Browns, NFL Draft

Observations and highlights of the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine

David J. Phillip/AP Photo

Over the past handful of days, the NFL got its first up-close look at most of the draft-worthy prospects at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine. Teams were able to talk to said prospects, get their definitive measurables and see them work through both athletic tests and on-field drills. It was a fun few days that helped give teams a better look at who the players are and how they can translate into the league.

There were players who stood out as expected, others who surprised everyone with their performance, and some who did not perform well. So, let’s take a look at some of the observations I had after watching the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine.

Offensive Line

  • The offensive tackle group is not the deepest group we’ve seen compared to recent drafts.
  • Aviante Collins of TCU ran an impressive 4.81-second 40-yard dash, which was the fastest amongst the offensive linemen, but he looked a little stiff in the hips during the on-field drills.
  • Garett Bolles of Utah has a smaller lower body, which allows him to move well, including running a 4.95-second 40-yard dash.
  • Dan Feeney of Indiana was one of the most impressive lineman in the group, showing off quick feet.
  • Taylor Moton of Western Michigan performed well in the on-field drills, showing good movement skills.
  • Cam Robinson of Alabama is huge at 6-foot-6, 322 pounds, but he was able to move well for that size.
  • Dan Skipper of Arkansas is awkward at his 6-foot-10 freakish height. I am not sure he is an NFL-level athlete.
  • Overall, the NFL Combine is not the place to really evaluate the offensive line, besides getting some height, weight and movement skills data.

Running Backs

  • The running backs group is such a deep and versatile group with an array of backs with differing traits.
  • T.J. Logan of North Carolina showed off his speed with the running back group’s fastest 40-yard dash time at 4.37 seconds.
  • Leonard Fournette of LSU showed an impressive combination of speed and size, running a 4.51-second 40-yard dash at 240 pounds. His hands continue to be a question after he was inconsistent catching the ball during on-field drills.
  • Donnel Pumphrey of San Diego State is extremely slight for a running back, but he is very fluid and ran fast in the 40-yard dash at 4.48 seconds.
  • Christian McCaffery of Stanford may have been the most impressive running back of the group. He ran better in the 40-yard dash than expected at 4.48 seconds, while in the on-field drills, he showed off his incredible agility that defines him as a player, changing directions like he was a machine. He also showed smooth hands.
  • Dalvin Cook of Florida State did not perform as well as I thought he would have. His three-cone time of 7.27 seconds and 20-yard shuttle of 4.53 seconds were poor and very shocking based on well he moves on tape.
  • Alvin Kamara of Tennessee showed the most explosion of the group, testing out at the top of both the vertical jump (39.5 inches) and broad jump (131 inches).
  • I felt bad for FB Freddie Stevenson of Florida State. He struggled a little in some of the on-field drills, but that was expected as a fullback in the running backs group.

Quarterbacks

  • The first group of quarterbacks was bad. The second group was light years better than the first.
  • Trevor Knight of Texas A&M showed off his best asset, his athleticism. Amongst the quarterbacks, he ran the fastest 40-yard dash at 4.54 seconds, the best vertical jump at 35.5 inches, the best broad jump at 125 inches and the second best 20-yard shuttle at 4.14 seconds.
  • Jerod Evans of Virginia Tech showed what most expected, developing footwork. He was slow in his drop backs, looking like he was still thinking through the process rather than just doing it naturally.
  • DeShone Kizer of Notre Dame struggled with accuracy quite a bit. He overthrew some targets with his huge arm and inconsistent footwork.
  • Mitchell Trubisky of North Carolina and Deshaun Watson of Clemson ran very well in the 40-yard dash, running 4.67 seconds and 4.66 seconds, respectively. On the field, both quarterbacks looked really good. They showed accuracy and timing, along with good arm strength.
  • Patrick Mahomes of Texas Tech was right there with Trubisky and Watson in performing well at the Combine. The ball really pops out of his hand with what looks like relative ease.
  • Besides those three, Nathan Peterman of Pittsburgh performed well. He had good footwork and timing on his passes, but he struggled with the deeper passes.

