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O'HARA: Wide receivers put on a show at 2020 Combine

It was game on among the wide receivers at last week's NFL Combine before they lined up to run the 40-yard dash.

Jalen Reagor of TCU left no doubt about his intentions when asked in his media interview if he expected to beat Henry Ruggs III of Alabama.

"That's my plan," Reagor said. "He runs after me. I'm going to set the bar for him."

Reagor didn't set it high enough with a time of 4.47 seconds, but he can't feel too bad about it. Ruggs beat everybody with a Combine-best time of 4.27 seconds.

Ruggs was the individual winner in the 40, but the receivers were winners as a group.

The 2020 wide receiver class left a mark on the Combine. Six were timed in under 4.4 seconds in the 40, and 21 were timed in under 4.5.

Looking back at the Combine projects a bright future in next month's draft for wide receivers and the teams looking to draft them.

Their performance validated projections that it would be one of the deepest positions at the Combine.

Daniel Jeremiah, the lead draft analyst for NFL.com and the NFL Network, said in a pre-Combine conference call interview that he gave 27 receivers grades that would warrant being drafted in the third round or higher.

By comparison, 27 receivers were taken in the entire draft last year. There were 33 in 2018 and 32 in 2017.

There may not be a standout star in this draft, like Calvin Johnson in 2007 and A.J. Green and Julio Jones in 2011, but the talent pool is deep enough for teams to get help in later rounds.

"As you look across the board, the wide receiver position's really deep," Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn said at the Combine.

"There's some positions that are really, I'd say, value positions. Like third, fourth, fifth round that maybe in years past you'd have to get a little higher."

Wide receiver is obviously one of those value positions.

CeeDee Lamb of Oklahoma and the Alabama duo of Jerry Jeudy and Ruggs are the most likely candidates to go in the top half of the first round, with Justin Jefferson of LSU, Brandon Aiyuk of Arizona State and Denzel Mims of Baylor potential candidates later in the first round.

There is versatility in the receiver class, from size to position flexibility.

Aiyuk is 5-11 with a 40-inch vertical jump at the Combine. A two-year player after transferring from junior college, he asked the coaches to give him playing time in the slot to prepare for the NFL.

His request was granted, and Aiyuk responded with 65 catches for 1,192 yards and eight touchdowns.

View photos of the Wide Receivers working out at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

"That was huge," Aiyuk said of playing outside and in the slot. "That adds value, versatility – being able to play outside and inside. Being able to run the routes from the slot --- not everybody can do that.

"Not everybody can go from outside to inside, and from inside to outside."

Clayton Claypool of Notre Dame is 6-4 and 238 pounds. His skill level – 4.42 40, 40.5-inch vertical jump – makes him a candidate to add tight end to his primary role at wide receiver.

"I can be versatile in terms of inside, outside, No. 3 receiver, tight end," Claypool said. "I think I can be one of those rare guys who can line up at all positions on the field and do well – especially because I did that in my college career."

He isn't bothered by speculation on where he might play in the NFL.

"All buzz is good buzz," he said. "I don't think it was a bad thing that people can see me doing different things at the next level.

"I take it as a compliment."

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