2022 NFL Combine Blog – Final Thoughts

Jeff Haverlack

It’s good to be back – The 2022 NFL Combine has arrived!

We’ll have boots on the ground in Indy this week to cover the Combine once again, as we did in 2020. As we all remember, 2021 was scrapped due to Covid and we’re only now returning to some level of normalcy. Between the information we get from our individuals in Indy and those covering the official news, measurements and more, we’ll keep you up to date with everything you need to know this week.  As with previous years, I’ll keep everything right here on this blog with new updates appearing at the top with older updates below.

Things really get moving on Thursday as the quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends take the field. On Friday, running backs are in the spotlight. For you IDP players, Saturday and Sunday will wrap up the activities with defensive linemen, linebackers and, finally, defensive backs.

And, as you’d fully expect, I certainly have thoughts. So, let’s kick this off!

March 5 – Saturday, 9:00 AM – Wrap Up

That basically wraps up the Combine blog. IDP players may still have interest in those players going today but I have yet to find a correlation between Combine performance and NFL impact. So much of the IDP game is about fit and scheme and everything you need to know about the IDPs is available on tape.  I have put time into trying to find an edge based on Combine times/performance, but it’s just not there. Furthermore, with the different schemes and rotations in place, even higher rated players going to a lesser scheme can be problematic. It’s for this reason I tend to allow others to draft IDP in rookie drafts ahead of me. I’ll rarely take a rookie in the first three rounds of a rookie draft. The last time I made an exception was the Aaron Curry and he burned me.

It has been verified that this was the fastest wide receiver class on display at any Combine. Along with the running backs having good size and running fast times, it’s almost as if this class took exception to many of us, including myself, saying it is lackluster. Of course, collegiate production trumps Combine times and measurements but I still came away impressed by the performances of this class.

In two days, I’ll be releasing my post Combine risers and fallers so stay tuned for that.

In the end, while I don’t think this is class is deep in first and second tier talent, it really depends one what your definition of “deep” is. We don’t have to have first and second tier players to have productive players. They will be drafted related to each other all the same and each gets “a chip and a chair” as I like to say. As we’ve seen with running backs of late, there just isn’t that much difference between a 4.35 and a 4.45 40-time in determining NFL success. Sure, faster is better, but so much of running back production and tenure comes down to offensive line play, vision, lateral agility, power and acceleration. It’s why it’s so difficult to determine who the later-round sleepers are in the position. Many look the same and even collegiate production can be misleading.

What I like about this draft are the players between approximately 1.07 and 1.16 or so. As always occurs following the NFL Draft, many of these players will fall to unimpressive situations and this band will narrow. But it is still going to provide intrigue for those competitive dynasty teams between 1.07 and 1.12. There isn’t the quarterback talent or depth to provide a large push of non-QB talent down in the frist round, but likely three first round quarterbacks, depending on landing spot. Should Ridder, Howell and maybe Corral be drafted into upside situations, One of them could sneak into the superflex rookie first round, we’ll see.

All in all, it was a good Combine. Now we have a short wait until the NFL Draft provides our next shot of excitement and 2022 gets fully underway with the start of most rookie drafts. I have one league which performs its rookie draft in April and it’s a fun twist.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave me a note below in the comments.

March 4 – Friday, 5:45 PM PST – The 40 Yard Dash

Kennedy Brooks ran a 4.59 40, not bad. I was hoping for something less than 4.60 these times are unofficial. I’m higher on Brooks than most all other analysts after three very successful seasons. He’s not a high ceiling player but in the right system, I think he could be a capable producer. He could be a nice third or fourth round dynasty rookie selection.

James Cook ran a good 4.50 and looks like an upside prospect. At nearly 200 pounds, I think he can add another 7-10 pounds but he looks cut with good definition already. Built a bit differently than brother Dalvin Cook but Cook’s style is also a bit more elusive upon first review. Second time at 4.58. Still good enough in the 4.5s.

Jerome Ford is a name to keep an eye on and he put up a good run of 4.51, about as expected. Compact and powerful, he’s a fine sleeper for upcoming drafts after we see his drafted situation.  Second time of 4.54. Very solid.

