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2022 NFL Combine: TE, QB, and WR review: Speed, speed and more speed

Who impresson on the first day of combine workouts?

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NFL Combine Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

If there is one word to describe Thursday’s action at the 2022 NFL Combine in Indianapolis, that word would be speed. Through the entertaining commentary of the NFL Network crew, we witnessed lightning-fast wide receivers, multiple wide receivers jumping over 11-feet in the broad, and Michael Irvin in a shmedium shirt.

The tight ends, quarterbacks, and wide receivers measured, tested, and ran on-field drills. The New York Giants have interest in all three positions, and several players tested off the proverbial chart.

The first “headline” of the day was the answer to one of the more protracted questions of the draft season - Pitt QB Kenny Pickett’s hand size. Pickett opted not to have his hands measured at the Reese’s Senior Bowl. At the Combine, his hands measured in at 8.5 inches, which would be the smallest hands of any quarterback in the league.

This reality could turn some teams off. On the flip side of that argument, quarterbacks like Mike Vick and Joe Burrow had small hands (at nine inches). Burrow seems to be doing just fine. Teams located in cold weather climates may value hand size over other teams.

Quarterbacks

A lot of the quarterbacks opted out of the 40-yard-dash. Both Pickett and Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder ran the 40 and did well. Pickett ran a 4.67, and Ridder ran a 4.49 40-yard dash. Ridder also jumped 10’7” in the broad - the best of a QB since 2003. The Cincinnati signal-caller also jumped the highest vertical among QBs at 36 inches.

Brown’s EJ Perry ran a 4.60. Every other 40 was longer than 4.70. Pickett and Liberty QB Malik Willis looked good in on-field drills, but Willis was trending on Twitter for this act of charity.

It’s great to see this from Willis, and he didn’t disappoint with his throws.

The ball flies off Willis’ hand. The ceiling is insane, but he did have some throws that were also off target. That’s the problem for some NFL teams.

Nevada quarterback Carson Strong isn’t always accurate, but his last name is apt about his ability to stretch the field vertically.

Here’s another neat factoid about the 2022 NFL Combine:

The number one quarterback spot is still up for grabs. Ole Miss’ Pro Day is March 23rd; QB Matt Carrol should be a full-go by then.

Wide receivers

Speed, speed, and more speed. Here are the 40-yard-dash times from the WR position:

This is an elite speed wide receiver group akin to the 2019 class that featured Terry McLaurin, DK Metcalf, Mecole Hardman, and Darius Slayton - all of whom ran sub-4.4 forties. North Dakota State WR Christian Watson ran a 4.36 40-yard-dash at 6-foot-4, 208 pounds

Watson started the draft cycle as a Day 3 option but vaulted himself into late day one consideration after a great Senior Bowl and stellar Combine.

Memphis’ Calvin Austin III was top three in the 40, broad, and vertical. He’s small but very explosive, testing in the 98th percentile for broad, the 87th percentile for the vertical, and the 96th percentile in the 40.

Baylor’s Tyquan Thornton, Tennessee’s Velus Jones, and SMU’s Danny Gray are all day three picks who tested in the top five in the 40-yard-dash at the event. Rutger’s Bo Melton tested very well with a 4.34 40and jumped high in the vertical with a 38-inch leap.

Cincinnati’s Alec Pierce was rumored to test well at the Combine, and he did not disappoint. He ran the 4.33 40 and jumped 40.5-inches in the vertical and 10’9” in the broad. Here’s the list of vertical and broad jumps from Thursday:

Vertical jump

Broad jump

The Ohio State tandem of Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave also lived up to expectations. Both receivers could be first-round selections in April.

Western Michigan’s Skyy Moore wasn’t expected to run a 4.41; many who evaluated his film thought he would be more of a 4.5 guy, but he ran faster and looked excellent in the on-field drills; here’s Moore running the gauntlet.

Arkansas Treylon Burks didn’t measure as favorably as many expected; he came in at 6-2, not 6-4, and his hands were only 9 ⅞ inches. That’s not typically disappointing, but reports stated he wore 4 XL gloves. Many expected Burks to have around 11-inch hands and that he’d run around the 4.3s. Neither of those two things came true.

Purdue’s David Bell wasn’t expected to be a top ten percent WR athlete at this event, and he didn’t test well; however, he looked natural in the gauntlet drill, as did possible first-round pick out of Penn State, Jahan Dotson. Burks also made it look effortless.

This WR class made a 4.40 40 seem disappointing. This is a very talented group of playmakers who come in all shapes and sizes.

Tight ends

Colorado State tight end Trey McBride and Ohio State’s Jeremy Ruckert did not run in the 40. However, McBride looked incredibly adept in the on-field drills. His soft hands, body control, and ability to pluck the football away from his frame.

McBride and Ruckert are two of the more well-rounded tight ends in the class, and they should run during their pro day. Few tight ends ascended up draft boards more than Virginia’s Jelani Woods through Shrine week till the Combine.

With his incredible size/length, Woods’ athletic profile makes him an exciting option for the Giants, possibly somewhere on day three. New York may realistically pull a 2020 New England Patriots where they spent two third-round picks on tight ends, Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene. New York could double up the position in the mid-rounds, and there are several options.

Another tight end who earned praise at the Combine was UCLA’s Greg Dulcich.

Dulcich, along with McBride and Texas A&M’s Jalen Wydermyer, looked very smooth, running the gauntlet while keeping their balance on the white line. Wydermyer opted out of running the 40-yard-dash.

Coastal Carolina’s Isaiah Likely looked good as well; he dropped one very poor low pass, but he plucked several away from his body. Likely was also very smooth and quick, tracking the football over his shoulder and making impressive catches in on-field drills. He had the highest vertical among tight ends at 36-inches. Chigoziem Okonkwo jumped 35.5 inches, Arizona State’s Curtis Hodges and SDSTs Daniel Bellinger 34.5-inches, and Nebraska’s Austin Allen jumped 34 inches.

Okonkwo had the fastest time of all tight ends at the Combine. A 4.52 40-yard-dash. Here’s a tight end screen from college against Michigan State. Nevada’s Cole Turner only jumped 27-inches, and Indiana’s Jeremiah Hall was sub-30-inch with a 29-inch vertical.

There is no Kyle Pitts in this draft, but several NFL options are at the tight end position for the New York Giants.

Combine recap

Listen to Joe DeLeone and Chris Pflum break down an incredible day at Indy on Big Blue View radio.

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