The NFL Combine is a great opportunity for prospects to bolster their draft stock. Quarterbacks like Jalen Hurts are able to showcase their accuracy, while linebackers such as Kenneth Murray are able to showcase their speed in the 40-yard dash. In fact, even some unknown prospects like Alton Robinson and Tanner Muse are able to gain some attention and get their name out to NFL scouts. Unfortunately, the combine is also the time of the year when players like Jared Pinkney and AJ Epenesa see their draft stock tumble. While the combine will likely only move players stocks’ up/down four or five picks, that could make a huge difference for their NFL careers.
No quarterback’s draft stock skyrocketed higher than Jalen Hurts’ did after he participated in the combine. Hurts was immediately able to showcase his rushing ability after he posted a remarkable 4.59 40 yard dash. However, he was also able to showcase surprising improvement as a passer during the throwing drills. Despite throwing against air, it was important for Hurts to dispel any doubts relating to his deep ball accuracy. Fortunately, he was able to exhibit impeccable anticipation and ball placement on both his deep passes and along the sidelines. He still has a long way to go if he hopes to be a surefire round one or two pick, but his combine was a great first step.
While Jeffery Okudah is currently running away with the no. 1 cornerback ranking, the debate for the no. 2 slot is still debatable. Former Florida corner, C.J. Henderson, was able to separate himself from the rest of the pack after he ran an impressive 4.39 40-yard dash. Henderson’s 40-yard dash is great news for a defensive coordinator looking for a bump-and-run CB who possesses great speed and length.
In a receiving draft class filled with some of the most talented wide receiver prospects in recent history, Denzel Mims has been completely underrated. For a big-bodied receiver who was able to put up 1,000+ yards in two of his last three seasons at Baylor, Mims struggled to ingratiate himself in the spotlight. Fortunately, Mims was able to turn some heads after he flashed his breakaway speed posting a sub 4.4 40-yard dash. Furthermore, he proved to be the most explosive receiver at the combine after he posted a position-best 6.66 3-cone drill. Although Mims best excelled during the receiver drills, where he showed a great ability to locate the ball and concentrate on securing the ball quickly. This might not be enough to bring him into the first round, but it very well could bring him into consideration for a day two draft pick.
For much of the off-season, Kenneth Murray has been outshined by Isaiah Simmons. With that being said, he was able to grab NFL scouts’ attention after his remarkable NFL combine. Right away, Murray was able to post a 4.52 40-yard dash, which ranked in the top six amongst all combine LBs. Sadly for Murray, his day was cut short by a hamstring injury. However, Kenneth Murray has a great opportunity to boost his draft status even more at Oklahoma’s Pro Day on March 11th.
After generating 2,000+ scrimmage yards and 13+ TDs in his three seasons as a Wisconsin Badger, Jonathan Taylor still had work to do in order to assert himself as the best RB prospect. While Taylor’s RB ranking is still debatable, he proved to be the combine’s fastest back after posting a 4.39 40 yard dash. Taylor’s combination of power, speed, and acceleration are most similar to Saquon Barkley, whose 40-yard dash was eerily on par with Taylor’s. Taylor was also able to flash potential upside as a receiving back, with his impeccable footwork and route-running ability.
Ever since his abysmal national championship performance, A.J. Terrell has struggled to bolster his draft stock. For starters, he was able to showcase great speed after he posted a 4.42 40-yard dash. Despite falling just short of his sub 4.4 aspirations, Terrell’s 40-yard dash still ranked in the top five for CB combine participants. Additionally, Terrell was able to exhibit fluid athletic motion when he was backpedaling during cornerback drills. If he can keep this up, Terrell’s draft stock should recover.
Alton Robinson was able to boost his draft stock after a successful combine. During the combine, Robinson was able to rank in the top three amongst all DL in terms of both 40-yard dash (4.69 seconds) and vertical jump (35.5 inches). Additionally, Robinson successfully tied for the fourth-best 3-cone drill with an impressive 7.32 seconds. These numbers suggest that Robinson is arguably one of the quickest defensive linemen in this draft class. Therefore he projects to excel at the next level when it comes to getting off the ball with explosiveness.
Throughout his career at Clemson, Tanner Muse was able to amass a phenomenal tenure in Brent Venables scheme. In his four seasons as a Tiger, Muse accumulated 191 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and seven interceptions. Although before his combine performance, there were many questions about Tanner Muse’s range as a safety. Luckily for Muse, he was able to dismiss these concerns by recording a 4.41 40-yard dash.
For Jared Pinkney, this year has been a horrific nightmare. After exploding onto the scene with the third-most receiving yards amongst all tight ends, Pinkey had career lows in receiving yards, catches, and games played. Although Pinkney’s combine was somehow even more disappointing. For starters, he barely recorded a 40-yard dash under 5.0 seconds, which is horrible for a receiving tight end like Pinkney. The good news for Pinkney is that he tied for the second-most bench press reps amongst all tight ends. However, Pinkney’s interview was so awful that the tight end needy New England Patriots told him that he has a “loser mentality.” Given that even the Patriots don’t want him, he would be lucky to get drafted in general.
For most of the off-season, Derrick Brown had been a lock as this draft class’ best defensive lineman. However, Brown failed to capitalize on his combine opportunity. Most significantly, Brown registered one of the worst three-cone drills in recent history for a prospect with top five projections. He wasn’t able to mitigate these concerns after he posted a lackluster 27-inch vertical jump coupled with a similarly disappointing 20-yard cone shuttle. Considering Brown’s game is heavily influenced by his quickness and explosiveness, this is one of the most alarming red flags from the combine.
Coming into the NFL combine, most analysts and scouts were aware of Zack Moss’s tackle-breaking strength. In fact, nearly 74% of Zach Moss’s total rushing yardage came after contact, which equates to over 1,000 yards after contact. However, the most alarming aspect of Moss’s game concerns his speed or lack thereof. During the combine, Moss did little to dispell this concern after he ranked in the bottom four for both the 40-yard dash and the 20-yard shuttle. This isn’t that surprising given that Moss tends to get tackled from behind. Nonetheless, this Moss will have a lot of work to do if to re-enter the top RB prospect discussion.
Despite a successful career at the University of Iowa as an edge rusher, A.J. Epenesa’s draft stock has been crumbling since the end of the season. Similar to Zack Moss, Epenesa’s main issue has been his lack of speed, which was evident during his combine performance. After completing his 40-yard dash, Epenesa finished with one of the slowest dashes amongst all edge rushers. Considering that Epenesa’s game is mostly oriented around his power, length, and technique, his slow speed shouldn’t the biggest detriment. Nevertheless, it will still be a red flag that will limit Epenesa’s ceiling.
None of the Ohio State receivers performed very well in this year’s draft combine. One of those receivers was KJ Hill, who recorded an unimpressive 4.60 40-yard dash. To be fair, Hill was never known for possessing game-breaking speed, but his 40-yard dash is still a big concern for a slot receiver, like Hill. On the bright side, Hill repped the bar 17 times during the bench press, which illustrates that he has great strength. However, his combine will likely do little to make him more than a day three pick.
While Jalen Raegor’s combine was far from bad, it was rather underwhelming. For instance, his 4.47 40-yard dash was slower than most draft analysts expected. Furthermore, Reagor’s agility was incredibly short of expectations after he posted the third-lowest 3-cone drill amongst all wide receivers. This is likely to lower Reagor’s draft stock but likely won’t put him below round two status.