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2020 NFL Combine Winners and Losers

by Mike Tagliere | @MikeTagliereNFL | Featured Writer
Mar 2, 2020

Justin Jefferson was one of the biggest movers with his NFL Combine performance

There are many football fans who wonder just how much stock to place in the NFL Combine. Some will say it doesn’t change what they saw on tape, while others will say that your eyes can sometimes lie to you, so the Combine can confirm/deny your assumptions. I’m somewhere in the middle. While I don’t think it matters all that much to me, it does matter to NFL teams, which will impact my mock drafts significantly.

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Why? Well, because opportunity is everything in this league. I promise you there are Pro Bowl talent-type players who never saw the field in the NFL because there was never a team that was fully vested in them. Whether you like it or not, draft capital matters. Here’s a list of the players I believe either improved or hurt their stock at the NFL Combine. While there were more, these are the one who may have the biggest movement up/down draft boards.

Quarterback

Winners

Justin Herbert (Oregon)
After his first pass of the day hit the ground on a simple slant route, Herbert settled in and looked mighty comfortable in the Combine setting. He threw the deep ball seemingly five yards further than every other quarterback, while hitting the receivers in stride. Accuracy is something that’s been hit-or-miss for him, particularly when he starts aiming the ball, but he looked great during the on-field drills.

Jordan Love (Utah State)
As expected, Love looked very good going through the on-field drills in Indianapolis. He was able to show off his big arm and solid athleticism, though they were never in question to begin with. The biggest question with Love has been his mental processing and proneness to make mistakes, and that’s something that wasn’t going to be an issue in this setting.

Losers

Jake Fromm (Georgia)
There were concerns about Fromm’s arm strength coming into the Combine and he did nothing to silence them. His deep balls lacked any sort of juice, while surprisingly, his accuracy wasn’t great while throwing the curl routes. Even Kurt Warner mentioned on the broadcast that Fromm’s lack of arm strength can hold him back.

Running Back

Winners

A.J. Dillon (Boston College)
Some wondered if Dillon should be a fullback at the next level but seeing him run a 4.53-second 40-yard dash at 247 pounds may change some minds. Not just that, but he showed off his strength when he pushed out 23 reps on the bench, hit 41 inches in the vertical jump (best at the position), and flew 131 inches in the broad jump (best at the position by a full three inches). Dillon surely turned some heads at the Combine.

Jonathan Taylor (Wisconsin)
You simply don’t see 226-pound running backs post 4.39-second 40-yard dash times, which is why Taylor was receiving the most buzz among running backs at the Combine. He may not have posted the best burst numbers in the broad jump or vertical jump, but at his size (with his speed), he’s going to be difficult to tackle.

Losers

Salvon Ahmed (Washington)
He was perceived as someone who’d be a solid change-of-pace running back, though he’d seemingly slow down the pace of the offense after seeing him post a 16th percentile speed score. At just 197 pounds, Ahmed should’ve run sub-4.5 to help his draft stock, but instead, his 4.62 and 4.67 times dragged it down.

Zack Moss (Utah)
There are others who hurt their stock more than Moss at the running back position, though they were never likely going to make it into the Day 2 conversation. Moss is someone who likely could’ve made it there with an impressive Combine performance, but he just didn’t do it. His first 40 time of 4.72 seconds was rather alarming, even though he does weigh 223 pounds. Whether we like it or not, there are NFL teams who value 40 times more than they likely should, which will drag Moss’ stock down.

Wide Receivers

Winners

Justin Jefferson (LSU)
I’d already been extremely high on Jefferson prior to the Combine (was my WR4), but many questioned his overall speed. When he churned out a 4.43-second 40-yard dash, everyone’s fear slowly faded into oblivion. The truth is that Jefferson’s best attribute is his route-running, and that was on full display during the drills. He’s now in the first-round conversation, and rightfully so.

Donovan Peoples-Jones (Michigan)
He didn’t have the opportunity at massive production while at Michigan, but when Peoples-Jones got a chance to shine among his peers, he did. At 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds, he had a ridiculously-high 44.5-inch vertical, a quick 4.48-second 40-yard dash, and an explosive 11-foot-7-inch broad jump. It’s a deep wide receiver class, but Peoples-Jones certainly helped his draft stock at the Combine.

