Welcome to the 2023 NFL Combine blog!
Many consider the annual NFL Combine as the unofficial beginning of the new dynasty season. Myself? I'm more in the camp of the actual NFL Draft itself as marking the official start of the new season, but I'm splitting hairs. Here at DLF, as we've said from the very beginning: There is No Offseason!
After months of speculation about the incoming rookies, their height, weight, speed, etc., the Combine sets it all straight. Colleges and universities continue to play games with players' physical measurements and while it's getting tiring, it's all part of the game. In recent years, there's been a groundswell of support for getting rid of the NFL Combine altogether and, instead, relying simply on pro days to answer the questions. For me, there's a lot of value for having so many NFL personnel, players and the higher profile incoming rookies all in the same place. Having been to the Combine myself, there's a lot to be learned and much of that would be lost with more distributed workouts.
In any event, stay tuned here as I will be performing regular daily updates with news, notes, noteworthy metrics as they occur and anything else I think you may need to know to help you navigate this year's draft class. I spend a lot of time scouting, reviewing, ranking, tiering and researching each class and the Combine is a great place to overlay my research to this point over the metrics as the players perform on the field. Undoubtedly, my player rankings will change as the Combine unfolds and I have a chance to look back on the class as a whole.
Let's get started!
March 5, 9:00 PM
Well, that's a wrap.
Sunday's action was a bit ... lackluster.
I was hoping to see Sean Tucker run but it didn't happen. Same goes with Tyjae Spears. In a position which is being deemphasized in today's NFL, it makes a lot of sense for players to perform in front of all the coaches and scouts at every chance. Make them fall in love with you.
Kudos to Evan Hull for showing what it's all about. Not the biggest, fastest, most agile or most intriguing but he was determined to put on a show. I hope coaches and scouts fell in love with that effort and that he's rising on draft boards. Those are the type of players I'd want on my team.
This year's running backs look decent, especially in the size dept. Not many smaller backs and there's certain to be some day-three picks here who will have a real chance of getting their shot. There's something to like in every round of the upcoming draft based on what I saw today.
Chase Brown probably had the best Combine at the position relative to expectation. He's a gritty, blue-collar player and he should fit in a zone scheme offense. His 4.43 was a 1/10th of a second better than I expected
Deneric Prince ran a 4.41 and put himself on the map. I have more film review to do on him.
Zac Charbonnet impressed me with a 4.53. I was hoping for better than 4.6 and he looked great. He's built for the NFL and I think he's going to be a starter sooner rather than later. In the mold of James Conner, it's hard not to like his game though it's not built on speed. But his 40-time shows that he's not slow either.
Evan Hull brought his blue collar work ethic to the Combine and laid it out for all to see on Sunday, performing every drill and taking nearly every rep to the house to show his heart and commitment. That effort tells me he's getting drafted on heart alone. I hope I'm not wrong here.
Devon Achane is falling on my board just a bit. the 5'8 1/2" height coupled with 188 lbs. just isn't going to get it done for me and I have to move him back. He's talented but I just don't see enough upside at that size. I'll let another coach take the risk. Loved his 4.32 40 however.
Kenny McIntosh weighed a bit lighter than I had hoped. Was hoping to see him add weight from his Senior Bowl performance. But worse, his explosive metrics weren't good and his 4.62 was surprisingly poor. He plays much faster than that which is a good thing but, in this class, I'm going to have to move him back a ways. His age doesn't help either.
It's been a good Combine and the next few weeks leading up to the NFL Draft are going to be interesting. I've already started receiving a wave of trade offers so I can tell coaches are chewing on the data from this weekend's drills. I'm getting the most offers from spots near the mid-point of the first-round, meaning picks in the 1.06 and 1.07 range, and primarily in superflex. Leads me to believe coaches are wanting to make a play for Richardson. Seems a bit bold at 1.06 but if you're looking to swing for the fences that early, have at it.
Stay tuned to DLF as we get our rankings updated and our mock draft tool starts heating up as coaches start acting on what they saw. We have less than two months to the NFL Draft but we're going to get a lot of action starting here soon as franchise tags are applied and players begin hitting free agency.
It's going to be fun.
As always, we'll have you covered.
March 5, 10:30 AM
Perusing some of the weights that are intriguing, or in some cases, disappointed me are as follows:
Kendre Miller measuring at 5'11/215 lbs. Exactly as expected and I still believe he's highly underrated. He's going to go at the bottom of the first-round at earliest and could well fall into the second round of dynasty rookie drafts. I'd be all over him late in the first.
