Another NFL Scouting Combine has come and gone and what a spectacle it was. The 2020 version was the first in prime-time and the drama did not disappoint. The stars (and duds) were out at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, and as usual, we have some winners and some losers from the annual event.
Here are a handful of prospects who helped or hindered their draft stock during this year’s testing and on-field workouts:
Winner: Isaiah Simmons | LB | Clemson
Simmons may have established himself as the best defensive prospect in this class. The tape on him was already good enough to see him compete for such a title, and the testing may have put him over the top for some. Simmons came in a 6-3, 238 pounds and ran an astounding 4.39 in the 40-yard dash. That time is absolutely ridiculous for a man of his size and stature. His 39-inch vertical and 11-foot broad jump place him in the 92nd and 99th percentile respectively. Simply put, Simmons is not from this planet.
Winner: Mekhi Becton | OT | Louisville
It’s tough to put into perspective just how impressive Becton’s result of 5.10 in the 40-yard dash and 1.80 10-yard split was at his size. Coming in 6-7 and an absurd 364 pounds, Becton is a rare athlete in every sense of the word and the numbers prove it. He moves incredibly well for a man with those measurements. Every offensive line coach in the NFL will also look at his 35-inch arms and dream about having him protect their quarterback. The offensive tackle class is loaded with elite talent at the top, and it’ll be interesting to see where Becton lands himself after such an impressive combine.
Loser: Jalen Reagor | WR | TCU
You’d be hard pressed to find a prospect’s testing numbers that were more head-scratching than Reagor’s. Expected to light up the 40-yard dash, Reagor instead ran a modest 4.47. It’s not a bad time by any means, but it falls well below the expectation coming in. An even more puzzling result was his 7.31 in the 3-cone. Perhaps it can be chalked up to the new prime-time schedule, but to put things into perspective, that’s awfully close to the 7.38 mark D.K. Metcalf posted last year that was a popular topic of discussion. We saw how that impacted Metcalf’s NFL potential (not at all), but the kicker is that Metcalf was a much taller and heavier prospect, whereas Reagor’s game is largely built around his athletic ability and quickness. It’ll be interesting to see if this impact’s his stock on draft day.
Winner: Kyle Dugger | SAF | Lenoir-Rhune
Dugger already had some buzz heading into the combine and now you’re really going to be hearing his name everywhere. The small-school safety dominated the competition he played against, but it feels like the combine will do even more for his stock than his tape did. Small-schoolers are always tasked with proving that they “belong” and boy, did Dugger do that and then some. He is absolutely chiseled at 6-1, 217 pounds with baseball gloves for mitts (10 3/8”). The measurements were his first victory, but not his last. Dugger went out and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.49 seconds, posted a 42-inch vertical and finally, a 134-inch broad jump. Wow. Dugger is an elite athlete. He’s going to hear his name called sooner than you think.
Winner: Denzel Mims | WR | Baylor
There were several “winners” from the receiver group, but Mims may have been the biggest winner of them all. Officially coming in at 6-foot-3 and 207 pounds, Mims lit up the stopwatches by running a blazing 4.38 in the 40-yard dash. Mims’ 40 time may be the popular topic of discussion, but his 6.66 in the 3-cone drill and 38.5-inch vertical may be even more impressive. Mims certainly made himself some money in Indianapolis.
Winner: Tristan Wirfs | OT | Iowa
One of the best tackles in a loaded class, Wirfs was not to be outdone by Becton’s jaw-dropping performance. Coming in at 6-5, 320 pounds, Wirfs ran a 4.85 in the 40-yard dash. Anything under five seconds is pretty ridiculous for an offensive linemen. Wirfs wasn’t done there though, he went on to post a 36.5-inch vertical jump which sets the modern record for an offensive linemen, and his 10-foot-1 broad jump also ties Kolton Miller’s combine record for an O-linemen. Wirfs appeared to be the best pure athlete in this tackle class, and now has the numbers to back it up.
Loser: A.J. Epenesa | EDGE | Iowa
Unfortunately, another Iowa prospect didn’t do his draft stock any favors. Look, nobody expected Epenesa to light up the combine. The tape reveals a powerful, technical player that was one of the best and most consistent pass rushers in the nation despite some athletic limitations. The issue here is that Epenesa failed to meet the low expectations that people already for him when it came to the testing. His 40-yard dash time of 5.04 seconds is tough to swallow for a potential first-round EDGE rusher. In fact, it puts him in just the second percentile among all EDGE rushers since 1999. That’s... not good. His 3-cone time of 7.34 and 4.46 20-yard shuttle weren’t any better either. Epenesa will be the ultimate “tape versus testing” prospect.
