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5 NFL Combine Sleepers To Watch | Washington Commanders

Updated: Mar 4, 2022

By Adam Aniba

The 2022 NFL Combine is finally here! The talk of the combine, for Washington, has been about rectifying the revolving door at quarterback. Ron Rivera has been adamant that upgrading the quarterback position through free agency, the draft or even a trade is all on the table.

In our latest report, we'll feature 5 prospects that have received little attention thus far, but should impress teams during combine workouts and drills.

Calvin Austin III

5'9" 162 lbs | RB | Memphis

Draft Proj 3rd Rd

Career (36 games) 156 rec 2,541 yds 22 tds *Rushing- 8 att 169 & 3 tds

2021 (12 games) 74 rec 1,149 yds 8 tds *Rushing- 1 att 169 & 1 td

Memphis receiver Calvin Austin III is the type of speedster that could be an ideal compliment for Commander receiver Terry McLaurin. Although undersized, the Memphis receiver offers the type of big play ability NFL teams covet.

Although revered for his track background, Austin is a dedicated route runner, even though he was limited while at Memphis. He was featured frequently when the Tigers' passing game utilized an up-tempo scheme and was a top target on deep routes.

Austin's second gear is what stands out. His ability to stop on a dime and redirect in tight coverage will surely gain him more attention during combine workouts. Although his touches in the run game were limited, he has the ceiling to be an ideal gadget weapon, who can line up in the backfield in dual-back sets.

Teams will likely ask Austin to participate in some running back drills, in addition to working out with the receivers. Their receiving core is a work in progress, with multiple free agents potentially leaving.

Austin provides the splash play ability, that will surely gain Ron Rivera's attention during the combine.

Tale of the Tape

  • Explosive & very fast, an ideal deep threat prospect

  • Reliable hands

  • Versatile weapon in the pass & run game

  • Savvy route runner

  • Displays the ability to separate quickly from DB

  • Although small, strength & toughness are evident when facing press-coverage

Kaleb Eleby

6'1" 210 lbs | QB | WMU

Draft Proj 7th rd-UDFA

Career (24 games) 420/662 6,068 yds 45 tds & 11 ints

*Rushing-150 att 75 yds 13 tds

2021 (12 games) 230/363 3,277 yds 23 tds & 6 ints

*Rushing- 13 att 87 yds 6 tds

Quarterback Kaleb Eleby will not get mentioned with the 1st round projected signal callers (CLICK Each for Eval)

or even fringe 1st round prospect

Regardless, if Washington drafts a QB in the 1st or even 2nd round, a signal caller available late on Day 3, with Eleby's upside, should intrigue coaches. The level of competition will be questioned, but his ability to make plays with a moving pocket is notable and makes him an intriguing developmental QB.

WMU's system utilizes a lot of mesh reads and RPO's, which is becoming a staple of in the NFL. Although Eleby isn't a dual threat, he does have the ability to scramble and was just not utilized in that role.

Tale of the Tape

  • Makes up his sub-par arm strength with accuracy and touch

  • Displays patience in the pocket, not going off script unless he leaves the pocket

  • Displays vision and ability to go through reads effectively (not asked to do a lot of that at WMU)

  • Textbook mechanics

  • Ability to create plays downfield by scrambling

  • Excels with timing routes

Isaiah Likely

6'4" 241 lbs | TE | Coastal Carolina

Draft Proj 2nd Rd

Career (42 games) 130 rec 2,050 yds & 27 tds 15.4 per rec

2021 (13 games) 59 rec 912 yds & 12 tds 15.5 per rec

Isaiah Likely is a true receiving tight end and when asked about how he views himself during the NFL Combine, he stated he considers himself a "route running tight end". Although his blocking isn't what Likely is known for, he is more than willing to mix it up at the line of scrimmage or downfield.

Coming out of HS, Likely received very little attention and was an unranked prospect nationally. With a 78 inch wingspan and receiver hands, his skills are in demand. Likely will be intriguing option for Washington, who has Logan Thomas recovering from a torn ACL and second year, John Bates as the only TE's of note on the roster.

Tale of the Tape

  • Fast; shows burst off the line

  • Athletic profile fit for the NFL

  • Willing blocker

  • Displays the versatility to line up all over the field, including H-back

  • Soft & reliable hands

  • Hard to bring down on initial contact "A YAC Monster"

  • Solid route runner with a variety of moves in his tool box

Tyler Badie

5'8" 199 lbs | RB | Mizz

Draft Proj 3rd Rd

Career (46 games)-*Rushing- 513 att 2,748 yds & 23 tds 5.4 per car avg

*Receiving- 126 rec 1,149 yds 11 tds

'22 (12 games) *Rushing- 268 att 1,1612 yds & 14 tds 6.0 per car avg

*Receiving- 54 rec 330 yds 4 tds

Tyler Badie could be the premier pass-catching back in this draft class. The comparisons to former Eagles' star running back Darren Sproles are on point.

His small stature will concern teams, but Badie's ability to make plays in space shouldn't be understated. As a true receiving back, he can line up in the slot or be a threat on screens lining up in the backfield.

The Commanders have their 1k bellcow RB in Antonio Gibson, but the loss of their backup JD McKissic, to injury, was a big blow to the passing game. With McKissic primed for free agency and GM Martin Mahew stating "no offers have been made", letting their FA's test the waters seems to be the plan.

Badie is a prospect worth drafting, if available in the 3rd round, but would represent better value if he drops to the 4th round. NFL teams will surely have the MIZZ back work with the receivers, in addition to the running backs, in order for teams to get a better idea of his ceiling.

Tale of the Tape

  • Explosive and fast runner with little wasted movement

  • Predominantly used in zone rushing scheme, but displays great vision

  • A dangerous receiving threat and has the ability to take it to the house

  • Low center of gravity and stocky build make him hard to locate as a runner

  • Extremely durable and had a career high 300 touches in '21

  • Reliable ball carrier (fumbled only twice 516 rushing attempts)

Joshua Williams

6'2 1/2" 193 lbs | CB | Fayetteville State

Draft Proj 3rd Rd

Career (28 games) 79 tak (55 solo), 11.5 TFL, 1 sack, 5 ints (374 int ret yds), 2 tds & 22 PD

2020 (Season Postponed to Spring Did Not Play)

2021 (9 games) 31 tak (20 solo) 3 ints and 9 PD

Last but not least, we recently featured Fayetteville State CB Joshua Williams in a draft prospect spotlight interview (CLICK Player Card Below or More) and has seen his drat stock improve as of late.

After displaying his track level speed and showing he belonged with the upper level competition during the Senior Bowl the word is out on his upside as a potential NFL defensive back. Williams has the length and attributes to be a potential Day 2 pick for Washington and would pose great value if still available in the 4th round.

*Special thanks to Burgundy and Gold Report contributor Paul @PDC1010 who evaluated Isaiah Likely. Stay Tuned for more Draft Prospect Evals and CLICK Below for our other Player Cards.



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