Roschon Johnson measuring at 6'/219 lbs. It's a great size/weight for Johnson who is also underrated due to being behind Bijan Robinson. He runs well, is built for the NFL and I was happy to see him with a smaller height at that weight. He's going to have a nice career in the NFL.
Chase Brown measuring at 5'9/207 lbs. Was hoping for 210+ but not expecting it. He's been rising and good agility metrics and a decent 40-time could solidify him as a mid-second round rookie pick in dynasty drafts.
Mohamed Ibrahim measured at 5'8/203 lbs., smaller than expected. I wanted to like him on tape much more than I did. I thought he was going to be fast-riser on my board but I just can't get there.
Tyjae Spears measured in at 5'10/201 lbs. He continues to blow up on Twitter and he's a good prospect, but I don't have the value attached that others do. Drafted situation could help but he has the look for a 5th-round NFL selection, maybe later and the profile of a back who will get locked up on the depth chart. Was hoping for a weight north of 205 lbs.
Devon Achane measured at 5'8 1/2"/188 lbs. He's electric and with more inside ability than I thought I'd see but that measurement just isn't going to get it done for a consistent fantasy producer. The RB position is already suffering due to role and committee and he's going to fall in line in my estimation.
Jahmyr Gibbs measured at 5'9/199 lbs. It's a bit disappointing and I think he falls out of the first round. He's a solid prospect but I just can't say he's "special"
Zach Evans at 5'11/202 lbs. Another case of an under-utilized back who was projecting well to the next level. He's still trending on Twitter as well but after tape review, I can't get there. I like well enough but more toward the back-half of the second-round in rookie drafts. I just didn't the size or dynamic I needed to and this weight tells me more of what I need to know. At 202 lbs., I want to see far more dynamic. It's a "tweener" weight but he doesn't have the profile of a Gibbs.
More soon ...
March 5, 10:00 AM
It's a big day at the Combine with the running backs taking the field.
We had a great Saturday with quarterbacks really lighting it up. It's a thin field at receiver but we have good rookies at the top. It just gets very thin after WR5.
But today is about the running backs. Each year, rookie drafts are held together by a particular position in most years. In 2023, that position is at running backs. A LOT of variability in this year's class but there's a lot of great size. It's the glue of this year's dynasty rookie drafts and there will be quality backs found in the late-second and early-third rounds of rookie drafts with some gems found even later.
The NFL continues to devalue the position and only Robinson is nearly guaranteed of being a first-round selection. In past years, before devaluation of the position, he would have been an easy top-ten selection. Following Robinson we have Jahmyr Gibbs who may be a 50-50 shot for selection in the bottom of the first round. He's dynamic, fluid and carries a comp of Alvin Kamara, which I can get behind.
Behind those two, it's a wide-ranging field with names such as Kendre Miller, Sean Tucker, Zach Charbonnet, Zach Evans and Devon Achane all vying for position. But we also have names such as Tank Bigsby, Israel Abanikanda, Roschon Johnson and Tyjae Spears who are intriguing. Spears continues to trend on Twitter by the underwear analysts (us fantasy analysts) as I like to call them, those fantasy analysts sitting at home, potentially in their parents' basement. No verification on that.
Looking forward to today. I'll be doing my best to keep up here while mixing in some of my fantasy insights and then I'll wrap up tonight after I have a chance to survey things after the Combine finishes up for the day.
Have fun today!
March 4, 3:30 PM
That's a wrap for the quarterbacks.
Didn't see anything that changes a majority of my rankings. Coming into the Combine, my top five quarterbacks were:
- Bryce Young
- C.J. Stroud
- Will Levis
- Anthony Richardson
- Hendon Hooker
At this juncture, I'm sticking with that list, in that order. That said, drafted situation could make me flip Young and Stroud and, maybe, Richardson and Levis. Richardson is the upside play and I don't think I could risk a selection if I needed quarterback. In 1QB, he's a great stash in the second half of the second-round but so is Levis. I still prefer Levis and his arm strength, placement and size, in a more prototypical package is a more secure choice.
Was quite pleased with my deep sleeper of Dorian Thompson-Robinson who helped himself today. He had better drive on his out routes than I expected but he did struggle on his corner-fades a bit. Good enough arm strength to go with his mobility. There's enough to keep him on my radar as that deep quarterback sleeper, much like I had Dak Prescott the year he was drafted.
