The glamor day of the NFL Scouting Combine was yesterday, as quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers took to the field. The New York Jets were one of the teams most interested in the wide receiver results, as they were in the tight ends on Saturday. Overall, the Jets saw a some varied results from players they are interested in. All figures below are official times from NFL.com, not the unofficial numbers widely reported yesterday.
Starting with the tight ends, Eric Ebron turned in a very solid day displaying his overall athleticism, headlined by a strong 4.60 40 time. He is clearly the No. 1 tight end in this draft class, and the Jets are strongly considering him with their first round pick if he’s available. The second tight end, Jace Amaro, disappointed with his 4.74 40 time, but made up for it with very good performances everywhere else. Amaro looks and plays faster than a 4.74 on tape, and in the end I doubt this time will hurt his stock too much.
For the receivers, Sammy Watkins turned in an official 4.43 and solidified his spot as the No. 1 receiver in the draft, as well as the fact that he will be long gone by the time the Jets pick. Mike Evans ran a 4.53, very solid for someone who is 6’5″. Evans seems to have moved up draft boards recently, and I expect that he will also be gone by the time the Jets pick.
One player who didn’t help himself was Marqise Lee (above), who was expected to be faster than a 4.52. That actually works in the Jets’ favor, as it lowers Lee’s stock just a bit and could help him stay on the board until No. 18. The tape doesn’t lie, and Lee is an exceptionally polished receiver with outstanding quickness and hands. A slow 40 time does nothing to change my opinion that he is going to be an excellent NFL receiver.
The next group of receivers turned in some varied results, headlined by a 4.33 from Brandin Cooks. Cooks is very undersized, but with his speed, quickness and history of production, he could be a first round pick as slot receiver. Odell Beckham, Jr. impressed with a 4.43, as did Jordan Matthews with a 4.46. The Jets are very high on Matthews and were reportedly very impressed with his interview, and at this point it seems very likely they would take him in the first round if the top three receivers and Ebron were off the board.
A few receivers didn’t help themselves much at the combine, starting with Davante Adams (4.56) and Kelvin Benjamin (4.61). Both players are big possession receivers, and although these numbers are about what was expected, teams would have liked to see a little more. Allen Robinson disappointed with a 4.60, and the only receiver who truly hurt his stock was Jarvis Landry, who ran just 4.77.
Finally, a quick note on running backs, as the Jets are certainly in the market for a third down back late in the draft. De’Anthony Thomas did himself no favors with a 4.50, and his stock continues to be all over the place. Dri Archer was Sunday’s star, turning in a blazing 4.26 40. I have mentioned Archer as someone the Jets should target previously, and I had them taking him in the 5th round in my initial mock draft. I still believe the Jets should target Archer, but this performance kind of let the cat out of the bag on the small school prospect, and he could end up going a little too early for the Jets’ taste.
As always, remember the combine is a tool that is part of a very extensive evaluation process. The results above will help some prospects and hurt some others, but tape is the most important evaluation tool. There are long lists of players with poor combines and outstanding careers, as well as workout warriors who washed out quickly. One should never put too much weight into the combine, but there were still some interesting results that gave the Jets a lot to think about.
Scouting Reports For Potential Jets Targets: Sammy Watkins, Marqise Lee, Mike Evans, Eric Ebron, Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, Calvin Pryor, Justin Gilbert, Darqueze Dennard, Davante Adams, Odell Beckham, Jr., Brandin Cooks, Jordan Matthews, Jace Amaro, Lamarcus Joyner, Dee Ford