The Biggest NFL Combine Snubs of 2019
The NFL Scouting Combine doesn't always get it right.
Now the biggest stopping point ahead of the draft and a big reason the draft itself is a year-round process, the combine sent out invites to more than 300 players again this year.
And once again, the process missed several deserving candidates.
A year ago, the same process unfolded. Someone notable like P.J. Hall didn't receive an invite and turned around and got drafted in the second round by the Oakland Raiders anyway. Ditto for Atlanta Falcons fourth-round pick Ito Smith, who went on to rush for four scores.
Granted, more misses than hits will pop up in the snubs section, and with so many prospects entering the league this year, it is hard for the combine to fit everyone onto the list.
But the following guys are this year's most notable snubs. Keep in mind this list will omit anyone not invited due to past off-field incidents and focus strictly on the football itself.
Cortez Broughton, DT, Cincinnati
Given the combine stands as a chance for lesser-known players to improve their stock and seems to love the chance for wow-worthy athletic performances, it is odd to see Cincinnati's Cortez Broughton omitted from the invite list.
A "smaller" defensive tackle at 6'2" and 290 pounds, Broughton erupted for 7.5 sacks last season while disrupting opposing offenses from the middle of his defensive line.
Broughton was good enough to get an invite to Shrine Week, where he predictably stood out in an all-star environment of sorts, showing well in drills and practice. Almost predictably, he was the first player to register a tackle for loss in the game.
The depth of the defensive line in this draft class appears huge, to say the least. But Broughton put on the first great season of his career this past year and hints at immense upside, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see NFL teams end up valuing him quite a bit more on draft day than the combine selection process did.
Khalil Hodge, LB, Buffalo
Khalil Hodge is already a consensus solid linebacker prospect in a class somewhat weak at the position.
Unfortunately, the combine invite process doesn't seem to agree right now, which is odd seeing as Hodge is the type of prospect who most needs a chance to prove himself among the best of the best after spending his playing days in the MAC.
It goes beyond that, too, seeing as Hodge only checks in at 6'1" and 235 pounds. Yet the supposed "undersized" tag and level of competition didn't prevent him from standing out in a massive way and would help to explain the Shrine Week invite and public meet with at least two interested teams.
At a time when the NFL seems to be shifted toward smaller linebackers to better cover the vast array of weapons offenses deploy, Hodge deserved a chance to show what he can do. The omission leaves him with only a pro day and team meets to leave an impression on teams.
Anthony Ratliff-Williams, WR, UNC
Wideout is another position where depth will create some notable whiffs.
Anthony Ratliff-Williams out of North Carolina is a prime example.
Ratliff-Williams was a stud in the wake of Mitchell Trubisky's departure, averaging 18 yards per catch with six touchdowns in 2017. While the football program as a whole was in a dire state, it was clear he still played big-time football in a solid conference and has a ton of traits pro teams will like.
In other words, this one is a big oversight in large part because the Tar Heels weren't making a ton of noise last year. Listed at 6'1" and 205 pounds, Ratliff-Williams has ideal size and speed that holds up on film. He even showed an ability to go up and get the jump balls, hence the large average.
As hinted with other prospects here, Ratliff-Williams is one of those who will have to find his stock-bumping chances at pro days and workouts. He assuredly will, and NFL teams are bound to be higher on him than those in charge of the combine.
Penny Hart, WR, Georgia State
At wideout, a Penny Hart omission makes a little more sense.
After all, Hart spent his days playing at Georgia State. But even then, it's hard to scoff at a pair of 1,000-yard seasons with eight touchdowns in each over four years.
Which isn't to suggest the combine has much of an excuse, either. Hart went on to tear up the Senior Bowl, prompting praise like this from NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah: "Hart's been really explosive at the top of his route. He's very undersized (5-foot-8, 180 pounds), but he's going to have a role at the next level as a fly-sweep guy who can produce out of the slot. He's been tough to cover this week. Shawn Elliott, his head coach at Georgia State, told me Hart's the most competitive player he's ever coached, which speaks well for him."
With the way NFL offenses keep innovating, Hart finding a home and impacting games at the next level isn't out of the question. Someone recent like Tarik Cohen in Chicago has shown how creative minds can put certain talents to use.
An explosive player who would have torn up the combine numbers, Hart has enough going for him on film and other draft events that he didn't overly need the stage of the combine for NFL teams to be thinking about him.
Donald Parham, TE, Stetson
Physical standouts like Donald Parham don't come around often.
While he might have played against iffy competition as a member of the Stetson Hatters, Parham checks in at 6'8" and 240 pounds, making him an obvious possible upside fit at the next level as a developmental big-play artist.
Interestingly enough, Parham doesn't have to be relegated to playing tight end either, not after telling The Draft Network's Benjamin Solak at the Senior Bowl he's comfortable in a flex wideout role.
Parham's Senior Bowl was cut short due to injury, but the measurements registered him as a big winner, and it is a little odd the NFL didn't want to see more if he's healthy for the combine.
At the least, he's one of the more interesting draft-eligible players who could spend a few years developing at the next level. Seeing him tower over others at the combine would have been a good time.
Darwin Thompson, RB, Utah State
A running back served as an example in the intro and likely could each year given the depth and devalued nature of the position these days.
On paper, Darwin Thompson could be the back who in hindsight makes those crafting the combine rosters smack their foreheads.
Over the course of one season at Utah State, Thompson put up 1,044 yards and 14 touchdowns on a 6.8 per-carry average, catching another 23 passes with two scores in the process.
Another 5'8" prospect who can excel in many roles and would have posted some of the best possible times at the combine, Thompson spent his post-transfer time excelling against quality competition and putting some impressive traits on film.
If the combine invitation process isn't built on preseason grading, Thompson's omission certainly suggests it could at least partially be.
Devine Ozigbo, RB, Nebraska
Nebraska's Devine Ozigbo is easily the biggest snub of the process.
Ozigbo spent three seasons playing in a rotational role before receiving 155 carries in 2018. All he did with the chances was rumble for 1,082 yards and 12 touchdowns while averaging seven yards per carry. There was some versatility in there as well, with him chipping in 23 catches.
At this point, Ozigbo's omission seems like a clerical error more than anything else. Bleacher Report's Matt Miller listed him as one of the biggest surprises, and Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network said he was the best prospect he saw at Shrine Week practices.
A biggish back (6'0", 225 pounds) with shifter-than-expected moves and good power, Ozigbo looks like a complete back who will come off the board in the middle rounds and could even have an impact right away in a rotation.