Combine Day One recap: TE targets & an electric WR group

March 3rd, 2022 | Written by Rob Staton

UCLA’s Greg Dulcich had a terrific combine

The Seahawks’ likely options at tight end

In our big combine preview, we highlighted how critical agility testing is in projecting potential Seahawks picks at tight end.

Here’s a recap of all of the short shuttle and three cone times of the players drafted and signed during the Pete Carroll era:

Luke Willson — 4.29 (ss), 7.08 (3c)
Will Dissly — 4.40 (ss), 7.07 (3c)
Nick Vannett — 4.20 (ss), 7.05 (3c)
Anthony McCoy — 4.57 (ss), 6.99 (3c)
Zach Miller — 4.42 (ss), 7.01 (3c)
Jimmy Graham — 4.45 (ss), 6.90 (3c)
Greg Olsen — 4.48 (ss), 7.04 (3c)
Colby Parkinson — 4.46 (ss), 7.15 (3c)
Gerald Everett — 4.33 (ss), 6.99 (3c)

You can see that three cone’s in the sub-7.10 range are a trend. A short shuttle under 4.50 is also preferred.

Here are the players who fit that criteria who tested at the combine today:

Austin Allen — 4.26 (ss), 7.00 (3c)
Chase Allen — 4.43 (ss), 7.03 (3c)
Jake Ferguson — 4.48 (ss), 7.03 (3c)
Greg Dulcich — 4.37 (ss), 7.05 (3c)
Daniel Bellinger — 4.47 (ss), 7.05 (3c)
Cole Turner — 4.41 (ss), 7.06 (3c)
Curtis Hodges — 4.28 (ss), 7.14 (3c)

Peyton Hendershot (4.25) ran a short shuttle but not a three cone.

If you want a comparison on how good these times are, here’s the agility testing for a select handful of receivers who took part:

Jalen Tolbert — 7.08 (3c)
Alec Pierce — 4.28 (ss), 7.13 (3c)
Skyy Moore — 4.32 (ss), 7.13 (3c)
Jahan Dotson — 7.28 (3c)
Khalil Shakir — 4.21 (ss), 7.28 (3c)
Treylon Burks — 7.28 (3c)
Garrett Wilson — 4.36 (ss)

There’s your perspective. Greg Dulcich ran a faster short shuttle than Garrett Wilson and a faster three cone than Alec Pierce. Jake Ferguson might’ve run a 4.81 forty but his short area quickness and agility is superior to several of the receivers who ran a 4.3 or 4.4.

Trey McBride, Jalen Wydermyer and Jelani Woods disappointingly didn’t do the agility testing. Isaiah Likely — who I thought looked terrific during on-field workouts — only ran a 4.57 short shuttle.

Jeremy Ruckert and Cade Otton didn’t test.

It’s not a long list of options. Hopefully pro-days will add to it. Clearly Ruckert and Otton are very capable of being high picks when healthy.

It’s long been billed as a deep, talented tight end class. And it is — compared to previous TE classes. However, I suspect the small list here increases the chances of Gerald Everett returning to Seattle, or the Seahawks pivoting to a player such as O.J. Howard on a cheap prove-it deal.

Greg Dulcich would be a terrific option but I think with him you’re talking about #41 or not at all. He stood out during drills. He showed a great release into his routes, a burst of acceleration and he looked like a natural athlete who can be a terror in the passing game. He had a 10-2 broad jump, the second best among TE’s.

I’ve been grading him as the top tight end and talking him up as a potential second rounder for months. There’s a very good chance he’ll be the first player taken at his position, likely in the first half of round two to a team like the Jaguars or Jets.

Jake Ferguson, a blog favourite for three years, ticked the agility boxes. He’s a terrific player who is being underrated. Running a 4.81 forty might keep him on the board into round four, where Seattle have a pair of early picks.

