Yesterday, the running backs, offensive lineman, and running backs kicked off proceedings at the 2017 NFL Combine. Today, the attention will focus on three more offensive positions: Quarterbacks, Wide Receivers, and Tight Ends. Day 2 promises to be a very exciting and intriguing day in Indianapolis as many familiar and intriguing prospects will be taking part in the combine’s drills and workouts.
The San Francisco 49ers currently have zero quarterbacks on their roster, have the worst ranked receiving unit, and a tight ends unit that at best leaves a little to be desired. It is more than safe to assume that general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan will be keeping close tabs on many prospects at all three position groups, especially at wide receiver and quarterback.
For this article I have provided a list of 5 key prospects to watch for each position. There are obviously many more exciting and intriguing prospects that you should keep an eye on as well, especially with these three position groups that the 49ers have pressing needs for. This could be a very crucial day of scouting for Lynch, Shanahan, and the 49ers scouting department. We can only wonder what they will take away from watching these prospects in their respective drills and workouts.
Are there prospects not mentioned in this article that you are looking forward to watching? Please share in the comments below!
2017 NFL Combine
Location: Indianapolis, IN | Lucas Oil Stadium
Time: 6:00 AM PT
Channel: NFL Network
Live Stream: NFL.com
Day 2: Quarterbacks, Wide Receivers, Tight Ends
Niners Nation writer Greg Valerio gave a wonderful explanation of the workouts and drills in his article from yesterday. As a reminder, here is a short list of those workouts and drills:
10 yard split
3 cone drill
20 yard shuttle
60 yard shuttle
How the measurable drills translate for Quarterbacks:
*Minimal Targets for ALL positions courtesy of Draft Breakdown
Drill Target Explanation
40 yd dash 4.90 Speed over distance
10 yd split 1.70 Initial quickness
225 Bench n/a Upper body strength
Vertical Jump 30″ Explosiveness
Broad Jump 9’0″ Explosiveness
20 yd shuttle 4.30 Flexibility/burst/balance
60 yd shuttle n/a Endurance
3 cone drill 7.25 Agility/COD
Drills to watch for Quarterbacks:
- How the ball is coming out of the QB’s hands.
- The Quarterbacks footwork
- 3-Step Drop, 5-Step Drop, 7-Step Drop,
- Short, Intermediate, Deep throwing abilities.
- Velocity, Accuracy, Touch.
- How fast is the Quarterback’s release? Release Point?
Quarterback prospects to watch:
QB15 Deshaun Watson, Clemson - (1st Round)
Height: 6’2”, Weight: 221 lbs. Hands: 9 3/4” Arm Length: 33”
Deshaun Watson had a tremendous three seasons at Clemson which concluded with a national championship campaign. As a passer, he can complete the short, intermediate, and deep throws, and throw with touch, especially looking down field for an open receiver. Watson moves very well in the pocket, avoiding pass rushers, and extending the play. He is a fluid runner, who keep defenses honest and on their heels. His dual-threat ability to attack defenses with his arm and his legs is what makes defending Watson difficult to contain. According to Watson, he plans to participate in all drills and workouts at the Combine.
QB14 Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina - (1st Round)
Height: 6’2”, Weight: 222 lbs. Hands: 9 1/2”, Arm Length: 32”
Despite only starting for one season, Mitch Trubisky had a very successful season with the Tar Heals of North Carolina. A poised pocket passer who can go through his progressions and navigate with superb field vision. Possesses a fluid throwing motion, and demonstrated throughout the season the ability to make all throws. In addition, Trubisky has proficient mobility skills, and uses his legs to avoid sacks, pressure, and can tuck it and run. Has one of the biggest arms this quarterback class has to offer. Great ball velocity out of his release. In his one season as a starter, Trubiksy demonstrated leadership skills required for the position.
QB10 Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech - (1st Round)
6’2”, Weight: 225 lbs. Hands: 9 1/4”, Arm Length: 33 1/4”
Has made steady improvement with every passing season at Tech. Has the physical tools and frame evaluators seek in a quarterback. Strong velocity and a quick release served Mahomes well in a pass-friendly offense. Hit his receivers on many difficult angles, especially outside the lines. Thanks to his quick burst and mobility he has the ability to extend plays and escape the pocket when necessary. Had one of the strongest hands for a quarterback in college football this past season. While he is still a work in progress, Mahomes’ ceiling and potential are high and the arrow continues to point up.
DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame - (1st Round)
6’4”, Weight: 233 lbs. Hands: 9 7/8”, Arm Length: 33 1/8”
One of the more physically gifted quarterbacks this draft class has to offer. Strong hands created many pump fakes throughout the season. Was capable of scanning the field inside the pocket and make short and deep passes with good velocity and accuracy. Demonstrated the ability to run an offense with little talent, and made the most of the resources available to him. Has dual-threat abilities as he had multiple touchdowns during his career with the Irish. Showed how tough he can be, taking some punishing hits inside the pocket and on the run. Has a great frame evaluators seek in a passer.
QB04 Brad Kaaya, QB - Miami (FL) (2nd-3rd Round)
Height: 6’4”, Weight: 214 lbs. Hands: 9 3/4 Arm Length: 32”
The pro-style passer out of Miami was a three year starter and has plenty of experience running an offense. Is asked to read the entire field and is capable of moving through his progressions quickly, while under pressure. Maneuvers well when the pocket is collapsing to avoid pressure and sacks. Has balanced footwork completing his throws and has a clean zip on many of his passes. Steady improvement with each passing season, very coachable, and always willing to improve aspects of his game.
QB16 Davis Webb, QB - California (3rd-4th Round)
Height: 6’5”, Weight: 229 lbs. Hands: 9 1/4”, Arm Length: 33 1/8”
An accurate and fluid passer in the “Bear Raid” offense at Cal. Thanks to his height, Webb has a high release point. Webb is patient and poised in the pocket, and is willing and able to extend the play to find the open receiver in route. Not the fastest QB in this class, but still showed capabilities to use his footwork to elude pressure. Can read and anticipate blitzes. Interesting statistic regarding Webb is that in 2016 his completion percentage increased as the game wore on. Has a great frame and physical tools that will translate to the next level.
QB11, Nathan Peterman, QB - Pittsburgh (4th Round)
Height: 6’2”, Weight: 226 lbs. Hands: 9 7/8”, Arm Length: 32 3/8”
One of the fastest risers in this draft class, Peterman is an accurate pocket-passer with big hands, almost ten inches in length. Like Kaaya, Peterman is asked to read the entire field and go through multiple progressions. Has great accuracy and laser velocity, and can get his passes inside narrow lanes and small windows. Peterman is a true competitor, and plays with relentless effort. Has the ability to extend plays with his mobility and burst in his legs. Not afraid to tuck the ball and take off, fighting for every yard to move the chains. The arrow continues to point up.
How the measurable drills translate for wide receivers:
Drill Target Explanation
40 yd dash 4.55 Speed over distance
10 yd split 1.60 Initial quickness
225 Bench 12 Upper body strength
Vertical Jump 36″ Explosiveness
Broad Jump 10’0″ Explosiveness
20 yd shuttle 4.15 Flexibility/burst/balance
60 yd shuttle 11.4 Endurance
3 cone drill 7.00 Agility/COD
Drills To Watch for Wide Receivers:
The 40 yard dash is perhaps the most important drill for a receiver in the eye’s of scouts and evaluators. The vertical jump is an effective way to measure a prospect’s ability to spring up for those “Jump-Balls” (50/50 balls). A Broad Jump measures explosiveness and physicality evaluators seek in receivers.
40 Yard Dash
3 Cone Drill
60 yard shuttle
Wide Receivers to watch:
WO57 Mike Williams, WR - Clemson (1st Round)
Height: 6’4” Weight: 218 lbs. Hands: 9 3/8” Arm Length: 33 3/8”
A dynamic and physical pass catcher who has the body frame and makeup to be a number one wide receiver at the next level. Uses his height to outbox cornerbacks in one-to-one matchups. Can be lined up anywhere along the line of scrimmage. Is capable of making those short and intermediate catches, and is willing to go deep and stretch the field. Williams has that “Big-Play” ability. Physically aggressive for those 50/50 jump balls, and is always willing to take a hit in coverage attempting to catch a pass. Showed throughout the season the ability to catch those difficult throws that were thrown behind him or over thrown, using the spring in his legs. Can extend the play after the catch. Overall, Williams can be a true difference maker on the field.
