By: Alex Smith @dynastybreakas
2018 WR Combine Expectations
To start I want to explain to everyone that the combine is one of many resources that we can use to adjust these players, within rankings systems as well as affirm prior established opinions on whether these players will be able to make it to the next level. There are a lot of players in this draft that have one or two of the attributes needed to take the next step, however very few of them have shown “all” of the attributes to succeed in the NFL. Let’s start with the 2018 Wide Receiver Class.
Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Calvin has been on again-off again considered the top WR in this class. He has been very up and down in that way. He is 6’1”, 188lbs, and in his entire 3 years with Alabama he never blew our doors off, against college level defenses.
If you can look past the fact that he is undersized and is never going to be a physically dominating receiver. If you can believe it is within the realm of possibility that Alabama never had the offense nor the QB to properly utilize Ridley within it, then you would also need an alternative narrative. The alternative is that he is an insanely gifted route runner and is extremely quick yet also very sudden in and out of his breaks. He is very elusive and slippery after the catch and can put it all together with his elite long-speed. Look for Calvin to blow the doors off of the combine and make teams think long and hard about passing on him because of his size.
Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
What can I say about this “ball of fire”. He comes in a small 5’11” frame, but at 200lbs, he is just about as shredded as you can get. The comp. that seems to resonate with so many people is Golden Tate. This makes a lot of sense on paper, however I think he has a lot to prove before reaching that lofty comparison. He is a very mechanically sound WR, meaning he knows how to gain all the leverage he needs against opposing defenses, whether he is in the slot or on the outside. A lot like Ridley, he is a technician and uses the abilities that he does possess to compensate for his lack of dominating size. Also like Ridley, although he has been very consistent he has also been very underwhelming in the stat books.
He has all the traits necessary to find success in the NFL, however he needs to show up at the combine ready to put his speed, ball skills, route running ability and strength on display. Look for him to be another combine warrior.
Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
He is the ideal height (6’4”) as well as weight (220lbs). Basically, the exact opposite of Ridley and Kirk. He is physically dominating, huge catch radius, and all the potential in the world. I would love to continue and tell you how he is going to be an elite talent and take the NFL by storm, however I cannot (in good conscience) do that. He has very little in the way of lateral quickness or shiftiness. He has trouble with routes do to the difficulty of gaining anything in the way of separation or leverage, but let’s talk about speed. This is one of those particular situations that can make or break a prospects early round grade. There has been a plethora of rookies that have come in with intimidatingly large frames and big-time production to pair with it, however it takes more than that to make it against NFL caliber defensive backs.
He is going to have to impress, not only with his 40 time but with his overall quickness and route running ability. If he comes out there and struggles mightily with WR drills and pairs it with a sluggish 40 time, you could see him fall out of day 2. Look for Sutton to impress and show everyone that he is more than just a big body.
James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State
This is our first “buzz-worthy” player on our list. He has done his best to shoot up the ranks for many in the Dynasty community. Okay, so what has he done? Well he has been one of the leading college WR’s in most categories over the last three years, after impressing as a freshman with 456 yards and six scores on just 28 catches. Therefore, going into the senior bowl some were not surprised when he continued to perform.
He is a play-maker with elite speed, his route running ability is just about where it should be, however he has (in my opinion) the best hands in this class and plays with a physical nature that allows him to beat coverages without being completely dependent on his speed. At 5’11” (was originally listed at 6’0” prior to the senior bowl) and 205lbs he definitely has enough size to play in the NFL. The question is whether he can impress with his route running ability as well as prove he has the elite speed that everyone is tagging him with. Look for Washington to impress mightily in receiving drills, but have an underwhelming 40 time.
Michael Gallup, WR, Colorado State
Here we have a community college hero, starting out at Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kansas where he played his freshman and sophomore years (being injured in the 2nd year). After getting to Colorado State for his Junior year it took him no time to get acclimated to the change of venue.
Gallup put up “off the charts” performances in both his Jr. and Sr. years culminating in being a Biletnikoff Award finalist (James Washington was the winner). Then a lot like James Washington went on to the Senior Bowl and impressed through practice and flashed during the game. He is 6’1”, 200lbs, his biggest knock is his marginal speed, however we have been surprised before by many prospects we thought to be a lot slower than they are. He is overall an average prospect with a lot of raw talent. Look for him to turn heads in WR drills and underwhelm in the 40.
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