5 Best Ball Rookies Most Impacted by 2023 NFL Combine

Every week this draft season we’re going to discuss our best ball outlooks on five different players. This week, we’re going to tackle five rookies whose best ball value was significantly impacted by their combine performance. Josh Larky’s thoughts are in standard text, while Ryan Reynolds’ are in italics.

1. Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

  • 6-foot-4, 244 pounds
  • Anthony Richardson (scouting report) ran a 4.43 40-yard dash and set vertical and broad jump records at the position.
  • He is a historic athlete at quarterback.
  • He has Cam Newton’s size with Justin Field‘s speed, which is an unprecedented combination.
  • The ceiling is considerable, but he completed just 54 percent of his 327 passes last season for just 7.8 yards per attempt with a 17-9 TD-INT ratio.
  • Josh expects a Jalen Hurts-type rookie season, where Richardson will have some gadget packages early with only a few starts at the end of the season.
  • That playing time expectation is why I’m getting uncomfortable with Richardson at the current ADP.
  • Richardson’s ADP is becoming too high for a player that probably won’t start for a significant portion of the season.
  • Even with Richardson’s ADP rise, I will consider targeting him on teams where I intend to draft three quarterbacks because I didn’t get a true QB1.
  • In that scenario, I view Richardson as the home run swing with a volatile floor due to playing time uncertainty.

2. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State 

  • 6-foot-1, 196 pounds
  • Jaxon Smith-Njigba (scouting report) did not run the 40-yard dash but had an eye-popping 6.57 three-cone time.
  • If you add up his 3-cone and short shuttle, his figure is better than Tyreek Hill’s, via PlayerProfiler.
  • He’s a similar size to Ja’Marr Chase.
  • Even though he did not run the 40-yard dash, his ridiculous three-cone time shows he’s an elite athlete with exceptional agility.
  • There are two primary ways for an athlete to create separation: through speed or through change of direction ability. Smith-Njigba tested at the top of the food chain with his change of direction ability.
  • His ADP has not, as of yet, significantly changed since the combine.
  • Among the reasons that Smith-Njigba was an early fade for me is that he opened near his peak value (at least until we find out which team he ends up on). 
  • We both think that Smith-Njigba has an Amon-Ra St. Brown-type ceiling.
  • I will target Smith-Njigba more on full PPR best ball platforms like DraftKings than I will on Underdog.

Darnell Washington Georgia Tight End

3. Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia 

  • 6-foot-7, 264 pounds
  • Darnell Washington (scouting report) ran a 4.46 40-yard dash and added a 31-inch vertical jump.
  • He was not an overly productive pass-catcher in college, which has me close to out on him in his first year as a pro. I have more interest in Washington in dynasty formats.
  • I would compare Washington to Jelani Woods, only with less production in college and almost certainly a higher draft position. 
  • As mentioned in the TE primer, I love Washington as a football player, but I’m not too bullish on him exceeding increasing fantasy expectations in his rookie season.
  • I may change that stance some based on his landing spot, but for now I intend to just sprinkle in some Washington exposure at current ADP.

4. Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU 

  • 5-foot-11, 195 pounds
  • Kayshon Boutte (scouting report) ran a 4.5 40-yard dash but had a very low 29-inch vertical jump.
  • Boutte has character concerns, and his extremely low vertical jump has me questioning his work ethic.
  • Draft position is a significant part of my process, and it will greatly determine how I ultimately value Boutte this draft season.
  • Boutte is interesting on video, but his disappointing combine frames him as a below-average athlete, and it’s why Josh is concerned about Boutte’s work ethic.
  • I will still consider buying low on Boutte if his ADP continues to freefall, but I’m more concerned about his floor now than I was a week ago

UCLA Running Back Zach Charbonnet

5. Zach Charbonett, RB, UCLA 

  • 6-foot, 214 ponds
  • Zach Charbonett (scouting report) ran a 4.53 40-yard dash, had a 37-inch vertical jump and 18 reps on the bench press.
  • He’s the clear RB3 in this class now.
  • He has good size, with more than 1,100 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns in back-to-back seasons.
  • He had 24 receptions as a junior, then 37 as a senior.
  • His ADP hasn’t dramatically changed yet, but I was in a draft a few days ago where he was taken 77th overall.
  • You can expect that to be around where Charbonett’s pre-draft ADP settles.
  • I feel similarly about Charbonett as I did about Rachaad White this time last season. I actually think I like Charbonett a bit more as a pure talent.

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