There are many crucial steps in the lead-up to the NFL draft, but the combine is far and away the most important one. A few prospects made the most of the opportunity.
Now that football’s future stars have departed Indianapolis, discussion about the draft will start to heat up rapidly.
The soon-to-be rookies who excelled in their workouts over the past few days will happily take all the attention they can get from now until April 25.
Here are the top performers from the combine whose draft stock is on the rise.
Note: all combine results via NFL.com.
Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
The combine offers raw talents the chance to show off their athleticism. This is exactly what Ansah did.
After clocking in at 4.63 seconds in the 40-yard dash and posting impressive times in the three-cone and shuttle drills, teams will have no questions about Ansah’s physical skills.
At 6’5” and 271 pounds, size certainly is not a concern either.
Ultimately, Ansah proved to be every bit as big, fast and athletic as he appeared to be on film this past season. This has earned him comparisons to the New York Giants’ Jason Pierre-Paul, and it has also catapulted him into being a likely top-15 pick, according to NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah.
Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Eric Fisher did some of his own heavy lifting at the combine, recording 27 bench press reps and running the 40-yard dash in 5.05 seconds.
But the combine turned out to be hugely beneficial to Fisher’s draft stock due to Luke Joeckel’s performance more than his own. The Texas A&M tackle turned in a disappointing 5.3-second 40-yard dash.
Joeckel was not awful in Indianapolis, but he had a chance to take a firm hold of the top overall spot in this year’s draft and failed to do so.
This opens the door for a number of other prospects to be the first player called, and after an impressive showing, Fisher is certainly in the running.
Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
There were plenty of players projected to go in the later rounds who drastically improved their stock in the draft.
Which of these players most impressive at the combine?
Offensive lineman Terron Armstead, tight end Chris Gragg and wide receiver Marquise Goodwin all wowed with their speed, but there was no player who posted more incredible numbers than Hunt.
The Estonian stands at 6’8” and weighs 277 pounds, but that did not stop him from running the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds—making him the third-fastest defensive lineman at the combine.
However, this mark was made even more remarkable when he posted 38 reps in the bench press, which was tied with fellow defensive lineman Brandon Williams for the top mark in Indy. Hunt’s combination of size and speed is mind-boggling, and he will not be available on Day 3 of the draft because of his combine performance.