(Mandatory Image Credit: Scott Wachter / USA Today Sports)
Written by: Joseph Yun
The 2023 edition of the annual NFL Scouting Combine will kick off in just a little under two weeks with 300+ prospects shuttling through Indianapolis. Who are the top offensive prospects to strut their stuff in Lucas Oil to finalize their standing on teams’ draft boards? Will any quarterbacks decline to throw at the event? Is there a new speed king lurking amongst this group? Questions will be answered next week. There will be virtually no hiding during the most critical job interview in these prospects’ lives.
The Favorites: Anthony Richardson | C.J. Stroud | Bryce Young
- Richardson is gathering momentum as possibly the first quarterback off the board as of late. He’s very raw and the counting numbers are a bit whelming, to say the least. However, it can be justified by the inconsistencies of the Florida offense a little bit. The Combine environment is a perfect setting to show off his immense skillset and potential. He’s a boom-or-bust prospect with no in-between. Expect him to test well during the drills and look like he’s QB1 at least. Young and Stroud are in serious competition for the honor of the first quarterback off the board. Much will be made of Young’s size or lack thereof. Both prospects have the arm talent to get it there and are pretty solid athletes in their own right. It will be interesting to see how Young measures in.
Sleepers: Tyson Bagent | Tanner McKee | Dorian Thompson-Robinson
- Bagent showed flashes at the Senior Bowl but was generally inconsistent as well. He needs a big Combine performance to solidify a slowly rising stock. McKee is the latest Stanford quarterback with intrigue. It will be interesting to see where he ends up after the process. DTR has been a known quantity for years but is a sleeper in the sense that he could end up surprising some folks. Another possible UDFA turned key backup down the road.
The Favorites: Bijan Robinson | Tyjae Spears | Zach Charbonnet | Jahymr Gibbs
- Robinson is by far the consensus RB1 of the class and it isn’t particularly close. It will be interesting to see if he can approach or exceed Saquon Barkley’s Combine performance. Spears was the runaway winner of the RB group in Mobile, which combined with his college production has him in contention for a top 5 positional ranking. He will need to test well to maintain it and there’s little doubt that he will. Charbonnet had a standout career at UCLA and could be considered a top-three runner in the class. He’s not the fastest athlete but is the most well-rounded of the group. Gibbs was an electric factory while at Georgia Tech and only got better at Alabama this past season. He’s a serious home run threat from anywhere on the field. It will be interesting to see if he can threaten the speed record for running backs.
Sleepers: Devon Achane | Eric Gray | Chris Rodriguez, Jr | Kenny McIntosh
- Three outstanding athletes man the sleeper status for this position group. Rodriguez isn’t the athlete like the other three but he is serviceable as the Senior Bowl bore out. Achane is a bonafide track star and will likely push himself among the all-time running back speedsters in Indy. Gray is a receiving asset and a limited but willing blocker. He’s a weapon out of the backfield. McIntosh isn’t the most experienced out of this group as he only received the bulk of the carries this past season after sitting behind a ton of talent. He can be either inexperienced or the lack of carries will have more future reps on his legs. He stood out immensely in Mobile as well.
Super Sleepers: Kendre Miller | Deuce Vaughn | Zach Evans | Sean Tucker
- Evans had an interesting junior campaign in Oxford, battling injury and losing his job to a star freshman. He’s still a solid athlete who needs the Combine to recover some lost stock so that bears watching. He had a wild recruitment process that ultimately led him to Ole Miss after transferring in from TCU, after committing to both Georgia and Texas A&M at points. Miller was the leading rusher for the national runners-up Horned Frogs before giving way in the semifinal due to injury. The medical portion will be key for him as he recovers from the injury that knocked him out of the title match. He isn’t the greatest athlete but can be good at points. Tucker had a monster sophomore season before falling off a little bit as a junior. He still finished his career with over 3,100 yards and 27 touchdowns at a program historically known for great runners. The former Orange rusher will need to produce well at the Combine to get back on the radar. Vaughn’s measurements will be heavily scrutinized as he’s listed at just 5’6 172. The dynamic athlete is fun to watch as he can scoot and get anywhere he wants to. The on-field testing numbers should be nice to track.
