INDIANAPOLIS — Two months of training and four days of testing are now in the books after the NFL Scouting Combine concluded Tuesday with defensive backs performing on-field drills. In total, approximately 330 draft prospects — including a record 102 underclassmen — participated in the seven-day combine, the last major event before May’s NFL Draft, save for a few important on-campus Pro Days.
Although most teams use game film and private interviews to compile the bulk of their player evaluations, the combine is still important to measure the best athletes on an even playing field and can make or break a player’s draft stock.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the risers and fallers from the event. We’re not including players such as South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who had a great combine but was already well established as a physical freak.
■ Kent State RB Dri Archer: Ran the fastest 40 time at 4.26, put up 20 reps at 225 pounds in the bench press despite a 173-pound frame, had the quickest 10-yard burst among running backs (1.47 seconds) and recorded a 38-inch vertical.
■ Clemson WR Martavis Bryant: Displayed an impressive size-speed-athleticism combo by measuring in at just under 6 feet 4 inches while clocking a 4.42 in the 40 and a 39-inch vertical.
■ Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald: Yes, he’s undersized for the position at 6 feet, 285 pounds, but Donald measured in with long arms (32⅝ inches) while clocking a blazing 4.65 in the 40 and an impressive 35 reps on the bench press.
■ Western Kentucky safety Jonathan Dowling: Speedy, rangy free safety is at just under 6-3. He posted an impressive 4.52 in the 40 and measured in with 33⅛-inch arms, second-longest among all defensive backs.
■ Oklahoma State CB Justin Gilbert: The NFL will want you if you’re tall and fast, and Gilbert likely cemented himself as a first-round pick by measuring at 6 feet, clocking a blazing fast 4.37 in the 40, posting 20 reps on the bench press, and recording a 35½-inch vertical.
■ Tennessee State TE A.C. Leonard: One-time Florida recruit landed at Tennessee State because of off-field issues, but displayed impressive athleticism with the fastest 40 time among tight ends (4.50) and a 34-inch vertical to go with 6-2, 252-pound frame.
■ Michigan OT Taylor Lewan: His connection to an ugly off-field incident hurt his stock, but his phenomenal combine performance might vault him back into the top 10. He had the fastest 40 time at his position (4.87) while displaying impressive athleticism with a broad jump of 9 feet 9 inches and a 7.39 three-cone drill.
■ Buffalo DE/OLB Khalil Mack: Pass-rushing specialist might have cemented his status as a top-six pick after finishing among top linebacker prospects in the 40 (4.65), vertical jump (40), broad jump (10-8), and 20-yard shuttle (4.18)
■ Utah CB Keith McGill: Big corners are all the rage in today’s NFL, and McGill, the draft’s tallest at 6-3, did himself a lot of favors by running a 4.47 in the 40 and recording a 39-inch vertical. He also has the longest arms among DBs at 33¼ inches.
■ Georgia Southern RB Jerick McKinnon: Is he Maurice Jones-Drew Part 2? McKinnon stands only 5-8, but he packs a wallop at 209 pounds and recorded impressive combine numbers — a 4.41 in the 40, a 40½-inch vertical leap, and 32 reps on the bench press, all among the top at his position.
■ Ole Miss WR Donte Moncrief: Displayed an impressive size-speed-athleticism combination, standing at 6-2½ and 221 pounds while recording a 4.4 in the 40, a 39½-inch vertical, and 11-foot broad jump. He caught 20 touchdowns in three seasons and could be a first-day pick.
■ Boston College LB Kevin Pierre-Louis: The native of Norwalk, Conn., may have guaranteed himself a draft spot after recording the fastest 40-yard dash among linebackers at 4.51, and finishing top five in the broad jump (10-8), vertical (39 inches), and short shuttle (4.02).
■ Auburn OT Greg Robinson: Dominant player is giving the Texans, picking No. 1 overall, something to think about after last weekend’s performance. Humans who stand 6-5 and 332 pounds aren’t supposed to run a 4.92 in the 40, record 32 on the bench press, run a 7.80 in the 3-cone drill, and a 4.86 in the short shuttle.
■ Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas: As a tight end, that is. Thomas likely isn’t a good enough thrower to make it as a quarterback, but has great measurables for a tight end — (6-6, 248 pounds, 4.61 in the 40, 35½-inch vertical).
■ Washington RB Bishop Sankey : Solid 209-pound combo back may be the first running back off the board after clocking a 4.49 in the 40, 26 bench press reps, a 35½-inch vertical, and the best 3-cone (6.75) and short shuttle (4.00) times for the position.
■ Texas Tech TE Jace Amaro: Already fighting the perception he was a system player in the Aggies’ wide open offense, Amaro may have blown his chance of beating out Eric Ebron as the first tight end off the board or going in the top 20 picks after clocking a pedestrian 4.74 in the 40.
■ Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater: He still could go No. 1 overall to Houston, but scouts couldn’t have been too pleased he opted not to throw passes or run the 40 at the combine. The only other QBs not to run were Zach Mettenberger and Aaron Murray, both rehabbing ACL injuries.
■ Alabama OT Cyrus Kouandjio: Ran a hideous 5.59 in the 40, and now we know why — several teams reportedly failed Kouandjio on his physical, according to NFL Network, because of an arthritic knee stemming from ACL surgery when he was a freshman. Could drop him well out of the first two rounds.
■ LSU WR Jarvis Landry: Tough weekend for this 5-11 receiver — ran a 4.77 in the 40, recorded a meager 28½-inch vertical, a mediocre 9-2 broad jump, and tweaked his hamstring, to boot.
■ San Diego State RB Adam Muema: Left the combine Sunday, a day before his testing, because he was “following God” by not working out, and would achieve his “dream” of playing for the Seahawks if he skipped out on the drills. OK then . . .
■ Missouri DE/OLB Michael Sam: Entered the combine with concerns he is too small for defensive end and too raw for outside linebacker, and did little with his performance to quell concerns. Ran a horrid 4.91 in the 40, jumped 25½ inches in the vertical, and just 9-6 in the broad jump.
■ Washington TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins: The Mackey Award winner as the nation’s top tight end, standing at 6-5 and 262 pounds, was not allowed to participate after teams found a pre-existing foot condition in the medical checks — most likely a stress fracture. He could have played his way into a top-15 draft spot with a good performance, though he can still climb up draft boards with a good pro day.Ben Volin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin
Correction: Jace Amaro was incorrectly identified as coming from Texas A&M in a previous version.