The recently-completed NFL Scouting Combine sets the table for the upcoming NFL draft in May, but most fantasy redrafts are still six months away. However, that won’t prevent us from putting a fantasy spin on the Under Armour Olympics in Indy.
Last year’s All Combine Fantasy Team included E.J. Manuel, Tavon Austin, and Tyler Eifert; dynasty investments like Christine Michael and Knile Davis; and less stellar options such as Jonathan Franklin, Ryan Swope, and T.J. Moe. Who makes the grade in 2014? Read on…
QB – BLAKE BORTLES, CENTRAL FLORIDA
Johnny Manziel ran well, but he didn’t throw at all. Neither did Teddy Bridgewater, leaving Bortles to take the day by default. But Bortles didn’t exactly rest on his laurels. He was athletic enough at 6-foot-5 to run a 4.93 40 and show well in the jumps and shuttle runs, but most importantly he was poised and accurate in the throwing drills.
Honorable mention to Johnny Football for his 4.68 40 and big (9 ¾”) hands, as well as to Alabama’s A.J. McCarron who also capitalized on the bigger names bailing on the positional drills by throwing well enough to challenge his being pigeon-holed as a “game manager”.
RB – BISHOP SANKEY, WASHINGTON
With no running backs leaping off the page at the Combine, we could be looking at a decidedly un-fantasy-like second straight draft without an RB going off the board in the first round. Of the top candidates to slip into Day One, Sankey showed the best: a 4.49 40, the top three-cone (6.75) and short shuttle (4.00) times at his position, and a standout performance in the positional drills including natural pass-catching ability.
RB – JERICK McKINNON, GEORGIA SOUTHERN
A converted option quarterback, McKinnon flashed all kinds of athleticism in Indy—ranking in the top three in each drill he tried. His 32 reps at 225 pounds topped all running backs, he ranked second in the 40 (4.41), vertical jump (40 ½”), and broad jump (11’), and his three-cone time of 6.83 came in third. That’s too much athleticism to not find an NFL roster spot—and a way to get touches.
WR – BRANDIN COOKS, OREGON STATE
Cooks paced all wide receivers with a 4.33 40—a time that also netted him a cook $100K from adidas, as he recorded the fastest time at the Combine among players wearing that particular brand of shoe. Cooks also notched position bests in the 20- (3.81) and 60-yard (10.72) shuttles, but his speed wasn’t really in question. The game film on Cooks was already solid, but he showed sharp cuts and crisp route-running ability in the positional drills. Good times, good film… Cooks may have run his way into the first day of the draft.
WR – ODELL BECKHAM, JR., LSU
Given that his mom is a college track coach it’s no surprise that Beckham ran well at the Combine: 4.43 in the 40, 3.94 in the 20-yard shuttle, 10.93 in the 60-yard shuttle. And, like Cooks, Beckham followed up his solid film by looking every bit as smooth and quick in the positional drills. Any lingering questions about the difference between Beckham and college teammate Jarvis Landry were emphatically answered in Indy, with Beckham as a speedy Day One possibility and Landry as a slower, possession-type receiver slated for Day Two at the earliest.
WR – SAMMY WATKINS, CLEMSON / MIKE EVANS, TEXAS A&M
We’ll split the WR3 spot on our All Combine Fantasy Team between the two biggest names at the position; neither did a thing to dissuade the opinion that they’ll hear their name called sooner rather than later on Day One. Watkins flashed his speed and explosiveness in a 4.43 40 and looked smooth in positional drills. Evans’ 4.53 40 was plenty fast enough for a 6’5”, 213-pound receiver, and he also showed well in the positional drills. The expectations were high for both coming into Indy, and both delivered to remain atop what is shaping up to be a deep and talented WR draft class.
TE – C.J. FIEDOROWICZ, IOWA
The Combine opened with three potential first-round tight ends poised to make a splash. But Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins sat out with a foot injury; Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro came in heavy and ran a slower-than-expected 4.74 40; and North Carolina’s Eric Ebron—mentioned as a possible top-10 pick—failed to drop jaws with an okay 4.6 40 in which he suffered a hamstring injury that knocked him out of positional drills. That left Fiedorowicz, heralded more for his blocking, to establish himself as a viable alternative. His 4.76 40—more than adequate for a 6’5”, 265-pounder—ranked sixth among tight ends and he posted top-five positional marks in the short shuttle (4.26), three-cone (7.10), and bench press (25 reps).
FLEX – DRI ARCHER, KENT STATE
The diminutive (5’8”, 173 pounds) Archer posted the fastest 40 time at the Combine, making Chris Johnson sweat before clocking an official 4.26. He also finished among the top five running backs in the vertical jump (38”), three-cone (6.86), and short shuttle (4.06) drills. Archer will need all that speed to avoid NFL hits, but if a creative offensive coordinator can find ways to get him the ball in space… look out.