Breece Hall is still the standout back for me in this draft and if you need running back, I think he’s a cut above Spiller. A true coiled spring runner which I love to see in backs. He just ran a 4.44 which is a very good time, somewhat expected given his lower body explosion as shown in his ridiculous 40″ vertical. Second time in the 4.46 range. Very solid and I won’t be surprised to see him slip into the bottom of the first. But we had a great running back draft a couple years ago where CEH was the only back to slip into the first while Jonathan Taylor, D’Andre Swift and Jonathan Dobbins all went in the second. Backs continue to fall in the NFL Draft.

Dameon Pierce a bit disappointing in the 4.6s.  I expected a bit faster.

D’vonte Price another nice sleeper and turned in an impressive 4.44, matching Breece Hall. I have more tape to watch on Price but he’s on my sleeper list.

Brian Robinson runs a 4.63 which isn’t great but good enough for his size. Was hoping for 4.55 or so. One year starter but at Alabama, it’s tough to get carries. 4.65 on his second attempt. Not many of the backs are running faster on the second attempt. Not unexpected.

Pierre Strong, one of my favorite sleeper backs, just turned in a 4.39. will be interesting to see what it becomes officially. Smaller school prospect but good size and great speed.

Kenneth Walker puts up an amazing 4.46. I was looking for something in the 4.52 range to maintain his momentum and this could put him in competition for RB2 behind Breece Hall depending on Spiller’s time. Second run at 4.50. Very nice for the compact and powerful Walker.

Rachaad White has been a fast-riser of late but my first tape review didn’t produce a lot of intrigue. His style doesn’t project well to the NFL in my mind but I need to see more. Ran a 4.53 which is a good time.

Zamir White just ran a 4.47, MUCH faster than I expected. I wasn’t going to be surprised to see him turn in a 4.6 and was hoping for 4.55 or faster. He lacks that extra dynamic of many top backs but speed was one of the primary deficits. This is a good time.

Kyren Williams just laid an egg at 4.72 and has Rich Eisen just said, he plays much faster than that, just as White above plays a bit slower.  Hopefully his second run is better. A bit better on his second run, 4.70. Still not great, but not horrible.

Tyler Allgeier posts two times in the mid 4.6s, not overly impressive and I expected faster.

Ty Chandler with two times in the mid 4.4s. I haven’t watched much tape on him as of yet so I will reserve judgment.

Trestan Ebner with two times in the 4.47 range. I haven’t watched any tape but those are good times. Looks like a track runner with a quiet upper body

March 4 – Friday, 5:00 PM PST

Trying to be patient as we wait to see the running backs run. But times and distances are flowing in from the vertical and broad jumps.

Spiller is on record now with a 30″ vertical and 126″ broad jump, both terrific numbers, especially the vertical. Lower body explosion wasn’t really in question with Hall, more so with Spiller, but I was hoping for 36″.

Spiller notched a 30″ vertical, Walker 34″.  Most of the other backs such as Robinson, Brooks, Cook, Williams, Price, and most others were in that typical 30-34″ range.

Rachaad White was a standout at 38″ which is good for his size. Taller backs don’t always jump well.

March 4 – Friday, 1:00 PM PST

Measurements are in the books and I’m pleased with what I’m seeing thus far, it’s a good-sized class. Not a class which is going to really stand out from one another after you get away from the top tiers, but plenty who will be noteworthy and intriguing once the draft concludes and we get to see their drafted situation.

Here are a few of the measurements:

Kennedy Brooks came in about as expected at 5’11″/209 lbs. but hands at 7 5/8″ ?!?! Is that a misprint?

James Cook at 5’11″/199 lbs. is a great weigh-in for him. I was wondering how close he was going to be to 190 and he impressed me here.  There’s already been Alvin Kamara comps and I don’t disagree.

Jerome Ford at 5’10 1/2″/210 lbs. is also a good blended size. Was hoping he wasn’t going to come in heavy at a smaller size given his style of running. He’s got NFL upside in the right situation. He’s a sleeper.