Williams announced he will not run the 40 at the combine, but will do so at Clemson’s Pro Day on March 16th at Clemson, South Carolina.
WO11, Corey Davis, WR - Western Michigan (1st Round)
Height: 6’3” Weight: 209 lbs. Hands: 9 1/8”, Arm Length: 33”
Even though he is not taking part in workouts, Davis is still present at the combine and could potentially be the first receiver selected in the draft. Davis was one of the most electric playmakers in all of college football this past season. A four year starter, Davis has developed proficient abilities to track the ball, especially on deep routes. When healthy, Davis has tremendous speed, and has the ability to take the top off of defenses. While we are on the subject of speed, Davis also has the ability to execute a variety of speed to throw off corners and get them off balance. Reliable hands, and willingness to jump up for balls against corners and safeties in man to man and zone coverages. Assuming he has a clean bill of health when the draft rolls around, Davis can potentially be the first receiver drafted.
*Davis announced he will not run the 40 at the combine or his Pro Day. Davis will not be participating in any workouts due to an ankle injury. He plans on running the 40 at a private workout for scouts in April before the draft.
WO42, John Ross, WR - Washington (1st Round)
Height: 5’11” Weight: 188 lbs. Hands: 8 3/4” Arm Length: 31 1/2”
Perhaps the fastest wide receiver this draft class has to offer. Ross is an explosive receiver who has shown multiple times throughout his career with the Huskies that he can take the top off of a defense, keeping safeties honest. Can play out-wide or in the slot. Has the ability to extend the play after the catch. “Big-Gain” playmaker, and can also make those gritty short passes in slant and fade routes, especially in the red zone. Reliable and strong hands to reel in catches. Has been developing a reliable route tree. Dynamic special teams player who returned a kickoff to the house all three years he was at Washington.
WO47 JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR - USC (2nd Round)
Height: 6’1” Weight: 215 lbs. Hands: 10 1/2” Arm Length: 32 7/8”
Smith-Schuster has great physical tools and traits. Has experience playing both in the slot and on the outside. His field vision and ball tracking abilities go hand-in-hand no matter what route he is running. Showed his toughness playing over the middle, and the willingness to take a hit and hold onto the ball in the process. Navigates well in zone-coverage and will battle corners for 50/50 balls, especially on the outside and in fade routes in the end zone. Moves fluidly through his hips which helps him generate more speed on those deeper routes. One of the better blocking receivers in run packages.
WO44 Curtis Samuel, WR - Ohio State (2nd Round)
Height: 5’11” Weight: 196 lbs. Hands: 9 1/2” Arm Length: 31 1/4”
A Jack of all trades, Samuel has dual-threat capabilities as both a running back and a receiver, and shinned in both roles in the Buckeye’s offense. I mentioned this in my wide receivers rankings article, that Samuel has the skill set that would translate very well in Shanahan’s offense. His on-point burst gives him the opportunities to make big plays both along the line of scrimmage and as a deep threat. Has a nice blend of speed and variation to throw off defenders. In addition to his dual-threat RB/WR capabilities he also had a lot of success on special teams as a kick-return specialist.
WO27 Cooper Kupp, WR - Eastern Washington
Height: 6’2” Weight: 204 lbs. Hands: 9 1/2” Height: 6’2”
Could Cooper Kupp be the best FCS prospect in the 2017 NFL Draft? The combine will give us a first good look at him in the process. His strong hands are as reliable as they come, and his ability to track the football on any route always gives him the opportunity to make a play. Plays with swagger and confidence. I don't believe his stock should take any hit just because he played at the FCS level. His skills-set would have transitioned well at the FBS level, and I believe they will transition well at the NFL level. Played his best games against the most stiff competition on the schedule (FBS opponents).
