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NFL Combine: potential fits for the Chiefs on offense

Previewing the offensive playmakers in this week’s NFL Combine

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NFL Combine - Day 3 Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The NFL Scouting Combine begins Monday in Indianapolis as quarterbacks, tight ends and wide receivers make their way across a stage to get poked, prodded and measured.

The entire draft season may be tedious and not for every football fan, but a large majority join together at this time to watch prospects run around in spandex and perform drills that are loosely related to football. In my opinion, it’s glorious.

The combine provides information to NFL teams and fans alike, even if it’s a bit of a dog and pony show. The interview process and medical reports are vital information that every team needs. The measurements and testing help teams rule out players and send others back for more film reviews.

Combine changes for offensive drills

  1. The “gauntlet” drill for wide receivers — running down the line catching passes from both directions — will now be timed as the “W-Drill.” The thought process is to force players into a sense of urgency and better show which players are fluid movers that catch the ball and make breaks effortlessly.
  2. There is a new “Smoke Route” drill for wide receivers and quarterbacks. It’s a simple single-step hitch route that is all about ball velocity and quick release for the quarterback and the wide receiver snapping his hips back to the ball.
  3. An “end-zone fade” drill has also been included, presumably to test a quarterback’s touch, accuracy and anticipation while challenging a wide receiver’s ability to high-point a football, body control and sideline awareness.

Formal interviews have also been upped from 15 minutes to 18 minutes, but with a lower quantity of players — 60 players to 45 players. The formal interviews and post-combine official visits may be worth monitoring a little more closely this year.

Now that the changes are out of the way, let’s dive into the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine and preview some players on the offensive side of the ball:

Quarterbacks

Top performer: Justin Herbert, Oregon

While being the top performer at the combine is a useless superlative, Herbert will impress both on the field and off. His blend of size and athleticism should be eye-popping, but even more impressive will be his arm talent in such an open environment. Herbert stands to make a late push to climb up draft boards as his velocity, downfield accuracy and athleticism all shine.

Surprise performer: Jake Luton, Oregon State

It’s a sweep for the state of Oregon as Oregon State’s Jake Luton is another guy that should impress as an athlete and throwing the ball around the field in shorts and a T-shirt. Not widely known, Luton has the physical tools to put himself on the map.

Needs a big performance: Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma

The one type of quarterback that can really impress at the combine are the ones that win off their athleticism. Hurts isn’t an elite athlete at the NFL level but could prove to be one with quality testing. If he can out-test his peers and show his ball placement has improved, he could really boost his stock.

Potential Chiefs fit: Anthony Gordon, Washington State

Washington State v Washington Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

If Anthony Gordon puts on a good show throwing the ball and interviews at a high level, he likely will earn his way into the later part of the draft, which is likely out of where the Kansas City Chiefs are looking at him. Gordon is still a guy to keep an eye on in terms of scheme fit and the type of high-IQ backup quarterback you may want to pair with Patrick Mahomes in the long-term.

Running backs

Top performer: Cam Akers, Florida State

Akers is built to glow in the combine environment because it removes him from the on-field mental decisions that go into being a running back and asks him to just be an athlete. Whether it is measured testing, going through drills or moving in space, he should look great. A fluid, explosive and fast running back, Akers very easily should steal the show in Indianapolis.

Surprise performer: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU

Don’t expect Edwards-Helaire to dominate the measured testing. However, I do think he shows a little more juice than anticipated. His agility testing and interviews will likely be incredible, but I expect him to steal the positional drill show. His footwork and receiving ability are phenomenal, and those are the traits that show up the most in the on-field drills.

Needs a big performance: Eno Benjamin, Arizona State

Coming in at 5 feet 9 and 195 pounds at the Senior Bowl, Benjamin had a relatively average outing for a player that once had a lot of hype in this running back class. As a smaller running back, he needs to put up higher-tier testing numbers to get on teams’ radars. If Benjamin follows up an average Senior Bowl outing with average testing, he may be in for a solid fall on draft day.