Breece Hall at 5’11″/217 lbs. is perfect. It’s the ideal weight for a running back in my grading system and at that weight I want to see either 5’10” or 5’11”. He’ll remain the top back on my board without question.

Damen Pierce with a 5’10″/218 lbs. combo, again very impressive. He’s flying well below the radar and was underused considering his ability. He’ll be an intriguing second round selection in dynasty drafts and could slip to the third.

D’Vonte Price measured in at 6’1″/210 lbs. Would have preferred to see another 10 lbs. but he’ll add that easily once in the NFL. Another underrated prospect who’ll get a chance.

Isaiah Spiller at 6’0″/217 lbs. is as expected. I thought he may even be a bit taller given his running style. Not the ‘coiled spring’ (as I call it) that I look for but it’s clear he’s a top back with enormous potential.

Brian Robinson is a monster at 6’2″/225 lbs. He’s a bit of a mystery for the NFL but possesses a high ceiling. Looking forward to him running and hoping for something less than 4.55.

Kenneth Walker a compact 5’9″/211 lbs. Was hoping for 5’10” but the measured height is fine in today’s NFL. He’s got work to do as a receiver if he’s increase his value in dynasty drafts and he could slip a bit due to this.

Rachaad White helped himself with a nice weigh-in at 6’0″/214 lbs. He’s a fast riser in dynasty circles. After watching tape on him, I’m not as high as others but have more work to do.

Zamir White came in at 6’/214 lbs. I’m higher on him than most and this is a great weight for him

Kyren Williams at 5’9″/194 lbs. was about as expected but I was hoping to see a few more pounds. He’s got upside in the right system but it’s hard to project him as a high-volume back at this point.

Waiting for the 40s here before I provide more insight on my thoughts on the position.

March 4 – Friday, 9:00 AM PST

For all intents and purposes, the Combine just isn’t much of a predictor when it comes to projecting the rookies into the NFL. This year it seems they even made the drills a bit easier by slowing down the speed. Only two of the notable quarterbacks ran the 40, Desmond Ridder and Kenny Pickett. Both performed about as expected though Ridder’s 4.49 was impressive. It doesn’t matter much as we can get what we need from film. Pickett’s hand size of 8 1/2″ was all the talk again and I’m sure he’d love it to stop.

A video of Malik Willis helping out someone on the street corner was trending yesterday and tells you a lot about the young man. As I’ve long said, what you do when you think no one is watching says everything about who you are.  Kudos to you Mr. Willis.  Oh, and in passing drills, Willis stole the show with velocity and touch. One of my sleeper picks, Carson Strong, displayed his cannon arm – though you can never be sure where the ball is going to land when he slings it.

Willis’ stock is up after reports he did very well in interviews and has a high football IQ. At the same time, word from inside is that he’s probably two years away from being ready to start, which puts him behind recent prospects such as Trey Lance. He’s a dynamic runner, erratic as a passer and very raw but has the arm strength. He’s certain to be a first-round selection, likely in the top-15.  Pittsburgh anyone (everyone!)?

It’s been said by more than just me, but this just isn’t a class if you’re looking or a quarterback. If you are playing in a superflex format, you’re in a bit of a pickle unless you have the 1.01. On the good side, if you’re toward the middle or the end of the first round, quarterbacks are going to slip to you. Call me crazy but outside of Willis, I’m punting unless one of the quarterbacks falls to the second round. Even in singe-quarterback leagues, the only one of the bunch I’d hazard a pick on in the middle-to-late second round, is Willis.

Today we get the running backs in action. I will get you caught up on all the measurements and action as we get our first looks at Isaiah Spiller, Breece Hall and Kenneth Walker, among others.

Stay tuned…

March 3 – Thursday, 9:30 PM PST

Word is that Chris Olave’s time was revised down to 4.39. That’s some unofficial-to-official revision.  Olave chose not to run a second 40 which may have hurt him, but the 4.39 is plenty fast enough to keep him in consideration for the first round.

