NFL Combine Preparation – sorting the many flavors at Wide Receiver

Ever notice how Wide Receivers are like Baskin Robbins Ice Cream?  There are 31 flavors to choose from and they’re always changing.  Someone in the family will say, “Let’s go get Ice Cream” and then someone will say, “What kind do you want?”  Only to hear the reply, “Don’t really care, just want some ice cream.”

So Many Options

Of all the positions on an NFL roster, none varies from “flavor to flavor” like Wide Receiver.  I mean where can you find such an assortment of nuts, swirls, sprinkles, chips, flakes and plain old vanilla?  As the Football Educator has posted ad nauseum, the number one predictor of success on Sundays in the NFL is Offensive Pass Efficiency.  Certainly that starts with your Quarterback but ultimately ends in the hands of your Wide Receivers.  So how do we choose?  What factors should prospects be mixing into their NFL Combine preparation?

Past history in the NFL draft shows that many General Managers think they’re getting Rocky Road when they actually scooped up Butter Pecan (with full apologies to those that like Butter Pecan).  But over the long haul you’re more likely to remain attached to Rocky Road, as will your friends and family.  It has a nice combination of ingredients that are time tested proven over years and years of indulgence.

Feeding Frenzy

But I digress, back to Wide Receivers.  This is a tricky selection, yet one that most clubs feel they have to fill as quickly as possible.  Along with Defensive Ends and Cornerbacks, Wide Receiver on average has the most selections in the first round at four.  Then another four are taken in the second round until some thirty-four are pulled off the board before a frenzy of free agent activity begins.  Only Cornerbacks keep up with Wide Receivers through the 3rd round at twelve.  Following pick 4 your chances of finding a star are much less likely and fall off at about midway through the 2nd.  After which most WR’s selected eventually get rotated out of the freezer.

Can’t Live With Em, Can’t Live Without Em

There’s a boom or bust factor at the position that can drive GM’s crazy.  Ask Matt Millen.  Compared to all positions, Wide Receivers lag behind the average of those picks between 1 and 120 that achieve 56 starts in their first 5 seasons, yet 46% of 2 deep rosters come from picks 1 to 64 (close to QB’s, RB’s and DC’s).

It’s important to build a strong stable of receivers to enhance your chances of success.  Heck, Tim Tebow even had Demaryious Thomas and Eric Decker to throw it up to this season.  Imagine that 46.5% completion percentage without those two?

A Perfect Mix of Ingredients

So what ingredients in NFL Combine preparation make your favorite Wide Receiver?  Using the Joe Landers “Relevance of the Combine – Forecasting NFL Success With Physical Attribute Tests”, it’s a safe bet that prospects who Exceeded Peer Average (EPA) in 6 of the 7 events were three times more likely to start or make the two-deep than those who didn’t.  The prime ingredient – 40 yard dash time.  83% of those players that were EPA in the 40 ended up starting, another 76% on the two-deep.

But like our Ice Cream analogy, it can’t be the only ingredient.  Otherwise you get a scoop of Silver and Black.  There are two other must haves that ensure almost a slam dunk; vertical jump 83%, broad jump 65%.  After that it’s take your pick and just like Ice Cream there are plenty of combinations to choose from.

Just stay clear of the Butter Pecan.