The first step for the next NFL stars is the NFL Combine. This intense setting of interviews, drills, and athletic testing is where scouts and NFL teams move players up and down their draft board. They also get to know the players with personal interviews. I am going to give a recap of the top players in each position group. Below you will find who helped their stock, as well as who hurt themselves at the combine.
This running back group doesn’t have a absolute stud like in recent years, but there are multiple solid prospects. The consensus top running back prospect, Josh Jacobs, did not do any drills due to an injury, he should test at his pro day to give himself a lock to be a first round pick as well as the first running back off the board. Someone who helped his stock was Justice Hill. He ran a 4.4 flat 40 time and had an explosive vertical and broad jump. He hurt himself on his second 40, so he didn’t do any on field drills, if he can prove to be smooth and agile at his pro day, he could make an argument to be a second round pick. On the other side, Elijah Holyfield hurt his stock a lot. He ran a 4.7 in the 40 yard dash and did not look loose enough in the field drills to be considered a three down back. He might have to settle for a LeGarrette Blount type of career unless he can improve on his speed and agility. Players like David Montgomery and Miles Sanders did well enough to confirm some beliefs on their athletic ability. Mike Singletary ran a slow 40 time at 4.6 but excelled in the short area drills which confirmed his LeSean McCoy-like agility.
The top offensive lineman showed out at the combine, and most of them only confirmed and improved their draft status. Jonah Williamsimpressed with his measurables and field performance and should be a teams left tackle of the future. Garret Bradburyhas amazing athletic testing with a 4.92 in the 40 and then he put up 34 reps at the bench press. I believe he locked himself inside the first round with a great showing. On the other side, Greg Littleonly enhanced what teams thought of him. He has great athletic ability, but he lacks ideal technique and footwork at the tackle position. Teams would rather have a guy that knows how to block rather than a big guy that can move around, especially at the tackle position. If Little can improve his technique, he can still be a guy taken in the first, but he definitely hurt his stock with his on-field drill performance.
Man this tight end group was fun to watch, there were 3 tight ends that I highlighted in previous articles and all 3 did a solid job at the combine. Irv Smith Jr. is the consensus third best tight end in the group. He ran well and caught the ball smoothly on the field. He could sneak into the end of the first round to a team like the Packers. T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant showed out at the combine. Everyone heard about Fant’s ridiculous workout. He ran a 4.5 in the 40 and actually showed nice drive in the blocking drill. Hockenson showcased his all-around skill set. He had the best drive in the blocking, showed natural hands in the gauntlet, and ran a 4.7 in the 40. I still believe Hockenson will be the first tight end off the board due to his all-around skill set, but if teams are looking for an Evan Engram type of tight end, then I can certainly see a team taking Noah Fant before Hockenson and letting Fant dominate the pass game.
The wideouts at the 2019 combine are absolutely insane athletes. The top guys did well, and there were some receivers that helped themselves enough to sneak into the second round. A.J. Brown impressed with a 4.49 in the 40, which is far faster than scouts thought he would run. He showcased his great routes and hands in the field drills as well. N’Keal Harry was the receiver that helped his stock the most. He ran a 4.5 in the 40 which was a whole lot faster than the 4.7 most thought he would run. The best part was that he showcased his insane body control in the field drills. He reminds me of a slightly more athletic DeAndre Hopkins, which is scary. One receiver that moved down the board slightly was Hakeem Butlerout of Iowa State. He showed some stone hands in the field drills and didn’t show out well enough in the athletic testing to be considered a lock in the first round. On the other hand, Parris Campbellwas the most explosive wide out of the day. He ran the best 40 time at 4.31 and did really well in the deep receiving drills. He might not have the ideal size to be an outside wide receiver, but he’s a guy that teams would love to draft and just get the ball too. Last but certainly not least. D.K. Metcalfdominated the combine. Besides Kyler Murray, nobody has gotten more media attention. He put up an insane 27 bench press reps and then casually ran a 4.3 in the 40. In earlier articles, I compared Metcalf’s athletic ability to Julio Jones, and he only confirmed that comparison. Even better was that he showed solid route running and hands. He was always my first receiver off the board in my mock drafts, but he might sneak into the top 10 picks if a team falls in love with him.
It is rare that the quarterback group doesn’t get the most attention at the combine. But that was exactly the case this year. Even though he did not do any testing, Kyler Murray reportedly did well in interviews and meetings, and there’s enough smoke about him being the first pick that it is more likely to happen than not. Dwyane Haskins showcased his accuracy and arm strength. He missed some throws but he made up for it with excellent velocity and timing. He did not light up the athletic testing, as he actually ran the slowest 40, but teams knew he was a pocket passer. The story of the quarterbacks was Drew Lock though. Lock showed the most natural arm in the drills and did really well in the athletic testing. He ran well in the 40 and he moved closer to Haskins on the big board, rather than staying near Daniel Jones. Speaking of Daniel Jones, I actually thought his combine was disappointing. He showed amazing footwork, which was great. However, his throws did not have the velocity you are looking for and he was slightly off on some passes. He will still be a first round pick, but he is going to be the fourth QB off the board instead of potentially being the third.