Potential Chiefs fit: Antonio Gibson, Memphis

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 16 Memphis at Houston Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Chiefs general Brett Veach has been open about the running backs he likes: big backs who show receiving ability. Gibson is a hybrid wide receiver/running back for Memphis. He is actually listed as a wide receiver for the combine. He comes in at 6 feet, 228 pounds and played running back down at the Senior Bowl. He has great receiving ability as a running back, and if he gets a chance to participate in the running back drills, he’s absolutely worth monitoring his footwork around the bags.

Wide receivers

Top performer: Jalen Reagor, TCU

It seems kind of silly not to put Henry Ruggs, who has a good shot to set the new combine 40-yard dash record, here, but Jalen Reagor may not be too far behind Ruggs in the speed department. Reagor also made Bruce Feldman’s “Freaks List,” and if those reported testing numbers and weight room numbers are true, his entire athletic testing profile — from his speed, to explosion, to strength and chance-of-direction ability — is going to be bananas.

Surprise performer: Donovan Peoples-Jones, Michigan

Peoples-Jones’ draft stock is all over the place, but after this weekend, when he tests out as one of the better overall athletes at 6 feet 2 and 212 pounds, his stock should be steadily on the rise. He’s made some waves on social media with a 52-inch box jump recently and some are checking into his past athletic accolades. He’s a lesser-known name that may compete with Reagor for the best overall athletic profile.

Needs a big performance: Antonio Gandy-Golden, Liberty

Gandy-Golden is one of the bigger receivers at 6 feet 4 and 223 pounds, but can he showcase NFL baseline athleticism? He has good jumping ability and surprisingly fluid hips for a guy his size, but the raw speed and acceleration concerns are present nearly every rep. As long as he can show that he can participate as a progression for an NFL quarterback, then he could see a climb up draft boards.

Potential Chiefs fit: Quintez Cephus, Wisconsin

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 05 Kent State at Wisconsin Photo by Lawrence Iles/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Cephus is a tricky one because he has serious off-field issues that he has been acquitted of and seemingly had the whole issue flushed out, but the interview process is very good at digging into the background. If the background checks out, coming in at 6 feet 1 and 202 pounds, he has the general prototype that the Chiefs have often implemented as their X wide receiver. With Cephus coming from a run-heavy offense, seeing how he runs multiple routes will help answer teams’ questions on his ability in the NFL.

Tight ends

Top performer: Hunter Bryant, Washington

Already making some waves, Bryant came in at 242 pounds, which is about 20 higher than a lot of people thought he would weigh. He certainly looks the part of a tight end and has rare athleticism at the position. If he can prove that elite athleticism at this current size and showcase his receiving ability during drills, he could make a push for the top tight end in the class.

Surprise performer: Stephen Sullivan, LSU

A wide receiver converted to tight end that checks in at nearly 6 feet 5 and 250 pounds, Sullivan showed everyone in Mobile how well he could move. I’m not sure it made as many waves as it could have, as Adam Trautman stole the show, but Sullivan is an incredible athlete that shows that ex-wide receiver ability, and he has improved drastically as a blocker. He could have a combine that puts him on the map almost to the degree his teammate Thaddeus Moss already is.

Needs a big performance: Brycen Hopkins, Purdue

At 6 feet 4 and 245 pounds, Hopkins’ size checked out, and now he needs to showcase his ability as one of the better athletes and best receiving tight ends in this class. He needs to avoid drops in receiving drills, and his testing needs to check in at the upper echelon not to get passed by rising names and better blockers.

Potential Chiefs fit: Devin Asiasi, UCLA

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 02 Colorado at UCLA

Asiasi is a big-bodied tight end checking in at 6 feet 3 and 257 pounds that has solid movement skills. He may not light up this type of environment, where putting his size on display isn’t at the forefront, but if he moves well at this size, he could make some team very interested in his blocking and receiving potential as a backup tight end.


Look for the next couple editions throughout this week as the line and defensive skill positions will be on their way. The quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends start the interview process Tuesday. On Wednesday, they begin testing with the bench press, and on Thursday, they start on-field drills and timed testing results.


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