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2022 NFL Combine: Position-by-position analysis and preview

The 2022 NFL Combine is taking place in Indianapolis this week. It gives prospects an opportunity to prove that teams should use picks on them during the annual NFL Draft later this spring in Las Vegas.

It runs from March 1 through March 7. The annual event is broadcast on both ESPN and NFL Network with most of the focus being on position drills. Here’s a break down of coverage on NFL Network.

  • Thursday, March 3: 4 PM ET
  • Friday, March 4: 4 PM ET
  • Saturday, March 5: 4 PM ET
  • Sunday, March 6: 11 AM ET

What is the NFL Combine?

It’s an annual pre-draft event that has gone from being somewhat of a niche grouping to a week-long showcase broadcast nationally on multiple networks.

Former Dallas Cowboys president and general manager Tex Schramm proposed the annual event as a way for teams to evaluate talent. Since its inception as the national invitational camp (NIC) in 1982, this thing has taken on a whole new meaning.

Among the most-important aspects of the NFL Combine is the positional workouts scheduled for a four-day span during the annual event. Teams also have an opportunity to meet and interview with prospects leading up to the annual NFL Draft. Here’s a look at the positional workout schedule in Indy.

  • Thursday, March 3rd: Quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends
  • Friday, March 4th: Running backs, offensive line and special teams
  • Satuday, March 5th: Defensive line, linebackers
  • Sunday, March 6th: Defensive backs

Below, we provide you with a position-by-position breakdown of the annual event.

Related: Updated NFL trade rumors

NFL Combine: Top quarterback prospects

Malik Willis, Liberty

2022 nfl scouting combine: malik willis, quarterbacks
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  • Malik Willis college stats (2021): 61% completion, 2,857 passing yards, 878 rushing yards, 40 total TD, 12 INT

One of the biggest unknowns leading up to the NFL Combine, Willis is similar to what we saw from Trey Lance heading into the 2021 NFL Draft. He’s seen as uber-talented, but played against less-than-stellar competition in college. Scouts and teams are going to want to see what he brings to the table when it comes to intangibles. That includes his pocket awareness and ability to show accuracy on intermediate routes.

Willis stands at 6-foot and weighs 220 pounds. He’s a tad short by NFL quarterback standards, but makes up for it with tremendous arm strength as well as athleticism that can’t be taught. These are not areas that will be of concern to teams at the combine.

Rather, it’s all about the fundamentals and whether he’s seen as too much of a project to be selected within the top-20 picks. One team already has its eyes set on Willis in the first round. A solid performance could etch his name in stone as a first-round pick while major struggles would drop Willis to Day 2 of the draft.

Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh

2022 nfl scouting combine: kenny pickett, quarterbacks
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  • Kenny Pickett college stats (2021): 67% completion, passing yards, 4,319 yards, 233 rushing yards, 47 total TD, 7 INT

As a fifth-year senior for Pittsburgh this past season, Pickett dominated the collegiate level. That included eight games with north of 300 passing yards in a pro-style offense. It has most considering the 6-foot-3 signal caller as the top quarterback in the draft class.

That’s why Pickett has so much to lose during the NFL Combine. He boasts a tremendous frame and solid arm strength. Pickett also displayed above-average accuracy while showing himself to be pretty mobile when needed.

At issue here is timing-based throws, which are a necessity in today’s NFL. Scouts will want to see how he works with receivers during quarterback drills in Indianapolis. He also needs to show better pocket awareness and get rid of the ball in a quicker fashion — all of which will be on displayed during the combine. If Pickett excels, he’ll be the top quarterback off the board and could go as high as the top five depending on trades.

Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati

2022 nfl scouting combine: desmond ridder, quarterbacks
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
  • Desmond Ridder college stats (2021): 65% completion, 3,334 passing yards, 355 rushing yards, 36 total TD, 8 INT

A Heisman candidate heading into his senior season with the Bearcats, Ridder put up a career-best performance for a team that ultimately earned a spot in the College Football Playoffs. However, there’s some concern about whether his game translates to the NFL level.

More than anything, it’s about knowing when to use his strong arm. Too often at the college level, velocity was an issue on short and intermediate routes. NFL teams like to have what’s called touch on said passes.

