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Breaking Down 2022 NFL Combine: Night One

2022 NFL Combine

Night one of the 2022 NFL Combine is in the books. We got to see the quarterbacks, wide receivers, and tight ends do the athletic testing and on-field drills.

Draft Countdown also live streamed for nearly 6 hours on our YouTube channel (youtube.com/TheDraftCountdown). And we will going live each of the next three days as well!

You can see last night below:

2022 NFL COMBINE NIGHT ONE RECAP

QUARTERBACKS ARE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE

For the most part, everything I knew and expected from the 2022 QB class that are in Indy checked out.

  • Matt Corral (Mississippi) is still a mystery. We have his tape, but almost every other QB was at an all-star game. Corral is still recovering from an injury suffered in the Sugar Bowl, so all he did was get measured. Will he throw and workout at his pro day? That is also only two weeks away. We could see Corral have his own personal pro day later in the process.
  • Sam Howell (North Carolina) is opting to test at his pro day. But like I said on the stream last night, I thought Howell was the most consistent passer at the Senior Bowl and he did nothing in the drills last night to make me think otherwise.
  • The story of Kenny Pickett (Pittsburgh) and his hands finally came to an end yesterday. The former Panther measured in with 8.5″ hands, This would be the smallest of a first round pick since Michael Vick in 2001 (although that is unofficial hearsay). Pickett tested well athletically and had some good throws as well. If you like Pickett before you do not think any differently of him today.
  • Malik Willis (Liberty) opted not to test and may not even do so at his pro day. He doesn’t need to. One only needs to watch any game he played and you see his athleticism. Willis showed off his beautiful deep ball accuracy in the drill portion but struggled with some of his intermediate range throws. This again, is not surprising.
  • You could also say the same thing about Carson Strong (Nevada) minus the athletic part. His deep throws were tremendous. The difference between him and Willis is the middle range targets. The Wolfpack gunslinger is better in that area.
  • You can’t have a much better athletic profile than the one Desmond Ridder (Cincinnati) finished with last night. Ridder ran fast and jumped well. He also looked good in the passing drills. it is going to be really interesting to see if he or Sam Howell can work their way into the backend of the first round.
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  • A few other QB notes. I though EJ Perry (Brown) and Bailey Zappe (Western Kentucky) performed well. They both have some arm strength limitations. Kaleb Eleby (Western Michigan) looked a little dicey at times in the throwing drills. Notre Dame QB Jack Coan performed well enough that I feel as though I need to go back and watch his tape again. He came into the Combine as my QB18 but I feel he deserves another look.

THE WIDE RECEIVERS ARE FAST!

A total of 9 wide receivers ran official 40 times under 4.4 seconds. Sadly, despite my prediction, Treylon Burks wasn’t amongst that list. 

The hand times on the NFL Network feed appeared way off times last night as several players got seriously docked when the official times came in. More on that below.

There also seems to be sentiment out there that since the NFL moved the combine to primetime that there has been a noted lack of participation in the agility testing drills (short shuttle and three-cone). This checks in consistently with what happened in 2020 as well, the first year of the night time broadcast.

  • We have to start with Baylor WR Tyquan Thornton. The Oregon transfer and Shrine Bowl participant unofficially broke the 40 record with a run of 4.21. He was given an official time of 4.28 later. Which is still ridiculously fast. His broad and vert were also good. Thornton also has 33″ arms which his nice. That speed should see him get a bump into early day three.

  • The raving I did about Christian Watson (North Dakota State) after the Senior Bowl is not going to let up anytime soon. At 6’4″ 208, he ran a 4.36 forty, with a 38.5″ vertical, and an 11’4″ broad jump. He is the tenth most athletic receiver since 1987. Is the first-round a possibility? I am not ruling it out.
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  • While I was disappointed that Treylon Burks couldn’t make me look like a prophet with his forty, he did nothing to show me everywhere else that he isn’t one of the best WRs in this class. Burks was one of the best pass catchers in the field drills and his complete athletic profile is more than good enough.
  • The stopwatch didn’t screw anyone more than Chris Olave (Ohio State). He was hand timed at a 4.26 but officially came in at 4.39. That is a huge disparity. In fact, after initially being shown as faster than his teammate Garrett Wilson, Wilson actually came in a click faster at 4.38.
  • A few receivers checked boxes on Thursday night for me. Jalen Tolbert (South Alabama), Khalil Shakir (Boise State), Velus Jones (Tennessee), Jahan Dotson (Penn State), and Alec Pierce (Cincinnati) all tested well for the most part. Although I hope Shakir does his agility testing again at his pro day. The tape shows he is much more fluid than that.
  • Memphis WR Calvin Austin also put on a show. He ran a 4.32 40, with a 39″ vertical, and 11’3″ broad. He did this weighing in at 5’7″ 170-pounds. That makes what Christian Watson was able to do all that more impressive.
  • After some impressive testing, I will definitely have to do some more work on Kevin Austin (Notre Dame), Danny Gray (SMU), Bo Melton (Rutgers), Jalen Nailor (Michigan State), and Isaiah Weston (Northern Iowa). Especially Weston. At 6’3″ 214, he tested on par with Christian Watson. He was also one of two wide receivers to do the bench press. Weston put up 225 twenty times with 32.5″ arms.
  • Some receivers who were greatly disappointing and may see a slide on my board, Wan’ Dale Robinson (Kentucky), Makai Polk (Mississippi State), and Romeo Doubs (Nevada). Doubs didn’t work out but I have soured on him since the Senior Bowl.

THE TE CLASS IS STRONG

The 2022 TE class is strong. While there are only a handful of what I would call TE1 types there are quality players in this group that will be available in early day three.

  • I said it on stream last night that Isaiah Likely (Coastal Carolina) is going to be my top TE. Nothing he did or didn’t do last night is going to change that. While I would have loved to see him run the forty, I will wait to see the time from his pro day. Likely was the smoothest route runner in the drills has has easy hands. Some view him as a move TE but I think his blocking is underrated. 
  • Another favorite of mine, Virginia’s Jelani Woods, had a great night. Woods measured in at 6’7″ 259-pounds. He then ran an impressive 4.61 for his size. he also benched 225, 24 times with 34″ arms. I think he is a Top-100 player although I don’t know if the NFL will view him the same way.
  • NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah recently rated UCLA’s Greg Dulcich as his top TE in the class and only one in the Top 50. He had a good Senior Bowl week and followed that up with a good showing last night. You can see all of his workout numbers (and everyone else) using the Draft Countdown Combine Tracker!
  • Chigoziem Okonkwo measured in and tested like a big wide receiver more than a tight end. He is someone I need to do more work on.
  • Austin Allen (Nebraska) tested really well for a player of his 6’7″ 253-pound stature. While his forty wasn’t blazing (4.83) his shuttle (4.26) and three-cone (7.00) were impressive. In fact, Allen had a better cone time than 12 of the 14 WRs who participated in that drill.
  • A handful of tight ends that I just get what ever hype they may have: Curtis Hodges (Arizona State) and Teagan Quitoriano (Oregon State).
  • Texas A&M’s Jalen Wydermyer has plummeted on most board except mine recently. That will probably change soon. Wydermyer looked ok in the field drills but looked awkward in the blocking portion and didn’t do any athletic testing.

Draft Countdown will be back again tonight with a bell-to-bell live stream on our YouTube channel. Tonight we get running backs and offensive line.

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