At receiver, not much changed. I still like Quentin Johnston and while I was disappointed he didn't run, he looked quick on his deep-route iterations and looked smooth in his gauntlet drills. My primary concern is between Jordan Addison and Zay Flowers. My gut is screaming me to flip them in my rankings, but Flowers 5'9" height does present an issue, as does Addison's weight. Height is greater than weight in my scoring system so I'm inclined to leave Addison as my WR3.
I remain neutral on Jalin Hyatt. Not enough speed, not enough route tree not enough scalable to the next level in my opinion.
Other receivers who helped themselves today are Cedric Tillman and, potentially, Rashee Rice. This year's deep-sleeper workout warrior is none other than Bryce Ford-Wheaton who measured in at 6'4/221 lbs., with 33 1/2" arms. He ran a 4.38 40 and jumped 41" in the vertical. I'll be watching film on him shortly.
Receivers who were so-so included Jordan Addison, Andrei Iosivas and Puka Nacua. Truth be told, I don't think they had great days. Josh Downs didn't impress me much but what I see on tape is enough to keep him in the high-second round area in dynasty rookie drafts.
Next up we've got the tight ends.
March 4, 2:00 PM
Things are continuing and all the buzz surrounds Anthony Richardson who leaped, jumped, and ran out of the building. It's such an intriguing setup for not only the NFL Draft, but also dynasty superflex drafts. As mentioned previously, Richardson has moved up to our QB3, pushing Will Levis down and in my view it's very, very close. Levis throws so well and is light years ahead of Richardson as a passer, but Richardson's ceiling is like none other.
Little chance Richardson would start in his rookie year and he'd be well served to sit out the year, allow the speed of the game to slow and learn behind a solid veteran. You have to wonder if the Seahawks might be intrigued enough to hazard a pick with their first of two picks in the first round. This is going to make picks 1.06 - 1.08 in superflex rookie drafts. If you need a receiver, sitting at 1.05 may be the easiest pick to make, taking the third receiver which falls.
Big receivers are doing well in their 40s and drills thus far. Quentin Johnston chose not to run but is performing drills. He's a long receiver similar to Calvin Johnson but a bit shorter. Cedric Tillman continues to gain momentum as does Stanford's Michael Wilson. I think Tillman is a bonafide NFL receiver. A little bit older but now fully healthy and with the size to produce at the next level. I think he's going to help himself this weekend, and has already with a fast-enough 40 of 4.55.
Gauntlet drills are being ran as I type this and most are showing well. Johnston struggled with drops but his hand usage is good, he looks confident and runs well. Jaxon Smith-Njigba isn't running the 40 but competing elsewhere. All eyes will be on JSN's pro-day speed. We know he can catch, is a route-technician and now healthy.
The running backs perform tomorrow and will be the glue that holds the end of the first round and the second round together, pushing down some talent to dynasty's third-round. The group has good size and a lot of unheralded upside.
Just watched Richardson throw the slants and the ball leaps off his hand, he drives it very well. C.J. Stroud doesn't have the same drive-ability that does Richardson, but he's so fluid from his drop back through his release. His footwork looks really good.
Be back soon!
March 4, 11:30 AM
The first set of receivers have run and, not a lot of big surprises and no single name who improved their stock greatly.
Zay Flowers ran a 4.42 which was probably the most impressive though that still matched expectations. He looks a lot like the build of Tyreek Hill but without the straight-line speed. He's rising on my board but I can't say that he'll be overtaking Addison at his point for my WR3.
Speaking of Jordan Addison, he disappointed with his first 40-time of 4.55 before he bettering the time to an unoffical 4.49. Good enough but not enough for him to rise on my board. He'll either end up being my WR3 or could slip to WR4 behind Flowers.
Jalin Hyatt ran a mostly disappointing unofficial 4.41 40-time, well slower than expected. Some had been whispering about a time in the 4.2s but it wasn't to be. Hyatt is purely a deep threat with a limited route-tree but has been mocked in the first-round of the NFL Draft due to his field-stretching ability. This time could impact that placement and I think he's a better "fit" in the middle of the second round. The term "fit" is something I see dynasty coaches continue to struggle with in rookie drafts, when placing players higher in their drafts due to NFL-drafted round. Much like players such as Jalen Reagor, Rondale Moore, Andy Isabella, John Ross, Tavon Austin and even last year's Skyy Moore, teams often look for a specific skillset in a receiver or running back which may make for a higher selection during the NFL Draft, but without the promise of significant fantasy production. It's very different than looking for a true "X" receiver. That's not to say these players can't erupt into a much greater role with greater production but it's very difficult to project. It's for that reason when drafting receivers, I much prefer those who project to an "X" role, or at least a high volume "Z."