Equally as important, Ridder’s arm strength is not met with the best accuracy in the draft class. We’ve seen other strong-armed quarterbacks bomb out in the NFL early in their careers because they weren’t able to provide said accuracy. Ridder’s ability to display this in Indianapolis during the NFL Combine could be the difference between him being a first-round pick or dropping to the middle of Day 2.

Related: Ranking the top NFL QBs of 2022

Matt Corral, Mississippi

2022 nfl scouting combine: matt corral, quarterbacks
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
  • Matt Corral college stats (2021): 68% completion, 3,343 passing yards, 614 rushing yards, 31 total TD, 5 INT

An ankle injury during Mississippi’s Sugar Bowl loss to Baylor could place into question his availability for position-specific drills at the NFL Combine. While he avoided serious injury, the star quarterback might want to wait until the Ole Miss Pro Day to throw.

Either way, armchair scouts are all over the place when it comes to this talented signal caller. Some believe he should be the first quarterback off the board. Others don’t view him as a first-round talent.

The biggest issue plaguing Corral is the fact that he was a one-read quarterback under Lane Kiffin in Mississippi. That offense relied more on the run-pass option, leaving vulnerabilities when it comes to actually progressing off his first read. If Corral is able to work out at the combine, this is something scouts will pay the most attention to.

Carson Strong, Nevada

2022 nfl scouting combine: carson strong, quarterbacks
Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports
  • Carson Strong college stats (2021): 70% completion, 4,175 passing yards, 36 TD, 8 INT

Accuracy, decision-making, arm strength and progression are four things that stood out for Strong during his days with Nevada. It’s also what makes him a strong prospect and one of the most interesting quarterbacks of the draft class.

At issue here is his inability to be a dual-threat quarterback in a league that’s trending in this direction. He also struggles with pocket awareness and can’t get past his first read when the pressure is on. While Strong won’t break any NFL Combine 40-yard dash record, his mobility will be something to watch in Indy.

Related: Top NFL free agents of 2022

NFL Combine: Top running back prospects

Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State

NCAA Football: Penn State at Michigan State
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  • Kenneth Walker III college stats (2021): 1,636 rushing yards, 89 receiving yards, 19 total TDs, 0 fumbles on 263 carries and 13 receptions

After transferring from Wake Forest, Kenneth Walker III was a revelation for Michigan State during his three seasons in East Lansing. He has all the physical gifts necessary to succeed in the NFL. And his burst, vision of the field, and ability to find those plus-yards with cutback lanes make him a special talent.

For as gifted a rusher as Walker III is, he hasn’t proven his playmaking skills in the passing game much. He only pulled in 13 catches in 2021 and will need to work on his pass protection if he hopes to reach his potential and be an every-down back in the league.

Breece Hall, Iowa State

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  • Breece Hall college stats (2021): 1,472 rushing yards, 302 receiving yards, 23 total TDs, 0 fumbles on 253 carries and 36 receptions

Breece Hall is a classic RB with the ability to explode through the line with brute force. During his time at Iowa State, he consistently showed an ability to break tackles and pick up extra yards with his sheer power. Hall has also consistently improved in pass protection and in pass-catching. Those added skills could help make him one of the first two RBs selected in the draft.

One area Hall has shown a weakness is getting happy feet behind the line of scrimmage as he tries to find different lanes. Staying the course and bum-rushing through his designated holes will be key in his NFL success.

Isaiah Spiller, Texas A&M

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Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
  • Isaiah Spiller college stats (2021): 1,011 rushing yards, 189 receiving yards, 7 total TDs, 0 fumbles on 179 carries,and 25 receptions

Isiah Spiller is one of the most well-rounded back-field talents in this year’s draft. He has good footwork, tackle-breaking skills, and is a patient runner. Although he has strong agility and a solid burst, the one knock on him is his lack of breakaway skills. And in the NFL, defenders only get faster. Nonetheless, he will be a sound choice for any team.

