After a week of being poked and prodded, a week of lifting, running, jumping and being grilled, NFL hopefuls can finally put the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine in their rear-view mirror.
While the combine isn’t the end all, be all when it comes to evaluating talent, it does serve a valuable service. Interviews are critically important, and so is comporting oneself in a professional manner. The latter proved problematic for one of our biggest losers from the combine, which we’ll get to a bit later.
Of course, there are instances when putting up jaw-dropping numbers actually does vault players into the upper echelon of draft prospects, which we saw a few times over the course of the long weekend.
And other times, these types of performances just cement the status of players who were already considered to be the best of the best. This absolutely rings true for the consensus No. 1 player, Myles Garrett, who put on an awe inspiring performance on Sunday.
Taking a look at the past week, these were the biggest winners and losers from the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine.
Winner: Forrest Lamp, offensive lineman, Western Kentucky
Western Kentucky OT Forrest Lamp Scouting Report pic.twitter.com/A4vO1cgh02
— 2017 NFL Draft (@DraftRT) March 3, 2017
Don’t be surprised to see this former Hilltoppers offensive tackle called up to the podium in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
A player some scouts have had on their radar as a potential star offensive guard at the NFL level, Forrest Lamp proved he belongs among the draft’s top offensive linemen with a strong combine.
He wowed with his strength on Thursday, putting up 34 reps on the bench, which was the second-most among offensive linemen this year. Then Lamp posted a very respectable 40-yard dash time of five seconds flat (fourth-best), tied for third with a broad jump of 111 inches (something that shows off his explosion) and tied for fifth in the 3-cone drill with a time of 7.55 seconds.
Furthermore, Lamp was phenomenal moving around on the field doing drills.
All these tests do is further prove that Lamp is one of the top offensive linemen in the nation heading into the 2017 NFL Draft. He dominated at left tackle for three-plus years at Western Kentucky and has the strength, athleticism and agility to take his skills to the next level as a guard.
Loser: Corey Clement, running back, Wisconsin
Nobody expected to see Corey Clement burning up the track Friday. He was a power back at Wisconsin and isn’t ever going to run away from defensive backs in the open field. Still, we also didn’t expect to see him finish among the worst of the worst in the 40-yard dash, either. In fact, only two running backs and two fullbacks ran slower.
Corey Clement with a 4.68, yuck.
— Ian Kenyon (@IanKenyonNFL) March 3, 2017
Clement also didn’t exactly wow in the two jumps, which test explosion, and he lumbered around during on-field drills. For a guy who showed up to the combine at 220 pounds, Clement looked like he was wearing cement shoes. Contrast his performance to that of Leonard Fournette, who weighed 20 pounds more, and the gap between the two players is stark.
Coupled with his injury history at Wisconsin, Clement’s performance at the combine might have dropped him well into the bottom half of the draft.
Winner: Christian McCaffrey, running back, Stanford
Everyone was talking about Fournette’s 40 time Friday, but one player who wowed even more overall was Stanford product Christian McCaffrey.
Let’s just say he was pretty fly for a white guy. He posted a top-five 40-yard dash time of 4.48 seconds, tying lightning in a bottle Donnel Pumphrey out of San Diego State. He also notched top marks in the vertical, 3-cone drill, 20-yard and 60-yard shuttles.
In fact, McCaffrey’s time of 6.57 seconds in the 3-cone was the second-fastest of any running back since 2003, per NFL Research.
286 running backs have participated in the 3-cone drill at the combine since 2003
Only 1 completed it faster than Christian McCaffrey pic.twitter.com/6oz8yqfuwQ
— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) March 3, 2017
Now, workout warriors fail at the NFL level all the time. But McCaffrey’s not a guy who is coming out of nowhere with these numbers. He put them on display every single weekend playing for the Cardinal.
And on top of his measurables, McCaffrey was — by far — the most fluid running back during the field drills. His ability to change direction on a dime is unrivaled among this draft class, as is his ability to catch the ball. He likely vaulted himself into the first round with his strong performance and appears to be the ideal back for today’s NFL game.
Loser: Cooper Kupp, wide receiver, Eastern Washington
Let’s get this out of the way first: Cooper Kupp might become a tremendous receiver in the NFL. That said, he did himself no favors at the combine.