I'm one of the few who really likes the gauntlet drill. I watch it intently for a number of different skills:
- I like to see quite hands. I look for confident and soft hands to snatch-and-transition from receiver to runner. Confident fingers to produce that nice quiet reception
- Straight-line and effortless downline speed with momentum and fluid snatch-and-grab out of their gait as they transition to a runner
- Fluidity. I'm looking for the confidence as a receiver such that running and catching is effortless, fluid and natural. The faster the better as it displays more confidence.
Josh Downs and Zay Flowers showed masterful and fluid gauntlet drills. Addison looked solid as well. Jalin Hyatt showed that he was fighting it to a degree.
I'll be back with another update shortly. Stay tuned.
March 4, 10:30 AM
Things are underway and we have some noteworthy measurements to get to.
Rather than list each player, a list of the quarterbacks measurements can be found at The Athletic found here.
Most notably, Bryce Young's weigh-in at 204 lbs. will be enough to keep him as the QB1 on all boards. It should be noted that Young isn't performing any of the Combine drills and you can bet he added weight in all ways possible knowing that any temporary weight wouldn't impact his throws, times, etc. It was a smart move on his part and I won't knock him for it but he won't be playing at that weight, at least early in his career.
Anthony Richardson has started moving in dynasty and is now found as our QB3, taking over the spot originally held by Will Levis. Just so much upside and intrigue, that coaches won't be able to stay away.
The quarterbacks are what the quarterbacks are with four going in the first 10 picks in the NFL Draft and all should be off the board by 1.08 or so in superflex dynasty formats.
At receiver, Zay Flowers continues to rise as he weighed in at 184 lbs. though not reaching 5'10". Josh Downs measure in taller but 10 lbs. less. I still have Flowers higher on my board by a fair margin. Others don't agree.
Quentin Johnston is a long receiver with nearly the same arm and wingspan as Calvin Johnson, and his dynamic/agile with the ball in his hands. Needs to clean up his drops and expand his route tree but he's an intriguing player and he'll stay within my top two receivers.
Jordan Addison continues to be a bit of an issue for me at 173 lbs. and he just ran a 4.55 40-time. I like him as a receiver, but I don't love him. I don't see him being a transcendent name though I could certainly be wrong. I'd rather risk a selection of Johnston in all likelihood though I do like Addison's flexibility to play all across the formation.
I'll be back soon to update 40-times and talk more about the receivers.
March 3, 1:00 PM
Not a lot to report today unless you're an IDP fan and, even then, I would caution you to not make any changes in your rankings on strategy based on what transpires at the Combine. I play in a couple of IDP leagues and my path to the top has always been grounded in the fact that I spend very little effort trying to discern anything about IDPs prior to the NFL Draft. I've tried in the past and it simply doesn't work. IDPs are very fluid and the point disparity between players can be very small. Much like the tight end position, if you don't have one of the top 3-to-5, in many cases you can move along and focus elsewhere. I routinely build my IDP team over a couple of years by watching the news and playing the waiver wire. In most cases, I've been able to build a very successful IDP team in this way. And I rarely, if ever, make trades for IDPs.
Things really get moving tomorrow when we get our first look at the weights and measures of the players before they hit the field for drills. The quarterbacks and receivers have multiple questions to be answered and I'm watching quite a few specific numbers.
Here's a quick list of specific things I want to answer over the next two days, starting with tomorrow's performers and ending with Sunday's running backs.
Bryce Young - How tall is he and, perhaps more importantly, what is his weight? Word is he will measure in near 5'10" but if his weight can approach 200 lbs., he will help himself. A height close to Kyler Murray's will be enough to hold his value but at potentially 15-20 lbs. less, there could be problems. I don't like drafting outliers in dynasty. Exceptions to the norm do occur but they are called exceptions for a reason.
C.J. Stroud - We all know he can excel on-platform and on-script. I would expect to see nothing less than a good-enough arm, good touch and accuracy. Issues relating to a potential unwillingness to run are following him to the Combine. Just what is his long speed? He showed he was capable during last year's college playoffs. We're not expecting a repeat of Justin Fields' 4.44 (Pro Day), but anything near 4.50 would raise his stock. Could he be the first quarterback off the board?