Kyren Williams, Notre Dame

Nov 20, 2021; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back Kyren Williams (23) stiff arms Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets safey Tariq Carpenter (2) in the second quarter at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 20, 2021; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back Kyren Williams (23) stiff arms Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets safey Tariq Carpenter (2) in the second quarter at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
  • Kyren Williams college stats (2021): 1,002 rushing yards, 359 receiving yards, 17 total TDs, 0 fumbles on 204 carries and 42 receptions

Kyren Williams’ upside in the NFL may lie in his ability to be a plus-talent in the receiving game. He is a willing pass blocker and has notched over 300 yards receiving for three straight seasons at Notre Dame. He is also a feisty and durable runner. However, the big question will be if his 5’9″ and 199-pound frame can hold up to the rigors of the NFL.

James Cook, Georgia

nfl combine running backs: joshua l. jones / usa today network
  • James Cook college stats (2021): 728 rushing yards, 284 receiving yards, 11 total TDS, 0 fumbles on 113 carries and 27 receptions

James Cook is a classic dark horse prospect. He was not a featured talent on a Georgia team that was deep in the backfield. However, when he got his chances — especially in his senior year — he delivered in a big way and averaged six yards per carry. He has shown NFL-level skills both in the run and pass game. But there will be questions about consistency since he did not have to showcase his skills with a heavy workload in one of the best conferences in college football.

NFL Combine: Top wide receiver prospects

Garrett Wilson, Ohio State

College football picks against the spread Week 2
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  • Garrett Wilson college stats (2021): 70 receptions, 1,058 receiving yards, 12 TD catches, 1 rush TD

At 5-foot-11, Garrett Wilson won’t blow anyone away with his size, but he can blow past them with his speed. He won’t break any NFL Draft Combine 40-yard dash records, with Wilson expected to clock somewhere in the 4.4s, but his ability to separate is second to none among this prospect group.

His smooth, yet sudden route-running ability should translate well to the next level. Wilson should be a YAC monster wherever he lands, yet his quickness also makes him a downfield receiving threat.

Ahead of the NFL combine, Wilson currently projects as a first-round pick, but it would be a shock to see him go in the first 12 selections or so. Of course his 40-time will impact his draft stock, but scouts will also be watching closely to see if he has any issues with drops, although he does also have the ability to make eye-popping catches as well. Either way, Wilson will be fun to watch at the NFL combine.

Jameson Williams, Alabama

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  • Jameson Williams college stats (2021): 79 receptions, 1,572 receiving yards, 15 TD catches

Here’s the latest first-round receiving prospect to come out of Alabama. If an NFL team wants a big-play receiver with next-level ability, Jameson Williams is their pick. Not only is he a burner, Williams also has fantastic speed and he pairs those traits with great hands in a 6-foot-2 frame.

The biggest downside for Williams and NFL evaluators is that he won’t be running at the NFL combine due to the ACL tear he suffered in the National Championship Game. This means we won’t get a chance to see just how fast Williams could time, some have suggested he runs a sub-4.35 40-yard dash.

Unfortunately, since the injury happened in January, Williams could miss much of the 2021 NFL season. Even with the injury, Williams is still expected to be a late first-round pick. If teams want to add a player who can take the top off their defense, even if he can’t make an immediate impact, Jameson Williams is the pick.

Drake London, USC

Oct 30, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Southern California Trojans wide receiver Drake London (15) runs the ball ahead of Arizona Wildcats defensive lineman Leevel Tatum III (97) and linebacker Christian Young (5) during the first half at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
  • Drake London college stats (2021): 88 receptions, 1,084 receiving yards, 7 TD catches

As mentioned, there isn’t a wide receiver who is head and shoulders above the rest of the crop, but Southern Cal’s Drake London at least towers over the rest of his competitors at 6-foot-5. You want a receiver with freakish size? London’s calling.

While he’s not at the top here, many analysts have London as their top pass-catching prospect in this draft class due to his strong hands and ability to haul in 50-50 balls. While he doesn’t come close to having Randy Moss speed, London would likely still time in the low 4.4s-high 4.5s during his 40-yard sprint.

Yet, like Jameson Williams, London suffered a season-ending injury, this one to his ankle, which will likely prevent the big-bodied receiver from showing his athletic skills at the NFL Combine. London is likely a late-first-round pick in April’s selection process.

Treylon Burks, Arkansas

NCAA Football: Missouri at Arkansas
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  • Treylon Burks college stats (2021): 66 receptions, 1,104 receiving yards, 11 TD catches, 1 rush TD

Showing just how deep this draft class is at the receiver position, Treylon Burks is yet another prospect who packages size (6-foot-3) with electric speed. Interestingly, he’s also taken some snaps out of the backfield ala Deebo Samuel and he has the physicality to match.

