Saturday is the final day for the offensive players. We’ll see quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends do athletic testing and then display their traits on the field. It’s a big day for a lot of players. Here are the players the AP Nerd Squad will be watching.
NFL Network coverage begins live at 9 a.m. Arrowhead Time (two-hour edition airs at 4 p.m. Arrowhead Time and three-hour edition airs at 9:30 p.m. Arrowhead Time).
Kent Swanson: Daniel Jones
It’s time to start thinking about Patrick Mahomes’ replacement, and Daniel Jones could be th….OK, I’m sorry I can’t even joke about this.
People praise Jones for his refinement after playing under former Manning brothers mentor David Cutcliffe. He looks the part with some of the smaller nuances of the position. He’s a tough kid, who hung in the pocket and competed despite a bad supporting cast. If Jones nails this week with the drills, testing and meetings, he could help the Chiefs push a player down the board at a position of need by being selected in the first 20 picks of the draft. Root for the Duke product to ace this week and improve his stock.
Craig Stout: Tyree Jackson
6 feet 7, 249 pounds and equipped with a cannon for an arm, Buffalo’s Tyree Jackson could arguably improve his stock more than any quarterback in Indianapolis this weekend. He should test through the roof, but his real gains could potentially come in throwing drills. Less than stellar accuracy throughout his time in college has driven him down into later rounds of the draft, but throwing well in the drills could convince a team to spend a day-two pick on him as a project.
Matt Lane: Kyler Murray
Kyler Murray may already be done with anything we get to see as fans. He showed up, weighed in and has moved on to interviews. That’s all we will get from Murray here, but his weigh-in was what really mattered. The No. 1 quarterback on the board erased the most significant doubts by showing up at 5 feet 11 and 207 pounds. Yes, he’s still on the shorter side, but it’s not as bad as rumored and his college tape is full of him dealing with being that same height. His mobility, arm talent and mental processing are all that’s left to nitpick now and he’s looking mighty good if that’s our grading criteria.
Kent Swanson: D.K. Metcalf
I am the lowest of our group on the Ole Miss wide receiver. There are positive traits to say that Metcalf’s game will translate at the next level, but I’ve not seen enough of his route tree to this point. We’ve seen him run go routes, comebacks, hitches, slants. I want to see the rest of it, or at least more. He’ll likely get a bump up from me after I get to actually see what he’s capable of doing beyond what he was limited to in college.
Craig Stout: Riley Ridley
Riley Ridley is a player that may make his most important gains outside of drills in the team interviews but should be a player that tests fantastically this week. He’s got good size, speed and agility for the wide receiver position, but doesn’t have much production in a Georgia offense that was run-heavy and had many mouths to feed. He’ll need to confirm to NFL scouts this week that his lack of production wasn’t on him — and showcasing crisp routes, smooth releases and soft hands in the receiver drills will go a long way toward doing just that.
Matt Lane: Hakeem Butler
Hakeem Butler has already set records for the NFL coming in with the largest wingspan (83 and 7/8 inches) in the history of the event. Butler is a wide receiver that has the scouting community a bit split, as some see this extremely high-ceiling player with a specific role early on in his career while others see more late-round, big-bodied wide receivers that the 2018 draft had. The best thing for Butler is that he essentially has two ways to “win” at the combine—first, he could simply jump well (tested at ISU to have a high-30s vertical jump and near 11-foot broad jump), which confirms what people already knew. He’s big and can win in the air with his explosiveness. The second way to win is to look fluid in the field drills and/or test well in the agilities showing the ability to sink his hips, on a long frame, and change directions quickly while accelerating out of the breaks. Either way likely helps his draft stock, but there is a chance he falls into both categories and sees himself skyrocket up a very muddled wide receiver group.
Kent Swanson: Dawson Knox
The rumors are that the Ole Miss tight end is going to absolutely blow up the testing at the combine. Knox looks the part athletically on tape, and I’m intrigued to see what the actual numbers are. Knox is a big, thick pass catcher that I’d love to see developed in Kansas City as a backup tight end. He’s not yet developed as a route runner and has to improve as a blocker, but you could ask him to run a seam route right now and he’d cover some serious ground. He could be a good value on day three and could see his name called on day two.
Craig Stout: Kaden Smith
The ultimate “high-floor” pick at tight end in this class, Stanford’s Kaden Smith already has reliable hands, makes contested catches and is a pretty good in-line blocker. However, he doesn’t flash much athleticism on the field, and his route running needs some work. Running well and showing promise in the agility drills will raise some eyebrows and showing sharper routes in his receiving drills will have him grabbing some extra interviews this week. A good day for Smith might prove the difference between a TE1 or a TE2 ceiling — and the requisite draft bump that ceiling would require.
Matt Lane: Foster Moreau
In a loaded TE group, Foster Moreau isn’t the sexiest name, nor a guy that is going to get the whole scouting community buzzing but stacking a good workout onto a good Senior Bowl performance could be huge for him. Moreau is a broad-shouldered TE that was mostly used as a blocker for LSU but excelled when targeted in the passing game. Seeing him live in Mobile with smaller tight ends, you could tell he fit in with them despite having a larger frame. If the testing goes well and he shows off soft hands, again, he could see his name creep up from the third tier of tight ends and maybe receiver some consideration on day two.
AP Draft Show
We continue our preview of the NFL Combine on this week’s episode of the AP Draft Show.