The NFL Scouting Combine has a new format that is underway. The prior structure of daytime scheduled workouts throughout the course of a week has now shifted to the evening in 2020. In the first night, Indianapolis displayed both the depth and diversity of one of the greatest prospective wide receiver class in league history.
With such a plethora of talent, there were three individuals that will make the Raider front office think twice about overlooking them.
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The First Day Of The NFL Combine
The first day of the combine is in the books. Seven hours of continuous field quarterback, tight end and wide receiver drills did not disappoint. Alabama Crimson Tide’s Jerry Jeudy and Oklahoma Sooners’ CeeDee Lamb both enamored all at Lucas Oil Stadium on Thursday night. In fact, the final two repetitions describes where they are vs everyone else:
— Christopher Reiss – Sports Bettor (@ChrisReissPicks) February 28, 2020
The two of them, are in a level of their own and both made persuasive pushes to be selected in the top 10. Knowing the Raiders hold the 12th and 19th overall draft selections, it’s worth wondering if there are receivers that merit selection within the 10th-20th range? There were three players in particular that will make it hard on the Silver and Black.
Brandon Aiyuk – Arizona State Sun Devils
â™¦ Height: 5-11 5/8”
â™¦ Weight: 205 pounds
â™¦ Hand: 9 6/8”
â™¦ Arm: 33 1/2”
â™¦ Wingspan: 80”
Aiyuk entered the combine as just another name to some, but after his top five performances in both the vertical and broad jumps, the wide out proceeded to then run a 4.50 in the 40-yard dash. DespiteÂ his Thursday night success, the road to Indianapolis was not simple for the Rocklin, California native. Due to academic issues, many larger collegiate programs refused to offer him a scholarship in fear of his ability (or lack thereof) to maintain academic eligibility. As a result, he decided to attend Sierra Junior College for two seasons. In those two seasons, Aiyuk amassed 2,500 all-purpose yards and 21 touchdowns.
This caught the eye of Arizona State University, which then gladly accepted him in his junior season. His first year with the Sun Devils was overshadowed by New England Patriots 2019 first round draft pick N’Keal Harry. However, Aiyuk was given his chance to shine as a senior. Playing wide receiver, he finished his senior season with 65 catches for 1,192 yards, and eight touchdowns in 12 games started. Moreover, his special teams play was just as effective. As the Raiders look to acquire talent at the wide receiver position, it should not surprise anyone if the team decides to double dip and take the most electric man from Arizona State on both offense and special teams.
Justin Jefferson – Louisiana State University Tigers
â™¦ Height: 6-1 2/8”
â™¦ Weight: 202 pounds
â™¦ Hand: 9 1/8”
â™¦ Arm: 33”
â™¦ Wingspan: 78”
Thursday night was beneficial for Jefferson’s draft stock as well. The Tigers playmaker generated a blazing 4.43 second 40 yard dash time, the eighth best time of his position group. He also saw top 15 placements in the vertical and broad jump events. Similar to Aiyuk, Jefferson let the world know how much of athlete he is after media statements alleged he could only play the slot receiver position at the pro level. Unlike Aiyuk though, Jefferson became a household name during LSU’s march to the 2019 National Championship. As displayed last year, Raiders general manager Mike Mayock preference was players that came from elite programs. Specifically, Mayock selected four prospects that participated in the 2018 collegiate title game. Jefferson precisely fits what the Raiders are looking for, an explosive player that can line up at all three receiver positions and make the tough catches.
A former two star ranked receiver joining LSU, has the potential to join the Raiders and once again make the most of his opportunity.
Henry Ruggs III – Alabama Crimson Tide
â™¦ Height: 5-11”
â™¦ Weight: 188 pounds
â™¦ Hand: 10 1/8”
â™¦ Arm: 30 1/2”
â™¦ Wingspan: 74 4/8”
Last but not least is the speed demon himself. Alabama Crimson Tide’s Henry Ruggs is the most explosive player in the entire draft class at the receiver position in terms of speed. The most anticipated event of the combine did not disappoint.
— NFL (@NFL) February 28, 2020
Officially clocked at 4.27 seconds, he holds the fastest time of all players in this year’s combine and .5 seconds off the incredible 4.22 combine record. In addition, he finished top 5 in the vertical and broad jumps as well. While his speed is undeniable, the Montgomery, Alabama native brings more to the table than just speed. For a man of smaller stature compared to other prospective receivers, Henry has large hands at 10 1/8 inches. Those large hands managed to only drop 1 ball in his two-year collegiate career at Alabama.
As seen in the video above, he plays larger than his stature indicates. That toughness and speed would have the late Al Davis pounding the table for him. Interestingly enough, Jon Gruden also loves speed, a facet the Raiders receiver corp are missing and will be addressed within the next 60 days. While the combine is a measuring tool for controlled athletic talent there is one concept to be remembered.
NFL Combine: The Bottom Line
Brandon Aiyuk, Justin Jefferson, and Henry Ruggs blew scouts away with their impressive feats at the Combine. However, it is important to remember that the event is a measuring tool, one that either confirms film footage or indicates something scouts may have missed watching tape. For these three players, the combine reinforces the fact they have explosive threats. and will be viable options for the Raiders at either pick 12 or 19 depending on how the draft shakes out. The Raiders have a buffet of playmakers to choose from thanks to the NFL Combine. Hopefully, they will not end up starving themselves.
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