Only eight receivers ran slower than Kupp, who posted a 40-yard dash time of 4.62 seconds. It was a crushing blow to his draft stock.
Now, it’s important to note that many receivers have posted slow 40 times only to become NFL stars. And it’s not like we don’t have tape showing Kupp can get separation with his quickness, which he did show with a solid 3-cone time of 6.75 seconds.
But what Kupp’s combine performance did is typecast him as a pure slot specialist at the next level. That will drop his value in the draft, which is the opposite of what any player wants to accomplish coming into the combine.
Winner: John Ross, wide receiver, Washington
No. John Ross didn’t win an island. But he did break the NFL combine record with a 40-yard time of 4.22 seconds.
— NFL (@NFL) March 4, 2017
He also had a hilarious take on not winning the island because he wore Nike shoes, rather than Adidas, which sponsored the contest.
Ross also posted a top-five vertical of 37 inches and tied for third with a broad jump of 133 inches. His speed/explosion numbers are off the charts, and they certainly vaulted him into the top half of the draft, if he wasn’t already there to begin with.
Coupled with his ability to make defensive backs look silly with his agility and precise route-running abilities, Ross appears to have the makings of an NFL superstar.
Loser: DeShone Kizer, quarterback, Notre Dame
The combine wasn’t all bad for Kizer, who garnered tremendous praise from new San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch after his interview with the club. He also posted respectable numbers in all the measureable drills he competed in, though he wasn’t exceptional in any besides the 3-cone.
However, what we saw from Kizer on the field during the throwing portion of the combine left a lot to be desired. His footwork was inconsistent, he was terribly inaccurate, often throwing behind receivers, which translates to interceptions at the next level (more on all that here).
For a quarterback who has been viewed as potentially the first one taken in the upcoming draft, Kizer’s performance was not helpful. Coupled with his inconsistent accuracy last year at Notre Dame, not to mention his late-game mistakes, it gives NFL evaluators a lot of negative stuff to sort through.
Kizer will almost certainly be drafted at some point in the first round. However, he had a chance to prove he’s the cream of the crop in Indianapolis this past weekend and went the opposite direction.
Winner: Haason Reddick, linebacker, Temple
Haason Reddick spent the past three seasons at Temple chasing down quarterbacks as a defensive end.
He’ll still have a chance to do that in the NFL, but he’s likely not going to make his living on the edge. Rather, the 6-foot-1, 234-pound defender projects best as an inside linebacker at the NFL level. Blessed with elite speed and agility, Reddick is going to be a monster operating in space and attacking the football.
Sunday, he blew scouts away both in the measurables portion of his workout and on the field doing drills.
Running with defensive linemen, since that was his position in college, Reddick posted the fastest 40 time of anyone (4.52 seconds), had the third-highest vertical (36.5 inches), the longest broad jump (133 inches) and was just outside the top five in the three-cone drill, which tests short-area burst and agility.
A guy who was pretty much a lock as a late-first rounder heading into the combine, Reddick could see himself called to the podium in Philadelphia this April in the top half of Round 1.
Loser: Reuben Foster, linebacker, Alabama
Perhaps no player lost more at the combine than former Crimson Tide linebacker Reuben Foster, who didn’t even get a chance to compete in a single drill.
It wasn’t a medical issue that sent Foster home. Instead, he threw a fit when he couldn’t stand waiting in line for his medical exam, reportedly pulling the “do you know who I am?” card (more on that here).
After threatening to lay hands on the medical worker who wouldn’t give in to Foster’s demands, he was not surprisingly booted from the combine.
Foster has sent an apology letter to NFL teams for what he called a “misunderstanding,” per Kimberly Jones of NFL Media. He has invited teams to visit him at Alabama Tuesday morning so he can explain his side of the story and answer any questions they have.
A player many have pegged as a top-10 pick, Foster’s combine antics have likely significantly impacted his draft stock in a negative way.
Winner: Myles Garrett, defensive end, Texas A&M
The word dominant is thrown around an awful lot these days when evaluating top NFL talent. But former Aggies star pass rusher Myles Garrett redefined the term on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium, posting numbers that should be impossible for a man of his size (6-foot-5 and 272 pounds).
Before we share those numbers, this is all you really need to know about how impressive Garrett’s combine was: Nobody was talking about John Ross breaking the combine 40-yard-dash record, just one day removed from his extraordinary feat.