Wide Receivers

  • The wide receivers group had a lot of good times in the 40-yard dash, with many under or around 4.5 seconds.
  • The group overall is pretty athletic with shapes and sizes.
  • The leading athlete of the group is John Ross of Washington. He broke the Combine record in the 40-yard dash, running 4.22 seconds. He did that while cramping, which would end his day after the first attempt. He was also in the top five in the broad jump (133 inches) and the vertical (37 inches).
  • Curtis Samuel of Ohio State was overshadowed by Ross, but he ran a great 40-yard dash at 4.31 seconds, the second fastest amongst receivers.
  • Zay Jones of East Carolina keeps impressing in the pre-draft process. He caught everything in the on-field drills and performed well in the 40-yard dash (4.45 seconds), broad jump (133 inches), 20-yard shuttle (4.01 seconds) and 60-yard shuttle (11.17 seconds). Of the receivers, he was third best in the broad jump and 20-yard shuttle and fourth best in the 60-yard shuttle.
  • KD Cannon continues the line of freaky athletic receivers from Baylor. Amongst the receivers, he ran the fourth fastest 40-yard dash at 4.41 seconds and tied for the fifth highest vertical at 37 inches.
  • Chris Godwin of Penn State continued his moment from his strong Rose Bowl performance by running well in the 40-yard dash at 4.42 seconds and showing some smooth hands during the on-field drills.
  • Robert Davis of Georgia State showed explosiveness in the jumping drills. He had the longest broad jump of the wide receivers at 136 inches and the second highest vertical jump of the receivers at 41 inches.
  • Cooper Kupp of Eastern Washington performed as expected. He did not test athletically overly well, but he showed his reliable hands. But, he did run well in the 20-yard shuttle, running the third fastest of the receivers at 4.01 seconds. That bodes well for a slot receiver, who needs to change directions quickly.
  • Amara Darboh of Michigan had a very underrated day in both the athletic tests and the on-field drills. He was in the upper half of the 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical and broad jump, along with showing a clean on-field performance.
  • Mike Williams of Clemson is a huge receiver, showing strong hands that plucked the ball out of the air.

Tight Ends

  • The tight ends group is extremely athletic with the potential to create huge potential mismatches for NFL teams.
  • Evan Engram of Ole Miss looked like a wide receiver in his athletic testing and on-field drills. Amongst the tight ends, he ran the fastest 40-yard dash at 4.42 seconds and in every other athletic drill he attempted, he tested in the top six in all them, except for the bench press. He moved so smoothly in the on-field drills, too.
  • Bucky Hodges of Virginia Tech showed off his explosive traits in the two athletic jumping tests. He broke the record for tight ends at the Combine in the broad jump, posting 134 inches in the broad jump. He was also the best in the vertical, jumping 39 inches.
  • O.J. Howard ran really well for a man his size. At 6-foot-6, 251 pounds, Howard ran a 4.51-second 40-yard dash, which was the second fastest of the tight ends group.
  • George Kittle of Iowa had a really good day. In the athletic tests with the tight ends, he was the third fastest in the 40-yard dash (4.52 seconds), the sixth best in the vertical jump (35 inches) and the third best broad jump (132 inches). He really surprised with his performance.
  • Eric Saubert of Drake showed off natural hands and an ability to track the ball and make the catch in the on-field drills.
  • Adam Shaheen of Ashland is a huge tight end. He is 6-foot-6, 278 pounds and an intriguing tight end teams could target to get a mismatch.
  • David Njoku of Miami (FL) is another freak athlete. Amongst the tight ends, he had the third best vertical jump (37.5 inches), the second best broad jump (133 inches) and the third best three-cone (6.97 seconds). He is a well put together tight end, who can be a complete mismatch for a defense to have to defend.

Defensive Line

  • This is a great class of edge rushers with some differing traits like speed rushers, athletic freaks and technicians.
  • The main story for Browns fans was Myles Garrett of Texas A&M. He tested out like many thought he would, exceptionally. At 6-foot-4, 272 pounds, he ran 4.64 seconds in the 40-yard dash, posted 33 reps on the bench, jumped 41 inches on the vertical jump and jumped 128 inches in the broad jump. Amongst the defensive line group, which included smaller speed rushers, Garrett tied for the fifth best 40-yard dash, the second most bench reps, the best vertical jump and tied for second in the broad jump. He pretty much sealed his status for being the best player in the draft.
  • Besides Myles Garrett, Jordan Willis of Kansas State also had an amazing performance, especially in the athletic tests. Of the defensive linemen, he had the second fastest 40-yard dash (4.53 seconds), the second highest vertical jump (39 inches), tied for sixth longest broad jump (125 inches), the fastest 3-cone drill (6.85 seconds) and tied for third fastest 20-yard shuttle (4.28 seconds). He surprised many with how great an athlete he was.
  • Haason Reddick of Temple put on a show in the athletic testing. Amongst the defensive line, he ran the fastest 40-yard dash at 4.52 seconds, jumped the third highest vertical at 36.5 inches and jumped the farthest broad jump at 133 inches. Personally, I believe he is an inside linebacker and should have worked out with the linebackers.
  • Trey Hendrickson of Florida Atlantic showed off some impressive short area quickness. In the 20-yard shuttle, he was the second fastest of the defensive line (4.20 seconds) and the fastest in the 60-yard shuttle (11.43 seconds).
  • Carl Lawson of Clemson was another player who showed good quickness for a big guy. At 6-foot-2, 261 pounds, he had the best 20-yard shuttle, running it in 4.19 seconds. He paired that up with the most reps on the bench (35 reps). But, he struggled in the three-cone drill, running it in 7.46 seconds. He is an interesting player to evaluate.
  • Malik McDowell of Michigan State is a smooth athlete for a player 6-foot-6, 295 pounds. His ability is not the question, though.
  • Charles Harris of Missouri showed the ability to move in space, which allows him to play either standing up or with his hand in the dirt.
  • Takkarist McKinley of UCLA ran the third fastest time amongst the defensive line in the 40-yard dash with a 4.59-second run. He was so aggressive and energized during the on-field drills that he messed up a few of the drills.
  • Solomon Thomas of Stanford showed everyone his explosiveness and quickness at the Combine. Amongst the defensive line group, he had the fifth best broad jump at 126 inches, the fourth fastest 3-cone drill at 6.95 seconds and tied for third at the 20-yard shuttle at 4.28 seconds.
  • Tim Williams of Alabama did not run as fast as I thought he would, running just a 4.68-second 40-yard dash.