Burks has impressive strength, he might even measure in with the largest hands of all wide receiver prospects at the combine. He could still become a better route-runner, but he has the ability to change directions quickly, which gives him a chance to improve.

Every NFL team can add Burks to their lineup as he can play all three receiver positions on the gridiron. Somehow, Burks is yet another prospect whose name could be called in the first round.

Chris Olave, Ohio State

nfl combine
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  • Chris Olave college stats (2021): 65 receptions, 936 receiving yards, 13 TD catches

Another receiver who has no trouble creating separation running through his routes, Chris Olave can line up all over the field. He may not have the physical traits some of the other dreamy receivers have in this class, but Olave seems like a safe pick who can produce at the next level.

Olave should perform well in three-cone agility drills, showing his ability to maneuver in space and change directions quickly. If teams are looking for a No. 1 wideout, Olave may not be the match they’re looking for, but he profiles as a solid high-floor No. 2 option.

Like all the other prospects on this list, Olave has a good shot at landing in the first round, if not, he’ll likely be an early Day Two pick. His 4.4 speed should translate to the next level just fine.

NFL Combine: Top tight end prospects

Jalen Wydermyer, Texas A&M

NCAA Football: Auburn at Texas A&M
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  • Jalen Wydermyer college stats (2021): 40 receptions, 515 receiving yards, 4 TD catches

At 6-foot-5, 255 lbs, Jalen Wydermyer has ideal size for an NFL tight end. He’s able to use his strength to his advantage, hauling in passes over the middle when he knows he’ll be hit and can still do damage after the catch.

Wydermyer has great hands, decent speed and can hold his own as a blocker, but he’s considered to be more of a receiving threat than a force in the trenches.

With his well-rounded skillset, teams can select Wydermyer and plug him in as their starter from the opening day of training camp.

Trey McBride, Colorado State

nfl combine
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  • Trey McBride college stats (2021): 90 receptions 1,121 receiving yards, 1 TD catch

As you can see, Trey McBride’s final season was extremely productive, which no doubt catapulted his draft stock. It’s not that common for a collegiate tight end to top the 1,000-yard mark in a single season, but the 6-foot-4 McBride put on a show at Colorado State.

He’s not the fastest nor the tallest, but McBride the most polished tight end in the 2022 class. He might be the most pro-ready too. Coming from a small school, McBride only figures to improve once he can add a bit more muscle to his frame.

McBride shouldn’t have trouble producing in the pros, maybe not at a 1,000-yard level but it can’t be ruled out entirely. Teams will also appreciate his ability to throw some mean blocks.

NFL combine: Top offensive line prospects

Ikem Ekwonu, NC State

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Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Ikem Ekwonu enters the draft with a reputation after earning the nickname of “Mr. Pancake” during his tenure at NC State. The 6-foot-4 and 320-pound big man is a good size for an NFL lineman and has the ability to play both tackle and guard. He is a mauler in the run game, but with the league relying less on running every year, he will need to further improve his pass blocking skills to reach pro-bowl status.

Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa

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Credit: USA Today Network

Tyler Linderbaum may not get as much coverage as other offensive line prospects in this draft, since he plays a less glamorous position at center. But he may be the lock of the bunch. At 6-foot-3, 290-pounds he is on the small side for today’s average NFL lineman, but it makes him a perfect fit for his position. The main downside for the Rimington Trophy winner is, how far does a team reach up in the draft for an anchor-level talent at center if there are bigger holes elsewhere?

Evan Neal, Alabama

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Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Evan Neal enters the 2022 NFL Draft as one of its largest athletes at 6-foot-7 and 350 pounds. But what makes him one of the top prospects in the entire pool is his freakish athleticism. He was a three-year starter at football powerhouse Alabama and played three different positions on their offensive line. Considering his size and ability, he has the potential to be the best offensive line prospect in the draft.

Charles Cross, Mississippi State

At 6-foot-5 and 310 pounds, Charles Cross is a unique talent because of his impressive athleticism for a man of his size. Over his last two seasons at Mississippi State, he continually improved and became a dominant pass blocker. Over 794 passing snaps, he only allowed 16 pressures. However, while he is a legit athlete, he does not have the same brute power as some of his top contemporaries in the draft.

