Every year there are prospects who boost their draft stock with amazing performances at the NFL scouting combine and then there are those who really hurt themselves with slow times in the fourty, a lack of explosiveness in the leaping events or bad on-field drills. With that being said, the combine is just a small part of the evaluation and most of the information can be found on tape. However, there are some things you see in Indianapolis that make you go back to the film and re-evaluate certain areas of these guys’ games, whether that may be stiffness in their hips, a lack of speed preventing defensive backs to survive full-time on the outside or heavy feet in the drills. Of course, these can also be positive, but for the most part it is just a confirmation of what you have already seen if nothing particularly stands out. The prospects I chose for this article are the ones who I wasn’t completely sure on where I would rank them among their position or on the big board, but really solidified or even improved their draft status.
Overall I think the linebackers and defensive linemen are the groups that really stood out on day three, which was to be expected to some degree but still was highly impressive, considering how they were able to move with the weight they carried. I was discouraged by some of the cornerbacks and there was only one quarterback who really left his mark in Indy in my opinion. Although there were a few performances that made me drop guys a few spots, I thought most of them helped themselves. So while there was nobody who completely threw off my board, I thought these young guys really shined over the weekend:
Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
The thing with the combine is – great athletes will shine and that’s just what Dillard did. I already thought he was the most natural pass-protector in the draft and probably the number one guy if you look for a true left tackle in a pass-happy offense. Dillard showed how light he is on his feet in Indy. He looked smooth throughout the workout and made it seem effortless to go through change-of-direction and pulling drills. He was outstanding on that arc drill, where they let tackle kick-slide and then open up their hips once the dummy is even with them, as he just fired out of his stance, pulling that kick-leg up high quickly and naturally moving around the edge. With that being said, his numbers in the standard drills were also highly impressive – a 4.96 in the 40, an OL-leading 9’10” on the broad jump, the second-best time in the three-cone drill and a tenth of a second better than anybody among the group in the 20-yard shuttle. He should be a top 20 pick for sure.
Garrett Bradbury, C, N.C. State
While I already knew what kind of a special athlete Bradbury was as a center and he was already in line to be my top prospect on the interior offensive line, he only cemented his status in Indianapolis. The numbers were already highly impressive – third among offensive linemen with a 4.92 in the 40 yard dash, second with 34 reps on the bench press, first in the three-cone drill and only three hundreds of a second behind number two on the 20-yard short shuttle. However, what really stood out were his incredible movement skills when it came to the positional workout. Bradbury looked so fluid and natural operating in space, whether that may be on the mirror drill, displaying loose hips when opening up by 180 degrees or showcasing his ability to get on the move as a puller with ease. If you look for an athletic center, who can open up your running schemes by the way he can reach defensive linemen and seal linebackers while playing with his eyes up and active feet in protection, this is your guy.
Miles Sanders, RB, Penn State
Even though I do believe there is a pretty clear top five with the order amongst it up for discussion, the rankings after that are all up and down. Therefore I think Sanders has put himself into consideration for that next guy with an excellent all-around day. After somewhat being into shadow of an all-world running back in Saquon Barkley during his one year as a starter with the Nittany Lions, Sanders is really starting to make a name for himself. He ran a 4.49 in the 40, 36-inch vertical jump, 10’4” on the broad jump, the best three-cone drill time among running backs and the third-best in the 20-yard short shuttle. That explosiveness and agility translated to the football specific drills, where he showed how he can sink his hips going into his breaks and was explosive coming out of cuts. Maybe even more helpful for his case as a day two selection was how smooth he was at running routes and catching the ball. The tape is limited due to the game who toted the rock for Penn State before him, but Sanders looks like a three-down back and boosted his draft status in Indy.
Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
As far as comparisons to his peers at the position go, Fant dominated the combine more than anybody this weekend. He led all tight-ends with a 39.5-inch vertical and a 10’7” broad jump, he was two tenths of a second fast than anybody else in the three-cone drill and he put up a blazing 4.5 flat 40-yard dash at 250 pounds. That was right on par with the average number wide receivers ran, even though they were 45 pounds lighter on average. Outside of those mind-boggling numbers, Fant also had an excellent on-field workout, in which he moved around easily and caught the ball very well. I would probably still go with his teammate T.J. Hockenson as my tight-end number one at this point, because he is a badass in-line blocker who showed good athleticism in space as well in Indy, but those teams who are looking for somebody to play detached from the O-line and be a big slot receiver or even race past corners when split out wide, Fant is a really intriguing prospect. In the end I see both those Iowa guys get selected in the first round and even Alabama’s Irv Smith could sneak into there, considering that he had a pretty good day as well and the clear drop-off after those three guys.