Denzel Mims (Baylor)
When it comes to those who value measurements, Mims knocked them out of the park. He measured in at 6-foot-3 and 207 pounds, which is solid, but then went on to post the third-fastest 40-time (4.38) among receivers, the eighth-highest vertical jump (38.5 inches), fourth-longest broad jump (131 inches), and the fastest 3-cone drill (6.66 seconds) by far. Athletically, there are no questions about Mims.

Side note: We really don’t have to put Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb in here, right?

Losers

Quintez Cephus (Wisconsin)
While he did post the most bench press reps (23) among wide receivers, the number that hurt Cephus’ stock was his lackluster 4.73-second 40-yard dash time. While he wasn’t expected to be a burner, getting into the 4.7s is sure to drop your draft stock, which in turn will drop your immediate opportunity. I still think Cephus is a rock-solid football player, but opportunity is everything.

Jalen Reagor (TCU)
When Reagor showed up to the Combine at 206 pounds, there were many who were surprised at how much he’d bulked up. Unfortunately, it affected his speed quite a bit. There were many (including Reagor) who thought he could get into the low 4.3s or even dip into the high 4.2s, so when you saw 4.47 seconds pop-up on the broadcast, you knew it wasn’t good. Add in a very underwhelming 7.31-second 3-cone drill, and you have someone who hurt his stock at the Combine.

Tight Ends

Winners

Albert Okwuegbunam (Missouri)
I’ve been on a campaign telling everyone that I loved Okwuegbunam last year, as I did his scouting profile thinking he’d enter the draft. Then I watched his 2019 game film and he didn’t appear to have any juice in his game. Well, he proved that there’s still juice in his body when he ran a 4.49-second 40-yard dash at 6-foot-6 and 252 pounds. By comparison, Jalen Reagor ran times of 4.47 and 4.50 seconds. He’s the tight end everyone was talking about at the Combine.

Cole Kmet (Notre Dame)
When Kmet weighed in at 262, it wasn’t shocking considering no one believed his listed weight of 250 pounds was correct. What was shocking, though, was his 4.70-second 40-yard dash at that weight. Only Albert Okwuegbunam, Brycen Hopkins, and Stephen Sullivan ran faster times among tight ends, and all of them weigh at least 10 pounds less than him.

Losers

Jared Pinkney (Vanderbilt)
While speed can be overrated for tight ends, you never want to see them wind-up in the 5.00-second range of the 40-yard dash. Pinkney hit precisely 5.00 on his first run and though he was able to knock it down to 4.96 on his second run, he was the slowest tight end in the competition. While no one expected Pinkney to be fast, the Combine definitely hurt his value.

Offensive Linemen

Winners

Mekhi Becton (Louisville)
We all knew Becton was big, but after measuring in at 6-foot-7 and 364 pounds, and then running a 5.10-second 40-yard dash, he’s getting high first-round buzz. His 40 time was a full 0.08 faster than any other player who’s ever weighed in at 350 or more pounds. There was also word that he checked in with just 17 percent body fat. If that’s true, there’s a whole lot of muscle built on his body.

Netane Muti (Fresno State)
After racking up 44 reps on the bench press, Muti should find himself in the second-round conversation. He didn’t run the 40-yard dash, but that’s an overrated trait for offensive linemen. What Muti did was show his incredible strength, as no other lineman posted more than 37 reps on the bench.

Ezra Cleveland (Boise State)
When you get an offensive lineman who’s 311 pounds and runs a 40-yard dash in 4.93 seconds, it’s going to turn some heads. That time was faster than Vanderbilt tight end Jared Pinkney. His speed score for a guy his size was among the most impressive at the 2020 NFL Combine, which will raise his draft stock. He also hit 30 reps on the bench press, which was the fifth-highest mark among offensive linemen.

Tristan Wirfs (Iowa)
Let’s be clear: When you’re 320 pounds, you’re not supposed to be able to run a sub-five-second 40-yard dash. Not only did Wirfs cross that threshold; he crushed it with a 4.86-second time, the fastest among all offensive linemen. He wasn’t done there, either. He also posted a 36.5-inch vertical, which was two inches better than any other lineman, and a 121-inch broad jump, which was five inches better than any other lineman. He likely solidified a top-10 selection in the draft.

