The recently-completed NFL Scouting Combine sets the table for the upcoming NFL draft in April, 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. Here’s a fantasy lineup based on the running, jumping, lifting and measuring that took place at Lucas Oil Field over the weekend.
QB – E.J. Manuel, Florida State
Matt Barkley looked decent, Geno Smith was good, but the weekend confirmed there is no Andrew Luck or RG3 in this year’s class. However, with the League trending towards mobile quarterbacks and the read-option—not to mention the 49ers’ Super Bowl run—everyone’s on the lookout for the next Colin Kaepernick. At 6-4 and change and 237 pounds, Manual measured among the bigger quarterbacks at the Combine; his 4.65 40 was also the second-fastest, as was his 4.21 shuttle time. He also topped all quarterbacks with a 34-inch vertical and tied for second with a 9-10 broad jump. On the heels of a strong showing at the Senior Bowl, Manuel demonstrated a strong arm at the Combine and could be a heckuva consolation prize in the early second round for QB-needy teams who pass on the position in Round 1.
RB – Christine Michael, Texas A&M
Michael followed up 49 yards and a touchdown at the Shrine Game with a 4.54 40 and a top-three ranking in every other measured test: a 1.49 10-yard split, 27 reps on the bench press, 10-5 in the broad jump, and position-topping performances in the vertical jump (43 inches), shuttle run (4.02 seconds), and three-cone drill (5.59 seconds). At a solid 5-10 and 220 pounds, Michael offers up all kinds of speed, quickness, and athleticism that could turn a mid-round pick into a fantasy contributor sooner rather than later.
RB – Knile Davis, Arkansas
Davis blazed a 4.37 40 with a 1.49 10-yard split—both second among running backs—and topped the position with 31 reps on the bench press. That’s the athleticism that paced Davis to 1,322 yards back in 2010—pre-broken ankles; it’s also the kind of athleticism that gets a 5-11, 227-yard back with an SEC pedigree a mid-round shot in an NFL backfield despite a lengthy history of injuries.
WR – Tavon Austin, West Virginia
You could make a compelling case that Austin was the offensive standout of the entire combine. He set the table early with a 4.34 40—second only to Texas’ Marquise Goodwin among offensive players—that included a blistering 1.45 10-yard split, and also displayed his quicks with a 4.01 shuttle time that ranked second among wideouts. Austin also impressed in the on-field drills, enough that despite his 5-8, 174-pound size he could easily push aside some—if not all—of the bigger, more widely-known wide receivers in this class. There is Percy Harvin-like potential here depending on what team jumps at the opportunity to put Austin’s skills to good use.
WR – Ryan Swope, Texas A&M
Another Aggie; given the supporting cast, is it any wonder Johnny Football won the Heisman? Swope checked in at a solid 6 foot and 205 pounds, then matched the aforementioned Austin for the second-fastest 40 time among wideouts. His other workout numbers—a 1.47 10-yard split, 37-inch vertical, 6.76 in the three-cone drill—were among the positional leaders as well. Aside from a couple drops during the drills it was a stellar performance for Swope; coupled with his college productivity and multi-scheme versatility—first in Mike Sherman’s pro set, this past year in A&M’s spread attack—he should have the ability to contribute immediately if given the opportunity.
WR – T.J. Moe, Missouri
Plenty of options here, among them 40 champ Marquise Goodwin of Texas (4.27) and the Tennessee tandem of Cordarrelle Patterson (4.42 in the 40 at a shade under 6-2 and 216 pounds) and Justin Hunter (explosive, position-leading marks of 39.5 inches in the vertical and 11-4 in the broad jump). But we’ll give the nod to Moe for his position-best marks in the bench press (26), shuttle run (3.96 seconds), and three-cone drill (6.53 seconds). That strength and quickness makes up for Moe’s 4.74 40—slowest among wideouts at the Combine—and positions him perfectly for a slot gig in the NFL. Didn’t hurt that Moe also made a stellar one-handed grab during position drills that was shown on a loop during the NFL Network’s extensive Combine coverage.
TE – Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
At the risk of slighting Arkansas’ Chris Gragg, who posted top marks among tight ends in the 40 (4.50), 10-yard split (1.53), vertical jump (37.5 inches) and broad jump (10-5), it was Eifert who stood out in Indy. Coming into the Combine Eifert and Stanford’s Zach Ertz were linked atop many draft boards, but Eifert was bigger (by one pound and half an inch) and faster (by eight-tenths of a second); Eifert also ranked among the top three tight ends in bench press (22 reps), vertical jump (35.5 inches), shuttle run (4.32) and broad jump (9-11). A solid showing in the positional drills all but assured Eifert of being the first tight end off the board and a likely late-first round pick.
FLEX – Johnathan Franklin, UCLA
Franklin was expected to test well, and he didn’t disappoint with a 4.49 40 and a strong showing in the catching drills. He also received a ringing endorsement from college coach Jim Mora, who contacted NFL Network coverage to praise his game. Add Franklin’s strong final year at UCLA to his obvious physical gifts and he could challenge for at minimum third-down/change of pace work early in his NFL career.
K – Caleb Sturgis, Florida State
After last year’s draft brought fantasy owners Blair Walsh and Greg Zuerlein, it’s worth keeping tabs on this year’s class to see if lightning can strike twice. Sturgis was the most impressive kicker at the Combine, consistently driving kickoffs deep into the end zone and nailing all three of his attempts from 50-plus yards. As Walsh and Zuerlein proved last year, all you need is a big leg and an offense that will get you close to produce solid fantasy numbers.