Kenyon Green, Texas A&M

Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

At 6-foot-4 and 325 pounds, Kenyon Green is a behemoth of a blocker and he has power that matches his size. But what makes him a unique prospect is his versatility. He played every position on the line, except center, in 2021. While he is a dependable blocker, his lack of a true standout position could dampen his potential as a perennial pro bowler.

NFL Combine: Top defensive line prospects

George Karlaftis, Purdue

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  • George Karlaftis college stats (2021): 36 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles

George Karlaftis is a nasty, punch you in the mouth style edge rusher. He is powerful, relentless, and has a really good first step that has been a problem for Purdue opponents throughout his college career. He does lack a bit in length, and in certain aspects of his overall pass rush capabilities. Nevertheless, he has a nice set of tools to be productive at the next level. This should be on display during the NFL Combine.

Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon

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  • Kayvon Thibodeaux college stats (2021): 49 tackles, 7 sacks, 2 forced fumbles

Kayvon Thibodeaux has a body perfectly built for the edge rusher position, in today’s NFL. What makes him a devil for opposing offenses is his outstanding first step and the uncanny closing speed he has at 6-foot-5 and 258 pounds. Although he is not a powerhouse and will need to add a bit more strength, he has the base tools to be a serious pass rush threat in the NFL.

Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan

nfl combine
  • Aidan Hutchinson college stats (2021): 62 tackles, 14 sacks, 2 forced fumbles

Aidan Hutchinson is not only one of the top defensive prospects in the draft, he is arguably the jewel of the entire 2022 field. He has size — 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds — top-shelf athleticism and a serious gas tank. He proved his elite talents by winning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and All-American honors, as well as broke the Michigan single-season sack record. He is one of the safest picks in this draft class.

David Ojabo, Michigan

nfl combine
  • David Ojabo college stats (2021): 35 tackles, 11 sacks, 5 forced fumbles

David Ojabo had the bad luck of playing opposite the consensus best defensive player in college football last year. His impressive skills were overshadowed by Hutchinson in 2021, but for those that watched Michigan games in the fall, they know Ojabo is as talented as it gets when it comes to pass rushing.

Although not the physical freak of his teammate, Ojabo does have uncanny speed. The big question will be, was he an underappreciated star at Michigan, or accumulated stats and benefitted by playing opposite of Hutchinson. Talent evaluators will need to figure that out before April.

Jordan Davis, Georgia

Credit: Corey Perrine/USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Jordan Davis college stats (2021): 32 tackles, 2 sacks

Jordan Davis is a run-clogging monster. The 6-foot-6, 340-pound interior force doesn’t have stats that jump out at first glance, but those in the know realize how excellent he was at run-stopping in 2021. His talent and immense power make him an athlete that will force double teams and open up opportunities for others. Sometimes he relied on that power too much and he will need to sharpen his fundamentals so he can be a consistent threat at the NFL level.

NFL Combine: Top linebacker prospects

Devin Lloyd, Utah Utes

nfl combine, nfl draft 2022
Jul 27, 2021; Hollywood, CA, USA; Utah Utes linebacker Devin Lloyd (left) and wide receiver Britain Covey speaks with the media during the Pac-12 football Media Day at the W Hollywood. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
  • Devin Lloyd college stats (2021): 111 total tackles, 8 sacks, 4 interceptions, 1 forced fumble

Devin Lloyd has all the tools necessary to succeed at the NFL level. His 2021 season in Utah showed that in accumulating 111 tackles and impressive stats rushing the passer and in coverage. Lloyd’s ability to shed blockers and get to the backfield is a highlight talent in racking up 43 tackles over the last three seasons.

The biggest issue for him has been inconsistency in diagnosing plays and his fluidity in getting to the football. That said, he has the ability to be a very solid pro, at the least.

Brian Asamoah, Oklahoma Sooners

nfl combine, nfl draft 2022
Credit: USA Today Network
  • Brian Asamoah college stats: 80 total tackles, 1 sack, 2 forced fumbles

Brian Asamoah is as sound a linebacker as there is in this class. He has shown solid skills at getting into the backfield, covering the field from sideline to sideline, and has excelled at times in past coverage. Where he may have trouble in the NFL is with his size at 6’1″ and 228 pounds. He can’t change his physical measurables, but he can increase his strength and work on his technique to give him a better chance at the next level.

