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Key questions to answer for draft prospects at the NFL Combine

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What aspects of the Combine matter most and for whom?

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The NFL Combine has begun! We already have weigh-in numbers for quarterbacks, tight ends, and wide receivers and now it’s a full week sprint to find out everything we can about the 2020 NFL Draft prospects.

We talk about what matters, doesn’t matter, and the grey areas on The QB Scho Show #53, so we’ll start with quarterbacks, but we’ll also sprinkle in some other areas of interest for the Combine that have a focus on positions of need for the Eagles.

RADAR GUN

You can’t stop “QB Velocity Day” on Twitter, you can only hope to contain it. You may not remember, but there was a huge stir when Deshaun Watson only hit 49mph on the radar gun during on-field work in Indy. Turns out it didn’t matter, at all.

For whom will the bell toll this year? No idea, but the weather forecast says it’s cloudy with a chance of nonsense.

HAND SIZE

It happens every year. A notable quarterback prospect checks in with small hands and the eventual freak out begins.

Joe Burrow, QB - LSU

This years freak out candidate is Joe Burrow, who came in with 9” hands. Does it matter? It doesn’t until it does, if that makes sense.

Jordan Love, QB - Utah State

How could you pass on a quarterback that possesses massive 10 4/8” hands? Throw out the 17 interceptions last year, this changes everything!

Henry Ruggs III, WR - Alabama

If you can’t hold a Whopper, you’re going to have trouble sticking in the NFL. That won’t be a problem for Ruggs, who checked in at 5’11”, 188 pounds with 10 1/8” hands. It’s not a surprise at all because a guy with tiny hands probably couldn’t do this...

Alabama quarterbacks accumulated a QB Rating of 151.4 when targeting Ruggs, in part because only one of those catchable targets were dropped (2.4%).

MEDICAL CHECKS

Tua Tagovailoa, QB - Alabama

Now we’re getting into what really matters, especially for one name in particular. Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has a lot of money on the line as he vies to be the second quarterback off the board.

“According to reports, Tagovailoa’s three-month CT scan showed that his fractured hip in mid-November had fully healed. But where is he in terms of range of motion? What is the long-term prognosis? He also underwent tightrope surgery on both ankles so the full medical report will be vital for Tagovailoa’s draft projection. NFL teams are expecting to receive an update at the Combine, but the full medical report might not be ready until the re-checks in April.” - Dane Brugler, The Athletic

If he checks out, Tagovailoa could very well hear his name called in the top five. The Miami Dolphins own the fifth overall selection and are in need of a quarterback. Word is they’re extremely active on the phones at the moment and could be eyeing a trade up to secure their top signal-caller.

Laviska Shenault Jr., WR - Colorado

Shenault’s medical could either cement him in the first round discussion or slide him into day two. His injury history includes two surgeries which stemmed from a torn labrum and a battle with turf toe. Those injuries don’t seem related, but throw in an upper core muscle suffered in 2019 and the picture gets muddy.

Shenault has played in nine or more games each of his three seasons for the Buffaloes, but teams will wanted to ensure that Shenault is good and healthy entering his rookie campaign.

Jaylon Johnson, CB - Utah

Word is that Johnson will participate fully in the NFL Combine before undergoing surgery for a torn labrum that he played with through 2019. It will be his third shoulder surgery since high school.

Teams interested in his services will be interested in digging deep into his shoulder woes and may opt to spend one of their thirty official visits on Johnson to get a closer look at his rehabilitation.

Markus Bailey, LB - Purdue

With two ACL tears to his name, one suffered in 2015 and the other in 2019, Bailey will have a lot to prove when they check out his wheels in Indy. The Boilermaker is loved by many a scout for his obvious talent, but the fear is that he’s damaged goods. With the Eagles need at linebacker, he’s one to keep an eye on, but having read this you’re probably already a hard “no” on another big injury risk.

Other notable medical checks for potential Eagles targets include...

  • Javon Kinlaw, iDL - South Carolina (knee)
  • Jordyn Brooks, LB - Texas Tech (shoulder)
  • Bryce Hall, CB - Virginia (ankle)
  • Amik Robinson, CB - Louisiana Tech (groin)
  • Ashtyn Davis, DS - California (groin)
  • Antoine Winfield, DS - Minnesota (foot/hamstring)
  • Bryan Edwards, WR - South Carolina (foot/knee)
  • Brandon Aiyuk, WR Arizona State (abdominal)

INTERVIEWS

NFL draft prospects, what do they know? Do they know things? Let’s find out!

Jake Fromm, QB - Georgia

There isn’t much to glean from how a quarterback slings the pill in Indy that we don’t already know. Getting to tinker with what a guy has upstairs has way more value.

“When it comes to quarterback play, getting on the whiteboard is a big part of the process. For an experienced passer like Fromm, here is where he could shine. Fromm is perhaps Cody Kessler-plus, a quarterback who might lack upper-level traits but can win with anticipation and win with his mind... He might lack the ceiling of some of the other passers in this group, but I’d bet on his floor, and showing what he can do with his mind might be enticing to some teams.” - Mark Schofield, The Rookie Scouting Portfolio

Jauan Jennings, WR - Tennessee

Jennings is a sleeper darling of many in the draft analyst community, including Pro Football FocusMike Renner, but there are serious concerns about his maturity. In 2017 he was temporarily dismissed from the program after ranting about the coaching staff, followed by a suspension for a half of a bowl game after this stepping on another player’s face in a scuffle.

According to PFF, Jenning’s led all receivers with 30 broken tackles after the catch in 2019, so there’s plenty to like, but he could experience a tumble in the draft process if he can’t demonstrate that he’s ready to be a professional.

Tyler Johnson, WR - Minnesota

Two straight 1,000 yard seasons, 25 touchdowns in two years, polished route running... what are we missing? That’s what a lot of people were asking when Johnson was left out of the Senior Bowl, a decision that appeared to be made well ahead of time.

So, what’s the deal with Johnson? We don’t know yet, but the rumblings are there are serious character concerns.

Damon Arnette, CB - Ohio State

It’s hard to find a draft analyst that has dug into Arnette’s film not loving the on-field product. The question them becomes why there’s so much doubt in scouting circles about taking him high.

“Arnette made the wise decision to return for his senior season, playing like a player worthy of first-round consideration. While he has shown growth both on and off the field, NFL teams still have “major” questions about his emotional maturity and off-field decision-making that he must address during interviews.” - Dane Brugler, The Athletic

What about athletic testing? We’ll cross that bridge when we get there as the first group (QB/WR/TE) is set to hit the turf on Thursday.

You can hear our quarterback-specific discussion regarding the NFL Combine by listening to The QB Scho Show #53! Listen on the media player below or click here if the player doesn’t load! New to podcasts?! Check out our guide on how to listen and subscribe to BGN! FLY EAGLES FLY!