Philadelphia Eagles News

Pauline: Noah Fant makes his case to be the first tight end drafted

INDIANAPOLIS – It got a little faster inside Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday as the tight ends and wide receivers took the field for timing and testing drills. Besides some great times in the 40-yard dash, there were also top-notch performances during position drills from the pass catchers and the quarterbacks. Here are the big winners from the second day of Combine workouts.

WR D.K. Metcalf, Mississippi: Metcalf was as good as advertised, timing 4.33 seconds in the 40-yard dash, touching 40.5 inches in the vertical jump, and completing 27 reps on the bench press. He practiced at that speed and caught the ball relatively well, but make no mistake about it. While Metcalf is a physical specimen, he needs a lot of work on his receiver skills.

QB Jarrett Stidham, Auburn: I stamped Stidham as a potential first-round pick entering the season, but the strong-armed passer suffered through an error-prone 2018 campaign. However, Stidham has been terrific in the lead-up to the Draft. He was one of the better quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl, earning Practice Player of the Week honors, and he was the best passer at the Combine. Stidham showed outstanding accuracy, timing, and made all the throws on the field today. He hit receivers as they were exiting breaks on the shorter passes and dropped dimes 40 yards down the field, driving his long throws. Stidham has cemented himself as a second-day selection and could jump into the draft's top 60 picks.

WR Myles Boykin, Notre Dame: The NFL Combine is about expectations. Beat them, and your draft stock rises. Fall short of expectations and your stock moves in the other direction. Boykin, who came to Indianapolis branded as a slow possession receiver, exceeded all expectations in testing. Tipping the scale at 220 pounds, Boykin timed 4.42 seconds in the 40 and touched 43.5 inches in the vertical jump then caught the ball very well in position drills. Scouts now know Boykin has the natural footspeed to be a big-play receiver and it's just a matter of coaching him to play to that speed.

TE Noah Fant, Iowa: Fant was expected to blow it up during Combine testing and he did exactly that, timing 4.50 seconds in the 40, touching 39.5 inches in the vertical jump, then reaching 127 inches in the broad jump. Fant was equally impressive during position drills, catching everything thrown in his direction and translating his athleticism onto the field. Fant made the case to be the first tight end selected in April's draft.

WR Hakeem Butler, Iowa State: Butler was another big-bodied receiver who answered concerns about his speed today. He timed 4.48 seconds after weighing in at 227 pounds, besides touching 36 inches in the vertical jump and 128 inches in the broad jump. Butler was a dominant receiver on the college field, and he looked very good catching the ball.

WR A.J. Brown, Mississippi: Regarded by many as the top receiver in the draft, Brown put together a complete workout showing well during testing then catching everything in position drills. His testing numbers included 40 times under 4.50 seconds, a vertical jump of 36 inches, and 120 inches in the broad jump. Brown caught the ball as well as any receiver on the field during positional drills, looking fluid and very natural. He established himself as a top 20 selection.

WR Parris Campbell, Ohio State: Everyone knew Campbell was a great athlete entering the Combine, and he proved as much. The Buckeye timed 4.31 seconds in the 40, touched 40 inches in the vertical jump, and 135 inches in the broad jump. He caught the ball very well and, most importantly, practiced as fast as he ran the 40. Campbell is coming off a breakout season and finally transitioning his athletic skills into football production.

TE Josh Oliver, San Jose State: Oliver's pass-catching skills are well-regarded in the scouting community, but his speed was a question mark. Branded as a 4.8-second athlete in the 40, Oliver was clocked at 4.63 seconds, proving he has the speed to beat linebackers and get downfield. He now projects as a top 100 selection.

Tony Pauline has covered the NFL Draft for over 20 years and is one of the preeminent draft insiders. His work can be found on DraftAnalyst.com and @TonyPauline on Twitter.

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