One thing Ferguson lacks is great length. Chase Allen is 6-6, 251lbs and has 34 1/8 inch arms. He was the first player I watched on Thursday night. He is an extremely willing blocker with plus athleticism who can play in-line on any call. He does a good job working to the second level and playing to the whistle to find space and an outlet for the quarterback. Allen is useful latching on to blocks in space on WR screens and he’s a grafter at the LOS, giving as good as he got against players like Kayvon Thibodeaux. I was seriously impressed with his tape and think, paired with his agility testing, he could be a very useful player at the next level. You need guys like this.

Austin Allen is even bigger at 6-8 and 253lbs with 33 5/8 inch arms. I watched him next. He’s adept at blocking down initially then releasing into a route to provide a late target or safety valve. He’s long and lean and moves well — occasionally playing H-back and then advancing on a route uncovered. He’s fearless catching in traffic and absorbs a lot of hits (likely due to his long, big target of a frame). He presents his hands to the ball well, catches away from his body and can high-point way above defenders. Allen is deceptively quick and can break free of coverage to provide an option on scramble drills. He has untapped red-zone potential.

Cole Turner is strictly a passing TE at this point but he does that job well and was a reliable target for Carson Strong.

It was a shame to see Isaiah Likely have a less than stellar short shuttle. During drills he was aggressively attacking his routes, making difficult catches and he just looked the part. Tre McBride equally made an impression and looked incredibly smooth running routes and catching the ball.

We’ll have to check in on their pro-day numbers.

Jelani Woods didn’t do any agility testing or jumps either which is a shame given his combination of sizeable frame and 4.61 speed. He looked good today and I’ve been grading him in round three. We need to see him do some of the missing tests at pro-day to get a fuller picture of what he can be at the next level.

The receivers put on a stunning show of athleticism

For all the attention the tight end class has received over the last few months, this has always felt like a deep rather than exciting receiver class.

Not any more.

Several players outperformed expectations. We’ll come on to that in a moment.

Firstly, let’s focus on Seattle.

Pete Carroll has only drafted three receivers who haven’t run a 4.4 forty or faster:

Kenny Lawler — 4.64
Chris Harper — 4.50
John Ursua — 4.56

The rest all cracked the 4.4’s:

Paul Richardson — 4.40
Golden Tate — 4.42
Tyler Lockett — 4.40
Kris Durham — 4.46
Kevin Norwood — 4.48
Amara Darboh — 4.45
David Moore — 4.42
D.K. Metcalf — 4.33
Freddie Swain — 4.46
Dee Eskridge — 4.38

We have enough data now to say definitively — unless a player runs a 4.4 or faster, the Seahawks are unlikely to consider them until the later rounds.

An incredible nine players ran a 4.3 or faster at the combine today. In total, 18 qualify in the 4.4 or faster category.

A general rule in the modern NFL is you’re only as good as your #3 receiver. Spending a high pick on Dee Eskridge likely rules out another top pick being spent on a receiver. The Seahawks also have a cluster of other needs. However, there are players that could and maybe should be considered among this list:

Tyquan Thornton — 4.28
Velus Jones — 4.31
Calvin Austin — 4.32
Alec Pierce — 4.33
Danny Gray — 4.33
Bo Melton — 4.34
Christian Watson — 4.36
Garrett Wilson — 4.38
Chris Olave — 4.39
Skyy Moore — 4.41
Isaiah Weston — 4.42
Jahan Dotson — 4.43
Khalil Shakur — 4.43
Kevin Austin — 4.43
Wan’Dale Robinson — 4.44
George Pickens — 4.47
Braylon Sanders — 4.48
Jalen Tolbert — 4.49

A large chunk of this lot are going to go in the first three rounds.

If the Seahawks are going to take a receiver — there’s a decent chance they’re named above.

If they believe Eskridge will ultimately develop into a top WR3 — then the fact the receivers showed so well is good news for Seattle. If the league taps into this position early and often, it increases the chances of good players at other positions (offensive and defensive linemen perhaps) lasting to Seattle.

