NFL Combine Review

The NFL Combine wrapped up this Monday and as always, it was an exciting event for all of the NFL Draft Community.  Some scouts say the combine is over-rated in the evaluation process, but the most valuable part of the combine is the ability to have objective comparisons.  This is the only opportunity where scouts get to compare one prospect to another, running through the exact same drill or test.

The combine really should only be used to verify what you already think about a prospect or raise questions that force you back to watching the tape.  Nothing more, nothing less.  No let’s get into my thoughts on each position group, who impressed and who failed to pass the test.

Offensive Line:
This is one of the strongest position groups in the draft, with potentially 5 OT’s going in the first round.

Biggest Winners: 1) Jason Spriggs (Indiana), 2) Laremy Tunsil (Ole Miss)
Spriggs showed the athleticism and agility that scouts expected.  Spriggs posted a 4.94s 40 yard dash, 31 reps on the bench, 112″ broad jump and 4.44 short shuttle,  had scouts impressed with his measurables at 6’6″ with 34″ arms.  Spriggs cemented his stock as a first round pick and showed the athleticism required to play the left tackle position.  In positional drills, he showcased impressive footwork and nature movement ability.

Tunsil looked incredibly fluid in all of the positional drills, a true dancing bear.  He opted to skip the drills, but he was head and toes above the rest as far as the positional drills.  Scouts will want to ensure he tests within their given parameters at his pro day, but he is locked in as a top 5 pick.

Biggest Loser: 1) Vadal Alexander (LSU)
Showed limited athleticism and is a heavy legged player.  Will have to play on the inside of the offensive line as an offensive guard.  Likely to be an mid to early 2nd round pick.  

Running Back:

Biggest Winners: 1) Kenyan Drake (Alabama) 2) Ezekiel Elliott (Ohio State)
Kenyan Drake showed the same explosiveness on tape as at the combine.  4.45s 40 yard dash showed the speed that scouts have seen on tape, but what makes him special is his ability to accelerate from 0 to 60.  Drake also possesses elite shake with the ability to make defenders miss.  Showed well catching the ball, teams will view him as a complimentary back and home run threat.

Ezekiel Elliott checked off all the boxes and showed great speed at 225lbs. 4.47s 40 yard dash, 34″ vertical jump and 118″ broad jump. Looked good in positional drills and cemented his position as the top running back off the board at the draft.

Biggest Loser: 1) Alex Collins (Arkansas)
Collins created doubts in the minds of scouts with substandard performances across all of the drills.  4.59s 40 yard dash, 18 reps, 28.5″ vertical jump, 113″ broad jump.  Scouts will question his explosiveness as a runner, 4.59s is very slow for a running back and the 28.5″ vertical jump is also a poor number.

Quarterback:

Biggest Winner: 1) Carson Wentz (North Dakota State)
Wentz checked off all of the boxes and showed elite athleticism as well as a big arm.  4.77s 40 yard dash, 30.5″ vertical jump, 118″ broad jump.  Wentz will likely be the first quarterback off the board at the draft in April.  When interviewed, he came off as calm cool and collected with a humble confidence.

Biggest Loser: 1) Cardale Jones (Ohio State) 2) Connor Cook (Michigan State)
Cardale Jones missed out on a huge opportunity to step into the conversation again as a top 3 quarterback prospect.  Jones pulled his hamstring while running the 40 yard dash, teams could care less how fast he runs so it was very unfortunate.

Connor Cook performed well on the field, but his interviews will likely cost him.  In response to all of the questions about his leadership ability, Cook’s response came off as arrogant and was not helpful in relinquishing doubts of his leadership.  Cook is a polarizing prospect with a great record, sufficient arm strength and toughness, but teams will question his ability to lead a team.

Wide Receiver:

Biggest Winner: 1) Josh Doctson (Texas Christian) 2) Will Fuller (Notre Dame)
Doctson impressed and surprised with his performance the drills.  Known for excellent hands and the ability to win contested catches, he was not expected to have elite speed, lateral quickness or explosiveness.  Doctson proved his doubters wrong with one of the most impressive performances of the combine.  4.50s 40 yard dash, 41″ vertical jump, 131″ broad jump, 4.08 short shuttle, and 6.84 three cone.

He showed the ability to be a downfield threat and a jump ball miss-match.  Doctson has the on field production to match his performance at the combine, so teams may now put him in the conversation to be the number one receiver off the board.  He has put a lot of pressure on Treadwell to perform well at his pro day.

Will Fuller had the best 40 yard dash of all wide receivers of 4.32s.  He looked very good in positional drills and showed the ability to run fluid routes with his speed.  In a slow wide receiver class elite speed will be valued at a premium.

