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Combine and Pro Day Takeaways: Wide Receivers

The NFL combine is imperative for a lot of the soon-to-be NFL players who have declared for the draft. It also plays a significant part in how fantasy football gurus can get a jump on building their next great team. Whether you are playing for fun and want to identify a few rookies to take late or you are a die-hard with early offseason rookie drafts, we have you covered with some wide receivers who showed up and showed out at the NFL combine.

Biggest Risers

Jaxon Smith-Njigba: Coming into 2022 he was universally considered a top wide receiver in college football and after an injury riddled 2022 his critics had a field day. The durability questions are warranted, but the concerns about his speed were significantly overblown since he posted elite agility scores and a 4.53 40-yard dash time. Smith-Njigba wins with his elite route running and quick burst in the slot. He’s my WR1 for this class and I believe he can be an instant WR2 in PPR leagues in 2023.

Jonathan Mingo: The 2023 wide receiver class is littered with smaller guys who can win with quick moves from the slot. Before the combine it was tough to find a true X receiver outside of Quentin Johnston, but Mingo may be the next Ole Miss receiver who takes an elite combine and predraft process to stardom. He struggled for three seasons working as a backup before having a solid senior season, posting a 51-rec., 861-yard, 5-TD season. At 6 feet-1 1/2 and 220 pounds, he managed to accomplish his goal of running a 4.4 40-yard dash at his pro day on top of posting elite vertical (39.5 inches) and broad jump (10 feet, 9 inches) numbers to demonstrate how explosive he can be. He’s moved from an off-the-radar prospect to someone who will likely be a Day 2 pick in the NFL draft.

Steady Performers

Jordan Addison: Addison’s combine was viewed extremely poorly by the masses. My question is, did we not know this when he torched the NCAA for 159 catches and more than 2,400 yards the last two years? Whether you’re watching his Pittsburgh film with Kenny Pickett (100/1,593/17) or last year’s film with Caleb Williams (59/875/8), his wins have come from his route running and smarts. The 4.4 40-yard dash time was solid. He finished the combine/pro day process with above average agility scores. Expect him to be a steady WR2 and continue to win like he always has. Beating press with elite footwork, using his smarts to find holes in coverages and staying alive to find open space for big gains when a play breaks down.

A.T. Perry: The questions about Perry have never revolved around his athleticism. Put on the tape and you’ll see a receiver who is 6-4, can out muscle any defensive back and win on a few deep routes. He falls under our steady performer category because for as great as the 40-yard dash time is and the broad jump shows his explosiveness, his 10- and 20-yard splits show a weakness in his game. Perry’s a long strider and if it seemed like he left yards on the field, it has a lot to do with some route tree limitations and eight dropped passes this year. While he gets his feet wet in the NFL, it might be tough for him to see consistent playing time unless he learns how to get open closer to the line of scrimmage.

Disappointing Performances

Kayshon Boutte: Coming into the 2022 season, Boutte could be found on a wide variety of preseason All-America voter cards and seemed like a slam dunk to be a first-round pick. 2023 was a disaster from a health and a production standpoint, producing a line of 48/538/2. His off the field issues are still murky at best and the flip-flopping of his draft status didn’t help. Despite having his back against the wall and needing a good combine, he produced well below average athletic scores.

I just don’t see a world where Boutte succeeds regularly with such poor explosive scores and at just 5-11. Time will tell, but expect him to be a late round selection if not an undrafted free agent come draft time.

Rakim Jarrett: Jarrett is a former 5-star recruit who went to Maryland with intentions of rising to stardom. He was on a steady path after a 2021 season where he produced 62/829/5 before a really inconsistent junior season (40/471/3) was cut short due to a knee injury. He elected to declare early and the combine shined a little light on why there were some shortfalls in his tape. For starters, Jarrett arrived at Maryland at a reported 6-1 and over 200 pounds, yet at the combine he was listed as 5-11 and 192. He posted a 4.4 40-yard dash time which was really nice, but he elected not to perform in the short shuttle or 3-cone drill. He’s become a popular late round candidate for some teams, but I was hoping to see a little more progress at the combine or something to show why he was a consensus 5-star prospect.

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