The 2020 NFL Combine officially kicked off on Thursday with the first group of on-field workouts in the books. For Thursday, draft prospects in the quarterback, wide receiver, and tight end groups set out to showoff their athleticism for NFL scouts, media, and the fans.
In last year’s draft, the Jaguars selected tight end Josh Oliver in the third round while also signing tight end Geoff Swaim to a two-year prove-it deal in free agency only a month prior.
While there were worthwhile investments in the tight end position last season, the production from the group as a whole was abysmal. Both Swaim and Oliver landed on the team’s reserve/injured list, playing in a combined 10 games on the year. Overall, the Jaguars tight end group produced for the last amount of yards (459 yards) from the tight end position in franchise history since 2005 (326 yards).
As for the wide receiver group, the Jaguars found productive players in Pro Bowl wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. and free agent signee Chris Conley in 2019. Both players posted — or tied in Conley’s case — career-highs in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns. The Jaguars still have a need at the position in order to take some pressure off of their rising-star in Chark Jr. for next season.
With this season’s class being as star-studded as any in perhaps a decade, the Jaguars will look to take advantage. Both groups on Thursday displayed fantastic physical abilities that will almost assuredly boost their draft stock come April.
2020 NFL Scouting Combine Standouts:
Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama:
All eyes were set on Ruggs III as he stepped onto the field to compete among some of the best receivers in this year’s star-studded draft class. The former Alabama star did not disappoint, displaying elite speed with a blazing official 40-yard dash time of 4.27 seconds — tied for the fourth-best time since the NFL began electronically timing the 40-yard dash in 1999.
Ruggs was unable to compete in positional drills due to an undisclosed injury suffered during his second attempt (officially 4.31 seconds), however his vertical jump (42.0 inches) and his broad jump (131 inches) were impressive on their own right. The Alabama product may not have broke John Ross’ 40 time (4.22 seconds) on Thursday, but he absolutely impressed crowds, confirming what was already known on tape.
CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma:
While Ruggs III showcased incredible speed, Lamb was the most impressive receiver in positional drills Thursday night. His ability to high-point the football and contort his body in seemingly any position in order to make a grab is sensational. While Lamb is not an absolute burner, his official 40-yard dash time of 4.5 seconds was respectable, and expected.
It is certainly a three-man race to see who will be the first wide receiver taken off the board in April, but as of right now Lamb may have a slight edge due to how fluid he is as a route-runner with a veteran-esque release and how versatile of a player he will be for NFL teams looking for a big-play receiver.
Albert Okwuegbunam, TE, Missouri
Expectations for Okwuegbunam on Thursday weren’t particularly high after a down redshirt junior season in 2019, however at an official 258 pounds the former Missouri Tiger blew out the combine with a stunning official 4.49 second 40-yard dash. Tied for the sixth-highest 40 times in Combine history for a tight end, and the fastest for a tight end at over 252 pounds in history, according to Pro Football Reference.
While his statistics in college left much to be desired from a reception and yardage standpoint — 98 receptions for 1,187 yards in three years —, Okwuegbunam scored 23 touchdowns in his collegiate career with six in each of the past two seasons.
After he measured in at 6-5, 258 pounds, went back to watch more of Missouri TE Albert Okwuegbunam. Have him as a backup with plus-receiving skill.— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) February 26, 2020
Vertical routes are smooth. Nice set up and rocker step to get outside the safety here, and his ball skills are great. #Patriots pic.twitter.com/sYd33SZMEB
Chase Claypool, WR/TE, Notre Dame
No wide receiver weighing 238 pounds or more since former Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson has run a 40-yard dash faster than Claypool did on Thursday. At 238 pounds the former Notre Dame wide receiver ran a blistering official 4.45 second 40-yard dash. With a 40.5 inch vertical jump, Claypool set the record for the heaviest wide receiver vertical jump in Combine history.
An absolute freak of an athlete for his size, Claypool accumulated 150 receptions for 2,159 yards, and 19 touchdowns in four years at Notre Dame (66 receptions, 1,037 yards, and 13 touchdowns as a senior). Some have speculated following his weigh-in that Claypool might be better suited as a tight end at the next level, however his athletic testing may put a pause on that as of right now.
It is worth noting that Claypool does mirror redemption-story Oakland Raiders tight end Darren Waller in athletic testing as a former receiver turned tight end. Waller is two inches taller, however at 6-6.
- Former LSU Tigers receiver Justin Jefferson raised eyebrows with a fast official 4.43 second 40-yard dash time. Many expected him to run much slower than this. His other athletic measurables were impressive as well and he likely secured his spot as a first round receiver on Thursday.
- Denzel Mims, a former Baylor standout, may have raised his draft stock 10-fold at the combine on Thursday. His athletic testing was off the charts with a 4.38 40-yard dash, 38.5 inch vertical leap, 131 inch board jump, and a quick 6.66 second three-cone drill.