The Favorites: Jordan Addison | Zay Flowers | Jonathan Mingo | Jaxon Smith-Njigba | Jalin Hyatt | Kayshon Boutte | Quentin Johnston
- The creme da la creme of the receiver class resides here. JSN and Johnston are in a tight competition to be WR1 while Addison is accelerating up the boards. Flowers has had a great offseason process that has vaulted him into the first-round conversation after a so-so year at BC (not his fault). Mingo has rocketed up the boards after a great season and was even better in Mobile. Hyatt broke out this past season as Tennessee’s primary deep threat. He might challenge the 4.3 40-yard barriers this week. Boutte was out of sorts for most of the past two seasons due to injury and quarterback inconsistency. He needs a big Combine show to recover the lost stock after his standout freshman season was marred by two inconsequential ones.
Sleepers: Tank Dell | Josh Downs | Xavier Hutchinson | Rakim Jarrett | A.T. Perry | Parker Washington
- A eclectic mix of standouts and sleepers who need moderately good Combine shows to further solidify their stocks. Dell has exploded onto the scene with a great senior campaign and Senior Bowl week. He profiles as an excellent slot receiver at the next level and should test well in Indy. Hutchinson is a bigger guy who also had a good Senior Bowl and increased his production annually. Downs had a relatively down junior year after exploding as a sophomore with the quarterback change. He’s a bit on the smaller side so he will need to run well. Perry the former Wake Forest product has garnered some late Day 2 looks with a good Shrine performance and a decent past couple of seasons. His junior season was highly productive given the quarterback issues that the Demon Deacons endured. Washington is just the latest and greatest receiver from Penn State that’s gathering some hype as well even after a down junior season.
Super Sleepers: Derius Davis | Michael Wilson | Dontayvion Wicks | Jayden Reed
- Davis was the reliable weapon for the Horned Frogs and increased his production every year. He projects to be a middle Day 3 selection at this juncture. Stanford’s Wilson had a monster Senior Bowl process and has elevated his stock significantly as a result. The medical part will be a key cog in his draft stock. Wicks, much like the Virginia offense suffered a downturn in production in 2022 after a coaching change. He still did enough to merit a Senior Bowl invite which he parlayed into a good week, boosting his stock. Like his Senior Bowl colleague, Reed shocked some folks after a poor showing during the season. He was very effective in Mobile, nearly winning every one on one. He’s definitely a guy to watch in Indy and a prospect worth looking back on due to the ineffective of the Spartans’ offense.
The Favorites: Michael Mayer | Darnell Washington | Sam Laporta
- Finally, the seemingly preordained TE1 of this class is in. Mayer has been the promised one for a couple of seasons now and he hasn’t missed a beat. Notre Dame pumps out standout tight ends on the regular and Mayer is just the latest. He’s a surefire Day 1 selection and the testing should bear that out in Indy. Guys like Washington’s size shouldn’t move the way he does. He’s a FREAK athlete that can do everything with the ball in his hands. Washington wasn’t even the best tight end on his team but he’s simply a mismatch nightmare. All eyes will be on him during the on-field portion. LaPorta was severely handcuffed by the hideously inept Iowa offense this past season so the counting numbers aren’t there for him. He should be much better in the pros with a more creative offensive mind than the embattled Brian Ferentz. He should test well and surprise some folks given his credentials. A possible Day 2 selection awaits.
