(Mandatory Photo Credit: Ben Liebenberg / NFL)
(Pictured: New York Jets OT Mekhi Becton running a blistering 5.10 40 at 6’7 364!)
Written by: Joseph Yun
Update: The NFL capitulated and will carry on as normal as possible after the justifiably malignant gnashing of teeth raised by the agents and their prospective athletes along with the NFLPA.
Who are the names to watch on offense as the uber-athletic big men, skill positions, and the much incongruously derided signal-callers get going in Indianapolis? Are there any sleepers like Quinn Meinerz that can propel themselves into the conversation for best rookies when toe meets leather in September? Is there a man who can blaze a path to eternal Combine lore and prove himself the fastest man in all the land like John Ross once did?
The Favorite(s): Carson Strong Nevada | Malik Willis Liberty | Sam Howell North Carolina | Kenny Pickett Pittsburgh
- Willis put up a solid showing in Mobile to vault himself into as a rock solid QB1 choice conversation. Strong was there already of course. Howell himself had a good week in the southern port city in the Yellowhammer State. No other measurement in the recent history of the Combine will be more anticipated than Pickett's hand size. Expect Strong to show off that rocket arm. What will be interesting is his 40 and agility times due to past knee issues. Matter of fact, Howell's numbers will be interesting as well since has garnered comps to Baker Mayfield.
Sleepers: Kaleb Eleby Western Michigan | Desmond Ridder Cincinnati | Matt Corral Ole Miss
- Of this group, Corral is the only surefire high selection. However, the ankle injury he suffered in the bowl game will bear watching. His stock has dropped somewhat due to relative inactivity compared to the others in the class. Regardless, he's still a top-three quarterback prospect entering next week. Eleby has the most potential to cause intrigue for teams looking for a developmental project. He's one that I will be watching closely. Ridder obviously needs a big week to recover some stock.
The Favorite(s): Breece Hall Iowa State | Kenneth Walker Michigan State | Cook + White Georgia | Dameon Pierce Florida
- Walker was a Heisman candidate deep into the 2021 season before ultimately going the way of his team, falling short. Still, the transfer from Wake Forest should project well to test efficiently in Indy. Hall has long been a frontrunner to be RB1 for the past couple of years before suffering a bit of a downgrade in 2021. Indy should be a chance for him to recover some lost ground. Zeus White took a small backseat to Cook during Georgia’s championship run but he is nonetheless a talented back with limited wear and tear. It will be interesting for Cook to see how he fares despite pulling out of Mobile. Pierce is the next man to take a star turn from the Gators after a limited showing in college. Can he build on Mobile?
Sleepers: Tyler Allgeier BYU | Max Borghi Washington State | Tyler Goodson Iowa | Isaiah Spiller Texas A&M |
- A quadruple of ultra productive backs in this group who total 13,322 yards from scrimmage among them. Of the lot, Spiller remains the most intriguing while Borghi has a ton of potential to provide some value in the PPR leagues. Allgeier showed that it wasn’t just Zach Wilson that took the heat off last season. Borghi’s on-field portion will be the most interesting to watch from this group. Goodson is your typical Iowa back who can do a bit of everything so that will be good to monitor as well.
Super Sleepers: Tyler Badie Missouri | Rachaad White Arizona State | Jashaun Corbin Florida State | Abram Smith Baylor
- This group has a lot to prove, in particular, Corbin after leading the woeful Seminoles offensive attack behind a much improved offensive line. Can he and White overcome the tumult of their respective programs and show out to the teams in Indy? Badie was insanely productive in college despite going through some rebuilding himself. Smith was a Senior Bowl invite who had some flashes, can he keep the good times rolling?
The Favorites: Treylon Burks Arkansas | Garrett Wilson Ohio State | George Pickens Georgia | Drake London USC |
- The crème de la crème of the receiver class are all represented here. Burks has been in WR1 contention for some time now. He's a guy if he runs a sub 4.5, he will be a lock for the honor in a loaded class. Pickens is the most interesting as he shockingly came back during Georgia’s championship stretch after tearing his ACL in the spring. It remains to be seen if he does run all the drills but if he does, wow. London is also coming off an injury so if he tests, he should do well. The former Trojan is one of the best in the class and is QB-proof. Not many at his size have the athletic tools that he does. Wilson should do well enough to separate himself as the premier Ohio State receiver.
Sleepers: Calvin Austin III Memphis | Charleston Rambo Miami | Christian Watson NDSU | Wan’Dale Robinson Kentucky
- Austin was one of the most dominant receivers in Mobile according to reports. The diminutive playmaker couldn't be stopped on many occasions. He and Robinson should blow the Combine out of the water with their electric dynamism. Rambo and Watson present themselves as two of the more interesting prospects given their pedigree. Watson has taken the offseason by storm and has garnered some early Day 2 hype. The former Miami product Rambo should test well.
