Combine Workouts Amplify Strength of Receiver Class

Bill Huber

INDIANAPOLIS – The big winner at the Scouting Combine on Thursday night was every team that needs a receiver.

That list of teams, obviously, includes the Green Bay Packers.

This long has been considered a premier group of pass-catching prospects and nothing about that changed during Thursday’s workouts at Lucas Oil Stadium. From Green Bay’s perspective, it doesn’t just need receivers. It needs explosive receivers. On Thursday, 20 receivers ran their 40s in the 4.4s, including six who were faster than 4.40. A dozen had vertical jumps of at least 38 inches.

For context, over the previous 10 years of Scouting Combines, the averages are:

4.8 receivers fan faster than 4.40 seconds.

17.9 receivers fan faster than 4.50 seconds.

7.9 receivers jumped at least 38 inches.

Over the last 10 Combines, only the 2012 draft can beat the 2020 class in terms of sheer athleticism. In 2012, a whopping 12 receivers ran faster than 4.40, 24 receivers ran faster than 4.50 and 11 jumped at least 38 inches.

The difference is so many of those receivers weren’t elite prospects. Of the 24 receivers who fan faster than 4.50, four were selected in the first round and five more were taken in Round 2. Contrast that to this draft. In my early look at the top receiver prospects from Jan. 21, I went with Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb at No. 1, followed by Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy, Alabama’s Henry Ruggs, Colorado’s Laviska Shenault and LSU’s Justin Jefferson as my top five. That group was rounded out by Clemson’s Tee Higgins, Baylor’s Denzel Mims, TCU’s Jalen Reagor, Arizona State’s Brandon Aiyuk and Texas’ Devin Duvernay. Of those 10, six were faster than 4.50, Lamb and Aiyuk hit 4.50 on the nose and Higgins didn’t run. Shenault, with a running back-style build, was a slight disappointment at 4.58. Speed isn’t a huge deal for a slot receiver, anyway.

Put simply, this year’s receivers dominated on the field and they dominated their workouts.

“I think it is a deep group,” Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst said a couple days before the workouts. “It’s pretty heavy at the top. More numbers than what we’ve seen in the past. It’s early. They’ve got to run. There’s a lot of things they’ve got to do still, but going through draft meetings early, I was impressed with the class as a whole. It’ll be interesting how it falls, but there were some good players out there. I think in today’s day and age where these guys were starting in 7-on-7, it’s almost like AAU basketball. The receivers are so much more advanced in terms of their fundamentals coming into college and the league than maybe they have been in the past. It’s really just the NFL offense that will take time. I think there’s some guys sitting here today that I think will have a chance to make a pretty immediate impact, and I’m excited about that.”

That excitement, no doubt, only increased after Thursday’s track meet.

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