The NFL Combine is over. How will it affect the 2020 NFL Draft?
LSU's Joe Burrow, the 2019 Heisman Trophy winner and projected No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, chose not to throw during his workout. Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins also chose not to work out, and neither did Ohio State defensive lineman Chase Young.
There still are more than enough storylines to follow at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, however. Sporting News is tracking the winners and losers from the NFL Combine. Here is the full list:
NFL Combine winners & losers
Sunday, March 1: Defensive backs
Winner: Jeff Okudah
Okudah could have quit his workout after an awkward fall during field drills, but he finished the day. Okudah ran a 4.48 in the 40, posted a 41 in the vertical jump and snapped back at reporters who questioned his game tape. He’s among the best defensive players in the draft and is poised to be the next Pro Bowl cornerback from Ohio State in the NFL.
Winner: Utah defensive backs
The Utes had a trio of defensive backs test well in Indy. Javelin Guidy ran the fastest 40 among the defensive backs with a 4.29. He also was among the top performers in the bench press with a 21. Terrell Burgess ran a 4.46 and hit a 20 on the bench press. Even Jaylon Johnson, who was popular in mocks last season, ran a 4.5 and flashed a 36.5 vertical jump. Kyle Whittingham will have a nice recruiting tool on draft day when these players are drafted.
Loser: Alohi Gilman and Jalen Elliott
Alohi Gilman ran a 4.60 and Jalen Elliott ran a 4.80, times that could be held against the two Fighting Irish playmakers on draft day. Gilman performed well in the broad jump (119), and Elliott looked better in the field drills. Both are high-character safeties that will get a chance at the next level, but they might slip down the board after their workouts.
Winner: L’Jarius Sneed
Looking for a draft-day sleeper? Sneed could be that guy. He had 177 tackles and eight interceptions at Louisiana Tech, and he tested well at the Combine. Sneed, a 6-foot, 192-pound safety, ran a 4.37 in the 40-yard dash and posted a 41-inch vertical. He struggled with a 12 on the bench, but the numbers add up to a middle-round pick that should stick.
Loser: J.R. Reed
Reed, an All-American safety at Georgia, had an average combine. He ran a 4.54, which isn’t bad considering this 6-1, 202-pound frame, but he posted a 15 on the bench. Reed had a chance to jump in the discussion with fellow SEC safeties Grant Delpit and Xavier McKinney, but an average showing at the Combine will force teams to trust the tape.
Saturday, Feb. 29: Linebackers, defensive linemen
Winner: Isaiah Simmons
Simmons, a 6-4, 238-pound linebacker, ran a 4.39 in the 40-yard dash as part of a remarkable Combine where he proved he's a top-10 pick. Simmons also added a 39-inch vertical and an 11-foot broad jump. The converted safety was one of the most-versatile defenders in the FBS last season. This performance all but ensures he will go in the top 10. Simmons will also be considered for the top five.
Winner: James Smith-Williams
Smith-Williams ran a 4.6 in the 40-yard dash and followed that up with a 4.52 in the 20-yard shuttle. Those runs vaulted him up the board, especially considering he finished his five-year N.C. State career with just eight sacks. Smith-Williams' only full season, in 2018, was productive, however, so his work is a nod to the Wolfpack program's player development.
Loser: Chase Young's bid to be No. 1
To be clear, we are not doubting Young, but his decision to pass on workouts will make it difficult for a team to justify using the No. 1 pick to get him. Jadeveon Clowney and Myles Garrett used the Combine to clinch their status as a No. 1 pick. Young will still work at Ohio State's pro day, but that might not draw the same attention as the Combine spotlight. He will likely be the No. 2 pick as a result.
Winner: Jabari Zuniga
Zuniga, a Florida edge rusher who measures 6-3 and 264 pounds, pieced together an excellent workout. He ran a 4.64 in the 40-yard dash before hitting 29 on the bench press. He added a 33-inch vertical for good measure and looked fluid in the bag drills.
