Thursday night was arguably the “main event” of the NFL Scouting Combine, as the wide receivers and quarterbacks took to the field for their workouts. It was the first time ever that the Combine was being broadcast during “primetime,” pushing some of the receivers and quarterbacks to workout from 8-11 p.m. It was also the first time that there was a simulcast between NFL Network and ESPN, showing how much of a spectacle that the Combine has become.
The night was a slow build, as the second group of wide receivers who participated in athletic testing had the bigger names. As is typical with the NFL Scouting Combine, there were a bunch of notable standouts and a few disappointments. While most scouts, analysts and spectators already had an idea about the athleticism of most wide receivers, some prospects far outperformed expectations and moved the needle for their draft stock.
Here are the NFL Scouting Combine “winners” and “losers” for the wide receiver position, meaning the prospects who helped or hurt their draft stock the most.
Denzel Mims, Baylor
Mims has had arguably the best pre-draft process of any prospect in the entire class, as his dominance at the Senior Bowl was parlayed into an even better performance at the NFL Scouting Combine. He checked in at the same 6-3 and 207 pounds that he was in Mobile, and the former Texas state champion in the 200-meter dash put on an all-around athletic performance for the ages.
Mims posted a 4.38 in the 40-yard dash, better than 90% of wide receiver prospects who have gone to the Combine since 1999. Beyond his speed, he showed explosiveness in the broad jump (10-11, 94th percentile) and vertical jump (38.5”, 84th percentile). Mims would keep his foot on the gas through the three-cone drill, finishing in 6.66, the best among wide receivers and the same time once posted by Julio Jones. Even beyond his speed, explosiveness and agility, for good measure Mims added 16 reps on the bench press (64th percentile).
Once thought of as a possible fringe top-100 prospect, Mims’ pre-draft process has pushed him into Round 1 consideration.
Donovan Peoples-Jones, Michigan
The man commonly referred to as “DPJ” seems destined to be a more productive receiver in the NFL than he was at Michigan, as quarterback Shea Patterson struggled to consistently get him the football last season. Based on his NFL Scouting Combine, Peoples-Jones is one of the most explosive athletes to ever enter the league.
Despite checking in at 212 pounds, Peoples-Jones climbed into the 99th percentile among wide receiver prospects in both the vertical jump and the broad jump. His 44.5 vertical is the third best by a wide receiver at the Combine since 1999, and his 11-7 broad jump is tied for third best among wide receivers in the same time frame. The player that Peoples-Jones tied in the event? Calvin Johnson.
On top of his jumps, Peoples-Jones checked in just under 6-2 with a wingspan of over 6-7. While he didn’t blow the doors off the forty-yard dash, he clocked in at a more than respectable 4.48 (64th percentile).
44.5" vertical jump for @UMichFootball WR @dpeoplesjones! 🚨
📺: #NFLCombine on @NFLNetwork pic.twitter.com/Noyk6vssct
— NFL (@NFL) February 27, 2020
Justin Jefferson, LSU
Justin Jefferson has basically won the entire college football season among wide receivers.
Jefferson was one of the many beneficiaries of LSU’s historic offensive season, as he caught 111 passes on just 134 targets from quarterback Joe Burrow. On top of that catch rate, he finished 12 out of 13 in contested situations, which is astounding efficiency.
Jefferson’s game is based off his footwork and flexibility for his size, as he creates consistent separation in his route stems and out of breaks. Due to that, his athleticism can be a bit deceiving. Not expected to test off the charts, Jefferson even shocked the NFL Network commentators in real time during his forty-yard dash. While weighing over 200 pounds, Jefferson competed in the 40-yard dash (4.43, 76th percentile), vertical jump (37.5, 77th percentile) and broad jump (10-6, 83rd percentile).
Jefferson’s production speaks for itself, as does his catch radius, route running and athleticism. He’s solidified himself in my eyes as a first-round prospect.
Chase Claypool, Notre Dame
Claypool created a buzz early in the week when he measured in at 6-4 and 238 pounds, as rumors started swirling that he could be in store for a move to a tight end role in the NFL. However, Claypool’s film suggests future success along the boundary in the NFL, as did his performance at the Senior Bowl. Checking in at 238 pounds puts him in the 98th percentile among wide receiver prospects.
Claypool was in the first group of wide receivers to hit the field for workouts, and became an early favorite for Combine freak of the week. Despite his bulky size, he tore up the speed and explosiveness events such as the 40-yard dash (4.42, 83rd percentile), vertical jump (40.5, 93rd percentile) and broad jump (10-6, 83rd percentile).
Claypool proved to have the size of a tight end with the athleticism of a stud wide receiver.
🔥6’4” 238 lbs.
🔥4.45 40-yard dash
🔥19 Bench press reps
Chase Claypool is having a Combine.
— PFF College (@PFF_College) February 27, 2020
Laviska Shenault, Colorado
Shenault was supposed to be one of those legendary NFL Scouting Combine freaks, but unfortunately announced early in the week that he would only be participating in the forty-yard dash. Still, speed was supposed to be one of Shenault’s areas of strength while weighing 227 pounds.
Unfortunately for Shenault, he clocked a 4.58 40-yard dash time, good for just the 22nd percentile among wide receiver prospects. Shenault’s status as a physical specimen is undoubtedly in question after his slow run, and we’ll wait to see if he can get fully healthy before his pro day and re-establish his status as a potential top-30 selection.
Jauan Jennings, Tennessee
Jennings had a breakout redshirt-senior year in 2019, and continued his progress with a solid week at the Senior Bowl. Unfortunately for Jennings, his momentum as a prospect stalled out at the NFL Combine.
While he got off to a good start when he checked in at 6-3 and 215 pounds, Jennings would struggled once the on-field workouts started. Only competing in three events, Jennings essentially flunked all three tests. His best 40-yard dash time was just 4.72 (2nd percentile), and it didn’t get much better during his vertical jump (29 inches, 2nd percentile) or broad jump (9-11, 41st percentile).
Jennings is known for his strength and power after the catch, but isn’t the most refined route runner and will be entering the NFL at an advanced age. With all of those factors working against him, he’ll almost certainly be relegated to Day 3 of the NFL Draft after his poor Combine performance.