For dynasty footballers everywhere, the frozen winter chill of February is a time of year that stimulates the senses. It’s a time when anticipation meets application, when qualitative and quantitative philosophies share a room, no matter how awkward or uncomfortable it may be. It’s a football Valhalla where draft geeks and number crunchers, measurable maniacs, BMI apostles and instinct savants come together to focus their collective attention on one event….the NFL combine.
As a lover of all things dynasty football related, the NFL combine is easily my favorite part of this wonderful hobby. Breaking down game tapes and watching footage of college players can provide a great deal of information, setting a solid foundation for player evaluations. The combine, through its agility drills, skill stations and strength tests is ultimately the decoder ring at the bottom of the cereal box, uncovering hidden strengths and weaknesses.
Heading into this year’s NFL combine, here are a few thoughts on the RBs and WR’s I’m most eager to watch and some of the things I’ll be focusing on.
[am4show have=’g1;’ guest_error=’sub_message’ user_error=’sub_message’ ]
Corey Coleman, WR – Baylor
What I Like: If Coleman is completely recovered from his sports hernia surgery (12/22/15), I fully expect him to dominate the combine and destroy the 3-cone drill. Coleman has shown the high level quickness – especially short area burst –necessary to shine at the next level. He’s savvy off the line of scrimmage using both speed and leverage, but he does have a tendency to become somewhat inconsistent with his mechanics as he moves downfield.
What I’ll be Watching: I’m interested in seeing his hand placement (how often he traps the ball with his body) and how he shifts his weight/hips through an expanded route tree. I’m also curious to see his true height and weight.
Josh Doctson, WR – TCU
What I Like: I love Doctson’s football intuition, but I’m not sure the combine is a forum that will equate proper value to his football I.Q. That’s ok though because it’s evident in watching his game film. I’ve also been very impressed with Doctson’s ability to track the ball effortlessly and to dominate at contested catch points. He’s also very adept at making plays outside of his frame.
What I’ll be Watching: I’m looking for some suddenness and explosion in his game. What level of sharpness does Doctson display during intermediate routes especially coming back toward the ball? What degree of rounding is evident in his route tree and how comfortable is he transitioning through changes of direction?
Rashard Higgins, WR – Colorado State
What I like: Higgins is a crisp route runner with an intangible “feel” for the game. He also has a deceptive pace for a long strider with a lanky frame. He opens up/lengthens his stride in a sneaky, subtle manner that’s very fluid and seems to catch opponents off guard.
What I’ll be Watching: I want to see hand strength at various catch points and more of a “my ball” attacking mentality.
Michael Thomas, WR – Ohio State
What I like: Thomas shows a maturity with his release from the line of scrimmage and with his route running ability. He’s fluid transitioning both downfield and laterally and he uses a full assortment of tricks/techniques to set up defenders.
What I’ll be Watching: Hand placement and focus during receiving drills. I’m also curious to see his starting burst/suddenness and sustainable long speed (that extra gear).
Leonte Carroo, WR – Rutgers
What I like: I love Carroo’s “my ball” mentality and the way he attacks the football. He’s got what I call “paradox hands” and by that I mean they flash unbelievable strength at the catch point, but also exhibit a softness like a catcher’s mitt. I also like his suddenness at the snap and how he immediately uses his hands/arms to help set up defensive backs.
What I’ll be Watching: I’ve noticed he occasionally struggles when he has to “sit down” on a route to open a passing window. I’ll be studying Carroo’s short route consistency, especially hip placement as he maneuvers through the combine.
De’ Runnya Wilson, WR – Mississippi State
What I like: As a card carrying member of the big WR fan club, I’m intrigued by Wilson’s size (6-foot-5, 215 lbs.) and basketball pedigree.
What I’ll be Watching: I really want to see Wilson’s lower body comfort level with a full route tree, especially when it comes to sharpness versus rounding while changing direction. How often does he resort to body catching? Wilson’s 40 time is also of interest.
Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh
What I like: Boyd can make tough plays look effortless. There’s also a smoothness to his game and a high level of awareness. He exhibits excellent body control, good hands and plays bigger than his size on tough jump balls.
What I’ll be Watching: As good as Boyd can look running routes, he can get a little sloppy and lose focus in the middle of the field so I’ll be watching his levels of concentration. I’ll also be paying close attention to the work he does on any outside routes and deep patterns. In addition, I worry about Boyd in tight press coverage, but those questions need to be answered by watching additional game footage.
Paul Perkins, RB – UCLA
What I like: This kid could out juke me in a phone booth. Perkins has great balance, lateral agility, vision and short area quickness. He also has some surprising “pop” to his game enabling Perkins to fight through some contact.
What I’ll be Watching: I’m interested in seeing the numbers posted for his top gear, but other than that, I’ll just sit back and enjoy the show.
Jordan Howard, RB – Indiana
What I like: For a power back, Howard knows how to really utilize his strengths. He wastes very little motion, gets downhill quickly and maintains good body lean through contact. He generally keeps his head up and feet moving until he’s brought to the ground.
What I’ll be Watching: I’m interested to watch Howard’s comfort level and technique while catching the football in drills and also what type of short area agility he might flash.
Alex Collins, RB – Arkansas
What I like: Collins has a nice combination of power and speed. He complements a rugged running style with nimble close quarter footwork.
What I’ll be Watching: Balance and body control early on in drills. The deeper into a play Collins gets, the better his balance/control becomes. I’ll be paying close attention to how he starts each drill and manages that initial energy. I’ll also be studying ball placement/security as he works through each skill station. Hand placement and route running in the receiving drills will also be of interest.
Look, I absolutely love this time of year with all the rookie discussion, the NFL combine and the nuances associated with the event. The drills, the skill challenges, the poking and prodding that goes on, even the guys with the stop watches keep me entertained and it all provides additional information for the scouting process. If you’re a dynasty player and you’ve never taken the time to do your own film study on an incoming class of rookies, I would encourage you to do so wholeheartedly. At the same time, if you use the NFL combine as your one and only tool for judging an incoming crop of rookies, I would warn you it’s not a complete picture. There’s a famous quote by Andrew Lang involving the use of statistics and it can easily be applied to the combine – Don’t use the NFL combine as a drunk uses a lamppost…for support rather than illumination.
I’ve rejoined the twitterverse after a yearlong hiatus. You can now find me @ciga_FF so please reach out if you have any comments or questions. Best of luck to you all as you prepare for your league’s rookie drafts.
- Training Camp and the Dreaded Season-Ending Injury - July 30, 2018
- Off-Season Musings of a Fantasy Football Curmudgeon - June 3, 2017
- The NFL Combine from my Couch - February 16, 2016