When evaluating a player’s performance at the NFL Scouting Combine it’s important to remember that performance in shorts has little to do with performance on the field. Some of the “winners” won’t pan out and some of the “losers” will be perennial Pro Bowl superstars. That said, a good showing at the Combine undoubtedly affects draft status. Below are five players with soaring stocks and sinking stocks based on how things have gone:
Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
As you’ll see below, Noah Spence’s stock may have dropped a little bit after the combine. Because of that, the question immediately becomes “who is the best pass rusher in the draft”? That’s a need for pretty much every team ever as you can never have enough sack masters on defense. Lawson has certainly laid claim to his legitimacy after a fantastic combine. His 4.70 40 yard dash was 4th best among defensive lineman, and his eyebrow raising 4.21 20 yard shuttle suggests he has that explosiveness to get after the quarterback. Lawson will be at the top of the list of teams looking for pressure help.
Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
Many feel Wentz might be the best quarterback in this draft but the biggest thing going against him is the lack of competition in college. For this reason an impressive combine was critical to his draft outlook. By all accounts Wentz responded with another stellar performance on the heels of an excellent Senior Bowl. Wentz looks the part, has all the measurables, and is passing every “test” with flying colors.
Darron Lee, OLB, Ohio State
Myles Jack and Jaylon Smith are considered by many as the best two linebackers in the draft. Unfortunately, neither ran at the combine due to knee injuries. While Jack’s injury is not considered a big threat to his career, Smith’s situation is surrounded by enormous concern. For that reason, Lee’s stock is way up. Combine that with a 4.47 40 time, which is just ridiculous for a linebacker, and he’s likely vaulted himself into the top 15.
Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
His 4.32 40 was the fastest among receivers. He was also effective in pretty much every other drill he did. He’s viewed as a speedster field stretch to begin with, so he needed a performance like this to separate himself from other explosive players.
Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State
He ran a 4.63 40, had a ridiculous vertical jump and has an abnormal wingspan. Those all add up to him being a pass rushing specialist trending up. Definitely a guy capable of double digit sacks in the NFL.
Jaylon Smith, OLB, Notre Dame
Smith was grilled repeatedly about his knee injury, which was the talk of the Combine. Meeting with reporters, he gave contradictory statements that didn’t exactly squash fears. Then, the word came out that he failed the medical evaluation of multiple teams that subsequently took him off their board completely. The big concern is possible nerve damage that could affect his ability to return and be the same player (or at all). Smith is extremely well spoken, the kind of guy you’d want representing your team and city. In many instances he said all the right things and he’s a guy that’s very easy to root for. Teams have to be realistic about how devastating that full ACL and LCL tear was two months ago, though. There’s no telling how far he’ll fall but there’s a very good chance he won’t get taken on the first day. Too bad, because some felt he was the best player in the draft before the injury.
Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss
His combine was actually quite good in drills but talent was never in question with him. During interviews he was grilled about his infamous off the field incident and during the media session he made the unfortunate pun of “someone had to take the fall”. He also volunteered publicly that some of his teammates were there, listing at least one by name which potentially damages his draft stock and as well as his public perception. If teams are smart, they’ll view this as another sign of poor character. Throwing teammates under the bus is not how you make amends. And it’s one thing to come clean in interviews with teams, but airing a teammate’s dirty laundry publicly is a bad look.
Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State
His small sample size in college combined with him not throwing at the combine leaves serious questions about how ready he is for the NFL. With impressive combine efforts by many of the other athletic quarterbacks, he’s becoming more of an afterthought.
Noah Spence, OLB, Eastern Kentucky
He needed to nail his combine because of off the field concerns. Unfortunately, his 4.80 40 time suggests he’s not as explosive as some teams hoped he’d be.
Adolphus Washington, DT, Ohio State
Word is he looked disinterested and sluggish during drills. He was suspended from Ohio State’s bowl game for soliciting a prostitute and he’s falling down boards for failing to cease an opportunity at redemption at the combine.