March 3 – Thursday, 6:00 PM PST

Well, what a finish to the wide receiver group!  Coming into this Combine, it was no secret this was a receiver and running back class but somewhat lack-luster following the top three or four in each position.  But, when looking at this year’s receivers, I do so a fair amount of intrigue beyond the top four, with size enough to be interesting in the right situation. I was curious to see them run to see if they could follow up on this intrigue. And, I have to say, it’s one of the faster groups we’ve seen from the names I was looking at.

Let’s take a quick run-down of the names not seen from my earlier updated.

Whoa Chris Olave! I was, in no way, expecting Olave to run in the 4.2s but he did just that. A fringe first-round talent, but with legitimate NFL skills, Olave likely now secured a spot on day-one of the draft, at least in my estimation. While it may get adjusted up officially, it’s in the books now as a 4.26.  Stunning! He never produced 1,000 yards in a single season, not uncommon at Ohio State, but his 35 touchdowns tell the story of a savvy router runner that can also get deep. That said, I never expected that time from him. Either they had it listed wrong on NFL.com or it was my mistake, but Olave measured in just shy of 6′ 1/2″.

His counterpart, Garrett Wilson ran an impressive 4.37 and will likely remain my top receiver on the board. Olave just managed to crest the 1,000 yard plateau while scoring 12 touchdowns. I have more film to watch, but I don’t see him moving from my top spot. That is saying something or an analyst who strongly favors size.

Alec Pierce ran much faster than anticipated as well, clocking an unofficial 4.33.  He’s a gritty receiver with a possession skillset but showed me something with his time. At 6’3″/213 lbs., I don’t expect him to be a high selection but he could sneak into day-two consideration.

Perhaps my favorite run of the day was George Pickens running a 4.4. Was hoping more from his vertical jump of 33″ but the time is going to help him. He’s a legitimate high-ceiling NL player due to his 6’3″ size but his hands only measured in at 8 3/4″ which was a surprise. He’ll carry an injury designation but I haven’t heard of any talk about it being a lingering concern.

That’ll do it for today. Tomorrow the running backs are on parade and we get our first looks at Isaiah Spiller, Breece Hall and Kenneth Walker.  Going to be an exciting day!

March 3 – Thursday, 4:00 PM PST

Treylon Burks ran about as expected based on my tape review. I didn’t see him in the 4.40 range like many did. I thought anything in the mid 4.4s would have been highly impressive. In the end, he ran at 4.5, plenty good enough to maintain his level of intrigue as a big receiver.

It’s been one of the fastest receiver classes on record at the Combine and speedster Jahan Dotson did his part by running a 4.41, perhaps a little disappointed as many expected him to hit the 4.3s. It’s plenty good enough when matched with his vertical jum pf 36″ and his impressive collegiate resume’. He’s going to be a first-day pick but likely fall to the second half of dynasty rookie drafts. Could be a great bargain if he is drafted into a good situation.

Calvin Austin III continues to be the workout warrior of the Combine, running a 4.32 to go with his 39″ vertical and 135″ broad jump.  The diminutive receiver from Memphis remains under the radar but produced over 2,200 yards and 19 touchdowns in his final two collegiate years. He’ll be a slot specialist at the next level and made himself money today.

Skyy Moore also made himself money today by turning in an impressive 4.39. He was a bit of a one year wonder at Western Michigan but produced 1,292 yards and 10 touchdowns on 95 receptions in his final season for the Broncos. Many are projecting him to be a second-round selection but I think he slips into the third.

David Bell ran a disappointing 4.62 but as pointed out following his run, so did Cooper Kupp. He may not be a big threat for taking the top off a defense, but his size and hands will be valuable on short and intermediate routes and he has upside in a good drafted situation.

March 3 – Thursday, 3:00 PM PST

We had three receivers log a 39″ vertical:  Calvin Austin III, Ty Fryfogle and Kevin Austin Jr.  Austin also led all WRs with a 11’3″ broad jump.

At tight end, it’s just not a great class. By all accounts Cade Otten (Washington) and Jalen Wydermyer (Texas A&M) are the top two in the position but Trey McBride (Colorado State) has graced the top of more than one ranking list I’ve seen. None of the top names are running today it seems.

In fact, only two quarterbacks are running today.

