Combine Kickoff Fantasy Carnival - Measure Once
Updated: Feb 26, 2020
I could get into the new vibe the combine has. The NFL is doing their best Knicks impression with the combine. Rebuilding the culture! I should elaborate on the infinite nuances and the guarded approach to take into the combine. I could write paragraphs and paragraphs about how to filter and distill the drops off the tea leaves leading up to the NFL draft. I could even offer context in order to weigh the data appropriately.
I’ll do none of this. Instead lets just look at what these dudes look like physically! Not even athletically. Just heights, weights, hand sizes and wingspans.
Let’s make sure we haven’t been lied to by players and college programs (How dare they right!) Another excuse to talk about the opening day is just to spotlight a few outliers. Human beings who are built… better than we’re built.
I’m not sure how we rank the components of the combine as far as importance. I do know the medicals are atop the list. Interviews are likely a close second. The news cycle and sheer proximity of big wigs is my favourite aspect. Not to be forgotten are the measurements though.
For fantasy football there are not only certain thresholds we demand. There’s also averages and expectations we can build based on the top performers in fantasy. We can take those names and look back to how they performed at the combine. There are numerous models and Harvard’s best who would argue there is a relationship between the combine drills and fantasy success. I’m not so sure. In fact, the numbers show NFL teams overweigh certain attributes put on display at the combine. Causing fantasy gamers to do the same. It’s not supernatural. Us underwear gazers love us some blazers.
Equally important though is the boring stuff like hand size. It’s arguably a better predictor, in concert with a prospects overall profile, than lots of athletic testing can be. It’s easier to find a relationship among top fantasy performers annually in hand size than it is with 40 times. Elite fantasy players usually have upper percentile physical features. Simple as that.
So let’s look at the day 1 dudes. The quarterback and tight end takeaways to start.
Let's start with the studs and let’s start with their hand sizes (Said the casting director of Magic Mike). Joe Burrow now has on his permanent record a disappointing 9” hand size. That’s the third smallest hands among combine invites at the quarterback position. If not for Pat Mahomes and his 9 and a quarter’s I would be legitimately squeamish.
Jake Fromm kicked off his combine in heartbreaking fashion. Fromm was one of only two combine quarterbacks who failed to hit the 9” bar for hand size. 9” hand size is a more than reasonable baseline to set. Anything below puts a quarterback against some very tough odds. Burrow and Fromm have little separation in hand size but their deviation in their scouting profile and NFL draft value (not to mention rookie SF value)...That’s the difference between dismissing hand size and it being a concern, bordering on alarming.
Justin Herbert hit the 10” mark for hand size! It’s reflective of how the combine should go for Herbert. Impressive. Not how his career will go! How his combine will go. Jordan Love should have a similar showing. He has that strong arm and zip that will excite teams.
Unfortunately when you put a defense on the field Jordan Love can be a liability to his offense. He starts hot though at the combine. Love showed off his boxing gloves. His hands measured 10 and a half inches. By far the biggest amongst these top half of the draft quarterbacks.
Jalen Hurts checked the box for hand size. I can’t not mention him on a fantasy site.
Tua Tagovailoa also hit 10” hand size. Well, his left hand is 10 inches! No, I’m not joking. His right hand measured in just under (9 7/8ths) The medical man of the week won’t put anything on tape in Indy. What he will do is create buzz, breakdown tape and blow the pants off teams in his interviews. Unavoidable though, Tua’s medicals are one of the most captivating narratives of the combine.
Hunter Bryant is a very exciting prospect. I thought he had a wide margin for range of outcomes before he showed up at the combine! Then Hunter Bryant goes and bulks up. Coming in at almost 250 lbs. That only serves to boost his fantasy value. He will test out as an elite athlete, especially weight adjusted. Evan Engram is the comp we’ve been bombarded by. Interestingly, he now weighs more. He’s a tad shorter. Plus Bryant needs a hearty breakfast (Or dinner since we’re in primetime this year) to beat Engrams 40-yard dash. And the 1st round draft capital to Evan Engram’s name is far from probable for Hunter Bryant in this loaded 2020 class. The numbers say that comp may be flawed.
