NFL Rookie Stock Value
The NFL scouting combine can be compared to a science lab where players who are invited to participate must undergo mental and physical tests while NFL coaches, general managers, and scouts examine them under a microscope. The scouting combine continues to grow every year due to the implications it can have on a player’s draft stock at the NFL Draft.
For fantasy football die-hards, watching player workouts to see how certain prospects perform is interesting to them because it can impact a real-life team, but more importantly, a fantasy football team. However, a bad workout can drop the fantasy stock of a player drastically. This peaks the interest of a Dynasty Football fan immensely. As we all try to get the perfect average draft position for this new crop of rookies, some talents will slip due to bad combine workout.
Below are six players who are very interesting prospects at their respected positions and draft stocks could rise or fall due to their performance at the NFL combine.
6. Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
Height: 6’4″ / Weight 218 LBs
There isn’t a more physically gifted receiver in this year’s NFL draft than Courtland Sutton. He has the size, length, leaping ability and build that will make the scout’s jaw drop. His body control combined with his natural size will make him a nightmare in the red zone for defensive coordinators. Sutton in his final season at SMU totaled 68 catches for 1,085 yards with 12 touchdowns.
The event to watch for Sutton is the 40-yard dash because many scouts fear he isn’t fast to be a downfield threat in the NFL. A great 40-time could really give Sutton the boost he needs to lock in one of the top WR spots off the board. A poor 40-time could see him slip.
5. Ronald Jones, RB, USC
Height: 6′ / Weight 200 LBs
Jones was impressive at USC rushing for 1,550 yards and 19 touchdowns. Jones is a smaller running back in terms of size, so it will be important for him to excel in the speed-related drills. His acceleration and ability to start and stop on a dime is a reason why his shuttle times will be interesting to watch. He has quick feet which allow him to cut and juke like a player on Madden, but if he wants to be a true three-down running back in the NFL, he needs to add some size. Watching Jone’s tape I see a lot of C.J. Spiller, a player with the athletic ability, but lacks the football IQ to follow blocks. He is important to watch because he has the upside of Spiller, but also the downside.
4. Lamar Jackson, QB, Lousiville
Height: 6’3″ / Weight 200 LBs
Anytime you are compared to Michael Vick, “the literal Madden Cheat code,” it’s worth watching. If Jackson makes it as an NFL quarterback this generation will have the “you can use that team because of Jackson,” Madden rule. He is an unbelievable playmaker, but he has small skinny legs and a body that may not be able to take hits from NFL defenders. Of course, I want to watch him run, he may post the best 40-yard dash time by a quarterback, which is exciting, but I want to see his footwork and accuracy in drills. If he can prove to be accurate with the football, the sky is the limit for Jackson.
3. Sony Michel, RB, Georgia
Height: 5’11” / Weight 220 LBs
Overshadowed by fellow teammate Nick Chubb at Georgia, Sony Michel is ready to show scouts what he can do. Michel averaged an eye-popping 7.9 yards per carry in 2017 for 1,227 yards with 16 touchdowns. If there is a rookie dark horse to be the steal in fantasy football drafts this season, it’s Michel. He is the best blocking running back in this draft, and understands blitz pickups plus has underrated hands since Georgia didn’t utilize their running backs as receivers. If Michel lights up the combine, he may climb into the first round of the NFL Draft.
2. Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Height: 6’1″ / Weight 190 LBs
Don’t let Ridley’s stats from his final year at Alabama confuse you, his 55 catches for 967 yards and four touchdowns were held back because of the offense the Crimson Tide employed. He is regarded as the best wide receiver in this years draft class. His route-running, quickness, and hands remind me a lot of Minnesota Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs. Not sure if Ridley will ever be a true WR1, but he could definitely be a WR1B.
1. Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
Height: 5’11” / Weight 218 LBs
Guice in 2016 and Guice in 2017 are like watching two different players. 2016 Guice is much more explosive running for 7.6 ypc for 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns. 2017 Guice was slowed down due to injuries running for 1,251 yards (5.3 YPC), and 11 TDs. Guice has a ton of power in his legs, which is why he can squat 650 LBs, but also a fierce determination to punish tacklers. He bounces off defenders while remaining balanced, which is an excellent quality to have as a running back. Where Guice’s stock will rise or fall is at the 40-yard dash. Guice was clocked at a 4.61 40-yard dash by ESPN in high school but then ran a 4.32 in the 40-Yard Dash as an incoming freshman at LSU. I will lean on his most recent 40-yard dash time which happened before his Junior year at LSU, and Guice ran a 4.49 40-yard dash. When Guice steps up to run the 40-yard dash, it may be the most important drill any running back does in regards to draft stock.
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Height: 5’11” / Weight 230 LBs
The player who may actually be worth dying to see is Saquon Barkley. He is the total package and Barkley’s combine is must-watch television. A 230 pound running back who can run 40-yard dash in 4.33 seconds, plus power clean 405 pounds, bench press 225 pounds 30 times, and squat 525 pounds five times is simply incredible. In his junior year at Penn State, he finished with 217 carries, 1,217 yards, 18 touchdowns and 54 receptions, 632 yards, and three touchdowns. For people who love SPARQ scores, Barkley may be in the 99th percentile.
It’ll be nearly impossible for Barkley to fall from the first overall pick in rookie drafts. However, an excellent combine could drive the price for the first overall pick up higher from the already massive price tag that it’s at. From what I’ve seen, owners are trading multiple first round picks just to get up to get Barkley. A great combine could have a big impact on dynasty cost for the top player of the draft.
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Mitchell is working full-time as Senior Writer & On-Air Talent at Chat Sports in Dallas, TX. Mitchell is a Head Writer at Gridiron Experts and Co-Host of the Empire Fantasy Podcast. He also is a featured fantasy writer for the Fantasy Footballers and FantasyPros. Mitchell has a Ph.D. in Fantasy Football so give him a follow on Twitter @MitchellRenz365.