The 40s Impressed But Agility Underwhelmed For Many Receivers At Combine
The NFL Scouting Combine on field testing began on Thursday with a star studded group of wide receivers. While a number of players opted not to participate in the 40-yard dash, the NFL did get the track meet they were hoping for, including a 4.27 official for Henry Ruggs III out of Alabama. The group delivered for most part, putting up some impressive 40s, but the agility drills, which aren't covered with the same level of gusto largely proved disappointing.
While the 3-cone and shuttle could be televised live, they have to be timed by a frame by frame look from a computer. Stop watches are really iffy estimates for these particular drills. As a result, they don't deliver the drama or the impact that the 40 does.
Players will and many should use their pro days to re-test the 3-cone and short shuttle. The 3-cone not only measures hip flexibility and agility but balance. The shuttle is more about ankle flexibility and the ability to plant quickly and accelerate. Even perhaps the biggest revelation of the day in terms of athleticism, Denzel Mims from Baylor, didn't have a great shuttle time.
Mims ran a 4.38 40 at 207 pounds at a hair under 6'3", which is incredible. He also had the best 3-cone at 6.66, which is out of this world. His jumps were great. A 132" broad jump and 38.5" vertical are excellent. Mims posted a 4.43 shuttle. Hardly the end of the world. It's just not in line with everything else he did. It's funny when someone can go 40 yards forward faster than he can go 20 yards side to side.
Overall, of the 25 players that participated in the 3-cone, only four of them were able to post a time below seven seconds: Mims, Juwan Johnson from Oregon, Aaron Parker from Rhode Island and Michael Pittman from USC. Players that came up with red flags include Jalen Reagor from TCU at 7.31 and James Proche of SMU at 7.27. Reagor's 4.46 shuttle isn't great either.
These players stand out because they are sub 6' receivers who need to be able to efficiently create separation at the next level to succeed. This raises questions as to their ability to do that. One of the benefits to doing tests at the combine is when there's one or two that don't go well, players can focus on those and improve them at pro day. And obviously any testing they do is compared to the tape.
If people are looking for a player that did everything and helped themselves, check out Michael Pittman from USC. The 6'4" 223 pound receiver posted a 4.52 40, a 36.5" vertical, a 121" broad jump, a 6.96 3-cone, a 4.13 shuttle and 13 reps on the bench press. The broad jump isn't great, but when factoring in his weight, his numbers are excellent, especially the agility.