NFL COMBINE RECAP: WINNERS & LOSERS

 

The 2016 NFL Combine is in the books, and we take a look at which prospects left Indy with bags of money in their carry-on and which lost some like Andy Dalton's  baggage on a Delta flight.

 

DAY 1 WINNERS

OT JASON SPRIGGS

Spriggs stacked an impressive combine performance on top of a solid Senior Bowl week, and his name should definitely be in the conversation for teams like the Seahawks, Chiefs and Broncos at the bottom of Round 1. Spriggs ran the 40 in 4.94 seconds with a 1.75 10 yard split and put up 31 reps on the bench - in the words of Bucky Brooks, "he skrong."

 

C RYAN KELLY

Kelly weighed in at 311 lbs, 14 lbs heavier than his listed playing weight of 297 lbs. More impressively, Kelly posted a 40 time of 5.03 seconds and 10 yard split of 1.75 - same as OT Jason Spriggs. Kelly also put up 26 reps on the bench, which was a great number for him. Kelly can potentially go as high as the Arizona Cardinals at the top of round 1, but my favorite landing spot for him is the San Diego Chargers at 35, a team in desperate need of stout center play.

 

RB KEITH MARSHALL

Many people forgot about the injury-prone Keith Marshall. That is, until he blazed a 4.31 40 yard dash and put up 25 reps on the bench at 219 lbs. If Marshall can stay healthy, there's a chance that he can be a more successful pro than collegiate player.

 

OT JACK CONKLIN

Although he looked absolutely ridiculous doing it (I thought his head was going to fall off his shoulders at any second), the violent roadrunner Conklin stampeded his way to a 5.00 second 40 yard dash (1.75 second 10 yard split). He also tacked on a 7.63 3 cone and his 35" arms will be useful to make the case of staying at LT in the NFL. Conklin and Decker are going to have a huge battle for that #3 tackle spot, and Conklin likely cemented himself as a first rounder with his performance in Indy. The Colts, Jets, Chiefs and Seahawks are all in play.

 

OT JOE THUNEY

Admittedly, I didn't know much about Thuney, but he certainly earned my attention after blazing a 4.95 40 yard dash with a 10 yard split of 1.70 seconds. Thuney also did his 3 cone in 7.47 seconds and put up 28 reps on the bench. Thuney definitely is going to make some scouts go back and look at his tape at NC State and may get drafted based on his combine.

 

DAY 1 LOSERS

OG DENVER KIRKLAND

Kirkland may still be running his 3 cone drill. Seriously, an 8.72? Usually when interior linemen weigh in at 335 lbs and run slow (5.55 40 yard dash), they at least make up for it with strength. If the bench reps are any indication, however, Kirkland's 19 reps leave more to be desired in that arena. The underclassmen probably dropped himself at least one, maybe two rounds in Indy.

 

OG/OT VADAL ALEXANDER

If Alexander was trying to make his pitch that he can start at tackle at the NFL level, he certainly did himself no favors. His 326 frame was causing some serious distress to the Under Armour compression he was donning and a 5.57 40 time/1.92 10 yard split shows he will take ages to get to the second level. The only positive for Alexander is that he shook off 10 lbs since Mobile, showing that he can at least slim down when he has to. 

 

DAY 2 WINNERS

WR WILL FULLER

We all knew Will Fuller was fast, but did we know he was 4.32 fast? 40 time aside, Fuller made himself a ton of money not necessarily because of his ability to win a track meet, but how smooth he was catching the ball in drills and manuevering in and out of cuts. With drops being the red flag surrounding Fuller's game, his performance was an encouraging one. Putting him next to AJ Green would be a compelling duo, but the question is, will he last to Cincinnati in the second round?

 

WR JOSH DOCTSON

Doctson has been described as a "one-gear" guy, meaning he has one-speed and doesn't offer much when it comes to advanced route running and acceleration. A 6.84 second 3 cone and 4.50 second 40 yard dash at 6'2" 202 may suggest otherwise. Even more importantly, however, based on which team drafts Doctson, he may not need to be a shifty route runner, as his 41" vertical jump and strong hands can make him a vertical/red zone #1 receiver. Doctson will be going to the Chiefs in round one of our next mock.

 

DAY 2 LOSERS

WR BRAXTON MILLER

Don't talk the talk if you're not going to walk the walk. Although it's not slow, Miller's 4.50 second 40 time is extremely disappointing after proclaiming that he would be in the 4.2s. I think we can officially pump the brakes on the Braxton is a first rounder hype train, but I still like him as a fit with the Atlanta Falcons in the second round.

 

WR DEMARCUS ROBINSON

This was Robinson's chance to assuage a lot of doubts about his game on and off the field, and he didn't fully grasp it. Robinson barely squeaked under a 4.60 4o (4.59) and despite showing off with some backflips, I'm not sure he did enough in his interview sessions to make scouts do backflips about him. His value is extremely difficult to project at this point.

 

WR DE'RUNNYA WILSON

4.85 second 40. That is all.

 

DAY 3 WINNERS

DE MATT JUDON

This guy was on my radar before the combine, but his performance absolutely kicked the door in on me like the Kool Aid Man. 6'3" 275 lbs 4.73 second 40 (1.66 10 yd split), 30 bench press reps, 7.67 3 cone and 35" vertical. Not only that, but he was super productive at Grand Valley State, tallying over 20 sacks last season, essentially doubling Noah Spence's production at Eastern Kentucky. In fact, these are the combine numbers many were expecting Spence to have.

