NFL Combine Recap – Winners and Losers

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  1. Obi Melifonwu: DB – Connecticut

After having the second longest broad jump in combine history behind former college teammate Byron Jones, people in the draft community are wondering what is in the water at UConn? Melifonwu didn’t just dominate the jumps in Indianapolis, he also dominated during the other speed drills. His 40 yard dash and change of direction times were excellent for his size and position. Although he played safety in college, many teams are looking at him as a cornerback at the next level. He has the talent to play both, but cornerbacks are a much more important position in today’s NFL. Teams are looking for corners at least six feet tall with the ability to run. Melifonwu is 6’4” and looks like a potential press corner. He may have a meteoric rise like Byron Jones which could culminate in him becoming a first round pick.

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  1. Haason Reddick: LB – Temple

Nobody has dominated the draft season quite like Haason Reddick. After finishing his last game at Temple, most talent evaluators saw him as a mid-round pick. He started his career at safety before becoming a defensive end, but has to move to linebacker at the next level. Evaluators were concerned about him making this change before watching him dominate at the Senior Bowl. He continued his impressive display in Indianapolis by showing off his great athleticism. Reddick looks comfortable playing in space and has great coverage skills for someone who played defensive end in college. Reddick has catapulted himself up draft boards and should be a first round pick.

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  1. Deshaun Watson: QB – Clemson

Going into the combine, one of the biggest storylines was about the quarterback position. Which of the top tier quarterback prospects was going to separate himself from the rest? Deshaun Watson was that man in Indianapolis. Coming from a spread system at Clemson, talent evaluators wanted to see how sound his footwork is from under center. Most of the quarterbacks in Indianapolis came from a spread system in college, so it was expected that they may struggle with their footwork. Although Watson’s footwork is still a work in progress, he seemed a lot more comfortable than the other spread quarterbacks during the drills. He was also said to have impressed during team meetings. Watson made a strong push to be the first quarterback off the board in the draft.

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  1. Chris Godwin: WR – Penn State

Everyone was freaking out when John Ross ran the fastest ever 40 yard dash at the combine, but Chris Godwin’s performance was more impressive. We all knew that Ross was fast and injury prone, which he proved in Indianapolis when he ran a 4.22 40 yard dash and got hurt in the process. What most draft experts failed to realize is Chris Godwin has speed too. He’s not a burner like John Ross, but his 4.42 40 yard dash time was extremely important. Godwin is one of the best at making contested catches on tape, but people wondered if he has the speed to separate from corners at the next level. He answered those concerns at the combine when he showed he’s an above average athlete with fantastic ball skills. Godwin made himself some money at the combine.

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  1. Jordan Willis: DE – Kansas State

Jordan Willis had a shockingly impressive combine. On tape, he looks like an average athlete that wins because of technique and effort. He proved in Indianapolis that he’s a much better athlete than his tape shows. He not only ran a fast 40 yard dash time, but was unbelievably quick in the change of direction drills. It’s always concerning when a player’s combine numbers doesn’t match up with the tape, but it’s usually because a player underperforms at the combine. Willis showed teams that not only is he a great football player, but he’s also a great athlete. This should help push Willis up in the draft. Willis will likely be drafted in the second round.

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  1. Reuben Foster: LB – Alabama

Reuben Foster wasn’t able to work out at the combine after getting into an altercation with medical personnel. Foster was waiting for a medical checkup before becoming impatient with a staff member. This is not a good look for Foster. He is the top linebacker on tape, but this type of distraction won’t impress teams that are thinking about drafting him. Foster will still be a first round pick, but he’ll have to explain to teams why this incident was an anomaly and not an indicator of his personality. (Note: Foster also failed the mandatory drug test at the combine)

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  1. Jonathan Allen: DT/DE – Alabama

Jonathan Allen didn’t dominate at the combine like many draft experts expected. He is a dominate force on tape, but seems to win due to effort and technique instead of athleticism. It’s clear that Allen is a great football player, but some teams prefer to take chances on better athletes with the intention of coaching them up over great football players with athletic limitations. Allen was seen as a top ten pick prior to the combine, but now some experts believe he’ll fall into the middle of round one. This is a perfect example of why teams shouldn’t overvalue the combine because Allen is still a premiere talent in this draft. Allen’s combine performance shouldn’t be too concerning because his tape is better than everyone else’s at his position.

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  1. Cooper Kupp: WR – Eastern Washington

Cooper Kupp is one of the most impressive wide receivers on tape in this year’s draft. After breaking many FCS records at Eastern Washington, Kupp didn’t have the combine performance that he would’ve wanted. Some experts were worried about his level of competition, but Kupp dominated every time Eastern Washington played an FBS team. Running a 4.62 40 yard dash time will hurt him his draft stock, but I think he’ll be able to overcome it in the pros. Kupp looked fantastic during the drills and has better game speed than what he showed in Indianapolis. If he’s able to clean up his 40 time at his pro day, he should be able to withstand the hit his draft stock took at the combine.

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  1. DeShone Kizer: QB – Notre Dame

DeShone Kizer struggled with his consistency all year at Notre Dame, and the combine was no different. He has all the tools to be an excellent starting quarterback in the NFL, but he needs to be more consistent with his accuracy and decision making. It’s understandable that a quarterback may miss some throws at the combine while throwing with receivers that they haven’t practiced with before, but it’s not a good look when a quarterback is clearly flustered by the spotlight. Kizer was clearly struggling with his confidence during the drills. He was overthrowing some of the easier throws and never seemed to be able to get into a rhythm. These struggles match up with his inconsistencies on tape, which is a big red flag to talent evaluators. Kizer will need to have a strong pro day in order to help boost his stock back up to where it was prior to the combine.

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  1. Florida cornerbacks: Jalen “Teez” Tabor and Quincy Wilson

The combine was not kind to Florida cornerbacks Teez Tabor and Quincy Wilson. Both of them were excellent on tape, but draft experts were concerned about their deep speed. Wilson ran a 4.56 40 yard dash and Tabor ran a 4.63 40 yard dash. Both Wilson and Tabor will have a chance to clean these times up at their pro day, but their subpar combine performances are still alarming. The defensive back class was faster than it’s been in years past, and there are more highly ranked corners with first round potential than most experts have ever seen. These slow 40 times could push Tabor and Wilson down in the draft below the other highly ranked corners that didn’t have issues in Indianapolis. Tabor and Wilson could both become lockdown corners at the next level, but there’s no denying that their performances in Indianapolis may cause teams to look elsewhere during the draft.

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