Combine Watch: Wide Receivers to Look out for
With the 2017 NFL Combine upon us it’s time to begin looking at some players who you may or may not be aware of. First let me start by saying that it is my personal belief as an amateur scout, that the combine should be used to help judge players, but it should never count more than the film we have watched from the player's collegiate career. However, we will see guys climb up, and fall down the proverbial ladder based on the numbers they put up this week in Indy.
For this article, we will focus on the Wide Receiver group. Most people know the big 2 names. Both Corey Davis and Mike Williams are known playmakers and likely will both be top 15 picks if not higher. The combine can’t really help these players, in fact it could in theory hurt them. If either put up disappointing numbers, or get injured, they could drop in the draft. However, for many other players who aren’t getting as much of the publicity right now, the combine is a chance to put the spotlight on themselves. With a good showing this week, they could focus the scouts and GM’S attention on themselves, forcing them to go back and dig deeper into the film. We will discuss a few of these types of players now.
Emba Etta-Tawo. 6’2. 202 Lbs (RS Senior) Syracuse
“E.T” as he is known around the Syracuse campus is a player whom showed great playmaking ability. Playing for a bad Syracuse Orange team in which he was basically the lone playmaker, the defenses he faced each week knew this, and tried to shut him down, yet E.T continued week in and week out to make big plays. He has good size, shows good speed, he’s an above average blocking wide receiver, has very good hands, constantly shows the ability to win one on one matchups, and he attacks the ball in the air to win jump balls. In 2016 he had 1,158 yards (128.7 per gm) and 7TD’s. Having played at a school that doesn’t get a lot of national attention. Amba Etta-Tawo is exactly the type of player who could start to climb draft boards with a good showing at the combine.
Josh Reynolds. 6’4 190 Lbs (senior) Texas A&M
Another player who isn’t getting any publicity heading into the combine. Reynolds is a tall lanky WR with good hands, who shows the ability to go up and catch the ball at its highest point (allowing him to win jump balls). He Has very good run after the catch (RAC) ability, and shows good speed. He does need to bulk up, and improve his run blocking. Reynolds is a very raw talent, but a good showing this week at the combine will tempt GM’S in the mid rounds. In 2014 Reynolds had 52 catches for 842 yards and 13 TD’S. In 2015 he had 51 catches for 907 yards, but only 5 TD’S. While many teams will worry about his weight ( too light, possible injury issues), if Reynolds surprises people with his numbers this week, the same teams will be forced to look closer at this player.
Ju Ju Smith. Schuster. 6’2 215 Lbs. (Senior) USA.
Another WR who likely will be a mid round pick. Smith. Schuster has good size, good hands, is a an ok blocker,and an ok route runner. He does win a lot of contested balls, and he is very good after the catch. He’s a physical WR who will out muscle some of the smaller DB’S he faces. His speed is good, but great on film. That said, if he posts good to great numbers at the combine, specifically his 40 time, then Smith Schuster may start rising up some draft boards as well. In his 1st two years at USC he started 26 games, catching 143 balls for 2,178 yards and 15 TD’s. This last year his production dipped, mostly due to QB struggles.
Travin Dural. 6’2 203 Lbs (RS Senior) L.S.U.
Dural is a good runner in the open field, and shows good ability to break tackles. He has good soft hands, and is a solid blocking WR. He has good speed, and shows good ability to rise above his defenders to catch the ball at its highest point. He does not appear to be asked to run the whole route tree, so doing so at the combine will be important to prove that he can do it.
The Combine is very important for these types of players. A good showing can force a scout or GM to go back and watch the film closer, and they may find things that they didn’t see before. That said, I would caution drafting players based off from mostly just their combine numbers. The best scouts and GM’S use the combine to augment the opinion they already have based off from the game film that they have watched.