Drill Target Explanation
40 yd dash 4.85 Speed over distance
10 yd split 1.70 Initial quickness
225 Bench 22 Upper body strength
Vertical Jump 32″ Explosiveness
Broad Jump 9’6″ Explosiveness
20 yd shuttle 4.20 Flexibility/burst/balance
60 yd shuttle 11.8 Endurance
3 cone drill 7.30 Agility/COD
Drills To Watch for Tight Ends:
The tight end’s speed is essential in today’s pass-first league, so like with receivers, the 40-yard dash will be one of the more important drills for tight ends. Again, like with receivers, measuring a tight ends vertical abilities and explosiveness will be quite telling in what can potentially translate to game day capabilities, and that’s why the vertical jump and and broad jump are key drills for this position group.
40 Yard Dash
Tight Ends to watch:
TE09 O.J. Howard, TE - Alabama (1st Round)
Height: 6’6” Weight: 251 lbs. Hands: 10”, Arm Length: 33 3/4”
A physical and gifted athlete at his position, Howard was a tremendous asset in both blocking assignments and as a receiving threat in the Tide’s assignment. One of the most dangerous tight ends in open space that will give some of the best linebackers headaches and fits trying to cover him. Even at his size, Howard is able to create separation and elude defenders. Has the ability to line up like a wide receiver more often than not throughout the game which reminds me of Jimmy Graham of the Seattle Seahawks. The gap has closed between Howard and our next prospect on this list, but O.J. is still the best option at Tight End this draft has to offer.
TE12 David Njoku, TE - Miami (1st Round)
Height: 6’4” Weight: 246 lbs. Hands: 10” Arm Length: 35 1/4”
Has the speed of a receiver and the muscular frame of a tight end. Can change direction on a dime, and can accelerate himself on any route whether it be short, intermediate, or deep. Has tremendous spring in his feet (Watch him during the Vertical Jump!). A proficient blocker at the line who has improved his technique. Pushes defensive lineman backwards. Has the ability to line up on the outside. Hand technique has improved with his blocking abilities. Has red-zone threat ability, and can be a big target in the end zone, especially up the middle.
TE05 Evan Engram, TE - Ole Miss (2nd Round)
Height: 6’3” Weight: 234 lbs Hands: 10” Arm Length: 33 1/2”
Throughout the course of the season, the Ole Miss product was able to make some dynamic and difficult catches in stride. Has the ability to vertically leap up for passes. Plays his best in the short passing game, and generates a quick burst within the first five yards. Has smooth and fluid straight-line speed. Will play physical up the middle against linebackers in coverage. Tough as nails, taking multiple hits, especially up the middle throughout his career at Ole Miss. Plays with a physical and competitive spirit. Continuing to improve his abilities as a blocker in pass protection and run packages. Has shown leadership capabilities.
TE08 Bucky Hodges, TE - Virginia Tech (3rd Round)
Height: 6’6” Weight: 257 lbs. Hands: 10 1/8” Arm Length: 32 1/2”
The dynamic playmaker out of Virginia Tech checks off all the boxes in physicality and athleticism. Throughout his time with Virginia Tech, Hodges used his height and physicality to out-box and jump over defenders, especially on those “Jump-Ball” passes up high. Thanks to his muscular and physical frame, Hodges can work the middle effectively against stiff linebackers and safeties closing in on him. On film, we can see that he can track the ball well and when given the opportunity in open space, Hodges can break away from his opponent and create yards after the reception. Lastly, Hodges has Deep-Play capabilities.
TE06 Gerald Everett, TE, South Alabama (3rd Round)
Height: 6’3”, Weight: 239 lbs Hands: 8 1/2”, Arm Length: 33”
A tight end who plays like a wide receiver (again…Jimmy Graham). Has the potential to be the fastest clocked tight end. Watching his film, Everett creates separation more often than not and his yards after reception are impressive for the tight end position. Blocks well along the line of scrimmage. Uses his arm length to prevent defenders from moving forward in pass protection packages. Plays a physical brand of football, and has three down starting capabilities. He has wide receiver traits thanks to his reliable hands and his ability to play all three levels of the field. He plays his best both as a passer and a blocker along the line of scrimmage, but he can also keep safeties honest with his agility and high motor.