The Combine was a blast, as always. The great thing about taking an evidence-based approach to it is that you don’t have to bother with the debate about how much the Combine matters. You can look at the evidence and then weight each drill at the level it deserves to be weighted. You don’t have to try to distinguish between “football speed” and “track speed” because football speed is encompassed in the production-based portion of the algorithms. An evidence-based approach is very flexible in its ability to handle new information. It doesn’t require going back and crafting a different narrative to chase these new facts as there was always the assumption that new and valuable information would be introduced at this point in the process.
As was the case in the Mock Draft 1.0, I’m going to be providing you information from Jon Moore’s Age Project, from the Box Score Scout, and from the excellent work of other RotoViz scribes. Post-combine risers will be in green with fallers in red. This can help to sort out tiers as well, since sometimes three consecutive players might “rise,” and their positions relative to each other will stay the same as a result (or vice versa). All of the commentary and visuals are new, so if you want to follow up on a player you can click back to the earlier version for a different look.
In this mock, I’m again assuming half-ppr.
1.01 Kevin White, WR, West Virginia, 22.5, 6-3, 215
White’s age-adjusted production trails previous Top 10 picks by a wide margin, but it fits within a range where stardom still seems like a real possibility (as contrasted with Cordarrelle Patterson’s collegiate production, for example). In such a context, it’s difficult to overstate the importance of his weigh-in and 40 time. An 81 Freak Score is obviously well short of the Calvin Johnson tier, but it confirms the high ceiling. It’s difficult to even find comps for a player with his Freak Score and 2014 raw numbers.
1.02 Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia, 20.4, 6-1, 222
Melvin Gordon’s Combine disappointment solidifies Gurley as the first RB off the board. He’s the best running back prospect since Trent Richardson. If that doesn’t frighten you, take a quick peek at the list of recent first round running backs.
1.03 Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama, 20.5, 6-1, 211
Cooper’s fantasy stock rose at the Combine. After matching the 2014 performance of Sammy Watkins in the forty and vertical, he annihilated him in the agilities. This simply adds more evidence that he’s a superior prospect. Moreover, White’s transcendent day could help Cooper avoid the Black Hole.
Also, you can watch Kevin White, DeVante Parker, and Amari Cooper running at the Combine on the simulcam. Who do you think is the fastest?
1.04 DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville, 21.9, 6-3, 209
A.J. Green is often mentioned as a comp for Parker, and they look like identical twins after the Combine. Green was better in terms of career yardage market share, but Parker turned in the better final season and was a superior touchdown producer.
1.05 Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin, 22.0, 6-1, 215
Gordon’s new RB Prospect Lab score is a 66. That’s a discouraging score for arguably the best pure runner to come out since Barry Sanders, but it does put him in the same range as Marshawn Lynch, Maurice Jones-Drew, and Jamaal Charles. According to Football Study Hall, Gordon’s highlight yard numbers were consistently better than those posted by Todd Gurley. I’ll have more on that soon.
1.06 Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon, 21.2, 6-4, 222
Showing off elite foot speed, rare arm strength, and uncanny accuracy, Mariota was one of the Combine’s brightest stars. Rumors circulated that he was even better than Russell Wilson in the interviews. “Project” is a label better applied to the majority of NFL offensive coordinators than it is to a superstar of Mariota’s ilk. He currently sits at No. 3 in my quarterback dynasty rankings behind Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck.
When asked about Bruce Arians’ comments on spread quarterbacks and leadership, Mariota replied, “If I were your quarterback, Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald wouldn’t be replacement level fantasy players.” But the reply was telepathic and conveyed through those eerily intense eyes. Mariota would never say something like that out loud no matter how obvious . . . because he’s a leader.
1.07 Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma, 21.7, 6-5, 237
Green-Beckham’s Combine performance probably depends upon the context in which you wish to place it. His 4.49 forty at that size gives him a Freak Score of 85. If White’s 81 was unusual, you can see why DGB draws Calvin Johnson comparisons. On the other hand, Megatron’s Freak Score is 100, which hopefully illustrates how tortured the Johnson comps really are. Green-Beckham was also a disappointment in the vertical where he trailed Devin Funchess by three inches (38.5 to 35.5). On the other hand, he showed elite quickness for his size in one of the two agility drills. His 3-cone was the equal of the preternaturally quick Tyler Lockett (6.89) and better than Kevin White’s (6.92).
But the context matters, because when you’re looking at DGB, you have to decide whether that potential upside outweighs an undistinguished career at Missouri and character concerns that might combine the issues of Josh Gordon and Ray Rice.
The Fantasy Douche sees Green-Beckham as a slightly better version of Kelvin Benjamin with the caveat that opportunity will be key to his early career prospects.
1.08 Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State, 20.9, 6-2, 217
Strong’s presence here helps demonstrate why this is such a great draft to have a late first round pick. You could make a case that Strong was an even bigger Combine winner than Kevin White. The knock against Strong was an inability to separate, but the Sun Devil ran only a hundredth of a second slower than Sammy Watkins a year ago. He then jumped a ridiculous 42 inches, which might help explain why USC had no chance to stop him on the game-winning Hail Mary.
1.09 Jay Ajayi, RB, Boise State, 21.5, 6-0, 221
With T.J. Yeldon and Duke Johnson imploding, owners with early Ajayi stock can breathe easy by comparison. The Boise star’s performance was solid if uninspiring. The numbers leave him with an 82 in the updated RB Prospect Lab rankings.
1.10 Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State, 21.0, 6-4, 231
Winston was another big Combine winner with the assembled buzzing at his arm strength, accuracy, and football IQ. His ability to use his eyes to manipulate the defense was on display even in drills against air. The Bucs reportedly have to decide whether Winston is a bad person or simply immature.1 With the No. 1 pick looking like a fait accompli, Winston’s fantasy value will be buoyed by throwing to the Triple Towers. He excelled in 2013 with Kelvin Benjamin before cratering without his jump ball threat last year.
1.11 Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana, 5-11, 206
Coleman wasn’t able to work out at the Combine, perhaps due to an injury he played through the entire season. I’ve seen Chris Johnson as a Coleman comp, in some cases even with negative implications.2 Last time I offered you Coleman highlights, this time we’ll take a look at who the Box Score Scout likes for comparables.
1.12 Devin Funchess, WR, Michigan, 20.6, 6-5, 237
Funchess stands 6’4″ with 33.5″ arms and a 38.5 inch vertical. His 4.7 forty is a big disappointment if you hoped to make a case for him alongside Parker and DGB but might be a relief if you’re a fan of the reality teams drafting late in Round 1. In fact, it may be something of a dream scenario. RotoViz has long made the case that tight ends are more efficient point producers, and Funchess is essentially a tight end who won’t have the production-dragging responsibilities of that position.
His market share numbers suggest you’ll see a lot of this at the NFL level.
Dropped out: T.J. Yeldon
A much bigger shakeup is coming in Round 2.