clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The 14 winners and 5 losers who changed their draft stock at the NFL Combine

New, comments

Some went up, and some went down.

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

INDIANAPOLIS — If you’re a big-time football nerd, the NFL Combine is one of the best times of the year. It’s loaded with meaningless podium interviews, ogling over player measurements, and throwing out years of college tape because of a fast 40-yard dash.

Still, it’s a good time to collect data and keep track of how prospects perform during the weekend — that’s what this post is. Who helped themselves, hurt themselves, and other nuggets of information live from Indianapolis.

Winner: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma

Murray helped himself by firmly committing to football and being tall enough to see over the podium. Murray measured in at 5’10 and weighed 207 — both good numbers for him, considering his height and weight were big concerns coming into the week. Murray also had a solid hand size measurement at 9.5 inches, which crosses the baseline measurement for most NFL teams.

If there were still any doubts over whether or not Murray wanted to play football, then he shut down those concerns at his press conference.

Murray also noted that he’d have a formal meeting with the Arizona Cardinals, who hold the first-overall pick. That’s notable considering new Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury loves Murray as a player and general manager Steve Keim didn’t exactly seem committed to Josh Rosen as the long-term quarterback in Arizona.

Murray didn’t participate in drills in Indianapolis, but he seemed to do well in the public portion of his NFL Combine experience. The buzz about him potentially going No. 1 didn’t die down, either. In fact, it intensified.

Winner: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss

Everyone’s favorite beefy receiver showed he doesn’t just look like Hercules — he’s outrageously athletic too. The 6’3, 228-pound receiver ran a freakin’ 4.33-second 40-yard dash.

That was after Metcalf posted a 40.5-inch vertical jump earlier in the day and 27 bench press reps Friday.

Loser: A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss

Even though Brown is here with two other receivers from his college team, he emphatically noted that he is the best receiver in the draft.

The problem is that his numbers didn’t exactly scream best in the class. While other receivers like Arizona State’s N’Keal Harry and Iowa State’s Hakeem Butler stood out, Brown’s numbers were just fine.

Is he still one of the best receiver prospects this year? Yes. Did he do much to stand out this weekend? Not really. Instead, he was overshadowed by teammate Metcalf.

Winner: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri

Lock might not be the best quarterback in this draft class, but he certainly is the most charismatic. Lock was jovial and engaging during his combine presser and noted how great it was to be reunited with some of his college teammates this week in Indianapolis.

More importantly, Lock declared himself an extremely accurate thrower of the football, rating his own accuracy a 10 of 10. Lock also called himself the No. 1 quarterback in this year’s draft class.

Lock, who ran a nice 4.69-second 40, looked accurate during the throwing sessions with the receivers, as well. It’s possible he got himself into the top-10 conversation.

Winner: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State

Dwayne Haskins had an impressive press conference, simply by refuting Stephen A. Smith’s analysis that he was more of a runner than a thrower.

Haskins’ 50 passing touchdowns compared to four rushing touchdowns should have spoken for itself, but a little clarification never hurt anyone. Haskins also ran a 5.04-second 40-yard dash, further confirming he’s a passing QB.

And if you need anymore proof of just how much of a cannon he has, Haskins’ arm strength was on full display during the passing drills:

Winner: Justice Hill, RB, Oklahoma State

Hill had an incredible workout. Hill ran a 4.4 40-yard dash (first among running backs), had a 40-inch vertical (first), and hit 10’10 on the broad jump (tied for first). Hill measured in at a tick under 5’10 and a solid weight at 198 pounds.

Unfortunately for Hill, he also tweaked his hamstring and is hoping to be ready for his pro day workout, but that might be a bit of a tough task considering it’s on March 12.

Loser: Elijah Holyfield, RB, Georgia

Holyfield had a chance to really boost his draft stock with a strong workout at the combine, but unfortunately he fell a little bit short. Holyfield finished the day with an official 4.78 40-yard dash, which ranked 22nd out of the 23 running backs who ran the 40-yard dash. The only back to have a time slower than him was Wisconsin fullback Alec Ingold. Oof.

Winner: Travis Homer, RB, Miami

Like Hill, Homer seized the opportunity he had at the combine. He tied Hill’s broad jump mark of 10’10 and ran the fifth-fastest 40-yard dash among all running backs with a time of 4.48. After a quiet college career where he never topped 1,000 yards in a season, Homer put himself on the map.

Winner: Noah Fant, TE, Iowa

There are two Hawkeye tight ends to watch this year, and T.J. Hockenson seems likelier to come off the board first. But it’s Fant who destroyed the NFL Combine:

Those aren’t quite the legendary numbers Vernon Davis put up in 2006, but they aren’t far off. Fant’s performance in Indianapolis was easily the best of the tight ends and should merit plenty of first-round conversation.

