Whether it be a top prospect solidifying first-round draft stock, a player who moves his way up the draft board at his position or a small-school player who makes a name for himself, there are always players who stand out at the NFL Scouting Combine.
With the skills they displayed in the on-field drills and the numbers they put up in measurable drills such as the 40-yard dash, vertical and broad jump and bench press, these 20 players made the biggest positive impressions at the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Ind.
I objected to including many players on this list who opted not to participate in a full set of drills, but the athletic achievements of the draft’s two elite quarterback prospects, Stanford’s Andrew Luck and Baylor’s Robert Griffin III, could not be ignored.
Both Luck and Griffin chose not to throw at the combine, but considering that Luck is a virtual lock to be selected first overall and Griffin a virtual lock to go second overall, they had little to gain. That said, both put on a tremendous show in their athletic drills.
Griffin, a former track star who finished third in NCAA championships in the 400-meter hurdles as a 17-year-old, may have put on the most athletic performance for any quarterback in combine history. Griffin ran the 40-yard dash in a tremendously fast 4.41 seconds and also had a 39-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot broad jump.
When comparing Griffin’s numbers to Cam Newton’s numbers from last year, his blow Newton’s away. However, what may come as a bigger surprise to most is that Andrew Luck’s numbers from this year’s combine are actually very comparable athletically to those of Newton last year. Luck put up very impressive measurables with a 4.67 second 40-yard dash, 36-inch vertical jump and a broad jump of 10 feet, 4 inches.
Neither player had much of anything to gain from this combine, for Luck and Griffin would almost certainly be selected with the top two picks in the 2012 NFL Draft even if neither player did anything at the combine or at their respective pro days. That said, they certainly decreased the small minority of doubters who question they truly are elite quarterback prospects.
Versatile offensive lineman Cordy Glenn moved his stock up solidly into the first round with a tremendous week at the Senior Bowl. With an impressive combine performance, Glenn’s stock continues to rise.
At 346 pounds, Glenn’s size and strength are undoubted, which he did back up at the combine by putting up 31 repetitions of 225 pounds in the bench press, impressive for a man with long arms (35.75’’). Concerns with Glenn have centered around a perceived lack of athletic ability, but he disproved those doubters as well at the combine.
While Glenn did struggle in the vertical jump (23.5’’) and broad jump (7’9’’), he put up a very impressive 40-yard dash time for a man of his size at 5.15 seconds. Glenn also had a solid day in the positional drills.
Glenn may not have had as impressive of an all-around combine as many of the guys ahead of him on this list, but his 40 time certainly turned some heads, and the fact that he is as athletic as he is for a 346-pound man is very impressive. Glenn remains a likely middle first-round selection.
Melvin Ingram may be the best pure pass rusher in this draft, a position which requires explosiveness and athletic ability. Ingram displayed that he has that at the combine.
Ingram put up impressive marks of 4.79 seconds in the 40-yard dash, 6.83 seconds in the 3-cone drill, 34.5’’ in the vertical jump, and 9’1’’ in the broad jump. More importantly, however, Ingram absolutely stood out among his group in the on-field drills, as he consistently moved the best of any of them.
Ingram’s athletic ability comes as no surprise, considering he had 15 tackles for loss last season and managed to score three touchdowns over the course of the season. But by competing in every drill in the combine, Ingram only boosted his stock as he made a strong case that he is worth a top-10 selection in this draft class.
After a great combine, Ingram now ranks No. 8 among my overall prospects for the draft class.
While Ingram is undersized for a defensive end at 6’2’’ and 264 pounds, I do believe he could play the position in the NFL. That said, his continued showcases of athletic ability suggest that he would be best suited to play in a 3-4 defensive scheme and convert to outside linebacker.
Kendall Reyes’s stock began an upward swing with a great week at the Senior Bowl, and it continued with a strong performance at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Reyes put his athleticism and strength on display. His numbers of 4.95 seconds in the 40-yard dash, 34.5 inches in the vertical jump, and 9’5’’ in the broad jump were all among the best for defensive tackles. Additionally, Reyes put up a tremendous figure of 36 repetitions of 225 pounds in the bench press.
Reyes is an explosive player at the line of scrimmage who has the athleticism to beat blockers off the line of scrimmage and the strength to overpower them. While he was not a dominant player for Connecticut, he was a consistent performer, and his post-collegiate performances have moved him solidly into the third round of the draft.