Linebackers

  • Raekwon McMillan of Ohio State ran a lot faster than I thought he would. He ran a 4.61-second 40-yard dash, the third fastest amongst the linebackers. This will really help his stock.
  • Jabrill Peppers of Michigan blew away the linebackers group in the 40-yard dash, running it in 4.46 seconds. He should not have worked out with this group because he is a safety, not a linebacker. But to his credit, he did workout again with the defensive backs, something he did not have to do.
  • Duke Riley of LSU really impressed me with his speed, running the fastest 40-yard dash of all the linebackers besides Peppers (4.58 seconds).
  • Blair Brown of Ohio really tested well in athletic testing and in on-field drills he looked smooth moving in space. Of the linebackers, Brown tied for second in the vertical jump with a 37-inch jump and was in the top six in the 40-yard dash and broad jump.
  • Zach Cunningham of Vanderbilt moved in space during the on-field drills as well as I expected.
  • Alex Anzalone of Florida moves well in space and he showed his speed in the 40-yard dash, running it in 4.63 seconds, which was fourth best of the linebackers.
  • T.J. Watt of Wisconsin looks like he received some of his brother’s good genes in his ability to move smoothly. He also showed explosiveness, tying for the longest broad jump of the linebackers at 128 inches and tying for second in the vertical jump amongst linebackers with a 37-inch jump.

Defensive Backs

  • The defensive backs were blazing in the 40-yard dash. 22 of the defensive backs, including Jabrill Peppers, ran faster than a 4.5-second 40-yard dash.
  • Obi Melifonwu of Connecticut was the freak of the defensive backs. At 6-foot-4, 224 pounds, he ran 4.40 seconds in the 40-yard dash, jumped 44 inches in the vertical and leaped 141 inches in the broad jump. Of the defensive backs, his 40-yard dash was fifth fastest, his vertical was the highest and his broad jump was the longest. He looked smooth in on-field drills, too.
  • Adoree’ Jackson of USC showed off his athleticism, running a 4.42 second 40-yard dash and looking very fluid in the on-field drills.
  • Jamal Adams of LSU moved well for a safety, moving in space smoothly and with ease in the on-field drills.
  • Marshon Lattimore of Ohio State put on a show in the athletic tests, but was unable to perform in the on-field drills after injuring himself in the second 40-yard dash. His 40-yard dash of 4.36 seconds was the third fastest of the defensive backs; his vertical of 38.5 inches was tied for fifth amongst the group; and his broad jump of 132 inches was tied for third best of the group.
  • Lattimore’s Ohio State teammate, Gareon Conley, had a good day throughout. He ran a 4.44-second 40-yard dash, while also showing fluid hips and transitioning in the on-field drills.
  • At 6-feet-3-inches, both Brian Allen of Utah and Kevin King of Washington moved well for such tall guys. Allen ran a 4.48-second 40-yard dash, while King ran a 4.43-second 40-yard dash.
  • Damontae Kazee of San Diego State showed some impressive ball skills during the on-field drills, high-pointing the ball to make the catch.
  • Marcus Williams of Utah showed some great explosiveness in the athletic jump tests. He had the second highest vertical of the defensive backs at 43.5 inches, while also jumping the eighth longest broad jump at 129 inches.
  • Fabian Moreau of UCLA had a heck of a Combine performance. In the athletic tests amongst the defensive backs, he ran the second fastest 40-yard dash (4.35 seconds), the seventh highest vertical (38 inches) and the second longest broad jump (136 inches). On the field, he showed quick change of direction skills.
  • Jalen Myrick of Minnesota ran the fastest 40-yard dash of the defensive backs in an impressive 4.28 seconds.
  • Teez Tabor of Florida ran an underwhelming 40-yard dash at 4.62 seconds, but on the field he showed off fluid hips and feet in the drills.
  • Jabrill Peppers of Michigan returned on Monday for his second straight days of on-field drills, this time with the defensive backs. He showed smooth movement skills that show that he is best suited in the secondary.