Michigan's Junior Hemingway boosts draft case with strong all-around combine performance
INDIANAPOLIS -- While Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon and Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill were capturing the combine spotlight among receivers, a lesser-known player was making his move.
The former Michigan receiver is known around the Big Ten as one of the league's best big-play threats, and he was the Wolverines' top wideout this past season.
But nationally, Hemingway isn't a known commodity after his first four seasons were derailed by several factors, including playing in the run-heavy spread-option. Even this past year, after a move to a hybrid offense, he was victimized by the erratic play of quarterback Denard Robinson.
After Sunday, however, Hemingway's name is getting around after he impressed league personnel by standing out in several speed drills.
He was focused mostly on the 40-yard dash, in which he finished 19th among 40 receivers with a time of 4.53 seconds.
He's a big wideout (6-foot-1, 225 pounds) and not a burner, so he didn't need to crack the event's upper echelon. He just needed to show adequate speed, and he did that.
In the other events, Hemingway really stood out:
- Three-cone: 6.59 seconds, first out of 26 receivers
- 20-yard shuttle: 3.98 seconds, tied for first out of 26 receivers
- 60-yard shuttle: 11.16 seconds, 2nd out of 13 receivers
"There aren't many receivers who did more for themselves than that guy," an AFC scout said of Hemingway. "He wasn't even on our radar going into this thing. He is now.
"It's way too early to say where or if he'll be drafted, I'm not prepared to make that distinction, but he's definitely in the conversation now. And that's more than you could have said about him a week ago."
The cone drill might be the biggest takeaway from Hemingway's day. The workout measures a player's ability to change directions at a high speed, which was a major concern regarding Hemingway entering the weekend.
ESPN draft expert Todd McShay said recently that he likes Hemingway, but "he’s not very sudden, not very explosive, won't provide many home runs and will struggle to separate on intermediate routes."
Hemingway also posted 21 repetitions in the bench press, which was one off the lead among receivers, and 124.0 inches in the broad jump, which was eighth. The former tests upper-body strength, and the latter lower-body strength.
So, Hemingway's strong. But, that already was known. What wasn't known was his speed, and his performance in those drills will be his lasting impression from this week's combine.
And just might get him paid.