Early Standouts at the 2019 NFL Combine

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistMarch 3, 2019

Early Standouts at the 2019 NFL Combine

0 of 8

    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    The NFL Scouting Combine allows incoming rookies an opportunity to impress their prospective employers. A standout performance can confirm attributes on tape or change the assessment on perceived weaknesses.

    Following the interviews and bench-press workouts, prospects took the field for the much anticipated 40-yard dash and a variety of position drills. Some of the workouts directly translate to in-game scenarios, while others test body motion and flexibility.

    The kickers, punters, offensive linemen and running backs stepped into the spotlight Friday. Quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends followed up Saturday. A select few separated themselves from the bunch, and scouts will have to look back at the film to figure out what they missed and possibly adjust their big boards.

    Who are the top performers from the first two days in Indianapolis?


C Garrett Bradbury, North Carolina State

1 of 8

    AJ Mast/Associated Press

    In case you missed Garrett Bradbury's impressive practices during Senior Bowl week, the North Carolina State center produced an encore presentation at the combine. He posted the second-most bench-press reps (34) at 225 pounds among offensive linemen and recorded the third-fastest 40-yard dash time (4.92) of the position group.

    During the position drills, Bradbury backpedaled and turned his hips with ease, and that's what teams want to see from an interior offensive lineman tasked with help-out blocks at the pivot.

    Furthermore, defensive linemen who cross on stunts would challenge a pass-blocker's ability to change direction and sink his body weight. The 6'3", 306-pound center has the physical tools to stand his ground in that scenario.

    Bradbury doesn't have an issue with lateral movement, which indicates his ability to slide over or pull on outside runs. Based on the film, he's an early-round selection. NFL.com's Gil Brandt has warmed up to a first-round projection.

    "Garrett Bradbury may have just punched a ticket to [the] first round with a sub-5 40 at 306 lbs. I had him at 4.97. Had 34 bench reps yesterday. Plug and play at center for a decade," Brandt tweeted.

    The Carolina Panthers may look to fill center Ryan Kalil's spot in the first round. If so, Bradbury could hear his name called at No. 16.

IOL Erik McCoy, Texas A&M

2 of 8

    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    The 40-yard dash isn't the most important event for 300-plus-pound offensive linemen, but Erik McCoy holds the fastest time (4.89) for the position group this year. Straight-line speed could show up in the trenches when he's moving into the second level of a defense to block linebackers.

    McCoy also fared well in the "wave" drill, which requires offensive linemen to shuffle their feet and flip their hips at the direction of an instructor. In the "mirror" drill, he kept his hands up and feet moving fluidly to match the "rabbit's" (another offensive lineman) movement across the line.

    The Texas A&M product should be able to handle defensive tackles who time snap counts for a quick first step off the line. According to The Athletic's Dane Brugler, "He is competing with Mississippi State's Elgton Jenkins to be the second center off the board."

    McCoy's performance reaffirmed what many may have seen on his collegiate tape: an athletic guard with good hands in the trenches. Expect him to come off the board on Day 2.

RB Miles Sanders, Penn State

3 of 8

    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Alabama running back Josh Jacobs couldn't participate at the combine because of a groin injury. He's regarded as a top prospect, as Bleacher Report's Matt Miller listed him as the No. 5 overall player on his big board. In Jacobs' absence, someone had to steal the show among tailbacks.

    Miles Sanders didn't run the fastest 40 (4.49) but topped all tailbacks with a 6.89-second three-cone drill. He made effortless cuts with the ball and moved with grace after the catch. Most importantly, the junior displayed his pass-catching skills and didn't leave any balls on the ground.

    The Penn State product picked up a fan in NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah, who wrote: "I'm in. I'm all aboard the Miles Sanders express train. He's smooth and he's explosive. ... Caught the ball extremely well. You can't have a better day than what Miles Sanders did today. ... Best in show today for my money at the running back position. ... Couldn't help himself more than he did."

    Within a running back class without a star prospect, Miles may have pushed his stock up an entire round. He's a one-year starter with little mileage on his legs, logging 276 carries in three terms at Penn State. At 5'11", 211 pounds, he could handle the majority of carries in a workload split.

RB James Williams, Washington State

4 of 8

    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    James Williams didn't come to Lucas Oil Stadium with much buzz, and head coach Mike Leach's pass-heavy offense didn't help. The Washington State product didn't log more than 122 rush attempts in any of his three collegiate seasons. Nonetheless, he's one of the better pass-catchers within this running back group.