Winner: Jeff Okudah | CB | Ohio State
If there was any doubt that Okudah was the best cornerback in the nation, there shouldn’t be anymore. It was never in question in my opinion, but the combine showcased his elite skill-set and personality. Okudah didn’t compete in every drill, but ran the 40-yard dash in 4.48 seconds and posted a ridiculous 41-inch vertical and 135-inch broad jump. Everything he did looked effortless. He called it a day after nearly hurting himself during the on-field drills (while looking as smooth as they come). Okudah could have sat out the combine like many of the top prospects did, but he decided to showcase his elite ability instead.
Loser: Cameron Dantzler | CB | Mississippi State
Dantzler has been a media darling over the past couple of weeks with his name starting to really buzz in certain circles. Unfortunately his poor combine results may bring that hype to a halt. Running the 40-yard dash in 4.64 seconds is a tough pill to swallow. Historically, you won’t find many successful cornerbacks that ran a 4.6 or worse. It was especially interesting because the tape shows a much faster player. Most players improves their numbers at their Pro Day, but I’m curious to see by how much Dantzler improves it by, because the tape looked like a 4.55 player at worse.
Winner: Justin Jefferson | WR | LSU
Few players positively impacted their draft stock in Indianapolis the way Jefferson did. Jefferson is an incredibly smooth and productive player on tape, but few thought he would test the way that he did. Running a 4.43 in the 40-yard dash was especially better than most anticipated, and the 37.5-inch vertical really turned heads. While the numbers are great, I was mostly impressed with Jefferson in the gauntlet drill where his natural ability as a receiver really shined through. At this point, I would be surprised if Jefferson makes it out of the first round.
Loser: Hunter Bryant | TE | Washington
Bryant had a chance to establish himself as the TE1 of this class, a battle that’s very much open to this day. Unfortunately, he failed to do that. While he appears to play faster on the tape, his 4.74 time in the 40-yard dash certainly disappointed the onlookers. His mark of 32.5-inches in the vertical jump also failed to impress. Ranking this tight end class has been a muddier process I can remember compared to previous years, and it’ll be interesting to see where Bryant lands after a less-than-stellar combine.
Winner: Jeremy Chinn | SAF | Southern Illinois
Dugger wasn’t the only small-school safety turning heads in Indianapolis. I’ve been trying to wake people up to Chinn’s skill-set for a while now. If you weren’t listening to me before, you definitely are now. Chinn went out there at 6-3, 221 pounds and ran the 40-yard dash in a ridiculous 4.45 seconds. He also posted a 41-inch vertical and 138-inch broad jump. Chinn is an elite athlete who like Dugger, may get his name called in the second round.
Loser: Jake Fromm | QB | Georgia
Fromm entered the 2019 season as one of the top quarterback prospects in the 2020 NFL draft but has since been sliding ever since. Unfortunately a lot of the poor traits on tape popped up at the combine as well. Most notably, Fromm has been described to have average-at-best arm strength and the combine all but confirmed that. Fromm really struggled to throw the deep ball during the on-field portion, either under-throwing receivers or failing to deliver a tight spiral on time. Nobody expected Fromm to test like a pure athlete, but his 40-yard dash time of 5.01 seconds was the worst among the quarterback group.
Winner: Jonathan Taylor | RB | Wisconsin
Taylor really had himself a nice combine. It all starts with his 40-yard dash time of 4.39 seconds, the fastest time of any 225lb+ running back in the last seven combines. That’s an absurd result for a player that hangs his hat on a lot more than just his speed. Taylor features terrific power throughout his fame, and that’s a big, fast man coming right at you. While the 40-yard dash result will get all of the love, I was equally as impressed with Taylor as a pass-catcher. One of the big (and only) knocks on Taylor was how little he did in the passing game at Wisconsin. I thought that Taylor looked smooth as a route runner and flashed the hands to make a much larger impact in that regard at the next level. He’s a big-time winner.
Winner: Ezra Cleveland | OT | Boise State
Lost in all of the Becton and Wirfs hype is another offensive tackle prospect that had himself a really nice combine. Cleveland already had some top-100 hype prior to Indianapolis, and may have catapulted himself into the top-50. His 3-cone time of 7.26 seconds and 4.46 shuttle were both the best marks of any offensive linemen in attendance. Those are two drills that have a sterling reputation when it comes to predicting O-linemen success to the next level, and Cleveland aced both of them.
Winner: Chase Claypool | WR | Notre Dame
If Reagor’s combine was the most disappointing from a surprising standpoint, Claypool’s was the biggest pleasant surprise of the position. The biggest question Claypool faced entering the combine was his long speed ability. The tape reveals a big-bodied receiver that understands how to win with his size, but does he have the speed to separate at the next level? Claypool passed that test with flying colors by running a 4.42 in the 40-yard dash. His explosion testing was also A+ with a 40.5-inch vertical jump and 126-inch broad jump. He certainly quieted some of his doubters.