The 2019 NFL Scouting Combine is in the books. Love it or hate it, the combine gives players an opportunity to impress NFL personnel with their athletic ability. It also gives teams the opportunity to test players mental acumen and love for the game in a series of interviews and tests.
With years of college and even high school game tape to watch, rightly or wrongly the combine can provide that final piece of the puzzle on a player that might drive him up draft boards. Conversely, a poor showing can see a player’s fortunes tumble dramatically.
With that in mind, below I look at the “Winners and Losers” from this year’s combine class. Buyer beware, this doesn’t guarantee success in the league! Let’s go…
Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
For me, Quinnen Williams is the best player in this draft. So to say his draft stock rose from this weekend almost seems ridiculous. However, Williams absolutely destroyed other interior lineman, and the internet, when he posted a 4.83 in the 40 yard dash. 303lb men are not meant to move so fast! When you combine (no pun intended) this athleticism with his obvious natural football ability, I don’t think there is a better prospect in this draft. If I’m the Arizona Cardinals, I would be sprinting to the podium to select him with the first overall pick. We know now that he would probably beat them there!
Ole Miss University
It is tempting to give DK Metcalf his own slot here. The guy is an absolute freak athlete. With a reported 1.6% body fat, he has the build to be a fighter not a footballer. There were concerns that his physical build could hinder him in some drills this weekend. Absolutely not. He put on a show. However, I think Ole Miss deserve a lot of credit this weekend. With all eyes on Metcalf, I think AJ Brown quietly went about putting himself in the conversation for the first receiver taken. He ran a sub 4.50 in the 40 yard dash and looked fantastic in the on field drills. Another Ole Miss Rebel, safety Zedrick Woods put in the fastest 40 time of the weekend with a 4.29! With Jarrett Stidham and tight end Dawson Knox also performing well, it was a definite win for the Rebels at the combine.
Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
Williams remains a dividing figure at the top of this year’s cornerback class. If your concerns were based around his speed, then be concerned no more! Williams lit up a dreary Monday in Indianapolis with a 4.37 in the 40 yard dash. Speedy Greedy indeedy! Although cramping issues limited the rest of his combine experience, Williams certainly made the most of his weekend at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Iowa Tight Ends
Everyone knows TJ Hockensen is the second coming at the tight end position. Fact. However, lately Noah Fant has been getting less and less love. It’s time to redress that balance. Both players had a fantastic weekend at the combine. They were consistently in the top 10 of the athletic drills. Fant lead all tight ends in the 40 yard dash, vertical jump and broad jump. Out on the field, both players looked accomplished in the position drills. If anything, Fant looked the better of the two.
In my player profile on Drue Tranquill, we spoke about the incredible charity work that was taking place at the combine this weekend. As part of their drive to tackle rare diseases, Uplifting Athletes were raising sponsorship at the bench press with “Reps for Rare Diseases”. Drue lead all linebackers with 31 reps. Great work for a worthy cause.
Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
So, Kyler Murray goes to the combine, does the interviews, people are already penning him in as the number one pick, how is he a loser here? Hear me out! I have loved watching Kyler Murray this season, he is awesome, there’s no doubt. I would have loved to have seen him at least out there with the other quarterbacks, throwing a ball or two. Maybe do a drill or two. However, I thought him being sat on the sideline during the drills, chewing on a mouth guard like he was about to go in to the action, was a bit pathetic. I wasn’t overly blown away with his composure at his press conference either. This has been a hallmark of the Kyler Murray show during this whole process.
Jachai Polite, EDGE, Florida
What a strange weekend for Polite. There was a lot of buzz around him going in to the weekend, but it was a very underwhelming performance. Reportedly, a hamstring issue which has plagued him for a number of days was to blame for a less than stellar time in the 40 yard dash. More concerning was Polite’s conduct off the field. Following a series of interviews with teams, Polite took to the media to criticise those interviews. Teams appeared to be questioning the off field conduct which saw him sit out of the first half of Florida’s opening game this season. He still has time to address the athletic performance at the Gator’s Pro Day but the damage may already done from a personality perspective.
Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson
After missing the end of the season due to a failed drug test, Lawrence needed to put in a performance this weekend. His Sunday came to an abrupt end as he crossed the line of the 40 yard dash. With an ice pack around his quad, Lawrence left the field and wasn’t seen again. Although it was a minor quad strain which shouldn’t pose any long term impact, the injury denied Lawrence the opportunity to let his ability do the talking. He is an extremely talented player who should be in the conversation for early first round picks but instead we’re spending the build up to the draft talking about injury and failed drug tests.
Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama
Wilson suffered a sore hamstring as a result of testing over the weekend which meant he didn’t see the field at all on Sunday. This normally wouldn’t be a huge issue but his position wasn’t helped by the linebackers who did perform. Both Devin White and Devin Bush put on a show and solidified their foothold as the premier linebackers in the class. Off the field, there were reports of some less than stellar performances in interviews which could also harm his draft stock.
Defensive Line Free Agents
If you’re a defensive end or tackle currently playing in the NFL and looking to make a killing in free agency, you’ve picked a bad year. One thing that the combine solidified in my mind is just how good this defensive class is. Of course, some teams have cap space to spare and will pay over the odds to shore up their defence with a proven commodity. However, this is such a talented and deep class of defensive players. The athletic ability of those players was on full show this weekend. There are going to be Week 1 starters available further down the draft order than ever before. Especially when you consider teams that will make that faithful leap on their quarterback of the future.
There were so many more players that made an impression, both good and bad, on me this weekend. It could form the basis of a whole series of articles! However, these are the ones that stick most out in my mind. If you have an opinion on any of the above, feel free to @ me on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.
Feature Image Credit: Darron Cummings (Associated Press)