Hunter Bryant’s built more like Delanie Walker. His usage at the next level will be similar and Hunter Bryant running a 4.5 would really sell me on that comp. Bryant has the breakout age, the appetizing usage both in the formation and how he’s used down field. Hunter Bryant had an elite YPRR in college on PFF and he’s set to light the combine on fire. So how is Hunter Bryant not a bonafide 1st round pick in the NFL? How is he not in the discussion in early rookie drafts in dynasty leagues? Injuries. Medicals are what we want to glean at the combine more than anything else with Hunter Bryant. I want to check the box on his knee. I don’t need to double check any boxes for athleticism.
Colby Parkinson is closer to the clouds than any tight end at the combine. Despite the Stanford product being the tallest tight end at the combine (6’7) Parkinson has the seventh smallest hand size (9 5/8ths)
Albert Okwuegunam! I can’t pronounce his name but I can read his results. That’s all that matters! To me? A-Ok did better than that in the measurements. 6’5 and 255 lbs. Just prototypical size. His hands are huge and A-Ok has the 2nd biggest tight end wingspan among combine invitees. Okwuegbunam; (Thanks copy and paste) He checks every box. I’d have him as a top 3 rookie tight end if I had one bone of conviction in my body! His college dominator is 90th percentile. Breakout age is in the 90th percentile (11 touchdowns as a 19 year old)
Albert O. never saw more than 15% of Missouri’s targets and I’m hoping that’s what’s suppressing his stock. I thought he was a name to highlight though. If Albert-O runs slow and tests as a poor athlete I can have an Okwuegbunam epiphany. The other end of that spectrum is if he tests out well. Sky rockets in rookie ranks flight.
C.J. O’Grady is one of the hardest prospects to peg his value. I love him in a talent vacuum. If we apply context we’ll need an hour or two; and probably a stiff drink. But don’t drive after. Just ask C.J.
I wasn’t positive he would receive an invitation to the combine. Irregardless C.J. O’grady made noise on day one. He showed his size. O’Grady also hit 10” hand size and his football card shows a top 5 wingspan among combine tight ends. I wanted to mention him because he is about to be talked up. Maybe one of the show stealers during the combine festivities at the tight end position. Given the strength of this class and the tendency of the dynasty market to fall in love with raw athletic tight ends, O’Grady could be in the majority of top 5 tight end rookie rankings come rookie daft season.
Cole Kmet followed Hunter Bryant’s lead (And several other tight ends we saw at the combine), but Kmet packed on the pasta pre combine; Kmet put some raw measurables on paper that remind me why I had him ahead of Adam Trautman three months ago. We know he’s a skyscraper. Kmet also weighed in over 260 lbs on Monday. His arm span is impressive and it serves as a small advantage he has over some of the top athletic tight ends in this class. His hand size is no different. 10 and a half inch hands are upper percentile.
Cole Kmet’s draft and fantasy stock are so subjective. The NFL community seems to value him higher than the fantasy community. We’ll see if that gap shrinks post combine. Clearly contingent on Kmet garnering some of that famous combine buzz. I won’t move him up too much in my rookie rankings though as Kmet still lacks the breakout age and college production. He’s no Kyle Rudolph or Tyler Eifert coming out of Notre Dame!
Stephen Sullivan is my favourite “darling” tight end in the 2020 class. Particularly for fantasy. Sullivan’s a converted wide receiver and that peaks our interest. His physical tools are keeping my interest. LSU talent will dominate the mainstream media airways throughout the combine. Come NFL draft weekend the masses may still be unaware that Steve Sullivan was a Tiger until he’s drafted. Thaddeus Moss got the attention in that Tigers tight end group but I have Stephen Sullivan ranked higher for fantasy. I’ll take the converted WR who’s taller, faster and has bigger hands. Accentuated in deep tight end premium dynasty leagues where I’d be chasing upside at the point of the draft they’ll be taken. In fact outside of that we probably don’t hear from either of them anytime soon. Moss has the hype and the lineage but Stephen Sullivan did measure the biggest wingspan among the tight ends who attended the combine and it wasn’t close! 35 and three eighth inches.
PS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLuOoJ4yM2c I can’t not think of this anytime S. Sullivan comes up.
- Tyrell Maclachlan