As we know, the NFL is a copycat league, both in terms of playcalling and player profiling. That means you should expect to hear some comparisons at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine between prospects and current pro players.
Here are six that might come to light at the combine:
Devin Duvernay, WR, Texas: The Deebo Samuel
The San Francisco 49ers wide receiver had a good rookie season, thanks in part to his power and speed combination at 5’11 and 214 pounds. In the copycat NFL, some teams will be looking for sub-6’0 wide receivers built like a running back, such as Samuel.
Duvernay could be that player. His numbers spiked as a senior (106 catches, 1,386 yards, nine touchdowns), and at 5’10 and 200 pounds, Duvernay fits the mold perfectly. He should time well in drills too. Although he might not be a top-50 player, he should be productive early in his career.
Leki Fotu, DT, Utah: The Vita Vea
There’s something old-school fun about a player like Fotu. Sure, in the NFL he might only be a two-down, run-stopping defensive tackle. But there can still be a market for that type of player. Just ask the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who led the NFL in run defense last season with Vea filling up multiple gaps.
Fotu can be the same type of player. He might also show at the combine he’s the strongest player in the draft.
A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa: The Cameron Jordan
Epenesa has consistently landed inside the top 20 of 2020 mock drafts since this time last year, in large part for his ability to get to the quarterback and set the edge against the run. Even if Epenesa has an ordinary combine week, remember it’s all relative to his size.
Epenesa running in the mid 4.7-second range in the 40-yard dash means a lot more at 275 pounds than it does at 250. Jordan was in that range and put up 25 reps in the bench press in 2011. If Epenesa can log similar numbers, watch the comparisons to grow. Get your spider charts ready.
Titans running back Derrick Henry captured the hearts of the football nation last season, carrying his team to the AFC Championship Game. It’s impossible to find a back built like Henry considering he’s 6’3 and 250 pounds. The closest running back in this draft that combines size and explosiveness is Dillon.
Dillon has speed and power despite being 250 pounds, and finished his college career with 4,382 yards and 38 touchdowns on the ground.
Adam Trautman, TE, Dayton: The George Kittle
This one was difficult, but if there’s a Kittle clone in this draft, Trautman has the best chance to be it. Trautman, who played quarterback until he got to college, is a good athlete and his basketball background shows up in his play. He’s comfortable going up and making tough catches, and is hard to take down after the catch. His blocking is better than most tight end prospects this year, and he profiles as a lead tight end like Kittle.
But can he match Kittle’s incredible 2017 combine performance? Kittle ran the 40-yard dash in 4.52 seconds and had a 123-inch broad jump at Lucas Oil Stadium, displaying his impressive explosiveness. If Trautman comes close to those numbers, he’ll go much higher than 146th, where Kittle was picked by the 49ers.
Forget J.J. — T.J. Watt is now the best football player in his family tree. He had a breakout 2019 season that we should have seen coming. At the combine in 2017, Watt finished second among linebackers in the vertical jump and three-cone drills, and tied for first in the broad jump and short shuttle.
This is also a difficult comparison to find, but Gross-Matos may come the closest. He’s tall and lankly like Watt and has reportedly hit the low 4.5-second range in the 40.