Will Levis - Many still have Levis as the top quarterback on the board and there's good reason for it. He possesses prototypical size, good arm strength and plus-level agility. Injury issues continue to dog him and concerns persist. Is his ankle truly fully healed? I want to see how he moves, his fluidity and his accuracy in drills.
Anthony Richardson - I don't believe there's a more polarizing and intriguing player in this year's draft. He's a man-mountain, physical, strong and easily has the best arm in the class. His mechanics are Frankenstinian (yes, I made that up) and I don't know that they can be fixed. NFL coaches will focus on his footwork to improve accuracy but he's so off-script I can't say I have a high degree of confidence that he'll make the improvement in that area. That doesn't mean he won't be successful and at some point, will NFL coaches stop giving him things to think about on the field and tell him to just go make plays? I think there's a fair chance. I want to see him in shorts and I'm looking at his long speed and touch pass ability.
Those are your top four quarterbacks and no others will come off the board in the first round of the NFL Draft. Beyond those four, I would love to have seen Hendon Hooker but he won't be working out as he continues his recovery. I am interested in seeing Tanner McKee, Jake Haener and Max Dugan and my favorite rising rookei quarterback, Dorian Thompson-Robinson (DTR). I think DTR could be a surprise on draft day if he performs well tomorrow.
I want to see size comparison between Josh Downs and Zay Flowers. Both of these players are linked this year with most dynasty players, seemingly, preferring Downs. I'm not in that camp and, to be honest, it's not that close. I have Flowers at least six total players above Downs. Flowers has reportedly gained nearly 15 lbs. of muscle since the end of the collegiate season and that shows pure dedication. He's cut, fluid, physical and can run the full route tree. I like his get-off better than Downs and think he's more polished. Others disagree. I want to see the two perform and I'm ready to narrow the gap if I see reason to.
I'm disappointed Jaxon Smith-Njigba (JSN) is not running. We know he catches well, is arguably the best route-runner in this year's class and had a monster sophomore season before a hamstring injury essentially ended his junior season. I wanted to see his long speed but he's waiting until his pro day.
Along with JSN, Quentin Johnston and Jordan Addison round out the top-three. I have Addison as my WR3 in this class and it's not out of the question Flowers leap-frogs him though size will probably keep that from happening. I want to see Addison's listed height and weight. A lot of USC receivers hit the NFL and it's usually the bigger specimens that have the success though Amon-Ra St. Brown showed that isn't always the case. Quentin Johnston suffered from focus drops and I want to see him put nothing on the ground while displaying his great size. He should run fast and he's currently my top receiver in the class, but it's VERY close.
After the already-mentioned receivers, there's a big drop-off in talent and potential though we do have names with some level of intrigue. Jalin Hyatt is a speedster who could crack the NFL first-round though I'm not nearly as high on him as Twitter seems to me. I believe he'll be only a "fit-pick" and that alone has warning flags waving for me. I want to see Marvin Mims and Xavier Hutchinson but I'm really focused on the size, speed and health of Cedric Tillman, who appears to be a rising quickly. At a listed 6'3/215 lbs., he's built for the NFL.
Michael Mayer - This class is all about how high Mayer will go and 75% of mock drafts have him landing in Green Bay in the middle of the first round. It makes sense to me and while I'm not one to usually over-draft at the position, Mayer checks all the boxes. I'd like to see him show length and speed at the Combine but his game is not built upon speed. He's nearly a lock for the dynasty first round and I think he'll be off the board somewhere around 1.08, give or take one spot.
Dalton Kincaid - He's athletically gifted and injury cursed. He moves so well and is so dynamic that if he can get the coaches to give him the benefit of the doubt regarding his injury history, primarily via long speed and agility drills, he could sneak into the bottom of the first round in the NFL Draft. I doubt that occurs however. I want to see him display that speed and agility.
Darnell Washington - I think too much is being made of him, especially in dynasty rookie drafts. He's stiff, lumbering though does have the size to be intriguing. I'm not expecting to be wowed in any way and there are not a lot "Y" tight ends who really become every-week production plays in fantasy. I'm reserving the right to be surprised with his speed/agility scores but, again, not expecting it.
I'll save my running back thoughts until later tomorrow but stay tuned.
If you have any questions about specific players, team needs, my thoughts on class depth, etc., please feel free to ask in the comments below. I've already scouted most of these players with a lot left to do following the Combine and I always look for opportunities to answer your questions.
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