Prior to the combine, Justin Bethel was not even rated among my prospects for the 2012 NFL Draft, and I questioned whether he even deserved to be at the combine. Bethel proved that he belonged in Indianapolis.
In 4.58 seconds, Bethel did not burn it up for a defensive back in the 40-yard dash, but he proved his athleticism with a 39.5’’ vertical jump and 10’11’’ broad jump. Bethel also excelled in the positional drills, where he competed with as much athleticism as anyone, and he looked very fluid in his movements.
Bethel has very good size for a defensive back at 6' and 200 pounds, which coupled with his athleticism makes him a very intriguing prospect. Given the skills Bethel showed in the positional drills, he may well be worth a late-rounds draft selection and is an intriguing sleeper.
Demario Davis did not put up spectacular numbers playing in the Sun Belt Conference, making it somewhat difficult to project him to the National Football League, but he had an impressive showing at the Senior Bowl and followed it up with another strong showing at the combine.
Davis was one of the best athletes among the linebackers at this year’s combine, running the 40-yard dash in 4.61 seconds, vertically jumping 38.5 inches and broad jumping 10 feet, 4 inches. Davis’ athleticism translated well into the positional drills, where he was also impressive.
Davis should be no more than a late-rounds selection in the 2012 draft, but he is a very athletic linebacker with an intriguing skill set and could end up being one of the sleepers of this draft class.
Ron Brooks was easily, and understandably, overshadowed in the LSU secondary by fellow cornerbacks Patrick Peterson, Morris Claiborne and Tyrann Mathieu over the past two seasons. That said, while Claiborne is the cream of the crop among this year’s cornerback class, Brooks had the more impressive performance at the combine.
Brooks is a terrific athlete, which he displayed at the combine with a 4.37 second 40-yard dash, a 38-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot broad jump. Brooks also stood out in the on-field drills, showing terrific hip fluidity and an ability to track the football in the air.
Brooks may never have been a starter collegiately, but this was a result of the star cornerbacks he played with. He has the potential to make an impact at the next level, at the very least as a special teams player.
Brooks solidified himself as a day-three draft selection and could end up being a late-rounds steal.
This year’s draft class at the tight end position is not strong, but among the tight ends at the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine, Egnew was the standout. Egnew put up tremendous measurables in the combine drills: He ran a 4.62 second 40-yard dash, had a tremendous broad jump of 11’1’’ and a vertical jump of 36’’.
Egnew was not a blocker at Missouri, but he looked decent in the blocking drill at the combine. That said, Egnew was very productive as a receiver at Missouri. With the current trend of NFL tight ends favoring great athletes who present receiving mismatches, the 6’5’’, 252-pound player has a chance to be an impact player at the next level.
With Egnew’s strong showing at the combine, he has a very good chance to be a third-round selection in the draft.
Prior to the combine, Tank Carder was looked at as a high-motor player who was productive at TCU but lacked athleticism. At the combine, Carder proved that he is a much better athlete than he has been credited for.
Carder ran a 4.69 second 40-yard dash and recorded a 34.5 vertical jump and a 10’1’’ broad jump, all impressive athletic marks. Carder was also among the top performers among linebackers in the 3-cone drill (6.89 seconds), 20-yard shuttle (4.18 seconds) and 60-yard shuttle (11.53 seconds).
Carder was not only impressive in the measurable drills, he was also very fluid running through the on-field positional drills, showing that his athleticism translates to the football field.
With the display of athleticism that Carder put on the combine, he proved himself as not only a productive, high-motor player but as a player who has the athletic ability to continue to be productive at the next level. Carder should have solidified himself as a fourth-round draft pick.
Josh Robinson holds the honor of the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine’s fastest man, running the fastest 40-yard dash in a time of 4.33 seconds.
That alone earned him a place among the standouts at the combine, but that was not the only drill in which he made a big impression. Robinson also had a tremendous broad jump of 11'1", while also vertically jumping 38.5 inches.
On the other hand, Robinson did not have a strong day in on-field positional drills. Robinson looked stiff and off-balance in many of the drills and had problems with consistently catching the football.
That said, Robinson was a productive defensive back at UCF who defended 17 passes last season, and his athleticism certainly leaves him with huge upside. He should almost certainly be selected within the first three rounds of the draft.
LSU’s Michael Brockers has received all the hype as the athletic defensive tackle of the draft class, but that did not show up at the combine. For 4-3 teams in need of a dynamically athletic defensive tackle or 3-4 teams looking for an athletic 5-technique defensive end, the answer is Fletcher Cox.
