The NFL Combine was the stage for 2023 NFL Draft prospects to prove themselves this past weekend. Which prospects took advantage of the opportunity to the highest degree, and did any prospects underwhelm and potentially hurt their stock? Let’s dive into the results.
Biggest Risers From the NFL Combine
Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
Anthony Richardson was already a first-round lock before the Combine. But now, he’ll get the credence he deserves as a potential No. 1 overall pick. Richardson had a 4.43 40-yard dash, a 40.5″ vertical, and a 10’9″ broad jump, all at 6’4″, 244 pounds.
The NFL simply hasn’t seen an athlete like Richardson at QB before. We’re in uncharted territory, and that’s exciting.
Deneric Prince, RB, Tulsa
In an RB class that features many different player types, Deneric Prince has the traits to potentially blend multiple styles together. He has workhorse size at 6’0″, 216 pounds, with blazing 4.41 speed and exceptional explosiveness figures as well. Combine that with his flashes as a receiver at the Shrine Bowl, and Prince should move up teams’ boards.
Bryce Ford-Wheaton, WR, West Virginia
A lot of receivers tested well, but no receiver at the Combine put together a more complete testing performance than West Virginia’s Bryce Ford-Wheaton. His 4.38 speed, 41″ vertical, 10’9″ broad jump, and strong agility numbers all came at 6’4″, 221 pounds — teasing an overwhelming combination of size and athleticism for NFL teams to mold.
Zack Kuntz, TE, Old Dominion
Once viewed as a Day 3 sleeper, Zack Kuntz may have worked his way into top 100 territory at the Combine. Kuntz now owns the top Relative Athletic Score (RAS) all-time among tight ends, with 4.55 speed, a 40″ vertical, a 10’8″ broad jump, and a 6.87 three-cone at 6’7 3/8″ and 255 pounds. He’s a dangerous seam weapon with rare athleticism.
Blake Freeland, OT, BYU
At 6’8′, 302 pounds, Blake Freeland ran a sub-5.00 40-yard dash. Even more notably, Freeland set a Combine record among offensive linemen with a 37″ vertical and also logged a 10′ broad jump. It’s not news that Freeland is explosive, but the numbers put in context just how athletic he is. This is a performance that could make him a surprise Round 1 pick.
Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
There will be varying opinions about Nolan Smith‘s stock, especially taking into account his below-average size. But there’s officially no denying that Smith is as explosive as they come off the edge.
Smith ran a 4.39 40-yard dash with an absurd 1.52 10-yard split, and also had a 41.5″ vertical. With those numbers, he may have punched his ticket into Round 1.
Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa
Don’t be surprised if some teams have Jack Campbell as LB1. Some might’ve had that even before the Combine, but Campbell’s testing blew everyone away.
At almost 6’5″ and 249 pounds, Campbell has truly rare testing agility and burst, and his 4.65 speed is more than enough for his size. Add in his interviews, and Campbell could be another Round 1 surprise.
Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
Ahead of the NFL Combine, Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline said to keep an eye on Deonte Banks. Banks legitimized the hype with a 9.99 RAS, which included a 4.35 40-yard dash, a 42″ vertical, and an 11’6″ broad jump at 6’0″, 197 pounds.
Banks is fast, explosive, fluid, and physical, and could very well crack the top 31 after Indianapolis.
Jartavius Martin, S, Illinois
Jartavius Martin has long commanded respect as one of the more versatile defenders in the 2023 NFL Draft, but his Combine performance made many reconsider his ranking. Martin’s 44″ vertical was the best in the class, and he also had 4.46 speed and an 11’1″ broad jump. To top it off, Martin was extremely fluid and twitchy in drills — looking like a top-100 talent.
Daniel Scott, S, California
If you’re looking for a traditional safety who can play two-high or single-high, Daniel Scott is one option who’s ascending fast. Scott has the production and the football IQ, and at 6’1″, 208 pounds, with 4.45 speed, a 39.5″ vertical, a 10’8″ broad jump, and a 6.75 three-cone, he’s also an incredible athlete. In this safety class, nothing is stopping Scott from surging.
Biggest Fallers From the NFL Combine
Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU
Kayshon Boutte has confidence in himself, and that’s a crucial part of playing wide receiver. But there have been off-field whispers, and a subpar testing performance at merely 195 pounds won’t help smooth the waters. Boutte’s 29″ vertical jump is in just the fifth percentile among WRs all-time. He’s a candidate to fall far past preseason predictions.
Christopher Smith, S, Georgia
We should preface by saying this: Christopher Smith is absolutely a good football player, who shows more functional athleticism on tape and should be safely drafted in April. But overall, at 5’10 5/8″ and 192 pounds, his numbers — a 4.62 40-yard dash, a 33″ vertical, and a 9’8″ broad jump — were noticeably underwhelming. He’ll slide a bit after this.
Brandon Joseph, S, Notre Dame
One of Brandon Joseph‘s top selling points to this point has been his coverage athleticism and playmaking ability. He’s still a bit raw operationally and inconsistent in run support. With that context, average testing won’t help him much down the road. Joseph’s burst numbers, in particular, were concerning at a position where quick acceleration is paramount.
Tavion Thomas, RB, Utah
With his size and physicality, Tavion Thomas should be able to earn a spot in a deep rotation in the NFL. But Thomas’ Combine showing didn’t help his case in a strong running back class. At around 6’0″, 237 pounds, Thomas ran a 4.74 40-yard dash and was poor in explosiveness testing, with just a 30″ vertical. The margin for error is slim in this RB group.
Deuce Vaughn, RB, Kansas State
Deuce Vaughn is on this list for one reason only: He’s 5’5″, 179 pounds. Vaughn is a very good football player, who looked phenomenal in drills and didn’t test poorly. But that size is simply too much of an outlier to work against, from a draft capital perspective. He’ll likely fall to Day 3, but Vaughn does have the talent to surprise people once he’s in the league.
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