Pre-Combine Prospects that excel in Athleticism and Production

Here are prospects that excelled in production that also have demonstrated good athleticism. Look for some of these to excel in the combine. Also included are combine snubs or those players that excelled in both athleticism and production that were not invited to the combine.

Receivers

Wide Receiver Andy Isabella has great speed. In his 2015 high school senior year Andy ran an official 6.8 second 60 meter dash which was second fastest in the nation that season. He has said at the senior Bowl that in his training at The Applied Science and Performance Institute in Tamp he has run a 4.26 hand timed 40-yard dash. The combine record is 4.22-second 40-yard dash set by John Ross in 2017. Isabella also shows great burst and acceleration. That combined with good route running skills make Isabella uncoverable.

Wide Receiver Hakeem Butler at 6’6 and 225 lbs is big, strong and tough to bring down. He has a large catch radius and is great at making contested catches. Though not considered fast he can build up to a good speed. He averaged 22 yards per reception which was third in the FBS. He had 60 receptions and was tops in average yards for receivers with over 35 receptions. Butler was tie for second in the FBS for receptions of 20+ and 30+ yards. He was tie for third in receptions of 40+ and 50+ yards. Hakeem Butler made Feldman’s 2018 Freaks List.  He is reported to have accomplished a 37-inch vertical jump,  a 11-1 broad jump, a 340-pound bench and a 450-pound squat.

Wide Receiver Cody Thompson made Bruce Feldman’s 2017 annual “Freaks List”. Cody has a 38-inch vertical jump and the ability to do 22 bench press reps of 225 pounds. In 2018 73% of his receptions were for a first down and eight out of his ten red zone receptions were a touchdown. He has strong reliable hands and shows toughness.

At 6’3″ and 225 lbs. former basketball player now wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside boxes out defenders and high points the ball to do well hauling in contested catches. He ranked third in receiving touchdowns with 14 and he got nine of those as a red-zone target. He is one of only five players to get 9+ touchdowns on red zone attempts.

Combine snub: Wide Receiver Preston Williams was on the Colorado State track and field team. He made the 2017 All Mountain West team for the triple jump and was the Mountain West Indoor Track & Field Men’s Field Athlete of the Week (2/21/17). Preston Williams and Andy Isabella have the best 2018 market share totals for combined receiving categories of receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

Quarterback

Kyler Murray claimed to have run a 4.38 forty during team winter workouts in 2017. If Murray can reproduce that at the combine it would be the second fastest quarterback topped only by Reggie McNeal”s 4.35 in 2006. In 2018 Murray rushed for 71.5 yards per game, average 7.2 yards per rush and had 12 rushing touchdowns. The average of 7.2 was tops among quarterbacks.

Combine snub: At 6’6″ and 232 lbs Taylor Cornelius would be one of the bigger quarterbacks in the NFL.  He is ninth in passing plays of 30+ yards, fourth for 20+ passing yards and third for 10+ passing yards. In addition to his deep ball, Pro Football Focus had Cornelius as the best slant route quarterback in 2018. He had an 84% completion percentage on the slant averaging a depth of target of 8.1 yards past the line of scrimmage and 11 yards per attempt.  Roughly 19% of his 122 rushing plays in 2018 went for 10+ yards. His big frame goes with a strong arm and the ability to gain yards running.

Tight End

Tight End Noah Fant has reportedly had a 42.1″ vertical jump during offseason testing. You have to go back to 2011 to get a higher vertical jump by a tight end when Virgil Green had 42.5″. Fant was number six on Bruce Feldman’s 2018 annual “Freaks List” for players who have head-turning physical ability.

Combine snub: Tight end Donald Parham of Stetson was 14th in voting for the 2018 FCS Walter Payton Award and made the 2018 Walter Camp FCS All America Team. Parham has staggering market share numbers that would be great for a wide receiver and are unheard of for a tight end. In 2018 he had 85 receptions (36%), 1,319 yards (41%) and 13 touchdowns (46%). Parham has a 36″ vertical jump which would have been tied for third among tight ends at last year’s combine. That jump combined with a 6’8″ height and being a former basketball player makes for a nice red zone target.

Running Back

Jalin Moore made Bruce Feldman’s “Freaks List” each of the last two years and was number 11 in 2018. He was ninth on Chase Goodbread’s “18 for ’18: College football’s most freakish athletes”. Moore’s numbers in the forty (4.37s) and the broad jump (11’1″) would top last year’s combine leaders at running back. His vertical jump (38.5 in) would be tied for fourth. Moore is the only active FBS back to have rushed for 230+ yards in four or more career games. His measurements in lifting are the bench press (390), squat (650 pounds), clean (350 pounds).

Alex Barnes is a big strong bruiser of a back at 6’1″ and 225 lbs. However he can also pick up yardage. In 2018 he was fifth among draft eligible backs in rushing plays of 20+ yards. In yards from scrimmage in 2018 he had only one game that he averaged under 4.0 yards per play. Coming out of high school at 6’0″ and 218 lbs Barnes had the following athletic testing stats and their place compared to the 2018 combine running backs.  Barnes had a 4.40 to 4.48 forty yard dash (2nd – 5th), 31 reps  bench press of 225 lbs (1st) and had a 37 inch vertical jump (6th).