Cox had the fastest 40-yard dash of any defensive tackle at the combine, running a terrific time of 4.79 seconds. Cox was also tremendous in the on-field drills, in which he showed great lateral agility.
Strength was a question for Cox, but he dispelled concerns of strength with an impressive display in the bench press with 30 repetitions of 225 pounds.
Cox is a very intriguing prospect who has the most upside of any interior defensive lineman in this year’s draft class. With his strong combine showing, he moved his way up to No. 18 on my overall draft prospect rankings and has solidified himself as a first-round draft selection.
Unless you are a college football die-hard or a fan of WAC football, chances are good that you had not heard of the name Robert Turbin prior to the combine. With a great combine, Turbin really helped his stock for the 2012 draft.
Turbin most certainly passed the eye test, as the slideshow picture clearly displays. Turbin has tremendous size for a running back at 5’10’’, 222 pounds, and he combines that with impressive athleticism.
Turbin ran a time of 4.50 seconds in the 40-yard dash, a tremendous time for a running back of his size. Turbin also put up very impressive marks in the vertical jump (36’’) and broad jump (10’2’’).
Unsurprisingly, Turbin also showed the strength that gave him such an impressive physique, putting up 28 repetitions of 225 pounds in the bench press.
Turbin is still unlikely to be drafted prior to day three, but his stock is certainly on the rise after a strong combine.
Bruce Irvin was expected to perform very well at the combine, prompting me to rank him sixth among the top-10 players I projected to stand out. He lived up to expectations.
Irvin, a defensive end at West Virginia, worked out with the defensive linemen, but he really should have been working out with the linebackers. Nonetheless, his numbers were among the best of both groups. Irvin ran a 4.50-second 40-yard dash, jumped 10’3’’ in the broad jump and ran a terrific time of 4.03 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle.
Irvin is not very good against the run, but he has impressive pass-rushing ability; over the past two seasons, Irvin has had 28.5 tackles for loss. While Irvin may only be a situational pass rusher, he displayed that he has tremendous explosiveness at the combine, including a 1.54 unofficial 10-yard split in the 40-yard dash, which should help him excel at that craft.
Irvin remains a fourth-round value as he is only a situational player, but he should likely be drafted in the third round after a strong combine performance.
Weighing in at only 5’11’’ and 239 pounds, Kendricks is undersized for the middle linebacker position, but he proved at the combine that he is a fantastic athlete. Kendricks topped all linebackers in the 40-yard dash (4.47 seconds), vertical jump (39.5’’) and broad jump (10’7’’).
Kendricks was a productive middle linebacker at California, leading the Golden Bears last season with 105 tackles and 14 tackles for loss. His productivity and athletic ability point to him having the potential to be a difference-maker at the next level.
Kendricks’s lack of size holds him to a fourth-round draft grade, but he came into the combine as a sixth-round draft value, so he is very much on the rise. At the very least, Kendricks’s ability to tackle and his athleticism should make him a productive special teams player.
When looking ahead to the combine, I projected Luke Kuechly as the No. 3 player most likely to disappoint at the scouting combine. I could not have been more wrong, as he ended up being the standout among the linebacker group.
Kuechly’s draft stock already had him among my top 10 overall prospects in the draft class thanks to his absurdly terrific productivity at Boston College, leading the NCAA in total tackles in each of the past two seasons. That said, I did not expect him to test well in terms of strength or athleticism at the combine.
Kuechly first proved me wrong in the bench press, putting up an impressive mark of 27 repetitions of 225 pounds. Then, in a tremendous surprise, Kuechly ended up being one of the standouts of the explosiveness drills. He ran a 4.58 second 40-yard dash, third-fastest among all linebackers at the combine, along with a 38’’ vertical jump and 10’3’’ broad jump.
Kuechly also looked fluid in the on-field drills, and his collegiate game tape and productivity speak for itself, showing that he is a player who is a consistent tackler and can make an impact from his first game in the National Football League.
After his tremendous combine showing, Kuechly now ranks No. 6 overall among my top prospects in the draft class and has solidified his stock as a top-15 draft choice.
I have been very reluctant to give Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd the same credit that most scouts have. He does not stand out on tape the way a first-round wideout should, and he has a very bad history of off-field trouble. However, Floyd’s major statement he made at the combine is leading me to reconsider his draft value.
Floyd has tremendous size at 6’3’’ and 220 pounds and is well-known for being a physical, strong receiver who runs great routes and has great hands. That said, Floyd displayed surprising athletic ability at the combine, running a very impressive 4.47 second 40-yard dash, and obtaining marks of 36.5’’ in the vertical jump and 10’2’’ in the broad jump.