    Despite logging a 4.58 40, there's one word to describe Williams' performance Friday: crisp. He didn't have wasted movements during drills or bobble the ball on receptions. Based on his performance and what he put on film, the junior could emerge as a solid dual-threat.

    Those who tuned in to the combine saw his sure hands in action. At 5'9", 197 pounds, he's a potential third-down asset who's going to give linebackers nightmares on short passing routes. He's not going to see 20 carries per game, but he could log 10 to 12 touches on a team looking to use his skill set.

TE Noah Fant, Iowa

5 of 8

    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Noah Fant holds the top 40 time among tight ends at 4.5 seconds, but his solid Saturday performance goes beyond high-end speed. The Iowa product flashed uncanny lower-body explosiveness, leading his position group in the vertical jump (39½") and broad jump (127"). He went on to confirm his top-notch pass-catching skills.

    Fant didn't look as impressive as Alabama's Irv Smith Jr. in the gauntlet drill, but he should've placed a close second with his reliable hands and ball-tracking skills on a simulated shallow crossing route. He also showed good arm extension and footwork in the toe tap drill. It's not a surprise since the 6'4", 249-pounder hauled in 78 receptions for 1,083 yards and 19 touchdowns in college.

    For those who question if Fant is just a receiving tight end, he demonstrated functional strength, pushing out 20 reps on the bench press. During the blocking drills, he displayed power behind his drive toward the pads, keeping his head up and legs moving through the rep. Fant likely solidified a spot in the first round.

WR Parris Campbell, Ohio State

6 of 8

    Michael Hickey/Getty Images

    Based on his collegiate film, wide receiver Parris Campbell projects as a fourth-round pick. After an eye-opening showing Saturday, he could creep into the back end of Day 2. Matt Miller lists him as the ninth-best prospect at the position.

    Thus far, Campbell is tied with Andy Isabella for this year's fastest 40 at 4.31 seconds. Is he just a speedy halfback? Teams may have an inclination to move him outside, as he tracked the ball in a variety of pass-catching drills, running different routes.

    In the challenging gauntlet drill, Campbell moved across a straight line, displayed confidence with his hands and saw the ball through the catch before turning toward the next target.

    Campbell isn't a small receiver, measuring 6'0", 205 pounds. If a club likes him as an inside-outside threat, look out for him within the top 100 selections in April.

QB Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State

7 of 8

    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Fellow Buckeye Dwayne Haskins also impressed Saturday. He ran the slowest 40 among quarterbacks at 5.04 seconds, but that's not his strong suit. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, he also battled leg cramps.

    Haskins flicked the ball downfield with ease during the passing drills. Spectators also saw him put necessary touch on throws going deep to unfamiliar receivers for clean completions. The footballs didn't flutter, and they dropped in ideal spots.

    As expected, the redshirt sophomore fared well with his arm strength and accuracy. In addition, his delivery was quick, which contrasts to some of his throws in college, specifically on intermediate routes.

    Coming off a year as a Heisman finalist, Haskins confirmed what scouts may have seen in his one year as a primary starter at Ohio State. The 6'3", 231-pounder's big arm, deep-throw accuracy and refined throwing motion give quarterback-needy teams something to think about in the coming weeks.

WR D.K. Metcalf, Mississippi

8 of 8

    AJ Mast/Associated Press

    What can't D.K. Metcalf do? That's a better starting point when breaking down his combine performance. Chiseled down to 1.6 percent body fat, the Mississippi wide receiver looks like a triathlon competitor and recorded jaw-dropping results for a 6'3", 228-pound athlete.

    Metcalf tied Arizona State's N'Keal Harry for most bench-press reps with 27 and recorded a 40.5-inch vertical jump. Cornerbacks will have issues jamming him at the beginning of his routes, and he showed defensive backs may not be able to cover him downfield, either.

    He used his strong hands to secure an over-the-shoulder reception in a deep-ball drill. He went through the gauntlet with ease and didn't show any signs of hand-eye coordination issues running at three-quarters speed across a horizontal line.

    Metcalf's 34⅞-inch arms and extension, illustrated during Saturday's drills, will allow him to reel in receptions outside his catch radius. His monster performance cemented his spot as the top wide receiver in the draft.