I didn’t expect Ohio State pair Olave and Wilson to run as well as they did. They will almost certainly go in the top-20 after this. They were always polished and productive. I thought they’d test only reasonably, limiting their stock to the top-40.

That was clearly a significant misjudgement.

Given the lack of clear top-10 options this year, it shouldn’t be a surprise if either play moves into that range after running this quickly.

I’ve been a big fan of Alec Pierce, Wan’Dale Robinson and Calvin Austin. I’ve rated them higher than most and the way they ran and went through drills likely means, if anything, I should’ve bumped them even higher.

Pierce led all receivers with a 40.5 inch vertical, with Austin just behind at 39 inches.

I think the trio tick a lot of boxes for Seattle if they last into range in rounds three or four.

Pierce gets downfield, wins at the red-line and high-points. It felt easy to project Gary Jennings to Seattle a few years ago. Pierce feels like a bigger, faster, more explosive version.

Robinson has a sturdy frame and he competes like crazy. He reminds me, at least in terms of how he’s built, to Golden Tate.

Austin is dynamic and shifty. He’s not Tyler Lockett but they can do similar things.

Other names that stood out today were Christian Watson (a truly dynamic downfield receiver at North Dakota State), Jahan Dotson (who looked very smooth, polished and quick) and Skyy Moore (perhaps a tad overplayed on the broadcast but he still performed well).

I might have 10-12 receivers graded in rounds 1-2 after this. There are names on the 4.4-runner list I need to go away and study.

One receiver who struggled was Treylon Burks. He looked heavy and like he was carrying bad weight. His frame is unrefined. He will fall based on this performance.

A final note on the receivers. If you want a clear example of the impact of the change to prime-time and messing with the schedule, here it is:

Receivers running a three-cone in 2017: 40
Receivers running a three-cone in 2022: 13

Receivers doing the bench press in 2017: 45
Receivers doing the bench press in 2022: 3

Thoughts on the quarterbacks

The production, frequent commercial breaks, forced banter from the on-air talent and camera angles made it difficult to assess the QB’s. Here are a few thoughts anyway.

Malik Willis showed the strongest arm and biggest ‘wow’ factor physically. He also showed an ability to throw with comfort and control when he shifted down the gears. Willis had a nice ‘deep throw’ duel with Carson Strong but he was the winner. He might’ve separated himself from the other QB’s here.

With the veteran quarterback market being colder than expected, Willis could end up being drafted a lot higher than is perhaps justified. Teams can sell the idea of going for him on physical talent. Carolina and Washington could be options in round one. Pittsburgh could trade up for him.

To max-out his talent, though, I think he needs to play in a Greg Roman-style offense. He struggles to read the field, he sets off when the first read isn’t there, he doesn’t do a good enough job with his hots and he had a lot of turnovers largely due to poor mechanics.

Regardless, this was a good day for Willis. He has the creativity, the arm and the improvisation teams love in the modern NFL.

Kenny Pickett looked fine. There was nothing particularly wrong, just nothing that spectacular either. He looked very comfortable. I didn’t like the two hitches he used on some of his throws, throwing against thin air. It won’t be a surprise if he goes in round one too because again — there’s a huge QB need this year and teams will convince themselves that Pickett can be a Derek Carr type.

Desmond Ridder the athlete was sensational. He ran a 4.52, jumped a 36 inch vertical and a 10-7 broad jump. His physical profile is by far the most appealing and that could put him in the top-40. However, some of his accuracy issues showed up again during drills. He was throwing inside too much on passes intended to be closer to the sideline. He was a fraction off sometimes. He also had some really good throws too.

Carson Strong showed off his arm (and he needed to after a mediocre Senior Bowl). However his accuracy was hit and miss and he bizarrely threw low on several occasions. Nerves? Pressure?

Sam Howell was poor for me. He’s nothing special as an athlete and his accuracy and ball placement wasn’t that good. To me he’s a poor man’s Baker Mayfield and looks like a very average prospect.

