INDIANAPOLIS – This wide receiver class is widely known as one of the deepest in recent years. Use this preview as a cheat sheet for today's action (4 PM on NFL Network) to understand which drills are most important throughout the workout as these talented pass catchers take the field at Lucas Oil Stadium! For a full explanation of each category, jump down to the bottom of the piece.
Top of the heap: Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
This appears to be a two-man race between Jeudy and Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb, but Jeudy gets the nod in most mock drafts and big boards. People are interested to see how Jeudy tests athletically and how he weighs in, but he's a crafty route runner who plays like a pro and could be "plug and play" in the NFL.
Workout warrior: Henry Ruggs, Alabama
My initial response here was Penn State's KJ Hamler, but after a hamstring literally hamstrung his ability to workout here in Indianapolis, I'm giving the nod to Ruggs, who will fight to break John Ross' record of 4.22 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Ruggs is a burner who can beat you vertically or take a quick throw and take it the distance. He's seen by many as a big-time commodity in a big-play league.
Off the radar: Tyrie Cleveland, Florida
On a recent episode of the Journey to the Draft podcast presented by AAA, Senior Bowl Executive Director Jim Nagy said Cleveland would shock people with his speed in Indianapolis. You can see that juice on film. Keep an eye on the speedster from Florida, who should run sub-4.40 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
Stopwatch shocker: Devin Duvernay, Texas
Whether it's the explosiveness of Hamler, Ruggs, Jalen Reagor, or any of the other speedy receivers in this class, people seem to sleep on Duvernay, who starred on the Texas high school track circuit before his days with the Longhorns. His cousin, last year's No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray, has some wheels on him as well.
Will kill the drills: Justin Jefferson, LSU
Jefferson is automatic at the catch point and one of the savviest route runners in this class. A long, lanky slot receiver who looks the part, Jefferson should shine in position-specific drills. I'd be shocked if he wasn't one of the most impressive players on the turf.
Trust the tape: CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
Many analysts see Lamb as the top receiver in the class. He was a dynamic playmaker in the Big 12 Conference, but don't expect him to put up huge numbers in the athletic testing portion of the event. A solid workout is more than good enough to back up what we've seen on tape from the All-American wideout.
Most productive college player: James Proche, SMU
Proche is the first receiver in the last three seasons at the FBS level to post at least 300 catches in his career. He finished tied for the FBS lead with Jefferson last season with 111 receptions. He transitions well into the slot in the NFL.
One-year wonder: Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State
Aiyuk played for Eagles legend Herman Edwards for the last two seasons after transferring in from Sierra College, but he was only a full-time starter this past year as a senior when he tore up the Pac-12 with his dynamic playmaking abilities with the ball in his hands.
Best pro comparison: K.J. Hill, Ohio State
Hill was a rock-solid receiver for the Buckeyes, a school that has consistently churned out NFL talent at the position. He reminds me a lot of former Oklahoma second-round pick Sterling Shepard, who is now a very good slot receiver for the rival New York Giants.
Best story: Laviska Shenault, Colorado
Not many players in this position group have faced the amount of adversity throughout their lives as Shenault. Read about how he lost his father in a tragic accident and still honors him to this day, or about how his mother fought through a bout with the West Nile Virus a few years later. Shenault has been through a lot in his life and has a lot to play for moving forward into the NFL.
Small-school standout: Antonio Gandy-Golden, Liberty
Standing just under 6-4 and just over 220 pounds, Gandy-Golden is an imposing presence, but don't discount his big-play ability as he finished as one of the leaders in the entire country in catches of 10-plus, 20-plus, and 50-plus yards. He can go up and get the football.
Philly connection: Jalen Reagor, TCU
Reagor should be one of the best athletic testers at the receiver position and can win at all three levels of the field. He also has NFL bloodlines, as his father, Montae, was a longtime NFL defensive tackle and spent time here with the Eagles in 2007, when Jalen was 8 years old.
Most to prove: Michael Pittman, USC
Pittman was one of the top receivers in college football this season playing in the wide-open USC offense, but analysts have questions about his ability to separate consistently in the NFL. Lots of eyes will be on how he tests athletically and how he performs in position drills this week.
Position drill to watch
One of my favorite drills to watch over the course of the entire week is the gauntlet drill with the receivers. The prospect starts on one sideline and runs across the width of the field, catching footballs coming at him from both his left and his right in rapid-fire fashion before he reaches the other side, where he pulls in his final reception and sprints to the goal line. Keys you want to look for:
1. You want the receivers to catch the ball clean, no double catches! They shouldn't, however, just pat the ball onto the ground. The prospects should look the pass in, secure it, and throw it away while looking for the next ball.
2. These wideouts need to maintain balance and body control through the drill, but most importantly, they should stay at somewhat top speed. They can catch every ball, but it's not as impressive if they're jogging through the rep! This should replicate what the receiver will be doing on Sundays.