Foster Moreau, TE, LSU
This guy already had an excellent Senior Bowl week as a blocker and showed upside to take on an increased role in the passing game compared to the 52 career catches he had with the Tigers. Moreau surprised me with a 4.66 in the 40 and a 36.5-inch vertical, after I thought he was a rather average athlete and more of a pure football player, who can help a team out in a variety of ways off the ball. The LSU tight-end looked natural at catching the ball on the sideline and the gauntlet drill as well as adjusting to high and low balls on several routes. Of course he also shined on those drive blocks against the bag, where he created good movement with a wide base and powerful strides. With this uber-athletic class he might not beat everybody in a foot race, but considering how well this translates to the football field and the upside he brings as a blocker, with the ability to line up at football on some occasions, I think Moreau could hear his name called early on day three.
Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State
The biggest winner of the entire combine might have been the Buckeyes’ athletic team, considering how all those guys were flying around Lucas Oil stadium. The guy I want to focus on here was the leading receiver for the Ohio State offense. Campbell really showed out in that entire workout, jumping 40 inches vertically and going for 11 feet and 3 inches on the broad jump. He also put up the best 40-yard dash number among all wide receivers at 4.31 and finished up with a tremendous on-field session. Campbell looked very natural, not having to put too much strain on catching the ball and really trusting his hands, which was apparent on the toe tap drill. He also mastered the gauntlet and tracked the ball exceptionally well over his shoulder, especially on that on fade route where he had to turn his head pretty much 180 degrees while looking it in right at the sideline, showing tremendous concentration. There were four Buckeye receivers with at least 650 yards last season and the three of them who were at the combine all ran really well, but with that workout Campbell put himself in position as the clear-cut number one guy.
D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
As crazy as this sounds because it was to expect that Metcalf would blow up the combine, but he really might have been the biggest athletic freak we have ever seen run around in that setting in Indy. Metcalf already made noise with a picture of his workout crew at EXOS, where looked as chiseled as I have ever seen anybody at the wide receiver position and that only increased when the 6’3”, 228-pounder was scanned at 1.6 percent body fat before even doing any work. He also tied a record for bench press reps among wide receivers with 27. So he was already a major topic of discussion before he even stepped onto the field, but he only went off from there. Metcalf ran a 4.33 in the fourty as well as jumping 40.5 inches on the vertical and 11’2” on the broad jumps. While there is definitely a discussion to be had about having worse numbers on those agility tests (three-cone-drill and 20-yard shuttle) than Tom Brady (!), I thought Metcalf got out of his breaks and caught the ball very well for a big physical specimen.
Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
Considering Kyler Murray didn’t participate in any of the on-field drills, I thought Haskins really put his name back into conversations with the two-sport star from Oklahoma drawing the spotlight in recent weeks. Haskins might not have done anything impressive athletically, but all I wanted to see is him running in that five flat range and he did. When it came to throwing the ball – and that is really what it’s all about for quarterbacks – he was head and shoulder above the rest. Haskins was consistently excellent with his accuracy, whether that may be putting it right on the chest on slant routes, letting the receivers run through the catch on curls and dropping dimes on post-corner routes, where the ball would have landed right on that cone to aim for when letting it go. His release was clearly the quickest and he threw some beautifully arcing deep balls. So there are no numbers I can really point at, other than this one – 50 touchdowns last season.
Trysten Hill, DL, UCF
This class of interior defensive linemen was extremely impressive and there are a few that I could certainly talk about, especially Quinnen Williams who already was known as the can’t-miss prospect in this draft. However, I went with a lesser-known name in UCF’s Trysten Hill. The 6’3”, 308-pounder started all 26 games games during his first two years and was a second-team All-AAC selection as a sophomore before coming off the bench outside of one game in year three. Considering he had his best season anyway and was dominant in his only start in the conference championship game, Hill was unhappy with his playing time. Therefore he was eager to show scouts what he is capable of in Indy. Hill looked so explosive in the on-field drills, whether that may showing violent hands hitting the bags and the short-area burst on those starts and turns or just reacting to the coaches’ directions. He also went for 5.04 in the 40 and was among the top three interior D-linemen in both leaping events in addition to being second in the 20-yard short shuttle and putting up 28 reps on the bench press.
