Winners and losers from Day 2 of NFL Combine
Workouts for the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine began Thursday with quarterbacks, tight ends and receivers taking the spotlight. They continued Friday with running backs, offensive linemen and specialists.
LSU’s Joe Burrow, the 2019 Heisman Trophy winner and projected No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, chose not to throw during his workout. Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins also chose not to work out, and neither will Ohio State defensive lineman Chase Young.
2020 NFL COMBINE:
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There still are more than enough storylines to follow at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, however. Sporting News is tracking the winners and losers from the NFL Combine. Here is a look after Day 2 of workouts:
NFL Combine winners & losers
Friday, Feb. 28: Running backs, offensive linemen and specialists
Winner: Jonathan Taylor
Taylor was a prolific running back in college, rushing for 6,174 yards and 42 touchdowns for Wisconsin. He increased his stock with a 4.39 in the 40-yard dash and backed that up with a 36-inch vertical jump. Taylor’s performance was the talk of the running back workouts. He could be the first running back drafted as a result.
Loser: Zack Moss
Moss ran a 4.65 in the 40-yard dash, a time he will have to improve on at his pro day. Moss did hit 19 on the bench press. The 40 isn’t everything, but that time might have dropped the Utah standout to the Round 4 range.
Winner: Cam Akers
Akers was a five-star running back who had two 1,000-yard seasons at Florida State, and that talent might be better realized at the next level. He ran a 4.47 in the 40-yard dash, a great time for a 217-pound back. He also finished with a 20 in the bench press.
Winner: Tristan Wirfs
The Iowa tackle put on a show and made it difficult for teams to pass on him. He ran a 4.85 in the 40-yard dash and led all linemen with a 36.5-inch vertical jump. He added 24 reps in the bench press. He comes from the steady pipeline of Hawkeyes tackles and should be able to parlay his Combine workout into a first-round position.
Winner: Mekhi Becton
Becton, a 6-7, 364-pound tackle, became a trending topic in Indianapolis when it was revealed he had 17 percent body fat. Becton then ran a 5.10 in the 40-yard dash, which shows the big man can move. If there was any doubt that the Louisville tackle was a top-10 prospect, then he erased that. Becton did miss a large part of the field portion after exiting with leg tightness. The buzz he created, however, should carry over to the draft.
Loser: Trey Adams
Adams already comes with health concerns, and he ran a 5.6 in the 40-yard dash and did not bench press. The Washington tackle has talent, but he might slide to Day 2 — or even Day 3 — based on an underwhelming Combine performance.
Winner: Charlie Heck
Sporting News profiled the 6-8, 311-pound tackle from North Carolina last season, and he predictably tested well and showed good movement for his size. Heck hit a 21 on the bench press and ran a 5.16 in the 40-yard dash. Given the bloodline — he is the son of Chiefs offensive line coach Andy Heck — there is potential draft value here.
Loser: Tough injuries
Becton was not the only player who left with an injury. Arizona State’s Cohl Cabral and LSU’s Lloyd Cushenberry both left after the 40-yard dash. It was especially painful to watch Cushenberry, who was an emerging prospect throughout the week, go down. He should be able to compensate for that at LSU’s pro day.
Thursday, Feb. 27: Quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends
Winners: Chase Claypool
Claypool, a 6-4, 238-pound receiver from Notre Dame, was the talk of Day 1. He improved his stock by running a 4.42 on his second 40-yard dash to go with 19 reps in the bench press and a 40.5-inch vertical jump. His enticing potential as a wideout/tight end hybrid could push him into first-round consideration for a team looking to create mismatches.
Chase Claypool runs a 4.43 🤯 pic.twitter.com/PsrNeo2dc2
— Notre Dame Fanpage (@Insidetheirish) February 28, 2020
He wasn’t the only former Fighting Irish pass-catcher who impressed. Tight end Cole Kmet ran a 4.7 and led all tight ends with a 37-inch vertical. Even Chris Finke, a potential slot receiver, ran a 4.57 with a 40-inch vertical. It’s a nod to the program’s player development under Brian Kelly.