Combine snub: Here are A.J. Ouelette ‘s athletic tests from last year and how they would compare to last year’s combine running backs – 4.46s forty (3rd), 30 reps bench press (1st), 37 in. vertical jump (5th) and 4.06 shuttle (1st).  Ouelette last two seasons were consecutive 1,000+ yards rushing. In 2018 he averaged 6.5 yards from scrimmage and 6.1 yards rushing with 14 touchdowns.

Fullback

Combine Snub: George Aston has 30 reps of 225 lbs on the bench press. That would have been tops among running backs and tight ends at last year’s combine. At the high school level Aston was capable of bench pressing 440 pounds and squatting 700 pounds. To put that in perspective in the spring of 2018 DT Ed Oliver was reported to be capable of  a 650 squat and a 405 bench press. Aston had ten touchdowns in 2016 on just 44 touches. Aston was a highly instrumental figure for a Panthers’ rushing attack that averaged 227.9 yards per game. Plays special teams and in 2016 blocked a punt and had ten tackles on coverage units.

Offensive Line

Yodney Cajuste was 2018 All Big-12 First Team. He was  listed on Bruce Feldman’s 2018 “Freaks List”.  Feldman had this to say:

“The former high school basketball player from South Florida bench presses 495 and dead lifts 735. Cajuste’s 1.65 10-yard split would have bested Kolton Miller’s 1.67 that was the top time by any offensive lineman at the NFL Scouting Combine this year and would have beaten any time in the previous three years in Indy. Cajuste also broad jumps 9-2.”

Kaleb McGary was voted Winner of the 2018 Morris Trophy as the top PAC-12 offensive lineman (as voted by opposing teams defensive linemen) . McGary is 6’7″ and 324 lbs. He is big and athletic. He has been known to push defensive linemen back nearly 10 yards on run plays.

Andre Dillard – “The kid’s a freak.” – Washington State head coach Mike Leach. Dillard is considered an exceptional athlete and expected to test well at the combine. A three year starter and was named to 2018 Pac-12 All Conference First Team.

Chris Lindstrom was 2018 ACC All Conference first Team. He has played every game of his college career and made 49 straight starts. “That dude is a mauler.” – Joe Marino (Senior NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network)

Defensive Line

DT Ed Oliver made #1 on Chase Goodbread’s NFL.com’s “18 for ’18: College football’s most freakish athletes” and #2 on Bruce Feldman’s 2018 college football Freaks List. Oliver can broad jump 10-1, vertical jump 36 in., squat 650 lbs, bench press 405 and power clean 385. His broad jump and vertical would have been tops among Defensive Tackles at the 2018 combine.

LB/DE Sutton Smith is a former RB that runs a 4.5 forty or less. He has bulked up and has squatted close to 500 lbs and has done 29 reps at 225 lbs on the bench. He has been third and fourth in sacks per game the last two seasons. He has led in tackles for loss per game in 2017 and was fourth in 2018.

Combine Snub: LB/DE Malik Reed was one of Bruce Feldman “freaks” for the 2018 season.  Malik was able to power-clean 357 pounds and dead-lift 672 pounds. Malik has an outstanding work ethic. He is usually first in and last to go for practices. His sophomore year he started all 12 games, was named the team’s outstanding defensive player and earned the team’s defensive full speed effort award. His junior year he started all 12 games and was given Nevada’s Hustle Award for his efforts on defense.

Linebackers

Devin White has run an unofficial 4.49 forty in high school and had a 37.9 inch vertical. At The Opening a testing event for top high school athletes White also was one of the strongest participants at the event, throwing the power ball 44 feet. Only three players threw it further. “I think he’s one of the more unique athletes that we’ve seen over the first five years of The Opening,” said Brian Stumpf, vice president of football events for Student Sports, which puts on The Opening and the Elite 11. “You don’t often find that combination of build and athletic ability,…”

Combine snub: Cole Holcomb made Bruce Feldman’s 2017 “freaks” list.

“Holcomb power cleans 395, hang cleans 395 and squats 585. On a Tar Heels team that had 11 players drafted or signed by the NFL this past spring, Holcomb led UNC in “Pound for Pound Power Index” (Total Weight/Body Weight).

In 2018 Holcomb had forty more tackles than anyone else on the team.

Defensive Backs

Cornerback Julian Love has decent speed and is stronger than he appears. A good showing at the combine with his ball skills, cover skills and production will increase his draft stock. He should come in a sub 4.5 in the forty as he did post a 4.46 at an early Pro Day.  If he can also do 15 reps on the bench press that would be great.

Safety Juan Thornhill is another DB expected to be in the 4.5-4.55 forty range.  At a practice session last year at Virginia Thornhill had 20 reps at 225 bench press which came on the heels of a 40½-inch vertical leap and an 11-foot broad jump. Repeating these at the combine with his production should solidify Thornton as a day two draft selection.

Combine Snub: Cornerback Nate Brooks had six interceptions in 2018 good for third in the nation. Brooks was one of fourteen semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award.  He is expected to run a sub 4.5 forty yard dash.

Here is the production data with a column signifying yes if they were invited to the combine.

prospects by production

 

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