The quarterbacks, wide receivers, and tight ends were the first position groups to report to Lucas Oil Stadium for the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine. While we won’t see them on the field until Thursday evening, they started their process Monday.
They got their official measurements taken, including height, weight, hand size, and arm length, and the draft community got a new batch of data points over which it can obsess. Tuesday morning we got to hear from some of the prospects as they spoke to the assembled media.
There will be mountains of information to sift through as the week wears on, but for now, here are a few highlights.
Joe Burrow considers retirement, Jordan Love wins the QB weigh-ins
If there’s one constant every year at the combine it is the annual obsession with quarterback’s hands, and every year there is a top quarterback who’s ability is thrown into question thanks to a fraction of an inch.
This year that quarterback is Joe Burrow, the prohibitive favorite to be drafted first overall. ESPN, the NFL Network and Twitter all flew into a tizzy when Burrow’s hands measured in at nine inches.
Considering retirement after I was informed the football will be slipping out of my tiny hands. Please keep me in your thoughts.— Joey Burrow (@Joe_Burrow10) February 24, 2020
While particularly small hands will pose a problem for a quarterback handling a football, a nine-inch span isn’t that small. For reference, Patrick Mahomes has gargantuan 9.25-inch hands. He did just fine (ie, posted one of the very best seasons in college football history) with those same hands just a couple months ago.
Joe Burrow's hands are 9" and that has to be a real concern for NFL teams who haven't seen him throw a football before— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) February 25, 2020
At the opposite end of the spectrum is Utah State quarterback Jordan Love, who “won” weigh-ins. Love weighed in at 6036 (6-feet, 3 3⁄4 inches) and 224 pounds, which is good but hardly uncommon. What got peoples’ attention was his 10 1⁄2 inch hands and 80-inch wingspan.
Folks looking for the next “Lamar Jackson” are likely looking at Love’s measurements, arm strength, and 170 rushing attempts (for 9 touchdowns) over the last three years and getting excited. Love doesn’t measure up to Burrow or Tua Tagovailoa — who walked into Indy without aid — but expect him to put on a show Thursday evening.
Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb might be the same person
Usually when we see two excellent receiving prospects vying for the title of “top receiver” the conflict over which one is actually WR 1 comes from the two players having different styles or body types. We don’t often see them being as similar as Jeudy and Lamb.
Jeudy: 6-foot-1, 193 pounds, with 9.5-inch hands and a 76-inch wingspan.
Lamb: 6-foot-1 5/8, 198 pounds, with 9.25-inch hands and a 76 5/8 inch wingspan.
Both players are athletic, savvy route runners with the ability to make the game turn on any routine play. Perhaps we’ll see some separation in the pair’s on-field workout, but at this point would it be a surprise to see them put up similar numbers?
That could make it difficult for teams to differentiate between them and separate them on their draft boards.
Henry Ruggs III has got some mitts
Yup, back to hand size again (hey, until we get to on-field workouts, it’s the best we got). One of the big surprises of the weigh-ins was Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs. Ruggs came in at under 6-foot tall and 190 pounds, which was expected. After all, he is heralded as a blazing-fast but undersized speedster, so measuring 5-foot-11 and 188 pounds isn’t a surprise. What was a surprise was Ruggs having the third-biggest hands of any receiver at the Combine at 10 1/8 inches. There were only three other receivers with hands that measured over 10 inches and Ruggs was the smallest by almost 3 inches and 20 pounds.
Like with quarterbacks, hand size is something we fret over somewhat unnecessarily. Hunter Renfrow caught everything thrown to him at Clemson and came up with 49 receptions and 4 touchdowns as a rookie and he has 7 7/8 inch hands.
But still, with Ruggs’ hands getting people’s attention and him likely to blow up the measurable events, we’re going to be hearing his name a lot starting Thursday night.
Keep an eye on LSU tight end Stephen Sullivan
Sullivan might have the most intriguing weigh-in of any tight end at the Combine. He isn’t the tallest tight end in Indy (Colby Parkinson, 6-foot-7 1⁄4 ) or the heaviest tight end on the property (Cole Kmet, 262 pounds), or have the biggest hands (Jared Pinkney, 10 1⁄2 inches). But Sullivan is near the top in all the categories at 6-foot 4 7/8 inches, 248 pounds, with 10 1/8 inch hands. His arms are the longest, at 35 inches and an 85-inch wingspan.
Sullivan is also a converted wide receiver, making his physical tools extra intriguing in an NFL that is increasingly using tight ends as match-up problems in the receiving game.
He also seems to be the type of young man you do not want to bet against.
There aren’t too many players that have overcome more adversity than LSU TE Stephen Sullivan.— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) February 25, 2020
He and his brother had to live under a bridge for weeks at a time and he’s just happy to be here at the NFL Scouting Combine #FrontOffice33 pic.twitter.com/ifQRWEueEh