Winner: Dawson Knox, TE, Ole Miss

Knox was the fourth receiving option in an Ole Miss offense that featured Brown, Metcalf, and Damarkus Lodge. Knox only had 15 catches in his last season at Ole Miss, but he hasn’t let that discourage him — although he did tell me he thought he was going to see more targets than he got because those three receivers would command so much attention:

“So going into the season, I was hoping that it would help me a little more than it did. I was like, ‘I got three potential first-round guys — definitely two or three top two round guys around me — they’re gonna be doubling those guys, so surely I’ll get the ball more.’”

He didn’t, but he still had a chance to establish that he can be a legitimate receiving threat on his own when he went through the drills on Saturday. While Knox didn’t run the 40-yard dash, he made the pass-catching drills look smooth and effortless.

Winner: Iousa Opeta, G, Weber State

The big guard prospect repped 39 times on the bench. Nobody else in his position group repped more than 34. He also put up a 112-inch broad jump, one of the better figures for O-linemen, and put up a top-five 40 time for the position: 5.02 seconds. He has probably helped his stock a lot.

Winner: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama

Williams is considered to be one of the players in the mix to be the No. 1 pick in April, and he looked the part Sunday with an incredible 40-yard dash.

His 10-yard split of 1.69 seconds was faster than several of the best defensive tackle draft prospects of the last decade — including Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy, J.J. Watt, and Cameron Jordan.

Loser: Jachai Polite, Edge, Florida

Let’s take a second and ponder the worst combine a player could possibly have. It’d probably start with a player not doing well in interviews with teams. Exhibit A:

Then, he’d probably do poorly in the timing drills. Exhibit B:

And it’d probably finish with an injury. Exhibit C:

Yikes.

Winner: Montez Sweat, Edge, Mississippi State

Montez Sweat came into the combine as a first-rounder. He’s leaving the combine as a probable top-10 pick.

Not only did the 6’2, 260-pounder run an absurd 4.41-second 40, but it was also a record for defensive linemen:

He earned rave reviews on Sunday, with NFL Network even comparing him to Metcalf. But it wasn’t just Sweat’s speed that turned heads in Indy. He also performed well in his drills, looking smooth and showing he can change directions quickly. Unlike Metcalf, Sweat was strong in agility tests, turning in top-four times at his position in the three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle.

Winner: Andy Isabella, WR, Massachusetts

The UMass wideout earned plenty of buzz coming into the combine after his coaches bragged he’d run somewhere in the 4.3-second time. Then his first split came in: 4.56.

That looked like a major blow for the undersized wideout ... until the league came out and fixed the timing error that added a quarter of a second to his time. His 4.31 40 tied for the fastest time at the combine and should boost his stock as he tries to work his way into a Day 2 pick this April.

Loser: Whichever team asked this dumbass question

... what?

A little of both: Joejuan Williams, CB, Vanderbilt

The Commodore corner drew scouts attention by measuring in closer to 6’4 at the combine than 6’3, and a reassuring 40 time — somewhere in the 4.5s range — would have helped push him into the back half of the first round of next month’s draft. Instead, his first sprint clocked in slower than 22 of the linebackers and defensive linemen who preceded him.

That’s a full tenth of a second slower than the gold standard for tall cornerbacks, Richard Sherman. Scouts don’t seem too alarmed by the development, and his monster frame and strong instincts — he turned his side of the field into a no-fly zone in three seasons as a Commodore — but unless he clocks in some amazing shuttle times or shows out at Vandy’s pro day, it looks like he’ll remain a solid Day 2 selection.

Winner: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU

Williams was already considered a top-10 pick headed into the combine. His 4.37-second 40 time could push him into the top five.

The 6’3 cornerback is both big AND fast, but the combine won’t answer the biggest question that surrounds his jump from the SEC to the NFL — whether he can be physical enough in coverage to be the kind of all-around talent to justify a top-five selection.

Winner: Jamel Dean, CB, Auburn

Dean turned in the event’s second-best 40 time to establish his bonafides as a burner, then showed off solid hands by being one of the few defensive backs to catch every pass thrown at him in the quick-draw drill that followed a couple hours later. At 6’2, Dean provides another long, explosive option in the secondary — and his 41-inch vertical leap suggests he’s not going to get out jumped by bigger targets in the NFL. His strong workout could make him a Day 2 lock.

Loser: D’Cota Dixon, S, Wisconsin

Dixon was a key component of the Badgers’ ever-tough defense in his three years as a starter in Madison. However, the lack of athleticism that made him a three-star high school prospect back in 2014 emerged again in Indianapolis. His first 40 time clocked in at a slow 4.81 seconds, and while he jumped up into the 4.6s range on his second try, less than stellar broad and vertical jump performances won’t dispel the notion he’s more of a run-stopper than an all-around support safety at the next level.