Jack Coan, however, looked decent. Reasonable arm. Decent accuracy. Delivered some nice passes with a variety of touch and velocity. He’s also a better athlete than expected — jumping a 33 inch vertical and a 9-7 broad.

Tomorrow the running backs and offensive linemen perform. It’s ‘TEF’ day at Seahawks Draft Blog — and we know what Seattle likes in a running back too. Join us for our live blog producing constant updates throughout the day. Then we’ll have another end-of-day recap (including all of the TEF scores).

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39 Responses to “Combine Day One recap: TE targets & an electric WR group”

  1. JimQ says:

    Maybe I missed it, but I thought Robbie was going to do some “on site” input & impressions?

    • Rob Staton says:

      Robbie is going to provide input.

      But he doesn’t work for the NFL Network so he hasn’t got a broadcast desk at Lucas Oil Field. And it’s 4am here and I’m not doing a stream, with three more days of this to come.

      Patience…

      • Peter says:

        Really looking forward to whatever you and him have cooking.

        The nfl is such a mess not totally sure Robbie couldn’t just take over a desk when no one was paying attention…

  2. uptop says:

    Alec Pierce has been draft crush for a while now. I hope he can last to 74, but after todays testing I doubt it.

    • Seattle Person says:

      It was really impressive how many WRs looked fast. Like Rob said, this might be great news! Teams need WRs and QBs. My hope is that teams overdraft these positions and push down better players. In a already deep class, there will be more to pick from.

    • JimQ says:

      I read somewhere that Alec Pierce had a sub 1.50 ten-yard split to go along with his other ++ numbers.

  3. MarkinSeattle says:

    Kevin Austin could be someone worth taking a late round (6th round?) flyer on. The Notre Dame receivers were horribly coached, when you have guys learning more from YouTube videos than their coach, it tells you something. He is physically impressive at 6’-2” with good speed, so may be worth a late round shot.

  4. Rob Staton says:

    I’ve updated the article to include a comparison between the TE and WR agility testing which really emphasises the point on how well some of the TE’s performed

  5. Palatypus says:

    Kay Adams just measured her hands at 9.25″ on good morning football.

    Kenny Pickett was 8.5.

    • Ross says:

      When i saw that 8.5″ measurement yesterday, I measured my own hands – which i’ve always considered on the smaller side. Also 8.5″ – there’s no way hands that size doesn’t affect your ability to throw, and hang onto, the football.

      Reminds me of Dave Krieg. Small hands, terrible fumble issues.

    • Rob Staton says:

      I measured yesterday at 9.

    • Peter says:

      Unless Pickett has the grip/crush strength of my favorite Strongman, Marc Felix, his hand size will be a problem.

      I’m 5′ 9″ and have bigger hands then him.

      And it’s already shown at Pitt with terrible fumbling issues.

  6. BobbyK says:

    I hope they draft a RB and focus on defense in this draft. I’m so sick of the Seahawks getting tight ends that don’t do much (even if they’re good – the Seahawks will make sure they don’t reach their potential). Just resign Dissly (he’ll only require a modest deal) and another FA like him who can block. They have so many needs instead of wasting resources on a tight end they either won’t use or use correctly. My biggest fear is a supposedly good pass receiving TE they make block a guy Bosa all the time. I’m sick of it. Draft a young DE, DT, OLB, CB, RB, OL instead.

    • TomLPDX says:

      I hope we keep Dissly also.

    • Peter says:

      I hear you. Hard to get super stoked yesterday. A differently built team where you could marry need to BPA could have you really excited about TE’s. A guy in tge 6th round? Sure.

      Same for WR and as Rob noted there are a lot of interesting prospects. Three dynamic recievers could be a really nice problem for teams to solve.

      Watching Pierce play he does a lot of things different than Metcalf. Extremely fast through the gears as he slips by recievers abd will absolutely go up and get it. But i think he’s going third round.

      Maybe Christian Watson lasts til the fourth? I’d love to see Seattle have a YAC guy who can take plays out of the backfield and get right up to speed. Plus he’s fun to watch. There’s a bunch of plays where he lands after getting a jump ball and in half a step he’s turning up field for extra yards.

