NFL Combine Winners and Losers at Each Position

The NFL combine has become extremely polarizing for a variety of reason, but regardless of how you feel about HOW valuable it is, I think we can all agree that it is valuable to some extent. With the caliber of athletes in the NFL in 2020 you have to hit certain thresholds and while we don’t need you to be Tyreek Hill/Julio Jones/Leighton VanderEche it’s certainly nice to have plus athletes at just about every position.

The tricky thing from a fans perspective about the combine is that the most important part, we have no access to. The interviews are extremely important at every position, the medicals are really valuable for a lot of players, and as fans we don’t have access to any of that. But, we do get to see the testing numbers and on the field drills and get a good idea of the athletes that we’ve been watching on Saturday’s.

The last thing I want to emphasize before getting into it is that the tape is the most important part of the evaluation. Chase Claypool had a hell of a week but his tape is shaky, so for those mocking him in the first round we need to pump the breaks. With that said, let’s jump into some winners and losers for the week, getting to 1 or a couple per position.

Last last thing, shout out Kent Lee Platte or @mathbomb on twitter for supplying his awesome Relative Athletic Score database, make sure you check that out. RAS grades athletic profiles relative to both their size and their peers at their position going back years. 10 being a perfect score, 0 being the worst.

Winners:

QB

Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama

No Tua didn’t do anything on the field, no we don’t get to see anything he did in the interview room, but we did clear up a couple things from Tua this week. Most importantly, the medicals are looking great. Allegedly he will be throwing at the Alabama pro-day which is a huge development and clears up a lot of red flags for QB needy teams at the top of the draft.

RB:

Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin

We knew he was an athlete, and if a 40 yard dash time around 4.4 was surprise to you, well shame on you. Taylor ran a 4.39 40 and hit 10’03 on the broad jump at 5’10 226 lbs, and may have done enough to be the 1st running back off the board in April.

WR:

Michael Pittman, USC

Michael Pittman came into Indy as a big bodied, well-rounded WR with excellent technique and 1 giant question mark, athleticism. Well, he answered that question, posting a 4.52 40, 36.5 inch vert, and sub-7 second 3cone at 6’4 223 to secure an elite 9.22 RAS.

Justin Jefferson, LSU

Similar to Pittman, the biggest question about Jefferson wasn’t anything on the field, but something we would find out in Indy, as there were many curious about his long speed. After a 4.43 40 I don’t think we will see those questions anymore. On top of that his 121″ broad jump and 37.5 inch vert were quite impressive.

Chase Claypool, Notre Dame

I cant put out a combine winner list without this guy, who absolutely blew the roof off of Lucas Oil Stadium. As mentioned previously, his tape leaves a lot to be desired, but any athletic questions were answered and then some. At 6’4 238 lbs, Claypool ran a 4.42 40, jumped a 40.5 inch vertical and 126″ broad, plus threw up 19 reps on the bench for the cherry on top. A rare athlete for his size, Claypool secured a rare 10.0 RAS and likely moved himself into a day 2 draft position.

TE:

Adam Trautman, Dayton

The NFL Combine is extremely important for small school guys like Trautman to prove they have the athleticism to transition and play with NFL guys. Trautman came in at 6’5 255 and ran an insane 6.78 3cone. The rest of this drills were solid, but his performance in a really valuable drill to test short area quickness shows the potential we want at the next level if he can translate that to route running prowess.

OL:

Tristan Wirfs, Iowa

Coming into the combine we knew that Wirfs was an exceptional athlete for his position, but I don’t think anybody expected to see just how explosive he was. At 6’5 320 lbs, Wirfs ran a 4.85 40 (98th percentile) had a 36.5 vertical (99th percentile, equal to Michael Pittman), and a 121″ broad (99th percentile, same as Justin Jefferson). That’s bananas, this guy may have secured his position as a top 10 pick, only problem is the rest of the top tier tackles didn’t disappoint.

