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#pounditTuesday, September 21, 2021

10 best players missing NFL Combine action

Chad Kelly

330 NFL hopefuls were invited to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind. for the 2017 NFL Combine, which is held through March 6. During their time there, the young prospects will be run through the wringer, fielding questions from professional scouts and putting their athletic skills on display for the football world to see.

For some, the NFL Combine will provide a springboard to the NFL Draft. For others, it very well may harm their projected value. And for even fewer promising rookies, the opportunity to prove their worth won’t even come about.

But just because this event is hyped, don’t forget that there are plenty of athletes who won’t be there, or will be limited while there. Whether it’s because of injury, off-field issues or they simply weren’t invited, a number of good players are not participating in the NFL Combine. Some who will be there will be missing some action.

Here’s a look at 10 of the best players who will be missing the action in Indianapolis.

10. Erik Magnuson (offensive lineman, Michigan)

Unlike most players on this list who won’t participate in the NFL Combine due to injury or who were omitted due to character concerns, Michigan offensive lineman Erik Magnuson simply wasn’t invited.

A first team All-Big Ten Conference honoree in 2016, Magnuson appeared in 45 career games for Michigan, starting 36 of those, including 23 straight at right tackle. And while most experts would agree that there’s not a single standout tackle in the draft, there’s a belief that Magnuson could be an NFL starter for years to come.

The 6-foot-6, 304-pound Magnuson also offers the potential for versatility, having played inside at the guard position as well. And while good numbers at the NFL Combine certainly would have helped his draft stock, he’ll instead have to fall back on his game film and any Pro Days he attends.

At the end of the day, Magnuson will take a hit due to his non-invite to the combine, but should still be considered a solid mid-round option with a lot of upside.

9. Chad Williams (wide receiver, Grambling State)

Chad Williams helped himself tremendously during the Senior Bowl, proving without a shadow of a doubt he was on par with FBS-level talent. Unfortunately, several off-the-field concerns, including a May 2016 arrest for marijuana and possession of a firearm, will keep him from improving his draft stock further in Indianapolis.

Having dominated at lower levels in college, Williams was (and still is) working hard to prove to NFL scouts he’s worthy of a mid-round selection. In fact, the 6-foot-1, 204-pound wideout has spent quite a bit of time working with former St. Louis Rams superstar Torry Holt to completely round out his game ahead of April’s draft.

With a projected 40 time of sub-4.55 and other impressive intangibles, Williams could have really helped himself at the combine, but will now have to rely on his game film and Pro Day performances to catapult himself up the draft boards.

It would have been beneficial for scouts and fans to see him work in Indianapolis, but that’s just not how the cookie crumbled.

8. Hunter Dimick (defensive end, Utah)

Like Erik Magnuson, Dimick is one of two players on this list who, despite lacking any real off-field baggage, simply weren’t extended an invite to attend the NFL Combine. And in Dimick’s case, that’s especially surprising.

The 6-foot-3, 269-pound Dimick ranked third in the country and first in the Pac-12 with 14.5 sacks last season. He’ll enter the NFL with a resume that also sports 28.5 career sacks and an impressive 42.5 tackles for a loss.

Unfortunately for Dimick, who was a first-year starter in 2016, injuries had held him back previously. He played in only seven games in 2015, and as a result, doesn’t have a long string of consistent play or game film. But with a high motor and proven production in a starting role, he should have enough to interest scouts.

Currently projected to be a mid-round pick, Dimick certainly could have helped himself at the NFL Combine, but will instead have to rely on other means to improve his draft stock.

7. Chad Kelly (quarterback, Ole Miss)

Chad Kelly was slated to participate in the NFL Combine, and then he wasn’t. Unlike some other players who had not been invited, Kelly was initially asked to attend and then had his invite rescinded.

Ultimately, the NFL decided not to invite Kelly based on character concerns and some past incidents, which include a disorderly conduct charge stemming from Kelly’s involvement in a fight with two bouncers in Buffalo and the accusation that he threatened to shoot them with an AK47. He also allegedly got into a back-and-forth with officers upon his arrest.

Although the court paperwork is now sealed, the NFL didn’t like what it discovered during their own investigation. As such, Kelly was removed from the NFL Combine and will no longer have the opportunity to prove his worth in front of NFL scouts. At least not until Pro Days roll around.

Knowing his stock may be damaged as a result of the league’s decision, the talented but inconsistent Kelly may show up at the combine anyway, providing himself an opportunity to speak with NFL scouts and explain the situation. But either way, he won’t be participating in drills and won’t have the opportunity to prove to onlookers that he’s over his injuries (ACL, meniscus) and worthy of a hefty investment.

6. Jarrad Davis (linebacker, Florida)

Jarrad Davis is an exceptionally talented linebacker. In fact, he has so much potential that members of Pro Football Focus already believe he could establish himself as an all-time great in the NFL.

Unfortunately for Davis, despite many contradictory reports, he will not participate in the NFL Combine as he works to overcome an ankle injury suffered last season, causing him to miss four games, including Florida’s final three.

Projected to be a first-round pick, the 6-foot-2, 227-pound Davis is as physical as they come. He loves contact and never shies away from it, which is a trait of most successful linebackers. He’s also got a high football IQ that will serve him well against the NFL’s complex defenses, but lacks the big-time stats you’d like to see from someone with his pedigree (20 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks in 38 games).

Ultimately, someone is likely to take Davis based solely on his game film, but he certainly could have helped himself had he been able to perform at the NFL Combine. By missing it, it opens up the door for other linebackers such as Alabama’s Reuben Foster, who many already consider the premiere linebacker entering the draft, and Vanderbilt’s Zach Cunningham​.

Read Nos. 5-1 on Page 2

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