Loser: A.J. Epenesa
Epenesa's results should be seen in context. He ran a 5.04 in the 40 and repped 17 in the bench, numbers that were not better than Michigan State's Kenny Willekes, who ran a 4.87 and repped 32 in the bench. Epenesa likely won't be an edge rusher, however, and the tape on him in the three or five technique will carry more weight. Still, it is OK to expect more of the highly regarded Iowa defender.
Winner: Khaleke Hudson
The Michigan linebacker/safety impressed with 30 reps in the bench press and a 4.57 in the 40-yard dash. He also flashed a 33-inch vertical and a 120-inch broad jump. It was an outstanding all-around performance by another hybrid in Don Brown's defense, and he could be valuable in a scheme that can utilize that athleticism. Hudson was not quite as impressive as Simmons, but his performance should bump him up the board.
Loser: Michael Divinity
The LSU linebacker did not test well. He ran a 4.85 in the 40 and managed just a 17 in the bench press. This does not help the case of a player who was ruled ineligible for a portion of last season. Teammate Patrick Queen, who ran a 4.51, recorded an 18 in the bench press.
Friday, Feb. 28: Running backs, offensive linemen and specialists
Winner: Jonathan Taylor
Taylor was a prolific running back in college, rushing for 6,174 yards and 42 touchdowns for Wisconsin. He increased his stock with a 4.39 in the 40-yard dash and backed that up with a 36-inch vertical jump. Taylor’s performance was the talk of the running back workouts. He could be the first running back drafted as a result.
Loser: Zack Moss
Moss ran a 4.65 in the 40-yard dash, a time he will have to improve on at his pro day. Moss did hit 19 on the bench press. The 40 isn't everything, but that time might have dropped the Utah standout to the Round 4 range.
Winner: Cam Akers
Akers was a five-star running back who had two 1,000-yard seasons at Florida State, and that talent might be better realized at the next level. He ran a 4.47 in the 40-yard dash, a great time for a 217-pound back. He also finished with a 20 in the bench press.
Winner: Tristan Wirfs
The Iowa tackle put on a show and made it difficult for teams to pass on him. He ran a 4.85 in the 40-yard dash and led all linemen with a 36.5-inch vertical jump. He added 24 reps in the bench press. He comes from the steady pipeline of Hawkeyes tackles and should be able to parlay his Combine workout into a first-round position.
Winner: Mekhi Becton
Becton, a 6-7, 364-pound tackle, became a trending topic in Indianapolis when it was revealed he had 17 percent body fat . Becton then ran a 5.10 in the 40-yard dash, which shows the big man can move. If there was any doubt that the Louisville tackle was a top-10 prospect, then he erased that. Becton did miss a large part of the field portion after exiting with leg tightness. The buzz he created, however, should carry over to the draft.
Loser: Trey Adams
Adams already comes with health concerns, and he ran a 5.6 in the 40-yard dash and did not bench press. The Washington tackle has talent, but he might slide to Day 2 — or even Day 3 — based on an underwhelming Combine performance.
Winner: Charlie Heck
Sporting News profiled the 6-8, 311-pound tackle from North Carolina last season, and he predictably tested well and showed good movement for his size. Heck hit a 21 on the bench press and ran a 5.16 in the 40-yard dash. Given the bloodline — he is the son of Chiefs offensive line coach Andy Heck — there is potential draft value here.
Loser: Tough injuries
Becton was not the only player who left with an injury. Arizona State's Cohl Cabral and LSU's Lloyd Cushenberry both left after the 40-yard dash. It was especially painful to watch Cushenberry, who was an emerging prospect throughout the week, go down. He should be able to compensate for that at LSU’s pro day.
Thursday, Feb. 27: Quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends
Winners: Chase Claypool
Claypool, a 6-4, 238-pound receiver from Notre Dame, was the talk of Day 1. He improved his stock by running a 4.42 on his second 40-yard dash to go with 19 reps in the bench press and a 40.5-inch vertical jump. His enticing potential as a wideout/tight end hybrid could push him into first-round consideration for a team looking to create mismatches.