Ezra Cleveland, Boise State

This guy could play TE and be an above average athlete. Cleveland finished with a ridiculous 9.93 RAS after a 4.93 40 yard dash (96th percentile), 7.26 3 cone (98th percentile), 4.46 short shuttle ((94th percentile) and 30 bench reps at 6’6 311. Ezra may well have put himself into the back end of round 1 after his performance in Indy.

Matt Hennessy, Temple

Hennessy came in at 6’4 304 at center, which is decent size, but his calling card from film was his footwork and athleticism on the interior, and he came out and proved that in Indy. His 7.45 3 cone, 110″ broad jump and ultimately above 9.0 RAS show the explosiveness and agility “in the phone booth” you look for out of this type of player, and projects nicely for him.

DL:

Justin Madubiuke, Texas A&M

When you come in under 300 bills on the interior you have to prove yourself as an athlete. His 4.83 40 showed that, and his 31 bench reps showed he has he strength to play inside even at his frame.

Khalil Davis, Nebraska

This dude, 6’1 308, 4.75 40 yard dash, 32 reps on the bench. 9.56 RAS. A day 3 prospect going in, Davis might have made himself some money and moved himself into day 2.

Edge:

Zack Baun, Wisconsin

The final RAS on Zack Baun was an 8.8 at LB, which is really solid, but his calling card this draft season has been the versatility and his ability on the edge. The best thing Zack Baun did this week was prove his athletic profile on the edge with a 7.0 3 cone and 24 reps at 6’2 238.

LB:

Joe Bachie, Michigan State

Joe Bachie had to come in and distance himself from the previous MSU Mike LBs who were in the big unathletic thumping mold. He’s not Isaiah Simmons but he came in and had a really nice weekend, and could move himself into day 2 consideration after his impressive on the field play the last few years. The 26 bench reps aren’t surprising, but the 6.93 3 cone was. Ultimately Bachie posted a 7.85 RAS and made himself some money.

Malik Harrison, Ohio State

Malik Harrison made himself some money this weekend, as a player on tape who looks athletic, but not THAT athletic. after a 9.56 RAS at 6’2.5 246 Harrison had a 6.83 3 cone, 36 inch 40, and 122″ broad jump, showing his ability in short area quickness and explosiveness.

Willie Gay Jr, Mississippi State

Hot damn this dude can fly. His speed absolutely popped on tape and I was super excited to see him in Indy after a few off the field issues kept him off the field. Willie Gay came to indy and posted a 4.46 40 (97th percentile) a 39.5 inch vertical (93rd percentile) and a silly 136″ broad jump (99th percentile) showing the raw explosiveness at the LB position. I’m hoping he cleared up the off-the field stuff in his interviews, because if he did he’ll wind up a day 2 pick.

CB:

CJ Henderson, Florida

CJ Henderson likely locked himself into the 1st round this weekend after his elite RAS weekend. Great size at 6’0 1/2 204, strong hands (20 reps), NFL speed (4.39 40), and great explosiveness (127″ broad jump).

AJ Terrell, Clemson

AJ Terrell was quickly being forgotten about in a great CB class, but he put himself back on the map with a really strong performance at Lucas Oil. He came in with really good size at 6’1 195 and put up some great numbers (4.42 40, 129″ broad) finishing the weekend with a 9.69 RAS and putting himself back into the 1st round conversation.

S:

Jeremy Chinn, Southern Illinois

This guy, ridiculous weekend with a 9.99 RAS. For small school prospects the combine is vital and Chinn made the most of his opportunity, coming in at 6’3 221 and running a 4.45 40 (86th percentile) jumping a 41″ vertical (94th percentile) and 138″ broad (98th percentile) while throwing in 20 bench reps to boot.

Tanner Muse, Clemson

There was no buzz about Tanner Muse coming into this weekend even after 3 years of production at Clemson, but he put his name out there with an awesome weekend and a 9.97 RAS. At 6’2 227 Muse posted some great numbers (4.41 40, 124″ broad, 20 reps) and put his name into the minds of front office folks around the league.

