- Height – 6’3” (82)
- Weight – 219 (89)
I predict that some smart team is going to get a steal of a deal in the free agency market in as little as a week’s time.