Winner: Jalen Hurts
Hurts made it clear in the interview portion that he will play quarterback at the next level. He then showed why in his workout . He ran a 4.54 in the 40, the fastest at the position. His footwork and delivery looked polished during the workout portion. The Heisman Trophy finalist did not look all that different than the other quarterbacks in his group, which included Oregon’s Justin Herbert and Georgia’s Jake Fromm.
High praise for @JalenHurts as he goes through the drills in Indy #OUDNA
📺 #NFLCombine on @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/PxntJKbOq8
— Oklahoma Football (@OU_Football) February 28, 2020
Loser: QBs looking to go third
Burrow and Tagovailoa are generally considered the first two QBs who will go off the board; the others did not jump off the page enough to clinch being third. Herbert remains the best bet after a solid performance. Fromm was consistent and Eason was decent. Utah State’s Jordan Love had the best night of the bunch, though, and might be that third quarterback in the end. None of those quarterbacks were off the charts, however. That means there could be some surprises on draft night after Burrow and Tagovailoa.
Winner: Albert Okwuegbunam
This is not a jaw-dropping tight end class, but the Missouri tight end provided the first eye-opening moment with a 4.49 in the 40. That is the fourth-fastest time by a tight end since 2003, and it’s in elite company with Vernon Davis, who ran a 4.38 in 2006 and became the No. 6 pick in that year’s draft. Okwuegbunam’s production for the Tigers declined with each season after a breakout freshman year in which he caught 11 touchdowns. He had 23 career TDs on just 98 catches, though, and an impressive workout should vault him up draft boards.
Winner: Justin Jefferson
Jefferson, one of the Burrow’s favorite targets at LSU last season, flashed at the right time. The 6-1, 202-pound receiver ran a 4.43 in the 40 and stood out in the on-field portion. That will make him an attractive addition to any offense. Jefferson had 111 catches for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns for the 2019 national champions. He won’t need those $100 bills from Odell Beckham Jr. going forward; Jefferson will be making more than enough money soon.
Losers: Harrison Bryant and Adam Trautman
These sleepers did not take advantage of the spotlight. Bryant won the Mackey Award last year as the nation’s top tight end after wrapping a fantastic career with Florida Atlantic. He ran a 4.73 in the 40 and managed 13 in the bench press, totals that might cause teams to hesitate. Trautman has the reputation of being a hidden gem after catching 23 touchdowns at FCS Dayton the last two seasons, but he ran a 4.8 in the 40 and hit 18 on the bench press. He did have a 6.78 in the three-cone drill, which was the best among tight ends. Both prospects might have to wait a little longer than expected on draft night.
Winner: Henry Ruggs III and Jerry Jeudy
Ruggs didn’t break the 40-yard dash record, but he clocked in at 4.28 and 4.31, respectively , on his two runs. Ruggs suffered a quad injury in the process, but that shouldn’t affect his status. Jeudy, who was Alabama’s most consistent receiver the past two years, ran a 4.45. That was faster than Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb, who ran a 4.50. Crimson Tide receivers have a proven track record with stars such as Julio Jones and Amari Cooper, and Ruggs and Jeudy both figure to join those two as first-rounders.
Loser: Laviska Shenault
Shenault was a stud at Colorado, but he did not have a great performance at the NFL Combine. He ran a 4.59 on his first try and didn’t run a second time. Shenault appeared to suffer an injury, which would allow him some wiggle room. He can make up for it at Colorado’s pro day, but in a draft flush with receiver talent, this performance might lead to a slip down the board.
Saturday, Feb. 29: Linebackers, defensive linemen
(Winners and losers among linebackers, defensive linemen will be added upon conclusion of Saturday night’s workouts.)
Sunday, March 1: Defensive backs
(Winners and losers among defensive backs will be added upon conclusion of Sunday’s workouts.)
Related slideshow: Best Photos of the NFL Combine (provided by imagn)
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