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#pounditSaturday, September 26, 2020

10 NFL draft prospects who boosted their stock at the Combine

DK Metcalf

The NFL Combine, fairly or not, can make or break a player’s draft stock. A bad workout can send someone hurtling, but a good one can turn a Day 2 pick into a first-rounder and a top-20 pick into a top-10 selection.

Which prospects stood out the most in Indianapolis this year? Here are ten players who helped themselves significantly with their on-field showings at the NFL Combine.

D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss

Metcalf may or may not turn into an elite wide receiver, but he’s definitely an elite athlete, and he became the talk of the NFL Combine. There was his ridiculous body fat percentage, and even more impressively, there was the 40 time that had scouts drooling. At least physically, he compares favorably with Julio Jones, who is one of the NFL’s finest receivers. There are still some questions about how that athleticism translates into elite receiver play and whether Metcalf can put it together, but his workout was good enough that someone picking in the first round will likely want to find out.

Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma

Murray did not work out at the NFL Combine, but he didn’t really need to. He has bigger hands than Baker Mayfield and measured up at 5-foot-10 and 1/8. It’s nitpicking over size, but Murray seems to be tall enough. The question at this point is not whether he’ll be picked in the first round, but instead whether he’ll go first overall. He certainly seems to have solidified his standing just ahead of Dwayne Haskins as the favorite to be the first quarterback off the board, even if his interviews led to some negative reviews.

Montez Sweat, DL, Mississippi State

Sweat did as much for his draft prospects as anyone did at the Combine. The most jaw-dropping was likely his 40 time of 4.41, the best ever for a defensive lineman at the Combine. He also demonstrated agility and quickness to spare, and profiles as one of the best edge rushers physically at the Combine. Sweat is not only a certain first-round pick at this point, but his Combine performance may have vaulted him into the top ten or even top five.

Jamel Dean, CB, Auburn

Dean has a long and difficult injury history, but he overcame it — and being medically disqualified by Ohio State — to become an All-SEC corner at Auburn. Then he ran one of the fastest times at the Combine to further establish himself as an elite athlete worth a long look. Dean ran a 4.3 40, bested only by Zedrick Woods of Ole Miss, and he firmly established himself as an NFL prospect who should hear his name called on Day 2 at the latest.

Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State

Arguably the best offensive lineman workout belonged to Dillard, who essentially did everything right in all of his tests. As impressive as his 4.96 40 time was, his 4.40 short shuttle and 7.44-second three cone drill were even better. He also impressed at the Senior Bowl, so his stock has been soaring for quite some time, and he’s going to profile as a potential starter for some teams. He could be a Day 2 steal for someone.

Noah Fant, TE, Iowa

Fant put up truly eye-popping tight end numbers at the NFL Combine, with the best 40 time, vertical, broad jump, and three cone results at the position. His 4.50 40-time is incredible for a tight end and will have NFL teams salivating. Fant may not be the greatest blocking tight end, but with numbers like that and the receiving potential he offers, teams will be quick to get over that. He’s certainly solidified himself as a first-round selection and compares well to one blossoming NFL tight end.

Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan

Gary’s biggest issue is that teams are still trying to figure out what position best suits him at the NFL level, but after his Combine performance, anyone would be happy to figure out a way to slot him in. His 4.58 second 40-time was actually a tenth of a second faster than Aaron Donald’s performance in 2014, and it’s fair to say Donald turned out well at the NFL level. Gary’s vertical jump was also the best among all defensive linemen who tested. He is so gifted physically and so fast that he’ll find his way into an NFL game increasingly built on speed. He will have opened some eyes at the Combine.

Andy Isabella, WR, Massachusetts

The NFL likes speed, and Isabella, a wide receiver out of UMass, has plenty of it. Though his smaller frame profiles as more like a slot receiver’s, he has the speed and resume of a big-play threat. Isabella ran a 4.31-second 40-yard dash and a 6.95-second three-cone drill, proving he has the speed and agility to be a chunk player at the next level. He’s an elite athlete who may have worked himself into becoming a day two pick.

Tyree Jackson, QB, Buffalo

Jackson will not be one of the first quarterbacks picked in the NFL Draft, and he’s a very raw player who will probably need time to sit and develop. However, his Combine performance was that of an athlete that teams will be happy to dream on. He has a huge 6-7 frame, but it didn’t stop him from running a 4.59 in the 40, the second-fastest among all quarterbacks. He also showed off a powerful arm. There are concerns, and he still profiles as a Day 2 pick at best right now, but he showed off at the Combine and definitely put himself on the radar as a project.

Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama

Sometimes it pays off to defy seemingly good advice. Williams found that out in Indianapolis when his agent suggested he let his 4.87 40-yard time stand instead of giving it another shot. Williams figured he could do better and proved himself right with a 4.83, one of the fastest-ever times for a 300-pound defensive lineman. His workout was exemplary, and after his Combine performance, it’s increasingly difficult to see him getting past the New York Jets at No. 3. Teams are going to love his tough attitude towards opponents.

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