Combine Standouts: Justin Jefferson excels Justin Time

This year’s NFL combine featured a plethora of remarkable prospects who exhibited outstanding physical attributes. Many players were able to successfully distinguish themselves from the rest of the players in their positional groups. For instance, Henry Ruggs showcased his immense speed, while Davon Hamilton set the record for most bench reps. Surprisingly, even some offensive linemen were able to showcase a fantastic combination of speed and athleticism. To learn about some of the best combine performances, read the list below.

Quarterbacks:

Jalen Hurts

jalen hurts
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.

Running backs:

Jonathan Taylor

jonathan taylor
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.

Wide receivers:

Henry Ruggs

henry ruggs III
Coming into this combine, Ruggs had big aspirations. Prior to the combine, the speedy deep threat had his sights set on besting John Ross’ record-holding 4.22 40 yard dash. Despite coming just 0.05 seconds short of Ross’ record, Ruggs still finished with the best 40-yard dash of all the prospects to participate in the combine. Even though Ruggs had very little to prove in terms of speed, his combine results illustrate just how deadly he is down the field. If put in the right system, he could be eerily similar to Desean Jackson.

Justin Jefferson

justin jefferson
Amid a draft class stocked to the brim with receiver talent, Justin Jackson has surprisingly flown under the radar. Despite hauling in 111 receptions for 1,540 yards and 18 TDs in 2019, Jefferson is absent from most first-round mock drafts. One of the biggest red flags associated with Jefferson’s draft stock pertains to his second-level speed, where most analysts point out his tendency to be tackled from behind. Yet, Jefferson was able to flash his elite speed after he posted a 4.43 40-yard dash, edging out both Jerry Jeudy and Ceedee Lamb. Plus, he was able to showcase his reliable hands and quick reflexes and reaction time.

Defensive backs:

Jeffery Okudah

jeffrey okudah
Coming into the combine, Jeffery Okudah didn’t have much to prove considering that he was the no.1 cornerback, according to most analysts. Nevertheless, Okudah’s combine performance was still outstanding because it solidified what we analysts already knew about him. For instance, he displayed phenomenal footwork during defensive back drills. In fact, his fluid motion was on full display as Okudah was backpedaling, where he managed to stay within the hash marks the whole time. While Okudah suffered an injury scare during the combine, he was able to return for the rest of the drills. Barring any unforeseen scenarios, Okudah projects to remain as the 2020 draft class’ best defensive back.

C.J. Henderson

cj henderson
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.

Offensive linemen:

Tristan Wirfs

Tristan Wirfs
Heading into the 2020 combine, Tristan Wirfs is already lauded as the most athletic offensive tackle in recent history. Yet Wirfs somehow raised his draft stock even more after an incredible combine performance. For starters, he ran for the fastest 40 yard-dash of any offensive lineman there. Moreover, he was able to showcase his athletic ability by breaking the OL record for vertical jump and tying the OL record for broad jump. Consequently, Wirfs bodes to be a successful offensive guard at the next level.

Mekhi Becton

For many prospects, running a 5.0+ 40-yard dash would be completely underwhelming. However, for the combine’s heaviest man, Becton’s 5.01 40-yard dash was actually extraordinary. Becton’s speed is even more impressive because he has the fastest 40-yard dash ever recorded for a prospect over 350 pounds. Mekhi Becton’s combination of speed and size will make him an especially menacing presence in the run-blocking game.

Defensive linemen:

Davon Hamilton

Before the combine, very few NFL fans were aware of Davon Hamilton. Outside of Ohio, Hamilton flew under the radar behind players like Derrick Brown. However, Hamilton quickly caught the attention of NFL fans and scouts after he churned out 33 reps during the bench press workout. This is impressive because it was the most for any defensive lineman during the draft combine. Hopefully, for Hamilton, this helps him stand out from the rest of the DL in this draft class. This is especially great considering that Hamilton struggled to distinguish himself from the rest of the front seven during his time at Ohio State.

Linebackers:

Isaiah Simmons

isaiah simmons
Isaiah Simmons had one of the best combine experiences of any linebacker since 2000. Despite refraining from participating in the positional drills, Simmons was able to run the second-fastest 40-yard dash of any linebacker since 2003. He was also able to post a 39-inch vertical jump coupled with an 11-inch broad jump, illustrating his immaculate athleticism. This combination of speed and athletic ability gives Simmons one of the largest ranges in recent college football history. Isaiah Simmons’ range and IQ is very reminiscent of Luke Kuechly, who Isaiah could be replacing if Carolina selects him in this year’s draft.

Kenneth Murray

kenneth murray
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.

Tight ends:

Albert Okwuegbunam

Albert Okwuegbunam was head and shoulders above all other tight ends at the combine. Standing at 6’5”, 258 lbs. Okwuegbunam ran a 4.49 40-yard dash, which is the fastest recorded by a tight end since Evan Engram. Even more incredible, he posted the second-highest 40-yard dash ever recorded by a player who was 6’5” + and weighed 250+ lbs. Unfortunately, Albert’s combine probably won’t do enough to move him into first-round prospect territory. Nonetheless, it could be the very spark he needs to be wanted by a team like the Patriots, while also separating him from the rest of the tight end pack.

  
I am a junior at Morehouse College, majoring in economics. I have experience as a data analyst at Pro Football Focus and as a football scouting intern at Fanteractive.com. I enjoy scouting and analyzing NCAAF and NFL games, especially quarterback and running back play.

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