Nakobe Dean, Georgia Bulldogs

nfl combine, nfl draft 2022
Credit: USA Today Network
  • Nakobe Dean college stats (2021): 72 total tackles, 6 sacks, 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles

Nakobe Dean is a top-flight athlete. His speed, agility, and outstanding range make him a prospect with serious upside. He has the potential to be an every-down linebacker. However, to make sure he reaches that potential he will need to continue to work on his play recognition skills and further develop his talent. Like Asamoah, he is not a sizable LB at 6’0″ 220 pounds.

Christian Harris, Alabama Crimson Tide

nfl combine, nfl draft 2022
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
  • Christian Harris college stats (2021): 79 total tackles, 5.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles

Twenty or more years ago, Christian Harris would have been a top LB prospect for his nasty physicality and strong nose for the football. But in today’s NFL, it is a necessity for linebackers to be competent in coverage. Harris has had some serious problems at times in guarding receivers over the last two seasons in Alabama. His strengths are very strong, however, his weaknesses could be a liability at times in the NFL.

Chad Muma, Wyoming Cowboys

nfl combine, nfl draft 2022
Oct 9, 2021; Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA; Wyoming Cowboys linebacker Chad Muma (48) tackles Air Force Falcons running back Brad Roberts (20) in the first quarter at Falcon Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
  • Chad Muma college stats (2021): 142 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, 3 interceptions

At 6’3″ and 242 pounds, Chad Muma has the physical frame that scouts will be looking for in an incoming LB. In 2021 he was an absolute tackling demon in wrapping up 142 total tackles for Wyoming. Yet for all his strengths as a pure tackler, he does lack in several technical areas. Including shedding blockers and recognition. He will need to grow there if he hopes to be a starter in the NFL.

NFL Combine: Top cornerback prospects

Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati Bearcats

nfl combine: ahmad gardner
Albert Cesare / The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Ahmad Gardner college stats (2021): 28 tackles, 4 passes defended, 3 interceptions

With LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr. not working out at the NFL Combine, Gardner becomes the top cornerback to watch in Indianapolis. Standing at 6-foot-2, Gardner boasts the frame to stand up against more physical wide receivers at the NFL level. He can play both zone and press coverage while providing coverage instincts necessary to play the boundary.

Last season with Cincinnati, Gardner yielded just 12 catches for 87 yards on 25 targets without a touchdown. He also gave up an absurd 17.0 passer rating when targeted. A number of teams selecting in the top-10 would love to have this potential Day 1 starter added to the mix.

Trent McDuffie, Washington Huskies

nfl combine: trent mcduffie
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  • Trent McDuffie college stats (2021): 35 tackles, 6 passes defended, 0 interceptions

The son of former NFL wide receiver O.J. McDuffie, this youngster has all the necessary skills to be considered a shutdown guy at the next level. He has tremendous instincts on the outside and provides better than average athleticism for his 5-foot-11 frame. He can also play both slot and the outside. That’s big in today’s NFL.

Despite recording a mere two college interceptions in 37 games, he has shown the ability to shut down guys. Last season with the Huskies, McDuffie yielded a mere 0.6 yards per coverage snaps. That was tops in the nation among boundary corners.

Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson Tigers

nfl combine: andrew booth
Ken Ruinard / staff / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Andrew Booth Jr. college stats (2021): 37 tackles, 5 passes defended, 3 interceptions

Here’s an interesting prospect to check in on during the NFL Combine. Booth recorded a total of five interceptions in his final two seasons with the Tigers. He came to Clemson as a five-star recruit while displaying tremendous physical ability and athleticism.

Nothing Booth did during his time with the Tigers proved this wrong. The 6-foot corner also isn’t scheme specific, which bodes well for his ability to translate to the NFL ranks. With a strong combine performance, he’ll end up being a top-20 selection.

