Players Fantasy Football Owners Should be Watching at the NFL Combine
Feb 19, 2014
.By Jared Smola, Draft Sharks.The NFL spotlight has shifted to the incoming rookie class. And most of the top prospects will be in Indianapolis for the upcoming Scouting Combine..The Combine gives NFL teams and fantasy owners an opportunity to get an up-close look at the rookies. Like, really close..Often referred to as the Underwear Olympics, the Combine’s actual value is debatable. How these prospects perform on the field is much more important than their results in the 40-yard dash or bench press..Still, it’s helpful to know just how big, strong and fast these guys really are (or aren’t) – especially at the skill positions we care about in fantasy football..Here are 10 players fantasy owners should be keeping a close eye on at the Combine..Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech.He’s the only QB on this list … because he might not stick as a QB at the next level. (Don’t put much stock into QB performances at the Combine. They’re throwing without a pass rush to receivers they’ve never worked with.).Thomas arrived at Va. Tech as a raw project. And he hasn’t shown much growth over the past 3 seasons, with his completion percentage vacillating from 59.8 to 51.3 to 56.5..Perhaps Thomas will resuscitate his QB stock by displaying refined mechanics at the Combine. ESPN’s Mel Kiper still believes a team will gamble on Thomas as a QB in the 2nd or 3rd round..What’s equally likely, though, is that Thomas’ Combine performance has teams thinking about a position change. The 6’5, 254-pounder is a freak athlete. He rushed for 1,337 yards and 24 TDs over his final 3 college seasons, and some scouts believe he’ll record a sub-4.6 40 time. That type of speed could turn Thomas from a disappointing QB to an intriguing TE..Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State.Hyde heads to Indianapolis as the favorite to be the 1st RB off the board. He enjoyed a breakout senior season, ripping off 1,521 yards and 15 TDs on 208 carries — a sizzling 7.3-yard average..Scouts love Hyde’s sturdy 6’0, 235-pound frame, tackle-breaking ability and balance. The concerns are with his speed, quickness and agility. Those traits will be under close examination at the Combine. Keep an eye on Hyde’s times in the 40-yard dash, 3-cone drill and shuttle run..Hyde’s performance in those drills will help determine whether he’s a potential feature back or more of an early-down pounder..De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon.Thomas figures to light up the 40-yard dash and the other speed and agility tests. He should show well in pass-catching drills, too. That doesn’t figure to impact his draft stock much, though, because we know this is an explosive player. He averaged a gaudy 7.8 yards per carry and 11.5 yards per catch in 3 college seasons..Thomas’ stock will rise or fall based on his measurements and strength. Oregon lists him at 5’9 and 169 pounds. That might be generous. If Thomas comes in much lighter, it’ll be tough for teams to justify spending more than a late-round pick on him. Teams will also be keeping a close eye on Thomas’ performance on the bench..Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson.Watkins is almost unanimously regarded as the top WR in the 2014 draft class. He’s also the early favorite to be the 1st rookie off the board in dynasty drafts. Fantasy owners should be glued to this guy’s workout..Watkins is expected to take part in all the drills at the Combine. The 40-yard dash will be the main event. Watkins’ agent claims he’ll be pushing for the Combine record, which stands at 4.24. Even something in the 4.3s would propel his draft stock..It’ll also be interesting to see just how big Watkins is. Clemson lists him at 6’1, 205 pounds. If that’s confirmed in Indianapolis, teams will have no problem making him a top 10 pick. But Watkins’ profile will take a hit if he measures in much shorter or lighter..Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M.We know that Evans is big and physical. But is he just a #2 possession receiver, or can he develop into a dominant #1?.Evans can start to answer that question at the Combine, where he’ll reportedly take part in all drills. Scouts will keep a close eye on his 40 time. Something in the 4.4s would have Evans pushing Sammy Watkins for top WR honors. Low 4.5s would be just fine for the 6’5, 225-pound Evans. If he slips into the 4.6s, though, we could see a Keenan Allen-like slide into the middle rounds…Click here to see the remaining five players to watch at the NFL Combine.