Chase Claypool runs a 4.43 pic.twitter.com/PsrNeo2dc2— Notre Dame Fanpage (@Insidetheirish) February 28, 2020
He wasn't the only former Fighting Irish pass-catcher who impressed. Tight end Cole Kmet ran a 4.7 and led all tight ends with a 37-inch vertical. Even Chris Finke, a potential slot receiver, ran a 4.57 with a 40-inch vertical. It's a nod to the program's player development under Brian Kelly.
Winner: Jalen Hurts
Hurts made it clear in the interview portion that he will play quarterback at the next level. He then showed why in his workout . He ran a 4.54 in the 40, the fastest at the position. His footwork and delivery looked polished during the workout portion. The Heisman Trophy finalist did not look all that different than the other quarterbacks in his group, which included Oregon's Justin Herbert and Georgia's Jake Fromm.
Loser: QBs looking to go third
Burrow and Tagovailoa are generally considered the first two QBs who will go off the board; the others did not jump off the page enough to clinch being third. Herbert remains the best bet after a solid performance. Fromm was consistent and Eason was decent. Utah State’s Jordan Love had the best night of the bunch, though, and might be that third quarterback in the end. None of those quarterbacks were off the charts, however. That means there could be some surprises on draft night after Burrow and Tagovailoa.
Winner: Albert Okwuegbunam
This is not a jaw-dropping tight end class, but the Missouri tight end provided the first eye-opening moment with a 4.49 in the 40. That is the fourth-fastest time by a tight end since 2003, and it's in elite company with Vernon Davis, who ran a 4.38 in 2006 and became the No. 6 pick in that year's draft. Okwuegbunam's production for the Tigers declined with each season after a breakout freshman year in which he caught 11 touchdowns. He had 23 career TDs on just 98 catches, though, and an impressive workout should vault him up draft boards.
Winner: Justin Jefferson
Jefferson, one of the Burrow's favorite targets at LSU last season, flashed at the right time. The 6-1, 202-pound receiver ran a 4.43 in the 40 and stood out in the on-field portion. That will make him an attractive addition to any offense. Jefferson had 111 catches for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns for the 2019 national champions. He won't need those $100 bills from Odell Beckham Jr. going forward; Jefferson will be making more than enough money soon.
Losers: Harrison Bryant and Adam Trautman
These sleepers did not take advantage of the spotlight. Bryant won the Mackey Award last year as the nation's top tight end after wrapping a fantastic career with Florida Atlantic. He ran a 4.73 in the 40 and managed 13 in the bench press, totals that might cause teams to hesitate. Trautman has the reputation of being a hidden gem after catching 23 touchdowns at FCS Dayton the last two seasons, but he ran a 4.8 in the 40 and hit 18 on the bench press. He did have a 6.78 in the three-cone drill, which was the best among tight ends. Both prospects might have to wait a little longer than expected on draft night.
Winner: Henry Ruggs III and Jerry Jeudy
Ruggs didn't break the 40-yard dash record, but he clocked in at 4.28 and 4.31, respectively , on his two runs. Ruggs suffered a quad injury in the process, but that shouldn't affect his status. Jeudy, who was Alabama's most consistent receiver the past two years, ran a 4.45. That was faster than Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb, who ran a 4.50. Crimson Tide receivers have a proven track record with stars such as Julio Jones and Amari Cooper, and Ruggs and Jeudy both figure to join those two as first-rounders.
Loser: Laviska Shenault
Shenault was a stud at Colorado, but he did not have a great performance at the NFL Combine. He ran a 4.59 on his first try and didn't run a second time. Shenault appeared to suffer an injury, which would allow him some wiggle room. He can make up for it at Colorado's pro day, but in a draft flush with receiver talent, this performance might lead to a slip down the board.