Aside from Stephen Hill, no wide receiver stood out more in the drills than Floyd. Floyd caught virtually every pass that came his way, showing terrific hands, and he had no trouble running any of the routes in pass-catching drills.
Floyd still receives a second-round grade from me but has moved up to No. 28 in my overall rankings for the draft class, and he has solidified his status as a player who will be drafted in the first round in April.
Coming into the NFL Scouting Combine, my greatest concern regarding Nick Perry was that he may be too small to play defensive end, yet not quite the athlete to play outside linebacker. Perry dispelled both of those concerns at the combine.
Perry weighed in at 6’3’’, 271 pounds, perfect size for a defensive end in a 4-3 scheme, while putting his strength on display with 35 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press. Additionally, Perry was an absolute standout athletically, with a 4.64 second 40-yard dash, 38.5’’ vertical jump and 10’4’’ broad jump.
Perry’s concern comes with his productivity; he was not a dominant force at USC, although he did have 8.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss last season. That said, Perry has huge upside to be a tremendous pass rusher at the next level.
His tremendous combine showing displayed that he has the potential to be a dynamic player as a 4-3 defensive end or a 3-4 outside linebacker and solidified himself as a first-round draft selection.
Coming into the combine, Kalil was one of only three prospects that I give grades of elite (top-five pick) to, and he was my No. 2 overall prospect in the draft class, so his stock did not have any room to grow at the combine. That said, he eliminated any doubts that I had about his stock.
Kalil has everything an NFL team should look for in a left tackle.
He has ideal size at 6’7’’ and 306 pounds. He is a terrific athlete for an offensive lineman, which he displayed with a sub-5 second 40-yard dash, as well as with tremendous footwork in the positional drills. Kalil also put his strength on display at the combine with 30 repetitions of 225 pounds in the bench press.
If any other offensive lineman had any case to challenge Matt Kalil as the top offensive lineman in the draft, the gap has widened even more after the combine. Kalil is a complete left tackle who is almost certain to be the third overall selection in the draft by the Minnesota Vikings, and he should be a star at the next level.
Any defensive tackle who runs a sub-5 second 40-yard dash is impressive, but when that defensive tackle weighs 346 pounds, it is remarkable.
Dontari Poe has ideal size for an NFL nose tackle at 6’4’’, 346 pounds, and he put his athletic ability on display at the combine with his sub-5 40-yard dash. He possesses tremendous strength which he displayed with 44 repetitions of 225 pounds in the bench press, the best among all combine participants.
Relative to his size, Poe was fluid and athletic in the positional drills. Poe was not tremendously productive at Memphis, but his upside cannot be ignored. He has the size, athletic potential and skills to potentially be a tremendous nose tackle in a 3-4 defense.
Given the importance of the nose tackle to 3-4 defensive teams, and that Poe is easily the best nose tackle prospect in this draft class, he has solidified his status as a first-round draft pick. Poe came into the combine as a likely late first-round draft pick with a second-round draft grade, but his combine performance has proven his first-round value.
No player made a bigger impression at the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine than Stephen Hill. Hill, who I had given a Round 3-4 grade to prior to the combine, now should be selected no later than the second round.
Hill only had 28 receptions last season, but this is a direct result of Georgia Tech’s triple option offense, in which the Yellow Jackets run the ball more than four times as frequently as they pass the ball. Additionally, Hill had the best yards per catch average among all qualifying receivers, with a whopping 29.29 yards per catch (eight YPC better than the next receiver).
There are definitely some serious questions with Hill: inconsistency, lack of receptions and lack of routes in Georgia Tech’s offense. That said, Hill’s combine numbers speak to his tremendous upside. Hill is 6’4’’ and 215 pounds yet ran a 4.36 second 40-yard dash, the best of all wide receivers at this year’s combine.
Hill had a vertical jump of 39.5 inches, and a broad jump of 11'1", but he also stood out in the on-field drills. Of the drills I had the opportunity to watch, Hill caught nearly every pass that came his way, making clean catches away from his body and displaying the ability to leap up and make plays on the football.
Hill’s combination of size and speed cannot be ignored. His measurables combined with the ability to catch the ball that he has displayed give him the potential to be a tremendous, Randy Moss-like deep threat at the next level. Given his combine performance, a coach will likely take a chance with the belief that they can develop him into a star.
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