2020 NFL Combine

Daniel Shurr, Sports Writer

On April 23rd,the lives of 32 top college prospects will change forever, as they will be drafted in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. While there are seven rounds in the draft, those taken in the first round will have high expectations to produce straight out of college. Players like Jadeveon Clowney and Peyton Manning have shown the NFL why they were worthy of being picked early in the draft. However just because a player balls out in college doesn’t mean those skills will translate to the NFL. (I.e Jamarcus Russell)  But the perfect place to scout the prospects, is at Lucas Oil stadium, home of the Indianapolis colts, and the annual NFL combine. 

The NFL Combine is an annual event and a series of athletic drills, that NFL prospects get invited to to showcase their potential for the next level. The drills take into account the player’s measurables, (height and weight), his vertical jump, bench press, 3 cone drill to test agility, the fan favorite 40 yard dash, which takes a look at a player’s speed, and drills specific to the player’s position, meaning quarterbacks will participate in throwing drills, while receivers will be catching what the quarterbacks throw. Every year there are players that stand up, and stand out at the combine. Last season, current Seattle receiver and 64th overall pick in the 2019 draft D.K Metcalf blew up the combine, after being a mediocre receiver at Ole Miss, Metcalf dominated the combine with the following stats; a 4.33 40 yard dash, 4th best that year among receivers. Twenty seven reps on a 225 pound bench press, more than any other receivers that year. He topped that off with a 40.5 inch vertical jump, 3rd best that year, and a 134 inch standing long jump, 5th best that year. 

With all of the hype surrounding Metcalf and his amazing performance at the combine, his draft stock skyrocketed from a 5th round pick into him being picked in the second round by Seattle. 

This year, the prospects competed hard, ran fast, jumped high and caught everything. But this combine was kind of disappointing compared to years past. No records were broken, and there were no players that increased their draft stock as much as others have in years past. However that’s not to say that it was a waste of time.

This year’s running back class is looking sharp with notable guys like Johnathon Taylor out of Wisconsin dominating this year’s class, running a 4.39 40, and pumping out 17 reps on the bench press. LSU Halfback Clyde Edwards-Helaire ran a 4.60 fourty, but made up for it with 15 reps on the bench. The receivers and tight ends looked good too, with Henry Ruggs the third out of Alabama running a 4.27 forty yard dash, the fastest at this year’s combine. But top prospects like Tee Higgins out of Clemson, and K.J Hamler out of Penn State, did not participate. Letting their play on the field from the 2019-20 season speak for themselves. The tight end class this year performed well in all drills, this year too, and especially on the bench. This year, it wasn’t uncommon to see one of the prospects pushing 20 reps, increasing their draft stock. 

Speaking of strong men, Tristain Wirfs, a tackle out of Iowa, despite being the best offensive line prospect this year only pumped 24 reps on the bench press. Muti Netane, Offensive Lineman out of Fresno State lead the combine in bench press with 44 reps. The record among active players is DT, Stephen Pea back in 2011 with 50 reps on a 225lb bench. Chase young is looking to be the number two overall pick to the Redskins, and opted out of this year’s combine. Other defensive lineman prospects like Derrick Brown out of Auburn pumped 28 reps, and ran a 5.16 fourty, fast for a big man.

Jeff Okudah performed extremely well at the combine, but has cemented himself as a first round pick. The cornerback from Ohio state is the top DB prospect this year. He recorded a handful of interceptions last year against the BIG10 opponents, whose teams are known to produce big time quarterbacks. (Remember Tom Brady?)  Javelin K. Guidry ran a 4.29 fourty. 0.02 seconds off from the best at this year’s combine set by Henry Ruggs. Safeties and corners will be easy to come by this year, as the class is filled with talent. It’s going to come down to the age old question, what’s more important, offense or defense?

 Last but not least, the quarterback class. Heisman Trophy Winner Joe Burrow has essentially cemented his spot as the first overall pick to the Cincinnati Bengals. Accepting the fact that he is going to the worst team in the league, hoping to turn their franchise around. Burrow did not perform at this year’s combine, feeling optimistic about his chances of being drafted early. While Heisman finalist Jalen Hurts is looking to be a first round talent, throwing the ball well and leading all quarterbacks in the 40 with a time of 4.59. While Hurts has been a scrambling quarterback his entire college career, he hopes to rely more on his arm as he develops in the NFL. It is realistic to see him go to a team like the Panthers, where their quarterback position is still up in the air, with the unsure, yet possible return of Cam Newton. Oregon’s Justin Herbert, Utah’s Jordan Love, and UW’s Jacob Eason are some more of the top prospects in this year’s quarterback class. While those that threw at the combine did nothing but increase their draft stock, the first round honestly shouldn’t see many quarterbacks selected for the money making contract, as there is simply not a huge need in the NFL for that position. Most teams with the exception of the Dolphins, Bengals and possibly Patriots (with the uncertain future of Tom Brady) most NFL teams don’t need to select a quarterback in the first round. The NCAA is supplying a surplus of quarterbacks that seem ready for the speed of the NFL, but in reality, there is no way to tell who can compete until the ball is snapped.  

All in all this year’s draft which will be held in Las Vegas will be a shot at stardom for all of the college prospects. Whether picked first overall or last overall, all players have something to prove. The combine was a chance for the players to raise their draft stock like others before them. We will have to wait until April to see the results, but chances are the combine raised the pro potential of the players in the draft class. 

 

 

Featured image courtesy of thehuddle.com