 

DE SHAQ LAWSON

Lawson looked dominant in his tape at Clemson, but wow. A 4.70 second 40 yard dash with a 1.64 spit at 269 lbs is very impressive, and he may have cemented himself in the top 10 by the time the draft rolls by. Lawson is a perfect fit for the New York Giants, who are set to lose both starting DEs to free agency.

 

DE CHARLES TAPPER

4.59 second 40? 1.59 second 10 yard split? Where did the come from? Tapper rarely had to showcase his athleticism while at Oklahoma, where he was asked to occupy blocks as a strongside DE, but to run as well as he did in Indianapolis may just have some teams taking another look. The Detroit Lions would be a great fit for Tapper, where he can take advantage on a line opposite Ezekiel Ansah.

 

DT ANDREW BILLINGS

Although Billings got nowhere close to his 40-50 bench press prediction (btw - how could you be so off? 225 lbs in Waco is just as heavy as 225 lbs in Indianapolis?) He still left a big impression with scouts looking for a stout, athletic, run-stuffing nose tackle who can still offer something in terms of collapsing the pocket. At 311 lbs, Billings ran a 5.05 second 40 yard dash and still put up 31 reps on the bench. The Bengals would be a great first round landing spot for Billings, who need an  upgrade from Domata Peko to plug up some holes next to Geno Atkins.

 

DAY 3 LOSERS

EDGE NOAH SPENCE

As fast as the Noah Spence Top 10 balloon was inflated in Mobile, it was stuck with a pin just as quickly in Indianapolis. Although his 4.80 second 40 yard dash is disappointing (rumors suggest he ran on a bad hamstring that he sustained from the Senior Bowl), it's his interviews with teams that may be what's hindering Spence from being a top selection. It only takes one team to pull the trigger, however, and the lack of a depth in this year's edge class may end up benefiting Spence come April. I hear the Saints really like him.

 

DT ROBERT NKEMDICHE

He didn't necessarily have a bad showing in his workouts, but I was expecting better than a 4.87 40 yard dash, especially after my Ole Miss buddies have been assuring me that he's been clocked at the 4.5 range. Whatever. It's the weird press conference where he just didn't say the right things to put the minds of scouts at ease about investing a high pick in him that troubled me. Not to mention, essentially throwing teammate Laremy Tunsil under the bus? C'mon man.

 

LB JAYLON SMITH

Obviously, Smith didn't work out due to his knee injury, but the reports from the medical evaluators were not good. Some teams are taking Smith completely off their board, fearing that the nerve damage that Smith sustained in his final collegiate game may never awaken. Still, one unnamed GM source suggested that they are confident that Smith will return and play at a very high level, but where he will end up drafted now remains to be seen. Regardless of draft value, a good landing spot for Smith would be San Francisco, where he can be mentored and encouraged by Navorro Bowman, who recently recovered from a diabolical knee injury and made the Pro Bowl in doing so.

 

DAY 4 WINNERS

DB JALEN RAMSEY

Ramsey is a track superstar, so we were expecting a lights-out performance, and boy did he deliver. Measuring in at almost 6'2" 209 lbs with 33 3/8" arms, Ramsey registered a 4.41 40 yard dash (1.52 split), 6.94 3 cone, 41" vertical and 11'3" broad jump. A former collegiate long jumper, Ramsey may have vaulted himself to the Chargers at 3, who are desperately in need of a FS with Eric Weddle set to hit the market.

 

CB WILLIAM JACKSON III

The only questions surrounding Jackson were his top-end speed, and he checked that box off in stunning fashion, blazing a 4.37 second 40 yard dash with a 10 yard split of 1.44. I was also encouraged to see Jackson weigh in at 189 lbs, 16 lbs heavier than he was listed at Houston. Although the Steelers never reach for need, I would love to see Jackson land in Pittsburgh. He can be the second-coming of Ike Taylor.

 

CB ELI APPLE

We knew that the CB affectionately known as "Eli Grab Apple" by some Buckeyes fans for his aggressive (and sometimes handsy) playing style had supreme length, but he validated his speed by posting a 4.40 40 yard dash. More impressively, Apple looked so natural during pass catching drills, bringing in two one-handed catches that were very impressive. Apple would be an awesome pairing in Arizona across from Patrick Peterson.

 

DAY 4 LOSERS

FS DARIAN THOMPSON

For a player who's game is predicated on being a rangy, ball-hawking free safety, Thompson's 4.69 40 yard dash certainly did him no favors. We'll see how this affect's Thompson's draft stock, but a report by Chris Trapasso suggested that the Steelers, Raiders, and Cardinals showed a lot of interest in Thompson prior to his workout.

 

CB MACKENSIE ALEXANDER

"I'm the ultimate competitor," said the guy who didn't compete at the ultimate pre-draft competition. Registering 0 interceptions in your collegiate career is a red flag, I don't care how little other teams throw your way. Alexander had a chance to challenge Hargreaves for the top CB spot, but now may be slipping somewhere towards the bottom of the first round. If Ezekiel Elliott is off the board, the Colts may take a hard look at Alexander, who they met with officially in Indianapolis.

 

CB RASHARD ROBINSON

After being booted from LSU and being away from football for a while, this was Robinson's stage to shine. #DraftTwitter told me Robinson was going to run in the 4.2s. He didn't. Between weighing in at 6'1" 171 lbs (lightest CB at the combine and 2 inches shorter than his listed 6'3"), a 4.49 40 yard dash, and his off-the-field issues, it will be interesting to see which team rolls the dice on Robinson.

 

 

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