Losers:

QB:

None

Honestly nobody stood out here, the quarterbacks all looked like we thought they would on the field, and we don’t know what they did behind the scenes. It’s hard to say anybody really lost at the position from what we were able to see.

RB:

Zack Moss, Utah

Similar to some other players, athleticism was never going to be his winning trait in the NFL, but you would have liked to see some functional athleticism and at least be an average athlete. The 3.21 RAS with some rough testing numbers might push him a bit down the board after some players in his draft range who had great weekends (AJ Dillon, Cam Akers, Joshua Kelley, Darrynton Evans, etc.)

WR:

KJ Hill, Ohio State

A well-coached technician who had a great Senior Bowl, I was hoping KJ will would come in, have a nice weekend, and put himself firmly into day 2. Unfortunately he wound up with a 3.8 RAS that was only salvaged by his 17 bench reps, because the rest of his more functional numbers were bad. 4.6 40 (17th percentile), 32.5″ vertical (16th percentile), 114″ broad (11th percentile).

Jauan Jennings, Tennessee

I’ll start by saying Jauan Jennings was definitely not known as a high level athlete coming in, that said we really needed to see he can be at least average to take a chance on him. Unfortunately his 4.72 40 and 29″ vertical (both 2nd percentile) put him into the back half of day 3.

TE:

Hunter Bryant, Washington

The biggest problem here is the lack of identity, Bryant on tape is a guy who lineup up as a big WR, ran a variety of routes, and looked really athletic. Then he bulked up to 248 at 6’2 and seemed to slow him down at a bigger weight. His 6.78 RAS isn’t bad, but his 4.74 40 yard dash and 32.5″ vertical are very uninspiring for a guy we thought could be in the Evan Engram role.

OL:

Trey Adams, Washington

Man a couple years ago this guy was a generational OT talent, and after an injury riddled career he seems to have run out of gas. The guys on Stick to Football brought up the question of “is this guy draftable” which shows how quickly it’s fallen off for Trey. The testing numbers were brutal, the medals are troublesome, and I have a hard time finding a future for this guy who had such high hopes just 1-2 years ago.

DL:

Raequan Williams, Michigan State

Go back to the “way too early” pre-season mock drafts. You will see Raequan Williams in the 1st round of a lot of them, as a top 5 IDL for many folks going into the year. The problem was his tape in 2019 wasn’t as good as 2018, and then he laid a dud with his testing, the biggest red flag being the 17 bench reps (5th percentile) though none of his testing numbers were better than the 33rd percentile.

Edge:

AJ Epenesa, Iowa

So this has been talked to death already, but AJ Epenesa didn’t do himself any favors this weekend. But here’s the interesting thing, his RAS at edge: 4.43. His RAS at DL: 9.08. Makes you think a little bit about his potential fit as a penetrating 3-4 defensive end.

LB:

Michael Divinity, LSU

Maybe it’s not fair to Divinity, but anybody on the 2019-2020 LSU football team felt like an elite athlete. At 6’1 1/2 242 Divinity posted a poor 4.85 40, 31″ vertical, and just 14 bench reps to give him a 2.8 RAS and push him to the back end of day 3.

CB:

Cam Dantzler, Mississippi State

I’m not sure if anybody had a worse weekend in Indy than Cam Dantzler who came in at 188 and ran slower than the dangerous 4.6 threshold 40 at the CB position. His tape is impressive, but the 40 isn’t more important for anybody than corners, and running a 4.64 really makes him dangerous to select on day 2.

S:

None

Honestly I had a hard time with this one, a couple guys didn’t test (Grant Delpit), but it’s hard to find a safety that didn’t test well and look good on the field this weekend. The safety class had a great weekend in Indy, and we could see a ton of these guy s go before the end of day 2.

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