Now, to the stats.
Myles Garrett's Combine Stats:
6’4”, 272 lbs.
33 bench reps
4.64s 40-yard dash
10’8” broad jump pic.twitter.com/bq0Bv9LAZ0
— NFL Stats (@NFL_Stats) March 5, 2017
Garrett was already the consensus top player in the 2017 NFL Draft well before players arrived at Lucas Oil Stadium. What he did on the field makes what normally is a tough decision easy for the Cleveland Browns at No. 1 overall — just take Garrett and do a happy dance.
Loser: Jonathan Allen unimpressive in workouts, medical issue a cause for concern
Considered by most draft analysts as a top-five lock heading into the combine, a couple of issues could drop Jonathan Allen’s stock significantly.
The first issue, which is much more pressing as far as teams are concerned, is that Allen’s medical showed he has an arthritic shoulder. Not surprisingly, Allen brushed this issue aside and told reporters he isn’t concerned about longevity in the NFL.
“The shoulder feels good. Every doctor said if there’s a problem, it’s after football, way after football. I have no concerns with it at all,” Allen said at the NFL Scouting Combine, per Chase Goodbread of NFL.com. “… They said I have some arthritis in my left shoulder. It’s not really a problem now, but it might be a problem 15, 20 years down the road so I’m not worried about that right now. I’m worried about playing good for whichever team I go to.”
Unfortunately for Allen, while he doesn’t see it as a concern NFL teams reportedly do.
Talking to scouts about Jonathan Allen. Definite concerns about shoulders. Feeling he'll drop to 12-17 range.
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) March 5, 2017
On top of that comes the secondary issue, which is that Allen wasn’t all that impressive in drills or on the field during the combine. He was among the slowest defensive linemen on the track (five seconds flat), wasn’t particularly strong on the bench (21 reps) and wasn’t explosive in his jumps or particularly fluid on the field.
His tape speaks for itself. Allen is very disruptive. That said, there is no doubt his stock dropped during his stay in Indianapolis this past week.
Winner: UConn’s Obi Melifonwu following in Byron Jones’ footsteps
Connecticut sure knows how to produce freak NFL-caliber defensive backs.
Following in the footsteps of fellow Huskies freak athlete Byron Jones, Obi Melifonwu put on a show Monday.
Featuring outstanding size (6-foot-4, 224 pounds), Melifonwu ran a 4.46-second 40, posted a vertical of 44 inches and a broad jump of 141 inches. Both of those were the best in this year’s safety class, and his broad jump is the second-longest leap in combine history, behind only Jones, who set a world record a couple years back.
He almost jumped TOO far!
— NFL (@NFL) March 6, 2017
Now, Melifonwu’s tape might not scream first-round pick, though he was a very good player at UConn. He tallied 349 tackles and eight interceptions in four years, for what it’s worth. But his size, combined with his freak-show numbers will likely vault him into the bottom half of Round 1 or the early portion of Round 2.
Loser: Marshon Lattimore, with history of hammy issues, pulls a hammy
A kid with first-round skills, first-round size and first-round athleticism, Ohio State product Marshon Lattimore also came into the combine with a glaring red flag.
With a history of hamstring issues, his health is a serious concern. He needed surgery to repair an ailing, prolonged hamstring issue a a freshman in 2014. Then he missed considerable time as a redshirt freshman in 2015, appearing in just three games.
Finally, as a redshirt sophomore this past season, Lattimore was healthy all year and had a tremendous campaign, tallying 41 tackles, four interceptions and one pick-six.
He then wowed by running a 4.36-second 40 and top-three scores in both the vertical and broad jump.
Then, this happened.
Now, not surprisingly, Lattimore and his people are playing it cool, saying that nothing serious happened. We’ll see in a few weeks when Ohio State has its pro day.
Marshon Lattimore's hamstring "tightened up on him, it's nothing serious," per source. But he is expected to be ready for March 23 pro day.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 6, 2017
Lattimore also tweeted out a bit later that it was a hip flexor injury, not a hamstring.
Wasn't a hamstring injury, it's my hip flexor. I'm good y'all lol
— Marshon Lattimore (@shonrp2) March 6, 2017
This latest setback will give teams considerable pause about investing a first-round pick into Lattimore, regardless.