324 players from over 100 schools took part in the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this past week. The medical checks are in, the measurements are recorded, and the interviews are in the books. NFL talent evaluators now have another piece of the puzzle in their overall evaluation process leading up to the NFL Draft next month.
The game film is still the ultimate evaluator, but some players really helped themselves down in Indy, while others forced teams to go back to the tape to see why the measurables didn't match the tape.
Here's a look at 10 players (and one honorable mention) who really impressed at the Combine:
1. DT Jordan Davis, Georgia
Davis had arguably the most impressive workout of the week. His 4.78 time in the 40-yard dash at 341 pounds was extraordinary. His 10-foot-3 broad jump set a combine record for players weighing in over 300 pounds and was nearly a foot better than the next best interior defender. He was nimble in field drills for a man his size and just might have moved himself into the Top 10 conversation come draft time.
2. WR Christian Watson, North Dakota State
His performance was so good it might have pushed him into the late first-round conversation. My favorite receiver at the Senior Bowl, Watson measured in at 6-foot-4 and 208 pounds, and ran the 40 in 4.36 seconds (6th best among receivers) to go with a 38.5-inch vertical (6th) and an amazing 11'4" broad jump (1st). Teams looking for size and a deep threat at receiver should take a close look at Watson.
View photos of the defensive linemen at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine.
3. CB Tariq Woolen, UTSA
After measuring in at 6-4 and 205 pounds with nearly 34-inch arms, Woolen ran a 4.26 in the 40, which was the second fastest among the cornerback group. He turned in the top vertical among the group at 42 inches. A converted wide receiver, Woolen is still learning the position and has an extremely high ceiling with his rare combination of length and athletic traits. He could definitely be in the conversation as a top 50 pick.
4. DL Devonte Wyatt, Georgia
Wyatt was already considered a first-round talent, but his performance in Indy elevated him into the conversation for the first interior defender taken along with Davis. He had a position-best 4.77 in the 40 and was top five in the vertical (29 inches) and top three in the broad jump (9'3"). He was also smooth and fluid during on-field drills.
5. RB Breece Hall, Iowa State
It was an explosive performance for the 217-pound back. He posted a 10'6" broad jump and led all running backs at the Combine with a 40-inch vertical. He then ran 4.39 in the 40 to show off his explosive long speed. All that to go with nearly 4,000 rushing yards in his three-year career at Iowa State. He's definitely in the conversation with Michigan State's Kenneth Walker III (who also had a good Combine) to be the first back drafted.
6. EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan
Hutchinson measured in at 6-foot-7, 260 pounds, and while his 40-yard dash of 4.74 wasn't eye-popping, his 3-cone (6.73) and short shuttle (4.15) were. The 3-cone measures agility and quickness, and his numbers are very good for someone his size. To put it in a little bit of perspective, only two receivers at the Combine had better 3-cone numbers than Hutchinson, and his was the third best among all players in Indy. His 10-yard split of 1.62 in the 40 is the more important time for pass rushers, and that was elite.
7. WR Calvin Austin III, Memphis
Austin was expected to run fast, and he did, running the 40 in 4.32 seconds, which was the third best among receivers. He also finished top three among wide receivers in the broad jump (11'3") and vertical (39 inches), while also turning in the position's fastest times in both the 3-cone drill (6.65) and the 20-yard shuttle (4.07). Austin may be undersized (5-8, 170), but he's an explosive player.
8. S Lewis Cine, Georgia
Cine (6-2, 199) put himself squarely in the conversation as one of the best safeties in this class and a player who could hear his name called in the first round of next month's draft. He blazed the 40 in 4.37 seconds (fifth best among safeties) and was the top performer in the broad jump (11'1"). He tied for fifth in the vertical (36.5 inches). He's a versatile and athletic safety.
View photos of the defensive backs at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine.
9. CB Sauce Gardner, Cincinnati
Gardner didn't allow a touchdown in his coverage in 33 career games at Cincinnati. Opposing passers had a career 31.8 rating when throwing his way. He didn't allow more than 18 receiving yards in any game in 2021. Could his athletic traits match his production? Yes. He measured in at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds with 33.5-inch arms and ran the 40 in 4.41 seconds, which shows he has long speed to go with his length and production.
10. EDGE Jermaine Johnson III, Florida State
My top player at the Senior Bowl last month, Johnson (6-5, 254), continued to build off that momentum. He showed explosiveness with a 4.58 in the 40 that included a 1.55 10-yard split, which is elite. The ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2021 had 11.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss and is one of the better run defenders in this class of edge rushers. His quick first step and matching production should make him a top 15 pick.
Honorable mention: LB Troy Anderson, Montana State
Anderson measured in at nearly 6-foot-4, 243 pounds, and ran the 40 in 4.42 seconds (tops among linebackers). He had a 36-inch vertical and 10'8" broad (5th). The former running back and quarterback had 147 tackles (83 solo) and 14.0 tackles for loss and was the FCS ADA Defensive Player of the Year. He's a likely Day 2 pick after a great week in Indy.