The NFL combine has become its own entity over the past decade, and yesterday the NFL announced who they have invited to attend this year’s event.
Just getting an invite to workout in shorts, interview with teams and supply healthy urine is relevant in itself for future draft stock and fantasy potential. Through Josh Norris of NBC, I found out that the invites stem from National Scouting and BLESTO, scouting departments paired with NFL affiliations to 27 of the 32 teams in the league. Essentially, these organizations whittle down thousands of players to a pool of prospects they deem have the best potential to provide a team something tangible in moving their organization forward. It’s kind of like making it past auditions and into the house on the Bachelor, only there are multiple suitors here.
Whether or not that process is an entirely accurate measure of “who should be invited?” is a topic for another day, but we do know that how it’s being done today is relevant in the terms of being drafted at all. Jon Moore looked at this to a degree when providing a trick to spotting undrafted running back talent, so I’m only going to focus on the wide receiver position for now. Over the past 10 years, here’s the list of wide receivers that were selected by a team in the NFL draft that failed to receive a combine invite.
|2007||5||169||Roy Hall||Ohio St.|
|2010||6||206||Kyle Williams||Arizona St.|
|2013||7||209||Brice Butler||San Diego St.|
|2013||7||216||Charles Johnson||Grand Valley St.|
|2011||7||236||Stephen Burton||Long Beach CC|
|2009||7||232||Julian Edelman||Kent St.|
|2008||7||215||Justin Harper||Virginia Tech|
|2008||7||217||Brett Swain||San Diego St.|
|2008||7||226||Chaz Schilens||San Diego St.|
|2007||7||229||John Broussard||San Jose St.|
|2006||7||209||Ethan Kilmer||Penn St.|
Of 321 receivers drafted since 2006, only 35 weren’t invited to the NFL’s version of a trip to the Gentleman’s Club, and only two of those receivers were selected prior to the fifth round with none in the opening three rounds. If you’re someone who values a player’s draft position, you’ve already likely crossed off your list anyone who didn’t get an invite this year; The only real fantasy hit here is Julian Edelman, a career college quarterback who converted to receiver and provided a total of 69 receptions for 714 yards and four touchdowns through his first four NFL seasons.
So we already know that not receiving an invite to the combine severely lowers the probability that a team invests draft capital into acquiring a player, but what about those undrafted players that eventually go on to hit for us in fantasy? Well, the combine invitation holds some water for them as well.
For undrafted players eligible to be selected from 2000 and on, here are the receivers that have provided a top-30 scoring PPR season that also weren’t invited to the combine.
|Player||Top30 PPR Yrs|
Over the past 16 years, only 15 of the 480 top-30 seasons came from players who met that criteria, and seven of those came from one player: Wes Welker.
We’ve already penned a few love letters to Michael Thomas (who was perceived to be loved universally and was rumored to actually have an invite to begin with), Daniel Braverman, Paul McRoberts and Jakeem Grant, players that caught our eyes initially through their collegiate production, but did not receive an invite to this year’s combine. Not to completely close the door on them, but this paints a pretty bleak picture for how their talent is a) perceived by the league, b) their future odds on being selected in the draft, or c) ever having fantasy relevancy.
When it comes to your late round rookie picks, you should be targeting your dart throws to players that at least made it into the house to be selected.