The 2023 Combine NFL concluded defensive drills, and on Saturday the offense was on the field for televised drills. As is tradition, one group started by running the 40-yard sprint and then moved on to positional drills, while another group performed agility drills and measured jumps.
Previously, we profiled the following job groups:
Quarterbacks and wide receivers do their field drills together, and while the NFL has amazing technology, they somehow don’t have the ability to identify both the quarterback And wide receiver on their broadcasts. And with the league’s focus on quarterbacks, it’s become very difficult to try to follow receivers through drills with only their numbers to identify them during a rehearsal.
With that in mind, for this positional review, I’m focusing on two things: the players I’ve been able to identify who have stood out, and selecting receivers who have had strong performances in their measured drills.
While the Detroit Lions seem to have a preference for fast receivers, there is one commonality among the receivers acquired by Brad Holmes during his tenure as Lions general manager: most reach certain thresholds in the vertical jump (VJ), the wide jump (BJ), and 3-cone scores (3C).
The key numbers to look for are:
VJ: 37′ or more
BJ: 10 feet 4 inches or more
3C: 6.9 seconds or less
Now, not all potential receivers have been tested in every category, but when any of the 12 receivers selected as standouts meet or exceed a benchmark, their score has been bolded for easy identification.
Let’s take a close look at the wide receivers that stood out.
Quentin Johnson, TOS6 feet 3 inches, 208
(No 40 times), 40.5 (VJ), 11ft 2in (BJ)
Johnston looks massive and when the ball comes within reach, he swallows it. He exceeded both jump criteria and the Lions would have had a meeting with him earlier in the week.
Cedric Tillman, Tennessee, 6-foot-3, 213
4.54 (40), 37′ (VJ), 10ft 8in (BJ)
Another WR-X with impressive size and movement capabilities, Tillman didn’t match Johnston’s numbers, but it didn’t have the same expensive price tag either.
Andrei Iosivas, Princeton, 6-foot-3, 205
4.43 (40), 39′ (VJ), 10’8 (BJ), 6.85 (3C)
Iosivas exceeded benchmarks in all three categories and also had a strong 40-yard rush time. He ran his routes well at the Combine and showed solid hands. Princeton isn’t a powerhouse for producing NFL players, but it got hype at the start of Day 3 entering the Combine and could see its stock rise with its measurables.
Bryce Ford-Wheaton, West Virginia, 6-foot-4, 221
4.38 (40), 41′ (VJ), 10ft 9in (BJ)6.97 (3C)
For Ford-Wheaton to hit the marks he made at 6ft 4in is awfully impressive, and in drills he was a bit easier to identify due to his elongated wingspan. Originally identified as a late Day 3 prospect, his combination of size, speed, explosion and agility usually pushes teams to play in the middle rounds.
Grant Dubose, Charlotte, 6-foot-2, 201
4.57 (40), 35′ (VJ), 10ft 5in (BJ), 6.89 (3C)
A raw prospect with an impressive 3 cones to his size, there’s enough potential there to keep an eye on when Day 3 ends.
Antione Green, North Carolina, 6-foot-2, 199
4.48 (40), 33.5′ (VJ), 10ft 3in (BJ), 6.99 (3C)
Green actually didn’t hit any of the previously identified benchmarks – although he was close in a few – but after it was reported he met the Lions at the Combine I was keen to continue to look for it. In the glove he strayed too far off the line for my liking, indicating possible balance issues, but he attacked the ball in the air which was promising. He’s a development prospect at the end of Day 3 for me, but I’ll be back to watch the tape on him.
Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee, 6-foot-0, 176
4.4 (40), 40 (VJ), 11ft 3in (BJ)
Hyatt is going to be a WR-Z in the NFL and could be the first receiver to leave the board on draft day. He is a long walker, makes space quickly, gets in and out of his breaks easily and had strong hands at the catch point. The jump scores match the explosion you see in his game movie.
Jaxon Smith-While, ohio state6 feet 1 inch, 196
n°40, 35′ (VJ), 10ft 5in (BJ), 6.57 (3C)3.93 (MES)
Primarily a slot receiver at Ohio State, Smith-Nigba is not a blaster, like the Lions Amon-Ra St. Brown, but rather a more traditional fast receiver who is difficult to handle when cutting. His score of 6.57 on 3 cones – which measures the ability to change direction at top speed – was by far the best in the Combine so far.
Josh Downs, North Carolina, 5-foot-9, 171
4.48 (40), 38.5 (VJ), 10ft 11 (BJ)
Downs is another slot receiver who may not be a perfect fit for Detroit with St. Brown in that role, but he’s able to spend time on the outside (just like St. Brown) and his yards after capture (YAC) are special. At the Combine, he displayed terrific body control at high levels of speed and the ability to make clean cuts quickly.
Tyler Scott, Cincinnati, 5-foot-10, 177
4.44 (40), 39.5′ (VJ), 11ft 1 (BJ)
Scott fits the Tyler Lockett mold as a WR-Z/slot who will time split in both roles, but is better suited as a field stretcher. He’s a more natural positional fit with St. Brown than Smith-Nigba and Downs, and he runs with speed and confidence. An underrated player right now.
Marvin Mims, Oklahoma, 5-foot-11, 183
4.38 (40), 39.5′ (VJ), 10ft 9in (BJ), 6.90 (3C)
Another athlete who surpassed all three benchmarks. Mims can operate at WR-Z and out of the slot, and his ability to make big plays both on offense and return will be appealing. At the Combine he was fluid and controlled, and his combination of skill and measurability could make him a steal in the third round.
Ronnie Bell, Michigan, 6-foot-0, 191
4.54 (40), 38.5′ (VJ)10 feet 0 (BJ), 6.98 (3C)
Bell looks like a Day 3 option that could become a starter/WR-Z slot over time. He’s reliable and a little modest, but he showed a nice burst and change of direction at the Combine. His impressive one-handed grab on a whipping course stood out as one of the best holds at this year’s event.