INDIANAPOLIS — Parris Campbell’s path to the NFL Scouting Combine has had more twists and turns than your average prospect, but all have come within the Buckeye State.
If the next is via a draft pick spent on him by the Browns, Campbell wouldn’t mind a bit.
“Definitely would be cool to stay in Ohio,” Campbell said Friday. “I’d be an hour up the road, so it would definitely be cool. But any team that takes a chance on me, I’d be honored.”
The blazing fast running back won a state championship for Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary in Canton, just hundreds of feet from the Pro Football Hall of Fame at what was then known as Fawcett Stadium. He scored a touchdown in that game in front of Urban Meyer, who was standing on the sidelines and eventually offered him a scholarship to Ohio State.
Once in Columbus, he switched positions, becoming a wide receiver. He ran into struggles with the change in his first two years but showed flashes of his potential, a blur with the ball. It wasn’t as frequent as expected. The big plays wowed Buckeye fans, but the drops dampened their joy.
Then came 2018, which included the arrival of former Browns and Dolphins receiver Brian Hartline as wide receivers coach at Ohio State. Campbell blossomed, setting Ohio State’s single-season receptions record with 90 to go along with 1,063 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. He more than doubled his receptions and quadrupled his receiving touchdowns from his junior year.
“Just from this past year, working with Coach Hartline, he brought a whole new aspect to my game,” Campbell said. “He played this great game at the highest level for seven, eight years and excelled at it. So just what he brought back to our receiver room and reading different coverages, whether it’s inside or outside, he just brought a whole new light to it. I’m confident in my ability to read defenses now and just looking for little tells, seeing what different safeties, corners, linebackers are doing … they give me tells and it’s really a credit to him, for sure.”
Campbell’s decision to return for his senior season was obviously a smart move, allowing him to showcase his improved hands, but for more than just football reasons. He also became a father, which came with a whole new set of lessons learned at a young age.
“I think the key word right there is just patience,” Campbell said when asked about his nine-month-old son, Kai. “Through it all, becoming a father and then also having to deal with the grit and grind of the season, especially at a place like Ohio State, it definitely was a hard task for me.
“But you know, I think the ultimate thing is I learned to put myself to the side. I have a life to provide for now. I look at my son in the eyes every day and I just go to work, man. Because one day he’s going to look up at me and be asking to go to college somewhere. Who knows if he’s going to have athletic abilities and if he’s gonna earn a scholarship, but I have to be able to provide that for him. He’s my motivation, he’s the reason why I wake up in the morning and do what I do.”
That effort landed him at the combine, where he’s seen as one of the top deep threats in the 2019 NFL Draft class. He’s also a favorite of Browns fans, who would love for Campbell to become the second local Buckeye to make the journey from Columbus to Cleveland.
Campbell said his mother, who raised him as a single parent with the help of Campbell’s grandparents, would be thrilled, too.
“It would be huge. I think my mom would love it for sure,” Campbell said of being able to stay in Ohio with the Browns. “I’d be right up the road. She loves seeing all my games.
“It would be nice, honestly. My family, just throughout my entire career, have been right by my side. Never once slacked, never once failed, never missed a game, never missed anything. They were just always there for me, and they’re the reason I’m the man I am today and the reason I’m the player I am today. So it would be huge.”
We’re still more than a month from learning how this draft will shake out. Keeping the Campbell family — with its newest generation having arrived less than a year ago and its young star aspiring to thrive in the NFL — in the state of Ohio might just be a natural fit.
INDIANAPOLIS — Much of the NFL Scouting Combine is about numbers, and boy, did we get some numbers Saturday.
Ole Miss receiver D.K. Metcalf shattered the high expectations set for him by his viral gym photo, sending his 6-foot-3, 228-pound frame hurtling 40 yards down the sidelines at Lucas Oil Stadium in 4.33 seconds (unofficially).
The best mark of all receivers was 4.31, set by Ohio State’s Parris Campbell and later tied by UMass’ Andy Isabella.
Metcalf wasn’t done there, though. The chiseled wideout reached every eye-popping mark on his player sheet, logging 27 repetitions on the bench press Friday, hitting 40.5 inches in the vertical leap and completing the receiver drills with proficiency.
Traditionally, the combine favors the workout warriors. Metcalf made it clear he’s the quintessential gym rat, and he just might be a can’t-miss draft pick, too.
Campbell’s top time was unofficially one-hundredth of a second faster than his former teammate, Browns cornerback Denzel Ward, who was last year’s top sprinter among defensive backs at 4.32 seconds. Campbell’s track background helped make his 40 time foreseeable, and he even guaranteed a fast time when speaking Friday.
The Browns could use more deep threats in their receiving corps. Campbell’s best attribute has long been his speed, as has Isabella’s. Metcalf’s time was a bit of a surprise, though, because, well, he’s massive.
Campbell stands at 6-feet, 205 pounds, and is a natural sprinter. Isabella is 5-foot-9 and 188 pounds. Both are Northeast Ohio kids, with Campbell growing up in Akron, and Isabella in Mayfield.
Metcalf, the prospect from Oxford, Mississippi, is a size that simply doesn’t put up that kind of number. Atlanta Falcons All-Pro receiver Julio Jones, a specimen in his own right and just a hair under 6-foot-3, ran his 40 in 4.39 seconds at the 2011 combine.
