What's up, Doctson? Your draft stock.
Josh Doctson, wide receiver draft prospect out of TCU, woke up anyone who'd been sleeping on him with a huge NFL Scouting Combine performance.
On a day when a lot of wide receivers disappointed with slow runs, Doctson delivered a 4.50 official 40-yard dash time. Even better, his lower-body explosion numbers were nearly off-the-chart: a 41-inch vertical jump and 131-inch broad jump were first- and second-best among receivers, respectively, and second- and third-best out of all players tested through the first two days.
Doctson's MockDraftable.com spider graph shows just how wild his combine measurables are, compared to other receiver prospects:
After several straight drafts jam-packed with elite wideout talent, the 2016 class is comparatively thin. Without a lot of huge, fast, big-school wideouts with eye-popping numbers, most mockers didn't see a lot of high draft picks being spent at Doctson's position.
A Nov. 7 wrist fracture ended Doctson's season early, robbing him of two regular-season games and a bowl matchup against Oregon to impress scouts. It also kept him from accepting a prized invite to the Reese's Senior Bowl.
Going into draft-hype season without a lot of media buzz, Doctson didn't have much mindshare coming into the combine—but of course, NFL scouts and media evaluators have been all over his tape. NFL.com's Bucky Brooks compared Doctson to Houston Texans star DeAndre Hopkins. Bleacher Report NFL Draft Lead Writer Matt Miller compared Doctson to Keenan Allen and had Doctson at No. 35 on his most recent Big Board.
Given the lack of hype, Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Michael Whitlow recently wrote Doctson could be "the steal of the 2016 NFL draft." Whitlow favorably compared Doctson's frame, high-point ability and production to New York Giants superstar Odell Beckham Jr.—who, remember, was the third receiver off the board in the 2014 draft.
Doctson earned that comparison in the drills with an amazing display of reaction and hands, which impressed the NFL:
If there were questions about Doctson, it was whether he had the speed and explosion to dominate on every NFL route. Primarily a deep threat and high-point guy, he hasn't had to compete and win against elite cornerbacks across the entire route tree.
"My routes were limited due to our air raid, fast, uptempo offense," Doctson told Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "We didn’t run a lot of different routes, so that would probably be one of the biggest things [scouts want to see]."
He'll still have to develop and learn that craft in the NFL, and his iffy bench-press performance indicates he may struggle to win off the line of scrimmage. By proving he has jump-out-of-the-gym lower-body explosion, he's got the raw tools to add just about every weapon to his arsenal. Evaluators took to Twitter to express their admiration (and amazement):
Over the last 17 draft classes, there have been only 13 wide receivers to match the speed, vertical, broad, and height of Josh Doctson.— Zach Whitman (@zjwhitman) February 27, 2016
TCU WR Josh Doctson (6-2, 202): 4.5 40, 41" vertical jump, 10'11" broad jump + he stood out in positional drills. Great workout.— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) February 27, 2016
Josh Doctson might have worked his way into the first round with his 40 time and his work in drills today. #money— Charean Williams (@NFLCharean) February 27, 2016
Miller understands the excitement, but he tempered a little bit of the enthusiasm. As much opportunity as Doctson had to raise his stock among the receivers, there are just far too many outstanding talents at other positions to ink him in as a first-rounder:
I'm a big fan of Josh Doctson, I just don't see the fit in Rd1. Too many QBs, DL, OTs going to fill up those picks.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) February 27, 2016
My ideal fit for Josh Doctson: Cincinnati if they lose Sanu and Jones— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) February 27, 2016
All told, Doctson unquestionably made headlines, and some money, by coming up huge in the area scouts doubted him most. Even if he doesn't ascend to the top half of the first round, like Beckham did, his display of explosion and hands will undoubtedly prompt NFL teams with a need at receiver to rewind his tape and take an even-harder look.