March 3 – Thursday, 2:30 PM PST

The tight ends are on the field and receivers are coming up shortly. But the most exciting thing thus far on Thursday is the height and weight of the receivers, in addition to hand measurement.  As I mentioned yesterday, collegiate height reporting is almost always inflated and a lot is riding on the ‘official’ metrics.  Let’s touch on a few of the more notable measurements thus far.

Drake London was a big winner in my book when his height came in at a hair less than 6’4″ while weighing a respectable 219 lbs. This is a huge win as I was concerned about his 6’5″ listing at USC. Big receivers over 6’4″ have a spotty history in the NFL. In this case, his inflated height works to his advantage. Interestingly enough, his hands were relatively smallish for his size, 9 3/8″. London is still rehabbing his ankle so we won’t see more from him.

Garrett Wilson measured in at 5’11 3/4″ and 183 pounds, about as expected. His hands came in at an impressive 9 7/8″. He’s a quality receiver and still atop my board, which is saying something given that I grade down for receivers less than 6′ in height.

Twitter favorite Treylon Burks maintained momentum with his 6’2″/225 lbs. measurement. He’s a big receiver in the mold of A.J. Brown with good college production, not elite. He shows up in big games and he’s probably going to be the top receiver off the board in dynasty drafts, but most likely not on my list.  Drafted situation will be key and I’m extremely curious about his 40 time today. Rumors have had him in the 4.30s but I’ll be shocked if that comes to pass. Anything below 4.50 secures him as a top pick. I won’t be surprised if he’s in the 5.52 range.

Jameson Williams tore his ACL in in the CFB Championship game and will not perform any drills. But he did measure in at 6′ 1 1/2″ and a thin 179 lbs. He’s going to drop in dynasty drafts, potentially until late in the first round. An ACL is never a great way to enter the NFL but it’s not the issue it once was and he’s still likely to be an NFL first-round selection. Without the ACL injury, he may have been my WR1 in this year’s class.

George Pickens is healthy again and flying below the radar. At an official 6’3″/195 lbs., he’s a legitimate NFL receiver with an an incredible high ceiling. He’s going to be found in the second round of many dynasty rookie drafts and should be a day-two selection in the NFL Draft. If he falls to a plus-level quarterback situation, he could end up in the bottom of the first round in dynasty. I’m high on this raw talent with great physical attributes. Hoping he runs fast.

Chris Olave’s height was an 6’0 3/8″ (earlier I had him at 6’3″ based on what I read) but at a wiry 187 lbs. This may drop him on some boards as his lighter frame could be an issue for teams looking for a true “X” receiver. He may need to play from the slot. He’s probably going to be a day-two selection and isn’t the impressive athlete that his collegiate teammate Garrett Wilson is, but Olave is a savvy route runner who consistently made big plays at a school known for producing intelligent receivers. Speed issues have been the concern and he’ll have a chance to answer those today.

I was impressed by John Metchie’s measurements, 5’11″/187 lbs. He’ll attempt to do his best Jaylen Waddle impersonation as a smaller speed prospect. He’s dynamic and while not with the same ceiling as Waddle, he has a lot of upside.

I’m struggling with how much I like, or don’t like, Jahan Dotson. I pegged him as one of those receivers who dynasty armchair analysts would fall in love with and it seems he’s finally picking up momentum. He measured in at 5’10 5/8″ and 178 lbs., so he’s in the neighborhood of an upside prospect based on size alone. I was hoping for something closer to his listed 184 lbs., but wasn’t seeing that on tape.  When also referencing his statistical production and his likely first-round selection in the NFL Draft, he’s going to be a top eight selection in most dynasty drafts.  More tape review coming on Dotson.

Another name to keep an eye on late in the first round of dynasty rookie drafts is David Bell. Bell measured in at 6’1″/212 lbs. with 9 1/4″ hands. He’s a riser and should be a second-day selection.

Biggest hands I saw from the wide receivers was that of underrated Skyy Moore, who logged a 10 1/4″ measurement at 5’10″/195 lbs.

March 2 – Wednesday, 4:00 PM PST

While things get fully underway on Thursday, there’s still things to unpack as it relates to the 2022 rookie class, its depth and potential impact for dynasty coaches.