Losers

Trey Adams (Washington)
While the 40 times may be overrated for offensive linemen, Adams’ 5.60-second 40-yard dash was among the worst at his position. You don’t ever want a prospect to be the worst at anything, especially when he’s fighting with others into the Day 2 conversation. Not just that, but Adams continually looked gassed throughout the on-field drills. His stock went down at the Combine.

Defensive Linemen

Winners

Justin Madubuike (Texas A&M)
Not only did he show off his strength when he threw up 31 reps on the bench press (4th among linemen), but he also flashed great athleticism when he made it through the 40-yard dash in just 4.83 seconds at 293 pounds.

Jonathan Garvin (Miami)
I’ll admit that I didn’t pay very much attention to Garvin prior to the Combine, but after his performance this weekend, I’ll be going back to take a second look. Among the defensive linemen working out, he finished No. 1 with a 36-inch vertical, No. 2 with a 125-inch broad jump, and No. 9 with a 4.82-second 40-yard dash. It’s clear that he’s among the best athletes entering the draft.

Losers

A.J. Epenesa (Iowa)
The strength of his game is supposed to be… his strength. After putting up just 17 reps on the bench press, which was the lowest among defensive linemen, his best attribute will be questioned. By comparison, 5-foot-11 wide receiver Jalen Reagor hit 17 reps on the bench press. There were 10 tight ends who topped 17 reps.

Trevon Hill (Miami)
He’s not someone who was fighting his way into the first-round conversation but had an outside chance at getting into the Day 2 conversation. After weighing in at just 248 pounds, Hill needed to show some athleticism to make up for his lack of size, but he failed to do so. His 4.89-second 40-yard dash, 28-inch vertical, and 113-inch broad jump were all far below what was expected.

Linebackers

Winners

Isaiah Simmons (Clemson)
Remember when everyone talked about Jonathan Taylor running a 4.39-second 40-yard dash on Friday night at 226 pounds? Yeah, well, Simmons one-upped him on Saturday when he ran the same exact time at 6-foot-4 and 238 pounds. He can play any position on the field and his speed score proved that. It also didn’t hurt that he jumped 39 inches and had a 132-inch broad jump. His stock is surely top-10 and he may have moved into the top-three conversation.

Davion Taylor (Colorado)
I was someone who didn’t think Taylor was getting enough love coming into the Combine, but that shouldn’t be the case anymore. Not only did he notch a 4.50-second 40-yard dash, highlighting his ability to easily hang with tight ends and most running backs, but he also showed his burst when he hit 127 inches in the broad jump (4th among linebackers), and finished the 3-cone drill in 6.96 seconds (4th among linebackers). He surely moved up draft boards this weekend.

Losers

Michael Divinity (LSU)
There’s been a lot of question marks surrounding Divinity and his suspension(s) last year, so he needed to detract the attention to what he can do on the field. He failed to do that, and in fact, he hurt his draft stock while running a 4.85-second 40-yard dash at 242 pounds and putting up just 14 reps on the bench press. His draft stock continues to tumble.

Defensive Backs

Winners

Jeremy Chinn (Southern Illinois)
He simply broke the Combine for defensive backs. His 4.45-second 40-yard dash was among the tops at his position, while his 41-inch vertical and 131-inch broad jump (third all-time among safeties) were both top-two among all defensive backs. Chinn may not have played at a high-profile school, but after the Combine, he’s a high-profile prospect.

Javelin Guidry (Utah)
There have been 14 prospects who’ve run a sub-4.3-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Not only did Guidry hit 4.29, but he was the first one to hit 21 reps on the bench press, too. That shows he’s got strength to match his speed, and that should force scouts/evaluators back to the film room to take another look at his on-field performance.

Losers

Xavier McKinney (Alabama)
Sure, McKinney was dealing with cramps, which makes it difficult to say he hurt his stock too much, but knowing what was at stake, he was one of the biggest movers in the wrong direction. There is a close race for the top safety in this year’s class, and McKinney is one of them. His first run at the 40-yard dash netted a less-than-stellar 4.63 seconds, which surely didn’t help his stock. His 122-inch broad jump was the eighth-lowest mark among defensive backs, while his 36-inch vertical was very middle-of-the-pack. His stock took a hit on Sunday.


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Mike Tagliere is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeTagliereNFL.

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