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Combine week is when the NFL draft process hits high gear. Here at Footballguys, we have wall-to-wall coverage of the event. Official size measurements and athletic testing help fill out the profile. The ultimate result is the release of Update 2.0 of The 2023 Rookie Draft Guide. Setting the stage, we gathered the staff for questions.
Who is a sleeper to watch during the NFL Combine?
RB Israel Abanikanda, Pittsburgh
Ben Cummins - Abanikanda is one of the youngest players in the entire draft, so I don’t have high hopes for his year-one production, but I’m keeping my eye on him at the combine. Abanikanda has good speed for a bigger back (around 215 pounds) and is a no-nonsense runner who gets North and South quickly. If he tests well, Abanikanda will be on my dynasty priority list as a running back who could break out in his second and/or third seasons in the right situation.
WR Cedric Tillman, Tennessee
Kyle Yates - While everyone's discussing Jalin Hyatt out of Tennessee, he has a teammate at the NFL Combine that's worth keeping an eye on. Cedric Tillman provides size (6-foot-3 and 215 pounds) to a class that is desperately needing it, and there are reports out there that he could end up testing much better than people are anticipating. If he tests well at that size, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him move up consensus draft boards.
WR Marvin Mims, Oklahoma
Christian Williams - While he shouldn't be a sleeper in a month, Marvin Mims looks like an excellent athlete on film and could surprise folks with his 40-yard dash time. Mims is an exceptional deep threat, displaying tracking ability and aggressive hands, but also possesses skills to win underneath. He was supremely productive throughout high school and college, and while he has some development ahead of him, I expect he'll leave Indianapolis on more radars.
Alfredo Brown - Mims was second in the nation in terms of yards after the catch per reception, with 8.1 YAC/REC amongst receivers with at least 80 targets. Mims broke out as a true freshman in 2020 with Spencer Rattler at the helm for the Oklahoma Sooners. In 2021, Mims had the luxury of playing with Caleb Williams, and he saw his average yards per reception jump from 16.5 to 22. In his final year with the Sooners, Mims was the leading receiver for his third quarterback in as many years - he saw career highs in targets (87), receptions (53), and receiving yards (1,082). As a player that makes his living on explosive plays, running well at the combine could be a huge boost for Mims.
WR Michael Wilson, Stanford
Jason Wood - Wilson played five seasons at Stanford and had three seasons with fewer than 20 receptions, and only had one season (2019) when he produced consistently (56 catches for 672 yards). But he has impressive size (6-foot-2, 208 pounds) in a class without many big Z-style receivers. Wilson was one of the bright spots at the Senior Bowl and was a standout in all three days of practice, and then he caught the game-winning touchdown in the game. If he can pass the medical examinations with flying colors at the Combine and looks fluid in drills, he could move up from a 4th/5th round pick to a 2nd/3rd rounder.
WR Parker Washington, Penn St.
Jay Stein - In a year of a ton of small and light WRs, Parker is, well, small but not light. Penn St. has him down at 5-foot-10 and 212 pounds, with about a 30.4 BMI. I think the cool kids would say that he is "thicc." That could be a differentiator, especially if you combine it with him being an early breakout and an early declare, two things I emphasize for wide receivers. The stats don't wow anyone, and he had a down year in 2022, but for a guy you can grab in the fourth round of rookie drafts, he seems like a sleeper to watch.
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