It’s well understood by all dynasty coaches at this point that 2022, at least as far as we can predict, is a lackluster year when compared to recent drafts. That’s not to say we won’t have impact players emerge from each round of rookie drafts. In fact, at the top, perhaps even through the first six selections, of the first round, I still believe we have enough quality to be excited about, At running back, clearly Breece Hall and Isaiah Spiller headline the class with Kenneth Walker a tier behind. At receiver, some order of Garrett Wilson, Drake London, Treylon Burks and Jameson Williams take us into the middle of the first round. Even should you (I do not) downgrade Williams due to his late-season ACL tear,  there are six quality high tier rookies to target.

The key to rookie drafts is understanding the difference between pre-draft rankings/value to that of post-draft.  This speaks to the topic I call “situational degradation” which occurs after the NFL Draft has completed. It’s not uncommon to have 30%-40% of draftees selected into less than ideal situations. This impact tends to occur at running back more than other positions but it can occur to all skill position rookies. This is directly at the heart of the post-draft erosion of rookie pick value in most cases. Pre-draft, if you are excited about your mid-round selection, it’s very possible the pick itself is going to lose significant value when top players go to less-than-ideal situations.  Consider recent examples of Travis Etienne and Javonte Williams as just two recent cases. Receivers falling to teams with poor quarterbacks also can suffer the same fate.

But all is not lost! Situational degradation also allow teams later in the first to realize unexpected good fortune when teams above them in the draft opts for near-term production potential over talent. This is often seen at running back and quarterback though also is common at receiver as well. When looking at 2022’s first round, I see a lot of risk and social media hype is already starting on numerous players.

What are some key things I’ll be watching for over the next couple of days? I’m glad you asked.

  1. Official measurements of, primarily, the wide receivers as a group.
  2. Do Isaiah Spiller and Breece Hall, both weigh in at greater than 215 lbs.?
  3. Treylon Burks’ long speed
  4. Does Drake London measure in less than 6’5″?
  5. Kenneth Walker 40 time

Every year, official measurements break the hearts of the dynasty community. I’ve long said that this measurement inflation which plagues the college game needs to stop. It’s embarrassing for all involved. But as I like to say here in my household:  They never called me to get my opinion.  But alas, we’re going to see another year of disappointing measurements which WILL result in some decreased rankings in my book, most notably at receiver. But, in the case of one player, Drake London, a measurement less than 6’5″ works in his favor. I’d much rather see an official height of 6’4″, or even 6’3″. The case against receivers 6’5″ or greater is a relatively strong one unless they have elite speed and hands (Calvin Johnson).

Treylon Burks is an interesting case and there’s no hotter name in this year’s dynasty rookie drafts. Based on the hype he’s receiving, he’s going to be first off the board all too often. I’m not saying this is a bad idea but I do believe his hype has gotten ahead of where it should be considering his collegiate production. But his size is very intriguing and if he can match that intrigue with a speed of 4.45 or less, then the only variable remaining will be the quarterback throwing him the ball this September. But that said, Burks is still no better than the WR3 on my board thus far, and that is saying something as an analyst who prefers size in my rookie receivers. More work to do here. The hype surrounding Kyle Pitts in 2021 netted me Ja’Marr Chase in more than one draft.

Related to the quarterbacks and tight ends of this class, I’m just not spending a lot of time here. The individuals at both positions aren’t intriguing enough for me to worry about with exactly zero appearing in my top 18 players at this point. SuperFlex players are in a dangerous situation here if there’s a need for quarterback. Malik Willis may be the savior of the class, but it’s not likely we’ll see 2022 production from any of these players. Of course, I’ll be covering these players with my rankings as we still have a lot of superflex coaches counting on us to help sort it all out, we won’t let you down.

That’s a very brief look at what I’ll be watching as we get underway. Keep it tuned here and I’ll do my best to relay the information I believe you need to know. I’ll also try to mix in a bit about my scouting standards and details as I’m able to based on what I’m seeing.

See you tomorrow!

 

 

jeff haverlack
2022 NFL Combine Blog – Final Thoughts