Sleeper Prospects Who Boosted Their Draft Stocks at the Combine
The NFL Scouting Combine is the ultimate stage for competitors. The best of the best are gathered together to show their athletic traits, interview, and receive medical evaluations. They are also compared to each other side by side in every aspect as teams try to finalize grades and answer any last questions before the final stretch before the draft.
For some players, these lights may be too bright, or something may come up in medical evaluations and interviews that hurt their stocks. For others, this is the moment they have been waiting for their whole lives and they completely dominate the opportunity and in the end vault up draft boards and fill their bank accounts accordingly.
Let’s take a look at those great performances by taking a look at five prospects who came in as sleepers at their position and then blew everyone away with their performance.
Willie Gay Jr. (LB – Mississippi State)
Combine Workout: 40 Time- 4.46 seconds, Vertical Jump- 39.5″, Broad Jump- 11’4″
Willie Gay Jr. burst onto the scene Saturday of the Combine. He proved to be an athletic freak posting the second-best 40 time and vertical jump along with the best broad jump. He came out of nowhere it seemed, and now looks to be the perfect modern-day linebacker for the NFL. A perfect blend of strength and athleticism in space.
Based off Gay’s usage on film and his off the field concerns many people kind of waved him off and figured he would be a priority free agent for teams. Post combine Gay looks like one of the most athletic LBs we have seen in recent years and actually was neck and neck with one of the best players in the draft in Isaiah Simmons. At this point, Gay appears to have gone from undrafted to a day two lock.
Denzel Mims (WR – Baylor)
Combine Workout: Three Cone Drill- 6.66 seconds, Broad Jump: 10’11”, 40 Time 4.38 seconds
It might be a stretch that Mims is a “sleeper” because he has had a great draft cycle, but even while having a great draft season he came into the Combine ranked around WR10 for many members of the draft community. My biggest issue with his film was that he reminded me of D.K. Metcalf in that he seemed to have trouble with change of direction. Then at the combine, he came out and dominated not only the straight-line testing but was also very good in the three-cone drill that shows change of direction.
Mims is the hottest prospect after the week in Indianapolis. He has gone from a late-round two-three prospect all the way up to a potential first-round pick. It has been a meteoric rise for Mims.
Cleveland really surprised me. He demonstrated strong technique in positional drills and was so smooth throughout the whole workout. He also proved that he has a very good blend of overall strength and athleticism by posting a top-five finish in the bench press and 40-yard dash as well as the best finish in the three-cone drill.
Coming into the combine Ezra was a late day two-early day-three prospect. With his showing on Friday night of the Combine Cleveland looks to have secured a spot in day two and has put himself into competition for the best available OT outside of the top five or six prospects.
Darrynton Evans (RB – Appalachian State)
Combine Workout: 40 Time- 4.41 seconds, Broad Jump- 10’5″, Bench Press- 20 reps
Evans came in as a smaller school prospect out of Appalachian State and left no doubt that he belonged. He posted the second-fastest 40-yard dash and the fifth-best broad jump. Evans also had a great weigh-in. Coming in over 200 and performing how he did answers any questions about whether he can play while having the size of a starting RB in the NFL. He also looked smooth in on-field drills showing light feet and the ability to be a reliable receiver.
The running back position doesn’t bring with it the highest demand, but he seems to be the perfect change of pace/third-down back in a backfield committee. That’s great news as that seems to be the way teams are handling their backfields. I’m not confident he gets into day two of the draft, but I am confident he will be selected day three and will have the chance to be a difference-maker.
Khalil Davis (IDL – Nebraska)
Combine Workout: 40 Time- 4.75 seconds, Bench Press- 32 reps
Davis has managed to somehow stay under the radar a bit, yet have a really successful pre-draft process. It started at the East-West Shrine Week where he might have been the best player on the field. Then he came to Indianapolis and continued to show that he is one of the most athletically gifted interior defensive linemen in the draft pool. Davis ran one of the best 40 times for a defensive lineman ever. He also showed that he has the strength for the position by putting up 32 reps on the bench. We have reached the point where he can no longer be a hidden gem. It is time to start putting the respect on Khalil’s name that he has earned throughout this process, especially at the combine. For me, Davis has earned the right to be the first prospect from the East-West Shrine Game drafted and should also be a Top 100 pick; securing a day two selection.