2019 NFL Combine Surprises

by Chuck Gioffre
Mar 8, 2019

Kansas State RB Alex Barnes turned heads at the 2019 NFL Combine

Each year the NFL Combine provides excitement and disappointments, risers and fallers, and most of all overreaction. Several prospect’s draft stock was either enhanced or diminished based on athletic testing performance. Which prospects stood out unexpectedly and which left evaluators feeling dubious? This article will breakdown the biggest surprises and which prospects combine performance affected their draft stock the most.

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Wide Receivers

The best performances belong to the receiver group because the Combine proved this class is deep and freakishly athletic. Here are my biggest surprises and disappointments from the group:

D.K. Metcalf (Ole Miss)
In a nutshell, D.K. dominated the combine and narrative afterward. I didn’t think Metcalf could break the internet any more than after his shirtless workout pictures surfaced the week prior to the Combine, but I was wrong. He posted a ridiculous 4.33-second 40-tme, albeit at 6’3, 228 pounds. It is the highest height adjusted speed score behind only Megatron. His 40.5″ vertical jump, 11’2″ broad jump and 27 reps on the bench were all near the top. His performance may have not completely surprised everyone, but he secured first-round status and possibly propelled himself into the top 10.

Miles Boykin (Notre Dame)
The Notre Dame WR was probably by most accounts the biggest surprise of the Combine. His size, weight, and workout metrics were almost identical to Metcalf, yet he has received a fraction of Metcalf’s hype. He ranked in the 90th percentile or better in all major workout metrics, plus his Nike SPARQ rating also ranked highly in the 94th percentile. After his combine results he is now firmly on team’s radars and likely improved his draft stock by a round or two.

Emanuel Hall (Missouri)
Hall did not receive major pre-combine buzz, but his name was mentioned quietly as someone who could post explosive test scores. He did just that and surprised everyone by posting the best broad jump (11’9″) and also tied for the best vertical jump (43.5″). He also ran a 4.39-second 40-time at 6’2, 201 pounds. He tested in the 90% percentile in speed, explosiveness, and burst measurements.

Lil’Jordan Humphrey (Texas)
Many hoped and expected Humphrey to test well at the Combine as his solid game speed and burst show up on tape, but his workout left many disappointed. It was surprising how slow of a 40-time he ran, which was the lowest of the WR group. He also tested below average in agility and explosiveness workouts.

Running Back

Overall, this year’s running back class was underwhelming in terms of athletic testing. This class’ performance wasn’t shocking, yet surprising how disappointing and slow this group ended up testing.

Alex Barnes (Kansas State)
Barnes earned a 99th percentile SPARQ rating after his combine testing. His combine performance was the biggest surprise in the group. I’ll admit I had never heard of him until this past weekend and wonder if he’ll contribute in the NFL or become just another combine specialist because his tape certainly doesn’t scream elite athlete. In any case, his combine results likely secured a team spending draft capital on him or at least making a roster next season.

Justice Hill (Oklahoma State)
The Oklahoma State product posted the best 40-time, broad jump, and vertical jump. There weren’t too many great performances from top to bottom in this group, so he definitely stood out and surprised folks with his impressive athletic testing.

Travis Homer (Miami)
Despite being the youngest RB in the class, he demonstrated comfortability, fluid movement and quick feet at 5’10, 201 lbs. during RB drills. He also impressed in athletic testing. His sub-4.5-second 40-time and explosive testing in the vertical and broad jump turned heads and most likely improved his draft stock.

Elijah Holyfield (Georgia)
Holyfield was one of the more touted backs coming into the combine and most were expecting him to post solid athletic scores. That was not the case. He posted the slowest 40-time and his vertical and broad jump fell toward the bottom of the class. He did post 26 reps on the bench, but his testing overall was a letdown and likely caused his stock to drop.

Tight End

There’s something in the water in Iowa because recently they have bred stud tight ends who are athletic freaks. The 2019 class was dominated by two Iowa tight ends.

Noah Fant (Iowa)
Fant destroyed the Combine. He ran a 4.5-second 40-time at 6’4″, 250 lbs. He was the only TE to complete the three-cone drill in under seven seconds. His athletic testing results were in the 97th percentile or better, which places him in a select group among the likes of Vernon Davis and Greg Olson as TE prospects who have tested this well. Despite being considered the less-touted TE from his own school, Fant’s combine workout was one of the best-ever recorded for a tight end and he most likely secured a top-half of the first round selection.

Foster Moreau (LSU)
The LSU product probably wasn’t on the evaluator’s shortlist of prospects who would test well, but Moreau did just that. He tested well across the board and finished with the best 20-yard shuttle time. He raised eyebrows and surprised several folks likely improving his draft stock.

Quarterbacks

Quarterbacks rarely look bad in dress rehearsal against no defenders or pocket pressure. The top-rated prospects looked comfortable in drills. No major surprises here.

Kyler Murray (Oklahoma)
Size really does matter. One inch might be the reason Kyler is the No. 1 pick and multi-millions richer. Murry didn’t participate in drills but the biggest surprise rumor from the combine weekend was how many reports of Kyler going No. 1 surfaced. Less than six months ago, he was a future baseball player. An evolution of the prototypical QB is rapidly transforming.

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Chuck Gioffre is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Ethan, check out his archive and follow him @cgioffre34.

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