3. As is always the case, you want to see the players battle through adversity. If they drop the first or second ball, do they drop the next one? You want them to have a short memory and, perhaps most importantly, finish the drill strong with a sprint through the goal line, no matter how the early stages go.
|Hand Size||938 (9 3/8")|
|Arm Length||3200 (32")|
|Wingspan||7648 (76 1/2")|
|Unofficial 40-Time (Stopwatch)||4.46 seconds|
|Official 40-Time (Laser)||4.50 seconds|
|10-Yard Split||1.55 seconds|
|3-Cone Drill||6.92 seconds|
|Short Shuttle||4.21 seconds|
The rest of the pack
Omar Bayless (Arkansas State), Lynn Bowden (Kentucky), Tony Brown (Colorado), Lawrence Cager (Georgia), Marquez Callaway (Tennessee), Quintez Cephus (Wisconsin), Chase Claypool (Notre Dame), Isaiah Coulter (Rhode Island), Gabe Davis (UCF), Quartney Davis (Texas A&M), Bryan Edwards (South Carolina), Chris Finke (Notre Dame), Aaron Fuller (Washington), Antonio Gibson (Memphis), Stephen Guidry (Mississippi State), KJ Hamler (Penn State), Tee Higgins (Clemson), John Hightower (Boise State), Isaiah Hodgins (Oregon State), Trishton Jackson (Syracuse), Van Jefferson (Florida), Jauan Jennings (Tennessee), Collin Johnson (Texas), Juwan Johnson (Oregon), Tyler Johnson (Minnesota), Kalija Lipscomb (Vanderbilt), Austin Mack (Ohio State), Denzel Mims (Baylor), Darnell Mooney (Tulane), K.J. Osborn (Miami), Aaron Parker (Rhode Island), Dezmon Patmon (Washington State), Donovan Peoples-Jones (Michigan), Malcolm Perry (Navy), Joe Reed (Virginia), Kendrick Rogers (Texas A&M), Darrell Stewart (Michigan State), Freddie Swain (Florida), Jeff Thomas (Miami), Binjamin Victor (Ohio State), Quez Watkins (Southern Miss), Cody White (Michigan State)
Breakdown of the categories
Top of the heap: This is the player who, based on media projections, is at the top of the class and will likely hear his name called first at his position in April.
Workout warrior: This is the player who I expect to see perform best in the athletic testing portion of the workout.
Off the radar: This is the player who will come out of nowhere to post great numbers in the athletic testing portion of the workout.
Stopwatch shocker: This is the player who I expect to perform better in the athletic tests than most in the media predict.
Will kill the drills: This is the player who will look the best in the position-specific drills following the athletic portion of the workout.
Trust the tape: This is the player who I don't expect to test off the charts and is a better football player than he is an athlete. With that in mind, don't drop him down the board with a subpar workout!
Most productive college player: This is the player who produced at the highest level, either in his final year in college or over the course of his entire career.
One-year wonder: This is the player who performed at a high level in college, but only for a limited time on campus.
Best pro comparison: Comparing draft prospects to NFL players is tough, but here's a player with the easiest picture to paint when looking at his NFL future through my eyes.
Best story: All of these players have great stories to tell, but who has taken the most unbelievable journey to get to this point in his career? Here's the one that has caught my eyes (and ears) the most.
Small-school standout: This is the player who comes from a lower level of competition (outside of the Power 5 conferences) but still has a potentially bright future in the NFL.
Philly connection: This is the player with a special tie to the City of Brotherly Love or the Eagles who you should keep a close eye on.
Most to prove: This is the player who has the most to prove away from the field, whether it's during the interview process, medical examinations, or even the weigh-ins.
Mr. Average: We get to read all about the measurements for all these players over the next few weeks, but wouldn't it be nice to have some context? What is considered a "good" time in the 40-yard dash? What about arm length? The broad jump? Here's what the average player drafted at each position has looked like over the last decade (by my records).
The rest of the pack: A list of everyone else who will take part in the events in Indianapolis (in alphabetical order).
Fran Duffy is the producer of the Emmy-nominatedEagles Game Planshow which can be seen every gameday during the season on NBC10 in Philadelphia. He is also the host of two Eagles-related podcasts,Eagle Eye in the Sky, which examines the team from an X's and O's angle each and every week as well as theJourney to the Draft podcast, which covers college football and the NFL Draft all year round. Fran also authors the Eagle Eye in the Sky column, which runs four times a week during the football season to serve as a recap for the previous game and to preview the upcoming matchup. Prior to joining the Eagles in 2011, Duffy was the head video coordinator for the Temple University football team under former head coach Al Golden. In that role, he spent thousands of hours shooting, logging, and assisting with the breakdown of the All-22 film from the team's games, practices, and opponents.