Roger McCreary, Auburn Tigers

nfl combine: roger mccreary
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  • Roger McCreary college stats (2021): 49 tackles, 14 passes defended, 2 interceptions

There’s some who believe McCreary translates better to being a single-high safety at the NFL level. That’s primarily due to his ability in coverage and the fact that he has some tremendous short-area quickness and can wrap up with the best of them.

However, we envision him being able to play either the boundary or slot at the next level. With over 30 passes broken up against elite-level SEC competition over the past three seasons, this dude is already pro-ready.

Kaiir Elam, Florida Gators

nfl combine: kaiir elam
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  • Kaiir Elam college stats (2021): 29 tackles, 5 passes defended, 1 interception

Heading into the 2021 season, there were some who viewed Elam as a sure-fire top-20 pick. With a strong performance in the NFL Combine, there’s a chance he might reach that level after some inconsistencies for the Gators.

Primarily, we’re going to see how the 6-foot-2 defensive back holds up in the athletic drills in Indianapolis. There’s a chance teams might simply view him as a better fit at safety. We’ll seen when all is said and done.

NFL Combine: Top safety prospects

Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame

nfl combine: kyle hamilton
Nikos Frazier / Journal & Courier via Imagn Content Services, LLC
  • Kyle Hamilton college stats: 138 tackles, 16 passes defended, 8 INT

Not only is Hamilton considered one of the top defensive prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft, some experts view him as the best all-around player. Here’s a dude who can play both safety positions and can actually suit up at corner in a pinch. He boasts some of the best range we’ve seen from a safety prospect in some time.

With a 40″ vertical and 11′ broad jump, it’s going to be extremely interesting to see how Hamilton performs in drills at the NFL Combine. We’re also going to pay close attention to the position-specific drills. If Hamilton performs as expected, his ceiling in the 2022 NFL Draft could very well be the Houston Texans at three or New York Jets with the fourth selection.

Jaquan Brisker, Penn State

nfl combine: jaquan brisker
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  • Jaquan Brisker college stats: 151 tackles, 14 passes defended, 5 INT

There’s a large gap between Hamilton and the second-best safety prospect in the draft. This former Nittany Lions star will look to close said gap at the NFL Combine this week. There’s a decent chance Brisker will do just that and end up being a first-round pick come late April.

We’re talking about a modern safety prospect who can excel playing in a single-high role as a free safety or in the box as a strong safety. He has elite-level athleticism, tremendous range and is a sound tackler. The comparson here could be Derwin James of the Los Angeles Chargers with the Miami Dolphins being an option at 29.

Daxton Hill, Michigan

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  • Daxton Hill college stats: 149 tackles, 15 passes defended, 4 INT

Here’s another safety prospect in the draft that can play multiple roles. The 6-foot Hill lined up as both a single-high safety and slot corner under Jim Harbaugh at Michigan. He excelled in both roles.

With that said, Hill’s short-area quickness could very well be his best asset. That’s where the NFL Combine comes into play. If he performs well in the three-cone drill and other generic drills displaying that athleticism, Hill could end up being one of the top-32 picks in the draft.

Jalen Pitre, Baylor

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  • Jalen Pitre college stats: 195 tackles, 10 passes defended, 8 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 4 INT

Unquestionably the best pure strong safety in the NFL Draft, we’re going to want to see how Pitre performs in coverage during combine drills. It’s not that he’s incapable. Rather, it’s all about how teams view him. There’s some who see the 6-foot defender more as an athletic linebacker.

He’s an in your face safety with a tremendous tackling ability in the box. Pitre also isn’t overmatched in coverage. The Philadelphia Eagles in Round 2 could make sense here.

Lewis Cine, Georgia

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Georgia vs Alabama
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  • Lewis Cine college stats: 144 tackles, 14 passes defended, 2 INT

Yet another versatile defender, Cine played both safety positions and the slot corner spot for a dominating unit in Georgia last season. He’s one of the primary reasons this team earned the national championship with a win over the SEC-rival Alabama Crimson Tide.

Despite his plus-level athletic traits and ability in coverage, Cine did leave a lot of plays on the field during his three-years in Athens. We’re going to want to see how he performs in the position-specific drills during the NFL Combine to figure out where the 6-foot-1 Cine stands heading into the draft.

Note: Sportsnaut’s Vincent Frank, Jason Burgos and Andrew Buller-Russ contributed to this project

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