All three fit the profile of a speedster who could fit well into the Browns’ receiving corps. And all three had an excellent day in Indianapolis.
We’ll see if one of them ends up in brown and orange.
It’s quite odd that Campbell is viewed as a small, gadget-type receiver, but he’s six-feet-tall and 205 pounds. By comparison, Robert Woods
is 6-feet-tall and 201 pounds, though he’s not viewed as a gadget player. It comes down to the way Ohio State used Campbell which make people think that, but is there more to his game than work over the middle of the field and in the slot? Campbell popped off a 4.31-second 40-yard dash at the Combine which forced everyone to take notice, as he can rip the top off the defense if you want him to.
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After being eased into the lineup his first three seasons, the Buckeyes let Campbell rip with Dwayne Haskins
in 2018. He totaled 90 receptions (ranked 8th in the nation) for 1,063 yards (25th in nation) and 12 touchdowns (8th in nation). Clearly, he was a tad underutilized during his first three seasons, though he was used on special teams in the return game during his sophomore and junior seasons. Did Haskins make him look better or was it the other way around?
Size/Versatility: 3.0 out of 5 stars
He’s actually built like a cornerback, as he’s a bit thin through his core for a wide receiver. Played inside the slot almost full-time with Ohio State, though I don’t think he’s built to withstand continuous hits over the middle of the field. The Buckeyes moved him all over the formation, which included reverses, screens, and handoffs, so he’s versatile in that sense. I don’t want to call him a gadget player because he’s more than that, but he’s not someone you’re going to have lining up on the outside if you can help it. He does offer some special teams upside, which does give him a slight uptick in the versatility department.
Route Running/Ability to Separate: 3.0 out of 5 stars
He does have excellent short area burst that allows him to gain separation, though his play speed isn’t quite where it needs to be all the time. He rounds out his breaks a bit more than I’d like for a player his size. He doesn’t run his routes with urgency most of the time but flashes the ability when he chooses. When he does exaggerate his movements, he gains separation. There were just too many times where he ran a simple five-yard out route and just rounded the cut. In the NFL, that’s going to get his quarterback intercepted. When he found himself open, a lot of the time it didn’t have to do with his route-running but more to do with his spot on the field (in the slot) and being mismatched with linebackers or safeties. There is some natural ability to his stop-and-go speed, so it’s possible he just needs a slight bit of refinement and more consistency, though he’s not quite a polished route-runner at this time.
Speed: 4.5 out of 5 stars
I don’t think he plays with consistent 4.31-second speed, even though he is fast. There’s a turbo button he can hit at any minute that allows him to blow by nearly every defender. His speed appears to come effortless, as there’s no laboring through his strides. He’s going to get a very slight knock in this category because I don’t see someone who’s a full-go all the time. While it’s important to use different gears on the field, he’s just going through the motions at times and essentially removing himself from the play. Being a decoy at times because you’re gassed is one thing, but not going all-out when you can is another. When playing at full speed, there aren’t many players who’ll be able to hang with him in coverage.
Hands: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Wasn’t used in a way where we got to see him in many contested catch situations, as he was typically within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage when targeted. Catching 90 balls obviously proves he can be trusted in a heavy role, though it’s tough to say with any certainty that he has elite hands when in contested situations. He did have some issues earlier in his college career, but I’m comfortable saying his hands are not an issue for the role he plays, so he earns an average score here.
Awareness: 4.0 out of 5 stars
He is fully aware of when he needs to use his turbo button in order to beat a defender to the sideline and up the field. He doesn’t overestimate his speed and knows when he needs to use it depending on where the defenders are on the field. He finds the soft spot in zones well, particularly in the deep areas of the field, knowing when to slow his route just enough to sit in the gap of coverage.
After the Catch: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Takes great angles in the open field, which a lot of it comes from his self-awareness. Can almost be treated as a running back at times due to his vision in the open field once he gets through the first line of defense. He’s not going to break many tackles at the pro level, so he’s not elusive in that way, but more slippery than anything. He’s going to create some yardage after the catch due to his speed and it’s not as if he’s a super-small guy at six-foot and 205 pounds, so he won’t be tossed around like a ragdoll, either.
Potential Landing Spot
When looking for his potential suitor, you want to look at teams who are set on the perimeter but may be lacking some explosion out of the slot. Ideally, you have a creative coordinator who can use Campbell in unique ways. The Packers, Lions, Colts, Chiefs, Saints, Raiders, 49ers, and Redskins are all teams who could use a slot receiver or at least upgrade the position. My favorite landing spot would be with the Saints, as Michael Thomas
could use a sidekick and they need a field stretcher with Ted Ginn
on the final days of his career. While Tre’Quan Smith
was drafted last year, he’s more of a perimeter receiver, while Campbell can give them a utility knife to use all over the field, as Sean Payton obviously knows how to utilize speed.
When looking for a comparison for Campbell, I had to go back in time just a bit. Percy Harvin
was a great player when used properly. He wasn’t someone who was going to win on the perimeter, but he was a movable chess piece that could be used out of the backfield, in the slot, and had the speed to burn you down the seam. He had a pretty up-and-down career, though a lot of the issues came from the migraines he dealt with throughout his career. Another player you could be reminded of is Santana Moss, who played a long NFL career, though some believed he never reached his full potential.