Super Sleepers: Kyle Phillips UCLA | Alec Pierce Cincinnati | Devon Williams Oregon
- Phillips reportedly had a good week at the Shrine Game so he'll be looking to continue the good run of form. Pierce isn't so much a sleeper but an intriguing name to monitor as many will wonder how he tests at his size. Speaking of former Trojans, Williams needs a great week to overcome the horrific QB play he endured at Oregon.
The Favorites: Trey McBride Colorado State | Charlie Kolar Iowa State | Jalen Wydermeyer Texas A&M
- McBride came in during the latter stages and took the title of TE1 away from the long assumed heir presumptive Wydermeyer it seems. However, the A&M product has a chance to reassert his dominance atop the class once more. It will be interesting to see how each fare during the testing portion, particularly the 40. Kolar has some fans remaining in the scouting world even after a middling season by his and Iowa State standards. Can he recover stock in time?
Sleepers: Cole Turner Nevada | Jelani Woods Virginia | Grant Calcaterra SMU | Isaiah Likely Coastal Carolina | Cade Otton Washington
- Otton provides the most intrigue of this group as he spent most of 2021 injured or inconsistent after using 2020 as a springboard. Woods had a pretty solid season for the Cavaliers after transferring in from Oklahoma State. Turner was a key weapon in the high-powered Wolfpack offense and was an invite to Mobile. Likely was a Senior Bowl invite as well. Which tight end from this group can emerge and get the scout talking in a deep class?
The Favorites: Charles Cross Mississippi State | Evan Neal Alabama | Sean Rhyan UCLA | Ikem Ekonwu NC State
- The battle for the top tackle taken continues in Indy with three of the four in this section projected to be top 20 selections. Neal is the prohibitive favorite to go as high as the top pick with Cross gaining steam. Ekonwu is a monster and could blow away the field like ACC colleague Mekhi Becton once did at the event. Rhyan is underrated due to UCLA’s chronic struggles to escape the shadow of mediocrity. He could even slide inside to guard but is a starting caliber tackle. While not in the class of the above three, he is plenty capable as the Pac’s best tackle. Watch for him to steal a highlight or two.
Sleepers: Trevor Penning Northern Iowa | Bernhard Raimann Central Michigan | Abraham Lucas Washington State
- Penning is getting a ton of hype and deservedly so. He has the potential to shine throughout the process much like former teammate Spencer Brown did recently. Can he deliver on the hype and put on a show? Raimann is another much touted small school tackle convert from tight end from CMU (no, I’m not comparing him to Eric Fisher). Lucas was in contention for best Pac-12 tackle with Rhyan for much of the previous season and he was in Mobile for the party there. He’s not the best athlete but can move well so the on-field drills portion should help him. These guys won’t be your Day 1 picks but can be essential to your team's success one day as Day 2 types.
Super Sleepers: Dare Rosenthal Kentucky | Max Mitchell Louisiana-Lafayette
- A Kentucky lineman draft eligible and has the goods? Stop me if you’ve heard that before. Rosenthal was a transfer from LSU and immediately slid right in with the Wildcats. Mitchell reportedly shined at the Senior Bowl and will look to continue the positive momentum here. He can play both tackle spots capably and is an athlete so the testing should go well for him.
The Favorites: Kenyon Green Texas A&M | Darian Kinnard Kentucky | Zion Johnson Boston College
- Green has long been viewed as the best interior line prospect in the class and has done little to dissuade that notion. Johnson absolutely balled out in Mobile according to most reports, showing off his versatility, including an outstanding time at center. Kinnard is yet another versatile lineman who can play multiple spots along the line. The trio should perform well during testing.
Sleepers: Thayer Munford Ohio State | Cole Strange UT-Chattanooga | Lectius Smith Virginia Tech
- Three Senior Bowl linemen who had some good and bad days mixed in so they need to show up well in Indianapolis. Strange was the hot small school name heading into Mobile and escaped largely intact. Munford is obviously the big name in the category. He needs a big week.
The Favorite: Tyler Linderbaum Iowa
- The nation’s best center and it ain’t close. He has been C1 in the class for a couple of years now. While he probably won’t blow away anyone during the drills with out-of-this-world athleticism, he can be functional. Expect the former Hawkeye to remain as highly ranked after the event. As long as he doesn’t fall flat on his face, he’s still likely a selection within the first two rounds.
Sleeper: Alec Lindstrom Boston College
- Lindstrom might surprise some folks during the testing portion. The former Boston College product could be the best athlete at the position. He more than likely won’t go higher than his brother Chris did for the Falcons but will end up as a Day 2 selection.