We are well aware of the big names heading into this year’s NFL Scouting Combine. Can Nick Bosa prove himself to be completely healthy? How will Kyler Murray perform?
Even then, there are plenty of unknowns surrounding other high-profile players, and those who are not in the limelight.
What will Murray measure at and can he break a longstanding 40-yard dash record? Which quarterback outside of the reigning Heisman winner will show out? Meanwhile, one running back stands to benefit from an injury to another top-end player at the same position.
It’s in this that we give you our 10 bold predictions for the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this week.
Kyler Murray will measure in at 5-foot-10
There’s been some question about Murray’s actual size. The reigning Heisman winner was listed at 5-foot-10 during his playing days at Oklahoma. For some, that seemed to be a couple inches too tall.
We’ll obviously acquire a more concrete understanding of Murray’s actual size once the NFL Scouting Combine kicks off this week. But we’re going to boldly conclude that he isn’t lying on his resume. For Murray, that could be an absolute boon heading into the draft. Being 5-foot-10 will still cause some reservations. A couple inches shorter could’ve been the difference from being a top-five pick and an early Day 2 selection.
Andy Isabella will dominate wide receiver drills
This 5-foot-10 former Massachusetts star excelled during his senior season — racking up 102 reception for 1,698 yards and 13 touchdowns. Playing at an independent school, there’s certainly some questions about the level of competition he went up against in college. Even then, Isabella showed out big time during the 2019 Senior Bowl.
Flush with elusiveness at the line and plus-level route-running skills, Isabella could be a solid slot guy at the next level. He’ll have a real opportunity to show this off during the route-tree drill in Indianapolis. If so, Isabella could catapult himself into the Day 2 conversation with Bill Belichick looking on from the stands. We’re predicting it to happen. Hello, Patriots.
Ryan Finley will come out as a first-round prospect
Even including Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins, the NFL community is split between multiple quarterbacks as potential first-round picks. Missouri’s Drew Lock and Duke’s Daniel Jones have received most of the recent attention when it comes to this. Though, we can’t sleep on this former North Carolina State Standout.
At 6-foot-4, Finley is your prototypical drop-back quarterback. He struggled at times with both consistency and accuracy during a college career that saw the quarterback complete 64 percent of his passes. More importantly, both the physical and mental traits that teams covet are there. Finley spent six years at two different colleges and boasts two master’s degrees. He should ace the interview process. If so, look for the former Wolfpack star to jump into the first-round conversation.
Miles Sanders concludes combine as consensus No. 1 running back
Most draftniks have Alabama’s Josh Jacobs as the top running back prospect heading into the combine. That still might ring true as the pre-draft process plays out. Unfortunately for Jacobs, he’s going to be limited in Indianapolis due to a groin injury. This opens the door for others to shine in his stead.
Potentially following in the footsteps of fellow former Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, we’re expecting Sanders to dominate the individual drills. As a first-time starter for the Nittany Lions last season, Sanders put up north of 1,400 total yards and averaged nearly six yards per touch. He’ll likely come in at north of 220 pounds at the combine — meaning Sanders has the size to be a three-down back in the NFL. The physicality and first-level burst will be something to pay attention to in Indy. And we’re expecting a stellar performance from Sanders.
Top cornerbacks will struggle in drills
Even before he entered his red-shirt campaign in 2018, most had Greedy Williams slated to be the No. 1 corner off the board and a likely top-10 pick. Despite struggles against shiftier receivers such as Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy, that’s more than likely going to remain the case. At 6-foot-2, he has prototypical size for a boundary corner at the next level. Unfortunately, Williams’ struggles and lack of consistency as a sophomore could be a red flag. Could this be an issue as NFL teams evaluate Williams’ ability to backpedal and to sink his hips, as well as change direction?
The issue is a bit more convoluted with former Washington standout Byron Murphy — also a likely top-20 pick in April’s draft. He’s officially listed at 5-foot-11. As to where Williams might struggle with fluidity, this isn’t an issue for Murphy. But with only one season as a full-time starter for the Huskies, consistency in individual drills will be important. Equally as noticeable, we’re going to want to see Murphy’s athleticism on display to make up for his lack of height as a potential boundary corner. If relegated to a slot role in the eyes of NFL teams, his stock will decline rapidly.
Antonio Brown trade will be finalized
Brown can’t officially be traded until the start of the new league year on March 13. But as we saw with Joe Flacco in February, a trade can pretty much be finalized prior to then. Knowing that the Steelers are now going to trade the seven-time Pro Bowler, it makes sense for conversations to pick up during the NFL Scouting Combine. Add in the fact that if Brown were on Pittsburgh’s roster on March 13, he’d receive a $2.5 million bonus, and that’s magnified further.
The star receiver has been linked primarily to the San Francisco 49ers. And for good reason. Kyle Shanahan has fawned over adding a No. 1 pass catcher of Brown’s ilk. Though, other teams are certainly going to engage in conversations with Pittsburgh over the next several days. It’s in this that we predict a Brown trade will be reported to be finalized before the end of the festivities in Indy
Daniel Jones will dominate passing drills
Individual quarterback drills at the combine are rather pointless in the grand scheme of things. Signal callers are pretty much throwing against air. No pass rush. A controlled environment. Flush with a big arm, this former Duke standout should absolutely light it up in Indy — catching the eye of quarterback-needy teams in the process.
We will, however, warn against taking too much out of this. Jones’ struggles with the Blue Devils came with both pressure in his face and when he had to throw into tight windows. Neither will be prevalent during the annual dog-and-pony show. Even then, it will help Jones’ stock heading into individual workouts over the next two months.
D.K. Metcalf will catapult himself into the top 10
This big-bodied receiver was listed at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds during his days at Mississippi. That’s no longer the case. A recent photo surfaced of Metcalf and former teammate A.J Brown being absolutely yolked during the pre-draft process.
That’s only going to help this dynamic receiver should he excel in the individual workouts and while participating in the route-tree drill. Teams have transitioned to the more elusive receivers in recent drafts. But in no way does that mean there’s not room for Metcalf within the top 10. Should he run an even average 40-yard dash, we’re expecting a lot of hype to surround the Ole Miss product. More likely than not, that’s going to come to fruition.
Khalen Saunders will continue to be draft sensation
Saunders has been somewhat of a viral sensation after flying under the radar during a stellar career at Western Illinois. Just check out these ridiculous moves from Saunders while he attended the Senior Bowl.
At 6-foot and 320 pounds (unofficially), Saunders is a mountain of a man to block. Add in elite-level athleticism and power at the point of contact, and he should excel during the combine. We’re predicting a performance similar to what we saw from small-school product Darius Leonard during the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine. If so, Saunders will be bandied about as a potential early Day 2 pick.
Kyler Murray will run fastest 40-yard dash for QB in history
A lot of the focus here will be on Murray’s passing ability and what his official height is listed at during the combine. That’s more than fine. But we’re even more intrigued to see how he performs running the three-cone drill, various shuttles and the 40-yard dash.
Some have likened Murray to the ultra-athletic quarterbacks we’ve seen in recent drafts. Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson being the latest examples. Even then, he’s a better thrower than those two. Should Murray excel in the 40-yard dash, he’s almost guaranteed to be a top-three pick. It’s in this that we predict that Murray will one-up the great Michael Vick in Indy.