The NFL Combine took place in Indianapolis for the top NFL prospects between February 28 and March 2. This article will look at some of the players who stood out with great performances (in no particular order) and may have increased their draft stocks heading into the 2020 NFL Draft that will take place from April 23-25.
Tristan Wirfs: OT, Iowa
Tristan Wirfs had one of the best Combine’s of any offensive tackle to ever come to the NFL Combine. He measured in at 6’5” and 320 pounds as he proved that he was in arguably the best shape of any lineman by breaking just about every record for his position that he could. The positional records that he broke included the highest vertical (36.5”), longest broad jump (10’1” which was a tie for first), and the 40-yard dash (4.85 seconds). These numbers opened eyes to everybody as this is a very loaded offensive line draft class and Wirfs set himself ahead of a lot of players with his performance. He is considered one of the top three linemen in this draft class along with Mekhi Becton and Andrew Thomas. While these players did perform well, it is impossible to not notice a player who breaks not just one combine record, but three records proving that he is in the best shape out of any of these players. His performance may have even put him ahead of the other lineman and could jump him into becoming a top-five pick to a team like the Giants (fourth pick) and should have secured him as a top 10 pick in the upcoming draft.
Mekhi Becton: OT, Louisville
As mentioned, this is a very stacked draft class for offensive linemen. Mekhi Becton did not necessarily break records like the way Wirfs did, but he did prove that in relative he may have just been as good given his size and weight. Becton is much bigger than Wirfs, measuring at 6’7” and 364 pounds and managed to run a 5.11-second 40-yard dash. Although that appears to be 0.26 seconds behind Wirfs, that is the fastest time ever recorded for a player over 350 pounds and was the 13 fastest time at the combine with all 12 players ahead of him weighing much less. The previous record for a player over 360 pounds was 5.30 seconds which he demolished and the previous record for a player over 350 pounds 5.18 seconds. Although the 40-yard dash isn’t as important for offensive linemen like Wirfs and Becton, for Becton it helps his draft stock much more because he is already one of the largest linemen in the draft and proved that he capable of moving around making it much harder for defensive players to get passed him. Becton, like Wirfs, will most likely be a top ten pick in the upcoming draft and it will be interesting to see which player goes off the board first as it should be a fight to see whether a team values the most athletic player or the larger but yet mobile player.
Jonathan Taylor: RB, Wisconsin
The running back position is not necessarily one of the premier positions in this draft class as it appears that just one and maybe a second running back at best may be selected in the first round of the draft. Taylor may have pushed himself ahead of other running backs like J.K. Dobbins and D’Andre Swift with his outstanding performance. In his case, the 40-yard dash is the most important activity to prove that he is the best running back as his speed was something that was actually in question. He managed to run a 4.39-second 40-yard dash which was the fastest of any running back in the field and put it together with a 36-inch vertical jump displaying the best performance of any running back. With a very limited opportunity of becoming a first-round draft pick and the first running back off the board, Taylor proved that he is more than capable of performing at the next level since he also ran for over 6,000 yards and 40 touchdowns in his three years in college.
Henry Ruggs: WR, Alabama
Henry Ruggs was very vocal about how he planned to break John Ross’s 40-time at the Combine this year. He did not do that but did put on a show with an official 4.27 second 40-time which is the fourth-fastest time since 2006. While it was very clear to everybody that Ruggs had speed, he also showed that he could be the most athletic receiver in a draft class where there maybe five or six receivers selected in the first round. Ruggs combined his amazing 40-yard dash time with a tie for the second-highest vertical jump at 42 inches becoming the only player to ever record a sub-4.30 second 40 time and a vertical jump of 40 inches. Ruggs can outrun and outjump just about any defender in the NFL and adding to his draft stock greatly at the Combine. Alabama is known for producing great receivers as Jerry Jeudy will join Ruggs as first-round draft picks. Throughout the season it appeared that Jeudy and Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb would be the top two receivers off the board, the fight now has a third contender that possesses possibly the most potential capability.
Isaiah Simmons: LB, Clemson
After Chase Young, it will be between Isaiah Simmons and Jeff Okaudah to become the next defensive player drafted. It is projected that about three or four linebackers will be selected in the first round with Simmons being, without doubt, the best out of the group which he defended at the Combine. Simmons put on a show at the combine proving that he is worthy of a top-five draft pick leading all linebackers in the 40-yard dash at 4.39 seconds, the second-longest broad jump at 11 feet, and the third-highest vertical jump at 39 inches. These numbers prove that Simmons can run all over the field, whether it is rushing the quarterback or dropping back in coverage, as well as being able to jump and knock down passes or with a receiver, and pacing with receivers with elite speed for his position. Simmons was projected to go in the top 10 but after this performance, there is a good chance he gets selected in the top five to a team like the Lions or the Giants who will be looking to build with some of the best defensive draft classes available.
A.J. Dillion: RB, Boston College
Another running back that turned some heads at the NFL Combine was Boston College’s, A.J. Dillion. Dillion is a considerably larger running back at 247 pounds but did not let that hold him back from a great performance at the Combine. Two years ago, Dillion tweeted out what he was going to achieve at the Combine (tweet below) to let people know that he was capable of more than they expected. He managed to record exactly a 41” vertical like he said he would which also happened to be the highest vertical of any running back. He came up shy on his 40 yard-dash at 4.53 seconds which is still very impressive though given his size and put up just 23 reps of 225 pounds. Although he did not achieve two out of three of his goals, he set very high standards for himself and coming up short was not necessarily an issue since he still over-achieved what most people thought he would be capable of doing. Dillion will not likely be drafted in the first round but did certainly increase his draft stock with the numbers that he put up. Much of the attention from the running backs was drawn from Jonathan Taylor but there is a lot of running backs that will be selected in the second and third rounds on Friday in which we are likely to see Dillion’s name move up many teams’ charts.