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NFL Combine Stock Up, Stock Down: WRs Xavier Legette, Ricky Pearsall flying high

The 2024 NFL Combine has now come and gone. It’s always a fun event to see prospects compete in a different avenue, but take it for what it is: simply an athletic and skills challenge with no football being played.

For what it is and what it isn’t, it’ll still raise the draft stock for players in the eyes of fans, media and teams alike. For this version of Stock Up, Stock Down, we’ll exercise in that fashion. You won’t see linemen or defensive backs here as this column is a tad fantasy-related. Instead, players who could be impacting your fantasy teams sooner rather than later will be featured.

Texas wide receiver Xavier Worthy (5-11, 165 pounds) has seen his star rise after running a record-breaking 4.21 seconds in the 40-yard dash. The former record holder, John Ross, was drafted ninth overall after running a 4.22 at the 2017 combine. We don’t expect Worthy to be drafted as high, but it’s an example of how the combine can affect your draft status. Players like Georgia WR Ladd McConkey (Georgia) and Tennessee RB Jaylen Wright also saw their stocks rise as a result of their combine performances.

So as we get into it, just a reminder (especially for the Stock Down players), it’s not necessarily how I feel about the guys, but just the way I expect the wind will blow in the eyes of fans and media after the event. The combine doesn’t have anything to do with how well these players will play on an NFL football field.

Now, let’s get it!

STOCK UP

Xavier Legette, WR, South Carolina

At 6-1, 221 pounds, Legette showed the same explosiveness at the Combine that he exhibited on the field in 2023. Running a 4.39 in the 40-yard dash and leaping 40 inches in the vertical, he made sure to confirm what evaluators have seen on tape. He's a player who is and plays strong, especially with his hands. The best thing about Legette is that he still has room to grow after bursting onto the scene with a breakout season in 2023. His body control and ball skills when the ball is in the air are what teams will enjoy the most about him. He’s flying high after his combine performance.

Ricky Pearsall, WR, Florida

Pearsall has been on a “I’ma let you know” tour since the Senior Bowl. He followed that up with a great showing at the combine. He blazed the track with a 4.41 40-yard dash and leaped a whopping 42 inches in the vertical (sixth-best overall). What will impress teams even more is his change of direction, which he displayed by running 6.64 seconds in the 3-cone drill (best amongst receivers) and 4.05 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle (third best amongst receivers). He’ll be best served with a quarterback who can push the ball downfield. In 2022 with Anthony Richardson, Pearsall averaged 20 yards per catch while scoring five touchdowns. While he saw more volume in 2023, he dipped to 14.8 yards per catch and scored four touchdowns. Keep your eye on him.

Jaheim Bell, TE, Florida State

Bell is my favorite offensive player to watch in this year's draft class. The jack-of-all-trades player possesses a certain explosiveness that most 6-2, 241-pounders can't. He ran a 4.61 in the 40-yard dash and broad jumped 10-4 which were both third-best among tight ends. An interesting note on him is that he also ran a 1.58-second 10-yard split, which was slightly faster than Clemson cornerback Nate Wiggins (1.59) who ran a 4.28 in the 40. In addition to his impressive numbers, Bell’s combine performance was highlighted by a number of difficult catches made in the drills. The NFL is clamoring for a versatile player with Bell’s skill set.

George Holani, RB, Boise State

Not a lot of people are talking about Holani, which is odd to me considering that most don’t see this as a strong running back draft class. Holani was impressive on the field and at the podium during the combine. He stated that he loved blocking just as much as running the ball, showing that he knows what keeps you on the field. At 5-10, 208 pounds, the size doesn’t scream “power back,” but when you watch him run you’ll understand. He has a skill set that teams will undoubtedly want in their running back room. To make matters better, he ran an impressive 4.52 in the 40-yard dash and broad jumped 10-7, showing he’s more explosive than you think. He also did 24 reps of 225 pounds on the bench (fourth amongst running backs), putting his upper body strength on display. Football Gameplan draft analyst Emory Hunt likened Holani to Chris Brooks of the Miami Dolphins.

Holani is not a “sexy” name, but one you should be looking out for.

RELATED: Connor Rogers’ NFL Draft Notebook on Combine buzz

STOCK DOWN

Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State

Coleman should help an NFL team almost immediately, but people will scoff at him running a 4.61 in the 40-yard dash. None of his combine numbers were impressive, but let’s remember two things. First, he isn’t a small dude at 6-3, 213 pounds, and second is that no one has ever recognized him for having blazing speed. His run-after-the-catch ability and above-the-rim style of play is what NFL teams will see when evaluating Coleman. He’s an on-the-field guy as evidenced by him reaching 20.36 mph in the gauntlet drill and 21.71 mph in the go-route drill. His speed is more longer than short, but again, speed is not his game — making plays is.

Javon Baker, WR Central Florida

Baker built up some nice buzz during Senior Bowl week, so he definitely had some eyes on him heading into the combine. Measuring in at 6-1, 202 pounds doesn’t make a 4.54-second 40 impressive, but to be honest, that’s not slow. The amount of guys who run 4.45 or better will create the illusion that a 4.5 is not fast, but that's a mistake. Baker wins against defensive backs because of his route running and the best route runners don’t often run the fastest 40’s as they focus more on varying their speeds mid-play. His 37” vertical and 10-1 broad won’t leap out at you either, but for Baker it’s not all about being explosive; for him, it’s leveraging and stacking.

Bucky Irving, RB Oregon

Another guy who isn’t known necessarily for speed, Irving runs tough, is elusive and can go after he catches a football. At 5-9, 192 pounds, people would’ve liked to see better combine numbers, but that isn’t what some guys do. He ran 4.55 in the 40 and didn’t impress with his vertical (29.5”) or his broad jump (9-7) so because of how things work in sports media, he’ll likely be docked. He may not out-run angles or defensive backs, but he’s not one to put the ball on the ground. He’s a more dynamic runner than his combine numbers will show and he’ll carve out a role in the NFL.

Dillon Johnson, RB, Washington

Johnson had a breakout season as the lead runner on a Huskies team that went all the way to the national championship. His stock likely won’t rise after having 40-yard dash runs of 4.68 and 4.72 at 6-0, 217 pounds. He’s your prototypical physical, in-between-the-tackles guy who can perhaps wear down the defense with volume. He is probably a better back than the combine numbers will show, but he’s not as dynamic of a player. His 9-9 broad jump won’t help his case either. However, Johnson stayed positive about his combine performance and took time to reflect on how it was an honor to be amongst the best in the sport.