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Winners and losers from the 2016 NFL Combine

Indiana offensive tackle Jason Spriggs is among a group of players who boosted their draft stock in Indianapolis. But who is trending downward after a week of workouts?

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The nation's top college football players can put normal pants back on because another NFL Scouting Combine is over. A week of testing and interviews is complete, leaving us with a group of players who helped and hurt their stock in the 2016 NFL Draft. Here are the standouts and duds from workouts at Lucas Oil Stadium:


Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State

Wentz continued his positive momentum this offseason that started at the Senior Bowl in January. Wentz is everything you want in a quarterback physically and the spotlight of the combine didn't appear overwhelming for the FCS star. It's not sure whether the Cleveland Browns will take Jared Goff of California with the second overall pick, thanks in large part to how Wentz has handled the process thus far.

Nick Vannett, TE, Ohio State

Vannett was a combine winner with fellow tight ends Hunter Henry of Arkansas and Tyler Higbee of Western Kentucky not participating. Vannett may not have run the 40-yard dash but he stood out in receiving drills. It's difficult to find a tight end who can block and catch, but Vannett is the exception. And with Higbee and Henry on the sidelines, Vannett helped his draft stock.

Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State

NFL scouts say one of the things the combine can do is force a reevaluation of game film if a player puts up unusual numbers. That was the case for Ogbah. He was known mostly at Oklahoma State as being a high-effort player. But he put up impressive numbers, running a 4.63 40-yard dash and registering at 35.5-inch vertical jump, a number which matches his arm length. Those are all ideal numbers for a pass rusher, a premiere position, so Ogbah should squarely find himself in the second round of the draft.

Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana

It's a bad thing when an athlete is expected to excel at the combine and bombs during drills. That didn't happen to Spriggs. He was expected to shine, and did so with 31 bench press reps, the best 40-yard dash among offensive linemen (though that means little) and legit NFL left tackle size at 6'6, 301 pounds, with an arm length of 34 1/8 inches. Lane Johnson rocketed up draft boards in 2013 partially thanks to his athletic showing at the combine. Spriggs may not become a top-10 pick like Johnson, but he may have secured a spot in the first round.

William Jackson, CB, Houston

Jackson gambled on his athleticism by declining a Senior Bowl invitation and it paid off. Jackson ran a blistering 4.37-second 40-yard dash and was one of the more fluid in position drills. Jackson can get overlooked because of where he played, but he could ultimately be a top-50 pick in the draft.

Marquez North, WR, Tennessee

North's combine performance will force scouts to go back and watch his 2014 games. At 223 pounds and 6'2 ½, North ran a 4.48-second 40-yard dash, and had a vertical jump of 35 inches. In 2014, some considered North a potential top-50 pick. But he missed much of last season with back and knee injuries and had only five receptions. But some team is going to take a chance on his athleticism and size, and it could pay off.


Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame

There is no fairness when it comes to the NFL Draft. The greatest proof of that this year will be Smith. Everyone knew he had a devastating leg injury, but the extent and ramifications of it were brought to light in Indianapolis. Now there is doubt about whether Smith will even play next season. As a result, look for Smith's draft stock to plummet, despite the fact that he's regarded as a high first-round talent.

San Francisco 49ers

It has been apparent that a divorce between the 49ers and quarterback Colin Kaepernick is coming this offseason. Smartly, new 49ers head coach Chip Kelly extolled Kaepernick's virtues and told Bay Area reporters that he was excited to work with the athletic quarterback. Whether it was the truth, Kelly saying he liked Kaepernick would increase his trade value. Quickly after Kelly made his comments, Kaepernick made it known he wants out. That effectively kills any true value the 49ers can get for the former second-round pick.

Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss

There's a double standard in sports reporting. We want athletes to be honest, but when they're too honest they get chastised. Was Nkemdiche too honest for his own good by admitting that he took plays off? Perhaps. Should he get knocked for saying former teammate Laremy Tunsil was present when Nkemiche fell out of a window and was arrested for marijuana possession? Maybe, even though the NFL and the private investigators teams hire would have uncovered that information. But in a setting where Nkemdiche needed to be perfect, he was not.

Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State

The combine as a whole can be an overrated process, but Jones needed it. He had just 270 career pass attempts at Ohio State, and has the athleticism and size combination to star in workouts. But Jones' combine was over after a vertical jump and his 40-yard dash runs. Jones couldn't show off his big arm and answer questions about his accuracy. Ohio State's pro day is on March 11, and it's critical that Jones stands out in his final chance to impress teams.

De'Runnya Wilson, WR, Mississippi State

One of Wilson's strengths is winning jump ball situations. So it was curious when he registered just a 28-inch vertical leap. Then it became concerning when he ran just a 4.85 40-yard dash. Those two numbers could cause Wilson's draft stock to plummet.

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NFL Combine: The general manager and coach edition

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