      • Rob Staton says:

        It’d be nice to fix the priorities in FA for once to allow us to go BPA.

        Because the talent in this draft is rich.

        • Peter says:

          You have broken in down in countless great pieces. Get Chandler Jones or maybe Landry. Give Calais Campbell a solid deal. Maybe find the money for Brian Allen.

          And then they can look at Dulcich in the second. I’d love a great TE on this team if other issues were resolved.

          Or. Still go defense with Travis Jones at 41. Rewatching his Senior bowl drills who wouldn’t want that guy shoving centers into the QB? And go get a third WR? Maybe Eskridge is the future maybe not but Pete has always had a penchant for adding firepower at WR.

  7. Denver Hawker says:

    Willis may have pushed himself to the first QB off the board. Heard on the radio that teams really liked his chalk talk too. Some very impressed with his game knowledge and read abilities.

    That said, none of these QBs strike me as future Top 12 league QBs so why bother?

    • Rob Staton says:

      If by read abilities they mean reading the field, they haven’t studied him.

    • Peter says:

      It’s the hope that kills you. If you’re the commanders or Denver and you are not or can not swing Rodgers, etc, you can’t show up on Sunday doing what you did last year. You live there, in Denver and we’ve talked about this most places aren’t Seattle where you can punt on drafts because you’re just “good enough.”

      I actually feel bad for Denver fans because they are way too dialed in to know that anything less than Rodgers means probably outside looking in next year. A bridge QB isn’t going to make that fan base excited.

  8. j hawk says:

    Rob put up five names at RB the Hawks may be targeting. I you tubed them and found the back I liked the most. Kenneth Walker has break away speed and vision although not the size usually desired by the Hawks. He looks really good to me.

    • Peter says:

      Will be interesting to see what his real measurements are at the combine. I rarely use the college listed numbers.

      If he comes in a few pounds lighter than 225lb i think he’s a great prospect.

      I still think teams are going to love Pierce’s attitude. Players and coaches really seemed to “get up,” for him at the senior bowl.

    • Rob Staton says:

      Walker is a good player but his playing style isn’t necessarily Seahawky.

      Dameon Pierce is the guy most aligned to what they look for in terms of style and profile

      • BobbyK says:

        I know you like Pierce and you’ve gotten me to like him a lot, too (I’ve watched a bunch of games on youtube). What do you think of Brian Robinson in comparison because I really like the two. Robinson just seems to run like such a man’s man as well.

      • Seattle Person says:

        Given the full commitment to a Waldron offense that will probably mimic the Rams — I’ve looked at 1 cut and go type of RBs too. No one is going to say Penny is overly physical like Carson. But Penny has a great ability to read, cut, and go. To me, Breece Hall has this great ability. He’s not going to be crazy fast like Penny but he has great vision. Someone that is a little smaller but with tons of upside is Jerome Ford. He might not run fast but he’s always running away from defenders. I think he has 3-down potential. He’s very explosive.

        I am interested to see if the Hawks stay with their RB profile or change it a little bit to find other RBs too. Breece Hall and Jerome Ford can be quite effective on the Rams, Cards, or 49ers.

  9. Tomas says:

    If Carroll ignores, or looks for bargain-basement solutions to the OL — again — he’d be well-advised to land a better back-up for Russell than Geno. Russ is THE prize asset, protect him. Don’t park the Lamborghini in the unlighted back alley behind the house, for crying’ out loud. Substantially fortifying the OL should be the highest priority IMO.

    • Rob Staton says:

      Well yes. That tweet pictured is out of context though. The trend is that 13 receivers did the three cone only. Compared to 40 five years ago.

      Same thing happened with the bench press today.

      The NFL is screwing its own event with all this prime time bollocks

  10. GoHawksDani says:

    Wow, Austin Allen run that well for such a big dude?
    I don’t know anything about him but that’s pretty impressive

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