INDIANAPOLIS — Wave after wave of offensive prospects for the 2020 NFL Draft passed through Lucas Oil Stadium this weekend, firmly stating their case to be an in-demand asset for April's annual draft.
For many, the chance to alleviate or prove preconceived notions about their athletic ability was a coveted opportunity, especially in the wide receiver position. The 2020 receiver class? It's jam-packed with potential top-100 talents as evidenced by some of the claims from the draft industry that indicated we could see as many 25-30 receivers go in the first three rounds.
That amount is, of course, rather ambitious. But with that many of wide receivers that could at least stake a claim to putting forth top-100 status, the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine experience will undoubtedly help sift through the chaos of a crowded group.
Who made the most of the opportunity? Here are the big winners among receivers this year.
Justin Jefferson, LSU
Justin Jefferson entered this week with questions about his speed. The perception of Jefferson is that he would need to exclusively be a slot receiver because of his lack of burst, but that was before Jefferson, who is one of the more accomplished route runners in this year's class, went out and blazed a 4.43-second 40-yard dash. That is a huge win for Jefferson, who also oozes confidence and should have little issue acting as a high volume pass catcher for his next team at the pro level.
Jefferson tested above the 75th-percentile in every drill he participated in:
- 4.43-second 40-yard dash (76th percentile)
- 37.5-inch vertical jump (77th percentile)
- 10-foot-6-inch broad jump (83rd percentile)
A perceived "limited athlete" who posts that kind of pop in their tests is something that can completely change the narrative.
Donovan Peoples-Jones, Michigan
Donovan Peoples-Jones is one of the more underrated prospects in this class given his lack of high-end production. But Peoples-Jones' talent was something of a hidden treasure in Michigan's streaky offense throughout the course of his career. The gifted receiver struggled to consistently see touches over the last two seasons while playing with quarterback Shea Patterson.
But Peoples-Jones' explosiveness is a significant indicator of what could be in the right scenario. The athleticism has never been in question, as the man known as "DPJ" has boasted significant flashes on film in high-point scenarios. But the reaffirmation of how special of an athlete he is as a 6-foot-2-inch, 212-pound receiver should offer him the tiebreaker needed against other Round 2 prospects.
Denzel Mims, Baylor
Denzel Mims is quickly primed to be the 2020 poster-child for the NFL draft process. First, Mims went to Mobile, Alabama, and tore up the Senior Bowl with his wins against nearly any defensive back they managed to put across from him. And now? Mims ripped off some astronomical numbers at the combine. He was a top performer in the 40-yard dash (4.38 seconds), vertical jump (38.5 inches), broad jump (10 feet 11 inches) and the 3-cone drill (6.66 seconds). Among his top athletic profile comparisons? 2019 AFC receiving leaders DeVante Parker and D.J. Chark.
Tack on Mims' enjoyable interview Tuesday, where he pumped up his blocking skills of all things, and he has the size, attitude and explosiveness to make a massive push through the receiver rankings of teams and analysts alike.
Chase Claypool, Notre Dame
Chase Claypool wasn't a player who I was highly enamored with when I studied his film. He appears to be fairly raw as a route runner and he will undoubtedly face some questions about a conversion to tight end. But his testing numbers could help stave off such a conversation.
Claypool has one of the most impressive size and athletic profiles of any receiver in this class. How good was his run at the combine? He's just the second wide receiver in history to run a sub-4.45-second 40-yard dash above 235 pounds. The other one? Calvin Johnson.
Needless to say, stock up.