Fantasy Breakdown: NFL Combine 2016

Fantasy Breakdown: NFL Combine 2016 5
There’s not much “down time” for us fantasy football players- especially the increasing number of dynasty and devy players out there. Just two weeks ago the Super Bowl ended, and after reviewing and ranking all the fantasy-relevant free agents, it’s not 2016 NFL Combine time.

We’ll all certainly be subjected to a plethora of information between now and draft time. Many of us will break down tape and scramble to connect players to their ideal landing spots, all in a feudal effort to assemble the most accurate mock draft, and one that will inevitable be trashed by the time the Saints pick.

But it’s all in fun. This is the best time of the year for many people, and I enjoy it just as much as the next analyst. Now that all the fantasy-relevant positions have worked out in their Under Armor gear, we can take the first baby steps in moving forward into the 2016 season.

Here are some news and notes that I took out of the 2016 NFL combine.

NFL Combine Quarterbacks

Carson Wentz NFL CombineAfter working out, there’s no reason to change the top-3 of incoming freshman signal-callers. North Dakota’s Carson Wentz, Cal’s Jared Goff and Memphis QB Paxton Lynch all had solid performances and looked like future first round picks.

Many experts like the upside that Wentz offers, but my top rookie QB is still Jared Goff (6-4 215) who ran well, showed great footwork and threw some beautiful passes on the field. Goff showed nice touch and tremendous accuracy throwing to unfamiliar receivers. As long as he can position under center, Goff looks like a future franchise quarterback.

No reason to argue against Carson Wentz, who also looked tremendous as a passer. Wentz showed off a strong arm on some deep passes, and showed to be plenty accurate. He also ran a 4.77 40-yard dash, second-fastest among QB’s. There’s a lot to like here, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Wentz’s name called at No. 2.

Lynch measured out as advertised, at 6-6 244 and ran a 4.86, which is solid for a man of his size. Lynch is considered a bit more of a developmental prospect due to inexperience taking snaps under center and the level of competition he faced at Memphis. But along with impressive size is a strong arm for Lynch, he cemented his status as a first-rounder.

There’s a drop off after those three, but I wanted to add Penn State’s polarizing passer Christian Hackenberg to the mix. Hackenberg has long been rumored to Houston as a reunion with former Nittany Lions head coach Bill Obrien makes sense on many levels.

I’ve actually watched all of Hackenberg’s college games and, like many others, came away with mixed feelings. Under O’brien’s tutelage as a freshman, Hackenberg showed tremendous promise. He was accurate, mobile and looked like a future pro start.

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But after O’brien left College Station, Hackenberg struggled. Struggled with accuracy. Struggled with footwork. Struggled with mechanics. But mostly struggled to stay upright behind a porous offensive line. Watching the 2015 Penn State loss to Temple shows that. Hackenberg was sacked 10 times- hard to remain poised and confident under that much duress.

At the combine, Hackenberg was a mixed bag, showing nice touch on some passes with a few errant tosses. Overall, Hackenberg looks the part (6-4 223) and I feel confident that under the right coach that can rekindle his strengths (hint: BOB), Christian Hackenberg could be a nice franchise-caliber find in the 2nd or 3rd round.

NFL Combine Running Backs

Overall a solid group of backs, but with only one projected sure-fire first rounder, it would take an eye-opening showing for any other backs to enter the argument to be selected on Day One,

Ezekiel ElliottOhio State’s Ezekiel Elliott is that can’t-miss first rounder. He cemented his status with an impressive showing, including a 4.47 40, and solid showing in the jump drills. Elliott was also a solid blocker and pass-catcher at OSU, and looked strong enough in those areas during in Indy to justify the hype. Elliott will be selected in the second half of Round 1.

Physical freak, and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry from Alabama was impressive and made a real push to enter the conversation as a potential first rounder. Henry (6-3 247, 4.54) is massive for a running backs, and his measurables and drill scores compare most favorably to All-Pro linebacker Von Miller, or all people. Henry also showed solid pass-catching abilities, and has the size to be a tremendous blocker. Don’t be surprised if a team grabs Henry at the bottom of the first round, but if he were to last until Dallas selected at the top of the second round, Henry would be in an ideal spot for immediate success.

Playing behind Todd Gurley and Nick Chubb at Georgia, and missing time in 2013 and 2014 recovering from a torn ACL, few people had high hopes for Keith Marshall at the 2016 NFL Combine, but Marshall stole the show with an impressive 4.31 40, the fastest of any position. Marshall’s knee will be heavily scrutinized, and he may be drafted as a project, but he certainly opened eyes with that blazing speed.

Notre Dame’s C.J. Prosise and Cal’s Daniel Lasco significantly helped their own causes with impressive showings. Lasco in particular turned heads with an RB-leading broad jump and vert score.

Wide Receivers

Will Fuller WRBy many accounts, this was the slowest overall group of wideouts in the last dozen years or more. Notre Dame’s Will Fuller led all receivers with a 4.32 40, and also impressed in all other drills, including a strong gauntlet run. Fuller showed strong hands at the combine, quelling the biggest concern many had for him in college. He cemented himself as a potential first rounder.

One of the stars of the combine among the wideouts was TCU’s Josh Doctson, who was highly-productive in the Horned Frogs’ explosive offense. Docton (6-2 202) has a nice bend of size and speed (4.50) and showed great hands by producing one of the strongest gauntlet showings ever. With another strong performance at TCU’s pro day, Doctson could emerge as a potential first day selection.

Doctson’s college teammate Kolby Listenbee also turned some heads, and drew comparisons to Emmanuel Sanders from NFL Network’s Mike Mayock. Listenbee (6-0 197) showed good size and ran an impressive 4.35, second-fastest overall. He helped his cause on Saturday and could be selected in the 2nd or 3rd round.

Laquon TreadwellLaquon Treadwell from Ole Miss is widely considered the top receiver in this class, and didn’t do anything to dissuade his stock, other than refusing to run a 40. Instead, Treadwell will wait to un at Mississippi’s pro day. At the combine, Treadwell caught the ball well, but didn’t impress with broad jump or vert jumps. He’s more of a powerful ball grabber in the Terrell Owens mold, so even a so-so 40 time shouldn’t hurt him too much.

De’Runnya Wilson of Mississippi State had an awful showing and really hurt his own draft status. Wilson (6-5 224) measured like a tight end, and unfortunately, ran like one too, with a 4.9 40 to finish dead last among wide receivers.

Pitt’s Tyler Boyd looked good too, and Mike Mayock compared him to San Diego Chargers star Keenan Allen. None of Boyd’s traits stands out overall other than his crips route-running, but he’s considered a solid NFL prospect.

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About the author

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Jody Smith

Senior Writer Gridiron Experts. 2012 FantasyPros Most Accurate Fantasy Expert. Member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. 26-year fantasy football veteran. Featured on NFL.com, Fantasypros, Football Diehards annual magazine, local AM sports radio, podcasts everywhere and SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. Once scored 4 touchdowns in a single game for Polk High School.

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