The NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis is over, and NFL talent evaluators 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 players can show out at the Combine and help their stock. Players can also force the evaluators back to the tape with a poor performance in Indy.
Here’s a look at 10 players who had a good week at the Combine:
Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State
Sweat was the best player in Mobile at the Senior Bowl. He then came to Indy and crushed the Combine. The 6-foot-6, 260-pound defensive end clocked a 4.41-second 40-yard dash – a modern Combine record for a defensive lineman. He was also explosive and smooth in the on-field drills. His tape and measurables match up, and that will probably mean he hears his name called pretty early on draft night.
D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
Metcalf showed his freakish athletic prowess. At 6-3 and 228 pounds (with 1.6 percent body fat), Metcalf ran 4.33 seconds in the 40-yard dash, had a 40.5-inch vertical and a 11-foot-2 broad jump. He also performed well in drills catching passes. He showed teams that there’s some big-play ability in his game, and his week in Indy might have put him in the conversation of being a top 10 pick.
Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State
The former Buckeye ran a blazing 40 in 4.31 seconds at 6-foot and 205 pounds. He also showed terrific short-area quickness in position drills. He was dynamic with the ball in his hands at Ohio State last season (12 touchdowns), and showed in Indy he could be a nice weapon for teams looking for a playmaker in the slot.
Devin White, LB, LSU
White’s speed shows up right away on tape, and he backed it up with a 4.32-second 40-yard dash. He showed the kind of explosion teams like in that position with a 39.5-inch vertical. He recorded 256 tackles the last two seasons at LSU. His measurables and drill work showed he has the speed to get to the ball sideline to sideline and has bad intentions when he gets there.
Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
Fant and teammate T.J. Hockenson hope to be the first tight end teammates drafted in the first round. Coming out of the Combine that seems like a very real possibility given both players’ performances in Indy. Fant had impressive numbers in the 40 (4.50 seconds), vertical jump (39.5 inches) and broad jump (10-foot-7). He also showed explosion and soft hands in drill work. Hockenson came into the Combine as the No. 1 overall tight end prospect in this draft. Fant might have closed the gap.
Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan
Gary doesn’t move like a 277-pound man. His speed and change of direction mimic that of much smaller players. The former Wolverine posted good numbers in the 40 (4.58 seconds), vertical jump (38 inches) and broad jump (10 feet) for a player that big. Some wonder why he wasn’t more productive at Michigan, but leaving the Combine, no one questions the kind of athlete he is and how versatile he could be in a creative defensive scheme.
Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
White and Bush probably cemented their status as the two best interior linebackers in this draft. The 5-foot-11, 234-pound Bush posted a 40-yard dash of 4.43 seconds and a 10-foot-4 broad jump. Teams are placing more and more value on linebackers that can run and cover in today’s NFL. Bush showed he can potentially be one of those players at the next level.
Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
Murray didn’t take part in any of the speed testing or on-field drills, but the biggest box he had to check off was his height. At 5-foot-10 and an eighth of an inch, teams will feel much better about him than if he came in under 5-foot-10. He’ll run and throw at Oklahoma’s pro day, and it won’t be surprising if he impresses teams with the on-field work in Norman.
Garrett Bradbury, C, N.C. State
Bradbury might be the best center in the draft, and possibly a first-round pick. He ran 4.92-seconds in the 40-yard dash at 306 pounds. He was also one of the top offensive linemen in on-field drills. He was a technician in those drills, and teams like linemen who come into the league ahead of the game from a technique standpoint.
Juan Thornhill, S, Virginia
Thornhill’s senior season at Virginia was productive, leading the Cavaliers in total tackles (98) and interceptions (six). He had 13 interceptions in three years as a starter. He went to the Combine and recorded the second best broad jump among defensive backs since 2006 (11-foot-9) and the third best vertical jump (44 inches) over that span. Thornhill (6-0, 205) ran the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds. He’s got the size and athletic traits to potentially play multiple spots in a defense.