Ben Banogu, Edge, TCU
Whenever you set new combine records, you will make this list. Banogu set a new mark for defensive linemen with an 11’2” broad jump. He also leaped 40 inches in the standing vertical and put up a 4.52 in the 40 yard dash while shining in the agility tests as well. Not only were his numbers impressive however, the TCU edge rusher looked very loose operating through the bags and showed that he has experience dropping into coverage, looking very natural at opening up his hips, pedaling backwards, planting and driving on the ball. Banogu isn’t just an athletic standout though. He was second in the Big XII with 8.5 sacks last season and has put together 17 sacks and a crazy 34.5 tackles for loss these last two years. At 6’3”, 250 pounds he will definitely be a better fit for those 3-4 defenses, where he doesn’t have to set the edge on every single play and the fact he could put up the 225 pounds 23 times is encouraging in that aspect, while his movement in space should be critical as well.
Drue Tranquill, LB, Notre Dame
A lot of these draft analysts have Notre Dame linebacker Te’Von Coney really high in their rankings and I have even seen him make the top five on some lists. I don’t understand that at all because I question his instincts for the position and the lack of ball-production in the passing game. However, I am intrigued by the guy who lined up next to him these last two years. Drue Tranquill converted from safety heading into the 2017 season and has been highly productive since then – 171 total tackles, including 19.5 for loss, five sacks, seven PBUs and four fumble recoveries – while being a team captain. With that background I wanted to see him move well and I he had a great overall day. Tranquill ran a 4.57 in the 40, jumped 37.5 inches vertically and beyond ten feet on the broad. He also put 31 reps on the bench press and was top five in both agility drills. Most importantly however, he flew around like a former safety in those on-field drills, where he looked smooth in his pedal and side-shuffle as well as making quick turns and finishing drills the right way.
Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
In a murky cornerback class without a clear order among the top five guys or so, Murphy made a case for himself to be the first one selected in late April. The former Washington corner might not have stood out with that 4.55 in the 40 yard dash, but considering that he added 14 pounds since the end of the season and with that outstanding field workout he had, I thought he really helped himself. Murphy displayed clean footwork and loose hips in the pedal & turn drills, on the M-drill and those 90-degree turns. He showed the ability to plant and drive with great short-area burst and he caught every ball thrown his way away from his body with confidence in his hands. Some of those longer press-man corners such as Greedy Williams and Isaiah Johnson ran really well, but I think Murphy has cemented himself as the number one guy for a zone-based defense, where he can continue to make plays on the ball the way he did for the Huskies, having put together four interceptions and 13 pass-breakups last season.
Darnell Savage, S, Maryland
I thought this year’s safety class really outshined the cornerbacks. It featured the fastest 40 yard dash among all players with Ole Miss’ Zedrick being the only one to go sub 4.3, the highest vertical jump by Virginia’s Juan Thornhill going 44 inches and good numbers throughout. The guy among the group that really stood out to me however was Maryland’s Darnell Savage. The below-200 pounder already flashed a lot on tape when I watched his teammate Tre Watson and then had a really good Senior Bowl week. At Lucas Oil stadium he started things off 39.5-inch vertical jump and a 10’6” broad jump before getting onto the tracks. His blazing 4.36 in the 40 was eight-best among all players at the combine and the on-field workout was equally impressive. Savage had no issues whatsoever flipping his hips and changing directions in any of the drill and did a nice job high-pointing the ball before taking them back. As somewhat of a hybrid nickel-safety prospect Savage needed to confirm the range and short-area burst he displayed on tape and I don’t think he left scouts with any questions about his athletic abilities.
Others who helped themselves:
Chris Lindstom, OG, Boston College
Kaleb McGary, OT, Washington
Justice Hill, RB, Oklahoma State
Alex Barnes, RB, Kansas State
N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
Andy Isabella, WR, UMass
Myles Boykin, WR, Notre Dame
Quinnen Williams, DL, Alabama
Jack Cominsky, DL, Charleston
Brian Burns, Edge, Florida State
Montez Sweat, Edge, Mississippi State
Josh Allen, Edge/LB, Kentucky
Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
Devin White, LB, LSU
Justin Hollins, LB, Oregon
Jamel Dean, CB, Auburn
Rashad Fenton, CB, South Carolina
Isaiah Johnson, CB, Houston
Juan Thornhill, S, Virginia
Jonathan Abram, S, Mississippi State