NFL season never stops. We’ve past the Senior Bowl and the Shrine Game and now we’re on to one of the best events of the off-season if you love the draft: The NFL Combine. Sure, it’s just athletes in tights running and doing drills, but it’s good insight to how they can play on the field at an athletic level. We see players rise and fall on the boards based on their tests and can affect these prospects to the tune of millions of dollars.
Now, these 10 prospects I’m listing aren’t in order of who I like, importance, or anything like that. But who you should keep an eye on, from the people that need good performances, medicals, and interviews.
Without further ado, here are the 10 players I’m keeping an eye on for this year’s combine.
1. Lamar Jackson – QB – Louisville
There’s been a lot of talk of wanting the former Heisman Trophy winner to move to wide receiver, mainly by former Colts GM Bill Polian, and I just find that stupid. He was the most dynamic player on any field he stepped on in the collegiate level and should at least be given a chance by teams. I think he’ll wow teams with his 40 time (which could be 4.4 or faster), while also having a more accurate day throwing the ball than the guy some are touting as a possible #1 overall pick in Josh Allen. Someone is going to draft him with the intention of using him at QB, but a great performance this weekend should launch him into the first round, maybe even a top 20 pick. And PS: For anyone with “concerns” about his size, measured at 6’2″ 215 lbs, the exact same size as Andy Dalton.
2. Vita Vea – DT – Washington
I’ll say this right now. He will be your combine freak this year. Similar to what Dontari Poe did years ago that helped him become a top 12 pick. He’s a guy that weighs close to 400 pounds and there’s talk of him running faster than a 4.9 this weekend. Just the conversation alone is nuts.
3. Sony Michel – RB – Georgia
Was in Nick Chubb’s shadow for most of the year until the college football playoff. His combination of size and speed has seen him climb into possible first round territory. There’s no clear cut #2 behind Saquon Barkley, so a good combine can get him there past Derrius Guice and Ronald Jones II.
4. Jack Cichy – LB – Wisconsin
A linebacker that was seen as a future day 2 prospect a few years ago, he missed each of the last two seasons with injuries, including a torn ACL this past season. A good showing at the combine can get him back to that, as the comparisons to former Badger Chris Borland will likely make their ways around.
5. Courtland Sutton – WR – SMU
Sutton is a tall receiver at 6’4″ that can get the ball at the point of attack. The key for him will be his 40 time. A time in the 4.4’s will get him back into the first round conversation as he’s been falling of late.
6. Dallas Goedert – TE – South Dakota State
Currently seen as a fringe 1st rounder, but the #1 TE in the draft. A good athletic showing in the combine can solidify his status in the back end of the first round as a weapon in the passing game. Jacksonville would be a favorite landing spot in that scenario at 29 overall.
7. Arden Key – EDGE – LSU
A top prospect coming out of high school, Key has fallen off teams radars due to inconsistent production and drug issues at LSU. He should test well this weekend, so the key for him will be how his interviews. Because he’ll have to gain the trust of his next coaching staff, and pass the drug test as well.
8. Marcus Davenport – EDGE – UTSA
A name most people (including myself) haven’t heard of until the draft process, he’s been a high riser on most mocks. Most have him going to the Packers at 14, so of course I’ll be intrigued on how he tests. And with this draft short on true pass rushers, this is a guy that could launch himself into the top 10 with a good weekend.
9. Josh Jackson – CB – Iowa
Jackson put himself on the map this year with his big time performance in Iowa’s blowout win over Ohio State, and he’s the guy I want the Packers to get at 14. He has the ball skills and athleticism you look for in a corner, but teams are curious to see his 40 time. Anything in 4.45 or better and you can lock him up as a dream pick for the Packers.
10. Baker Mayfield – QB – Oklahoma
I was on the fence at first because I know the Big 12 has a well earned reputation for their lack of defense, but after he lit up Georgia in the college football playoff, I’m all in. He could go as high as 5 to Denver or as low as 17 to the Chargers. I’m looking forward to proving the lazy comparison of him to Johnny Manziel wrong.