The NFL Combine provided an up-and-down, mixed bag of results at the wide receiver position. Thus, we are simply going to go down the list of the most-watched players at the position and provide a review of their results and how they looked in front of NFL scouts and executives.
Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson showed why his dynamic physical skill set has him as the No. 1-rated receiver in the 2013 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-2, 216-pounder’s official time in the 40-yard dash came in at a sterling 4.42 seconds. Patterson had some dropped passes in the field work, and unfortunately, those were a problem for him last season as well. During the gauntlet drill, he showed the potential to make nice catches with his hands as opposed to his body, but the early-entry wideout clearly needs a lot of work. At one point, Patterson even dropped a perfectly thrown bomb deep downfield. The Combine proved that his athletic skill set is off the charts, but he is still very raw and will need some patience to improve his all-around receiving ability.
West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin was expected to be fast, but he exceeded expectations with a 40-yard dash unofficial time of 4.25 seconds with a 10-yard split of 1.45. The official time came in at 4.34 seconds and tied him for second. Austin was very good in the field drills, too. He ran good routes and displayed nice hands. Austin confirmed for NFL scouts that he has elite speed and looks poised to remain a source of splash plays in the NFL.
Texas wide receiver Marquise Goodwin was the only player faster than Austin in Indy. Goodwin didn’t get a lot of passes thrown his way in college, but he stood out with a good performance at the Senior Bowl. The 5-foot-9, 183-pounder kept the momentum going with an impressive Combine. He ran the 40-yard dash with an official time of 4.25 seconds and a 10-yard split of 1.43 seconds. Goodwin’s 40 time was expected to be great, as he is an Olympic track athlete and his goal coming in was to break Chris Johnson’s Combine record of 4.24 seconds. He was close enough, but Goodwin did have some struggles in tracking and catching passes in the on-field drills. That dampens the enthusiasm from his 40 time, so Goodwin may not get a huge boost from the Combine.
Clemson wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (6-1, 214) had a solid Combine performance. He ran the 40-yard dash with an unofficial time of 4.50 seconds but recorded an underwhelming 10-yard split of 1.59 seconds. In the field drills, however, Hopkins was one of the most impressive receivers out there, showing off great route-running and hands. Those were the traits that made him extremely productive in 2012, and he did his part in Indianapolis to confirm his grade as a top-60 selection.
Like Hopkins, West Virginia wide receiver Stedman Bailey ran a decent 40-yard dash but thrived in the field drills. He was massively productive for the Mountaineers because of great hands, route-running and quickness. At the Combine, Bailey was very fluid running downfield and did a perfect job of catching passes with his hands. He unofficially ran the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds with a 10-yard split of 1.58 seconds. Bailey’s quality Combine should lock him into a selection within the top-100 picks.
Patteron’s teammate at Tennessee, wide receiver Justin Hunter helped himself with a good time in the 40-yard dash. He was a fast and explosive receiver before an ACL tear required him to miss out on nearly the entire 2011 season. Hunter was productive in 2012 and gradually seemed to be getting his speed back. He ran the 40 in 4.41 seconds at the Combine, with a nice 10-yard split of 1.54 seconds. It was the fifth-fastest 10-yard split of the receivers in his group. Considering the 6-foot-4, 196-pounder is much bigger than a lot of those receivers, it was a good showing. Hunter had some struggles in the field drills with his route-running, however, but coaches will see that issue as more correctable.
One of the surprising players to stand out at receiver was Texas A&M’s Ryan Swope. The 6-foot, 205-pounder ran the 40-yard dash in an official time of 4.34 seconds. That tied with Tavon Austin for the second-fastest time in the group. The Aggies’ all-time receiving leader ran good routes in the field drills and displayed that quickness and speed. He had a couple of dropped passes, but he can rectify that in the NFL. It was a superb Combine overall and it really helped Swope stand out from the crowd.
While a lot of receivers didn’t stand out in the field work, USC’s Robert Woods was one of the exceptions. He showed off nice hands, especially in the gauntlet. Woods ran even better than most expected in the 40-yard dash with an unofficial time of 4.44 seconds. It was especially important for him to run well considering the ankle injury he was dealing with throughout the 2012 season. Woods (6-0, 201) needed a good Combine to help ensure that he is a second-round pick. Im still not sold on Woods as a No. 1 wideout, but his showing today was essential for him going forward.
Baylor’s Terrance Williams needed a good Combine after a quiet Senior Bowl, and he came through with a solid overall performance. Williams (6-2, 208) turned in an unofficial time of 4.46 seconds in the 40-yard dash, which was a touch faster than most had expected. He also had a good 10-yard split of 1.52 seconds. Williams performed well in the field work as well. He led the nation in receiving yards in 2012 and made big plays downfield, translating the 4.4-speed into actual on-field performance..
Finally, Markus Wheaton of Oregon State ran well with a 40 time of 4.45 seconds officially. It was a top-10 time, but he had a few drops in the gauntlet drill, including an ugly one on an out route. Wheaton (5-11, 189) has a bad habit of letting the ball get into his body and that leads to the drops. He is likely to go on the second day.