Sleepers: Luke Musgrave | Dalton Kincaid | Tucker Kraft
- Musgrave was the clear-cut TE1 in Mobile after a dominant week. He showed out in every practice and carries a ton of momentum into Indianapolis. Kincaid carried the Utes offense this season after Brant Kuithe went down with injury until his injury befell him. The medical testing will be crucial for him as the shoulder will be picked apart by teams. While he isn’t a sleeper in the truest form of the word, he can be had at least late into Day 2 and will be a steal. Kraft is a terrific athlete who played multiple positions in high school before settling in at the tight end spot in college. He likely will test well, opening some eyes for teams looking for an athlete on Day 3.
The Favorites: Paris Johnson, Jr | Broderick Jones | Anton Harrison | Darnell Wright
- Three likely first-round selections and one who could get there with a good showing this week. Johnson is in the range for OT1 and will likely finish there without any hiccups. Jones is a surefire top-25 selection from Georgia. Harrison was part of a solid tackle duo from Oklahoma. Tennessee’s Darnell Wright had a pretty decent week in Mobile himself. It will be interesting to see who goes first, Johnson or Jones. As long as they test well, the lower half of the first round should be their floor.
Sleepers: Matthew Bergeron | Dawand Jones | Tyler Steen | Wanya Morris | Ryan Hayes
- The Senior Bowl quartet had outstanding weeks that saw them win throughout the week despite some losses in one on one drills. Jones was the clear-cut winner from this group to emerge with his monstrous frame. Morris elevated his stock into the early Day 3 range. Bergeron had an outstanding week that could see him into the second round with another good Indy performance. Steen separated himself from his Alabama teammates and vaulted himself onto the early Day 3 radar. What can they do for an encore?
The Favorites: Peter Skoronski | O’Cyrus Torrence | Cody Mauch
- Skronski has been ticketed for a top 15 selection for months now so he’s a favorite at this event. He’s a versatile athlete who can play both guards and tackle with some center possibility as well. Torrence had a winning week in Mobile as well so he deserves some mention in this space as a possible Day 2 selection. Mauch was probably the biggest winner in Mobile not named John Michael Schmitz. He’ll look to continue the good run of form as the Quinn Meinerz of this class. He could project well at tackle but is much better at guard.
Sleepers: Emil Ekiyor, Jr | McClendon Curtis | Andrew Voorhees | Steve Avila
- Ekiyor, Avila, and Curtis had pretty good weeks in Mobile and will be looking to continue the momentum in Indianapolis. Curtis had the best week of the three as a small school prospect and held his own often. Versatility is the name of the game for these three. Voorhees has tackle experience on his CV but is better suited at guard. He should test the best out of the four but it will be an interesting race to watch.
The Favorites: John Michael Schmitz | Ricky Stromberg | Olusegun Olwuatimi
- Schmitz put on a show at the Senior Bowl, establishing himself as the top interior lineman there, regardless of position. It will be interesting to see if he can keep the positive momentum in Indy. The former Golden Gopher can go as high as the second round with a good performance. Stromberg was a steady force for the consistently consistent explosive Razorbacks offense and could be in contention for C1 honors after the process. Olwuatimi had a good Senior Bowl process as well so he’ll look to continue the good vibes. The Michigan center was the general for the Wolverines line that won the Joe Moore award. He’s seen just about everything a defense could throw at him. If he can continue the good form in Indy, a late Day 2 selection awaits.
Sleepers: Alex Forsyth | Jarrett Patterson
- Forsyth was the clear leader for the Ducks' offensive line and went through a resurgence with now-former OL coach Adrian Klemm. He’s a draftable prospect that has seen a ton of action over the past three years as the starter. He isn’t the best athlete but his football IQ is his calling card. He will need to test well during the on-field portion of the testing. He has the potential to go as high as early Day 3. Patterson was another Senior Bowl attendant that had a solid if not unspectacular week. He has center experience but did play guard as a senior this past season so the versatility will be a plus. He isn’t the most athletic for his position but he gets by with guile and wits against bigger and faster defenders. The on-field testing will be crucial for him much like his PNW counterpart. He could be a steal for someone looking for a swing interior lineman in the fourth or fifth round.