Draft season is now in full swing. As we march through the evaluation process, one of the most popular stops is the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
In case this is your first draft rodeo, the Combine is where draft prospects meet with teams, get checked out by medical staffs, and most importantly for dynasty players, perform a variety of athletic drills.
Opinions vary far and wide on how much weight those drills carry. Some feel that if a player falls below a standard threshold, then he is not as good of a prospect. The reverse is also true for some, that if a player tests above those thresholds, he could be a hidden gem. Others see the Combine as having little-to-no value in their evaluation, as the drills that players are asked to do are removed from actual football. For most though, the Combine is another data point in an overall evaluation.
As is the case with all of these comparative events, there are always winners and losers. Let’s get down who made, and lost, money last weekend.
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Montez Sweat, DE Mississippi State
People who are 6-foot-6 and 260 pounds are not supposed to the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds, but that’s exactly what Sweat did. He has been a steady riser since the end of the season, showing well at the East-West Shrine game and the Senior Bowl.
Quinnen Williams, DT Alabama
Speaking of big dudes who were scootin’, Williams had a 4.83 40-yard dash at 300 pounds. He’s already considered one of the two best prospects in this draft, so it’s hard to climb much higher. Still, Williams solidified his spot at the top of draft boards.
Dexter Lawrence, DT Clemson
The big man got a little redemption in Indianapolis. First, he was suspended for the College Football Playoffs for performance-enhancing drugs. But at the Combine, he had a chance to meet with NFL decision makers and explain what happened. He also posted a fine 5.05-second 40-yard dash. That was in addition to the 36 reps he put up on the bench press, the best mark among defensive linemen.
Devin Bush, LB Michigan
There was never any question about Bush’s athleticism, but went to Indy and put it on full display, turning in the best 40 time among linebackers. Until…..
Devin White, LB LSU
White bested Bush’s time by 0.01 seconds. Both White and Bush showed out in all the on-field drills and were 1-2 in just about every measurable category for linebackers.
Rock Ya-Sin, CB Temple
His calling card is his physical play, but Ya-Sin recorded a nice 4.51 40-yard dash time. While he’ll never be considered a blazer, his time was good enough to hang with most NFL wideouts. Couple that with his excellent week battling Deebo Samuel from South Carolina at the Senior Bowl, and the player with the best name in the draft certainly appears to be headed in the right direction.
Johnathan Abram, S Mississippi State
Abram ran a 4.45 in the 40-yard dash, but coverage really isn’t his game. He’s best as an in-the-box safety who can lay the whuppin’ on you. Still, it was nice to see him show the athleticism that could get overlooked.
Jachai Polite, EDGE Florida
This was not his best look. He had a poor first effort in the 40-yard dash, then “mysteriously” turned up with an injury. He also didn’t win a lot of points during the media session by discussing how teams “bashed” him during meetings.
JoeJuan Williams, CB Vanderbilt
People talk a lot about how much to value what someone does at the Combine. The problem arises when a player performs below where he was projected to perform. Williams is a prime example of this as he turned in a 4.64 40-yard dash. A few seasons ago, Teez Tabor out of Florida was a victim of this same poor result. He still was drafted, but lower than many thought before the season ended. Williams was a day two prospect who might have just slipped into day three.
Mack Wilson, LB Alabama
Wilson turned up injured the night before the Combine and did not participate in any of the on-field drills. While this isn’t infrequent, it certainly didn’t help. Some pundits had him as the third-best linebacker in this class. If he shows poorly at this pro day, he might slip into round three.