Biggest Loser: 1) De’Runnya Wilson
De’Runnya ran the slowest 40 yard dash time of all the receiver group.  At 4.85s, he ran slower that many of the tight ends.  Teams may try and turn him into a tight end now due to his length at 6’5″ and lack of speed.  Only had a 28″ vertical jump, which is not what you want to see for an speed deficient wide receiver who will make his money in the red zone.  

Tight End:

Biggest Winner: 1) Jerrell Adams (South Carolina)
Tight end is one of the weakest positions of this draft class.  That being said Jerrell Adams posted the sole 40 time that was sub 4.7s, Adams posted a 4.64s 40 yard dash.  Adams has the size at 6’5″ – 247lbs and the speed 4.64s 40 yard dash that teams covet at the position.

Biggest Loser: 1) Hunter Henry (Arkansas)
Showed a lack of second gear in route running and is not a sudden athlete.  Didn’t run the 40 yard dash and only performed 13 reps of 225lbs at 6’5″ – 250lbs.  Did nothing to separate him from the rest of the tight end class.

Linebacker:

Biggest Winner: 1) Darron Lee (Ohio State)
A next-gen linebacker who flies around the field, can rush the passer or play in space.  His athleticism was on full display, he ran, jumped and moved like a defensive back.  Lee posted a 4.47s 40 yard dash, 35.5″ vertical jump, 11ft+ broad jump and 4.2 short shuttle.  Darron Lee cemented himself as a top 20 pick.

Biggest Loser: 1) Kentrell Brothers (Mizzouri)
Performed poorly for an undersized inside linebacker.  4.89s 40 yard dash and sub 30″ vertical jump.  Shows that Brothers will struggle sideline to sideline as well as could be exposed in coverage.  Limited athlete, will need to be paired with more athletic outside linebackers.

Defensive Line:

Biggest Winner: 1) Emmanuel Ogbah (Oklahoma State) 2) Robert Nkimdeche (Ole Miss)
Emmanuel Ogbah put up impressive numbers for at 6’4″ – 273lbs, 4.63s 40 yard dash, 35.5″ vertical jump and 121″ broad jump.  Ogbah showed the same explosiveness and quickness at the combine as scouts have seen on tape.  Ogbah will now be a likely top 20 pick.

Nkimdeche was expected to perform well at the combine and he did not dissapoint.  At 6’4″ – 294lbs, he ran a 4.87s 40 yard dash, 35″ vertical jump and put up 28 reps of 225lbs.  Nkimeche performed well in positional drills and showed the same agility that allowed him to play some receiver at Ole Miss.  Though there are still many questions about his inconsistent effort and questionable decision making off the field, teams will most certainly be enamoured with his unique skill-set.

Biggest Loser: 1) Noah Spence (Eastern Kentucky)
Noah Spence has many off the field questions, but was rising up boards after his dominance at the Senior Bowl.  Spence was expected to perform well, but was one of the most disappointing players of the combine.  Undersized at 6’2″ – 251lbs, he ran a 4.80s 40 yard dash.  This is a big question mark for a player who is supposed to win with quickness and be quick twitch.  He also performed poorly in the 3 cone drill, 7.21s which will lead scouts back to the tape to review his ability to turn the edge and get to the quarterback.  This is bad news for Spence, as poor combine performance along with off the field question will likely lead to a slide down draft boards.

Defensive Backs:

Biggest Winners: 1) Jalen Ramsey (Florida State) 2) William Jackson III (Houston)
Jalen Ramsey was expected to perform well, has he is a world class athlete (won the 2015 ACC long jump title, 4 x 100 champion title and placed 7th in the 100m).  Ramsey ran a 4.41s 40 yard dash, 41.5″ vertical jump, 135″ broad jump and checked off all of the boxes.  Ramsey performed well in positional drills and is likely to be the first defensive back off the board.

William Jackson III has the best tape of all corners in the draft class.  A prototypical ball hawk who creates turnovers, but scouts questioned his long speed and ability to play in man.  Jackson answered questions with a 4.37s 40 yard dash, the fastest of the defensive back position group.  Jackson has now put together a case to be the 1st corner off the board at the draft.

Biggest Losers: 1) Darian Thompson (Boise State)
Thompson was the top safety prospect on many draft boards, expected to be able to play center field.  Thompson ran a disappointing 40 yard dash, at 4.69s showing a lack of speed that will cause issues for teams that want to put him in the center of the field.  Thompson will need to improve his 40 yard dash if he wants to stay in the first two rounds of the draft.

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