NFL Draft Prospects 2023: Day 3 Winners Include Nolan Smith, Adetomiwa Adebawore

    Northwestern's Adetomiwa Adebawore and Iowa's Jack Campbell lead the list of NFL draft prospects who stood out as winners at the NFL Combine on Thursday.

    Which 2023 NFL Draft prospects raised their stock during Thursday’s events and testing drills? Here are some of the risers from the NFL Combine‘s first day of testing, with defensive tackles, defensive ends, and linebackers all gracing the list.

    Thursday Winners at the NFL Combine

    Nolan Smith, EDGE | Georgia

    The least surprising top performer of the day was Georgia’s Nolan Smith. Smith was a five-star recruit out of high school, with a documented 40-yard dash in the 4.4 range and a vertical jump over 40″. All he did was confirm the rare traits he possesses on Thursday.

    At 6’2″, 238 pounds, Smith ran the fastest 40-yard dash of the day at 4.39, with a lightning-quick 1.52 10-yard split. He also added a soaring 41.5″ vertical for good measure, and a 10’8″ broad jump.

    MORE: 2023 NFL Combine Results — 40-Yard Dash, Vertical, 3-Cone, and More

    Smith’s profile still carries some uncertainty with his weight and sub-33″ arms. But if you’re a team that values athleticism to mold, he brings it to the highest degree, and he crushed interviews, too.

    Jack Campbell, LB | Iowa

    Given how wide-open the 2023 NFL Draft linebacker class is, Jack Campbell came into Thursday’s session with plenty to gain. He’s a productive, high-character LB with great size, and phenomenal testing would be the cherry on top for an almost foolproof draft profile.

    It’s safe to say Campbell aced the testing portion, looking back. With an unofficial 20-yard split result, Campbell recorded a Relative Athletic Score (RAS) of 9.98. Among the contributing numbers: A 4.65 40-yard dash with a 1.58 10-yard split, a 37.5″ vertical, a 10’8″ broad jump, and an elite 6.74 three-cone time at 6’5″, 248 pounds.

    These are the kinds of numbers that, when combined with character, can fuel a surprise first-round rise.

    Calijah Kancey, DT | Pittsburgh

    If you weren’t a fan of the Calijah Kancey-Aaron Donald comps before, I have bad news for you. They won’t stop now. Measuring in at 6’1″, 281 pounds, Kancey ran a blistering 4.67 40-yard dash with a 95th-percentile 1.64 10-yard split.

    Kancey didn’t participate in any agility or explosiveness drills, which rendered his RAS incomplete. But the speed alone, at his size, is emblematic of his rare athleticism. His time beat Aaron Donald’s by one-hundredth of a second and was the fastest time by a DT on record — until…

    Adetomiwa Adebawore, DL | Northwestern

    Part of your interpretation of Adetomiwa Adebawore‘s testing performance depends on whether you consider him a defensive tackle or an EDGE prospect. Either way, you’re going to be completely and totally awestruck once you see the numbers.

    Considering that Adebawore weighed in heavier than Kancey at 282 pounds, viewing him as a 3-tech is reasonable. At that size, with 34″ arms, Adebawore logged a 4.49 40-yard dash, a 37.5″ vertical, and a 10’5″ broad jump. Those are truly out-of-this-world numbers, and they could further fuel an ascent that started with a dominant Senior Bowl showing.

    Moro Ojomo, DT | Texas

    Throughout the process, 2023 NFL Draft prospect Moro Ojomo has been coaxing more and more evaluators to look his way. He did this by dominating the East-West Shrine Bowl in 1-on-1s and did it again at the NFL Combine with his size-adjusted testing results.

    Ojomo’s measurements alone stood out. Standing at 6’3″, 293 pounds, with massive 34.5″ arms, Ojomo has an excellent build. With his frame, he registered a 5.04 40-yard dash, a 9’4″ broad jump, and a 93rd-percentile 33″ vertical jump. Ojomo’s combined explosiveness and power profile make him a very enticing prospect.

    Lukas Van Ness, EDGE | Iowa

    Ever since he first declared as a redshirt sophomore, there have been whispers that Lukas Van Ness was due to skyrocket up the board. His testing was predicted to be a prime component in that rise, and after the fact, we can now confirm this to be true.

    First and foremost, Van Ness is exactly as big as advertised. He measured in at 6’5″, 272 pounds, with 34″ arms. He put up a 4.58 40-yard dash (98th percentile among defensive ends), along with a 9’10” broad jump and a stellar 7.02 three-cone. The top selling point with Van Ness has always been his tools, and they should sell most evaluators on his potential.

    Jalen Redmond, DT | Oklahoma

    Jalen Redmond is one prospect who’s truly flown under the radar to this point. Despite notable production — 14 sacks and 29 tackles for loss in his final three playing seasons at Oklahoma –, Redmond hasn’t generated much buzz. That’s sure to change after his showing at the NFL Combine.

    MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Defensive Tackle Class

    At 6’2″, 291 pounds, Redmond flew down the track with a 4.81 40-yard dash. He also paced defensive tackles in the explosiveness drills, earning a 9’8″ broad jump and a positional-best 34.5″ vertical. His strong agility numbers sealed the deal on his impressive outing.

    Zacch Pickens, DT | South Carolina

    Much like Smith in the EDGE group, Zacch Pickens‘ strong Combine showing could have been predicted. Pickens was a five-star recruit out of high school and flashed high-end athletic ability on tape all through his time at South Carolina.

    Measuring in at 6’4″, 291 pounds, with 34 3/8″ arms, Pickens came in with a superb 4.89 40-yard dash and also logged a 7.45 three-cone and a 9’8″ broad jump. His composite numbers — with the 20-yard split pending — gave him a RAS of 9.54. Add in his tape, which is solid to begin with, and Pickens should keep rising through the coming months.

    Isaiah Land, EDGE | Florida A&M

    The HBCU ranks had an exceptional representative during Thursday’s Combine events in Florida A&M’s Isaiah Land. Land — who won the FCS Defensive Player of the Year award in 2021 after amassing 19 sacks and 25.5 tackles for loss — tested as one of the most athletic defensive ends in Indianapolis.

    At 6’3 1/2″ and 236 pounds, with sub-33″ arms, Land’s size may be a sticking point for some teams. But there’s no denying his speed and burst off the ball. He ran a 4.62 40-yard dash and also added a 34.5″ vertical and a 10’6″ broad jump. That broad jump, in particular, is a 96th-percentile figure.

    Anfernee Orji, LB | Vanderbilt

    Anfernee Orji remains one of the most intriguing sleeper prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft LB class. He’s a former safety who cracked the 100-tackle mark in 2022 and made waves at the Shrine Bowl with his closing speed, physicality, and playmaking ability in coverage. His numbers won’t pour any cold water on his stock.

    Measuring at 6’1″, 230 pounds, with 32″ arms, Orji recorded a wicked 4.53 40-yard dash with a 1.57 10-yard split. That 40 time was nearly 96th percentile, but Orji also logged a 38.5″ vertical, a 10’2″ broad jump, and a three-cone of 7.00. He’s athletic and productive, and those are two crucial boxes to check for an LB.

    Honorable Mentions

    • LB Dorian Williams, Tulane
    • LB Jeremy Banks, Tennessee
    • DT Gervon Dexter, Florida
    • EDGE Byron Young, Tennessee
    • LB Yasir Abdullah, Louisville
    • LB Owen Pappoe, Auburn
    • EDGE YaYa Diaby, Louisville
    • LB Dee Winters, TCU
    • LB Shaka Heyward, Duke
    • EDGE DJ Johnson, Oregon

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