Draft Class Heroes: Combine Takeaways

Welcome back to Draft Class Heroes! This week we dive into the Combine to select the five performances that will send me back to the tape, the five performances that have me windmill jamming and my eight scouting observations for the week.

Re-Check The Tape

Zedrick Woods, S, Ole Miss

A 4.29! I wasn’t over-exaggerating when I tweeted that was the single-most surprising Combine result I’ve ever seen. Watching Woods’ 2017 tape, I thought we were looking at a middling athlete at best who would assuredly go late in the draft if he was selected at all. The last part is probably still true, but Woods’ 40-time should at least lock him into a late round selection.

Never in a million years did I think he would be one of the 20 fastest individuals ever at the Combine, and from what I could gather seeing tweets from Ole Miss fans, neither did y’all. I guess the Rebels had reported him running fast at their facilities, but it never showed up on tape and it felt like a situation where the school was fudging the numbers. Nope. Time to re-check the tape.

2. Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State

Sweat’s Combine was so good I’ve got to go back and check the 2-3 games I haven’t seen from his senior season just to make sure I’m not missing anything. I like Sweat fine, but top ten talk is rich for me. I’m not sure his tape shows the athleticism his performance in Indy suggests, but for such a high-profile player, definitely worth revisiting.

3. Juan Thornhill, S, Virginia

I had a late third round grade on Thornhill’s tape, as I didn’t see the range needed to be an impact player on the back end, nor did I see the tackling to compete around the box. Thornhill’s Combine disagreed with at least the first part, as he ran in the 4.4s and jumped incredibly well. Gonna have to take another look to see what I’m missing with the Cavaliers’ safety.

4. Caleb Wilson, TE, UCLA

Wilson’s 4.5 40 stunned the draft community, as his underwhelming tape was perhaps only trumped by his projected underwhelming athleticism. He didn’t look crisp in the route drills and his frame leaves something to be desired in terms of development, but 4.5 speed for the tight end position is truly rare. Back to the tape I go to see if there is some developmental upside here.

5. Ben Banogu, EDGE, TCU

Maybe I moved on from both of the TCU edges too fast, because I never saw this level of athleticism in Banogu, and I definitely don’t see what everyone else sees in L.J. Collier, although his Combine testing was abysmal enough to perhaps right that ship on its own. Banogu put forth an unbelievable display of all-around athletic ability at 250 pounds, but admitted to me at his podium that he isn’t very polished as a pass rusher right now. Still, if there is upside there I didn’t see the first time through his tape, he’ll be a mid-round developmental target of mine in the draft.

I’m Dunking

1. Trysten Hill, IDL, Central Florida

I expected Hill to test explosively and athletically, and he did not disappoint. His first step quickness and movement skills are impressive on tape, so it was awesome to see those affirmed in a Combine workout that included some of the best jumps in his class. Hill is rough around the edges, but very much worth a mid-round selection.

2. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S, Florida

I’ve been heralding CGJ as a top 32 prospect in the class based off his much-improved 2018 tape, but it feels like many have been hesitant to move him up the board. Hopefully that changes after an impressive combine by the Florida safety, as CGJ ran in the 4.4s to show off the kind of speed you want to see in a 210-pound defensive back. 

3. Emmanuel Hall, WR, Missouri

Hall might drop a few passes here and there, but his long speed and overall athleticism is truly outstanding for the position. A 4.39 40-yard dash, 43.5-inch vertical and 11’9” broad are elite marks that should ensure Hall comes off the board in the top 60 picks. His game is more well-rounded than he’s given credit for.

4. Kahale Warring, TE, San Diego State

What a weekend for Warring. While many of the bigger name tight ends struggled, Warring showed off his elite athleticism, running 4.67, jumping 36.5 inches in the vertical and 10’2” in the broad and running impressive shuttle times for the position. He was already a top 60 prospect in my book, but this should help lock him into the top 100, even in the eyes of the NFL.

5. Foster Moreau, TE, LSU

We knew Moreau was a good blocker, but LSU never let us see much of his receiving ability due to his usage in their offense. After one of the best Combines for his position group, that should change quickly. Moreau tested in every event and was elite across the board with the exception of the 3-cone drill. He’s a dog on tape, and the NFL is going to give him his chance to produce like the Tigers never allowed him to.

8 Scouting Observations

-I’m excited to check out a number of prospects this week after seeing their Combine results, but maybe none as much as Eastern Michigan edge Maxx Crosby. His production is impressive, and his athletic results in Indy were quietly elite. 

-I watched and talked up a bit of Miles Boykin in season, but I didn’t get to his eval before the Combine, and I certainly was not expecting those kind of results. Boykin ran in the 4.4s and jumped 43.5 inches while posting elite all-around numbers. He could sneak into Round 3.

-Blake Cashman stole the linebacker show with a great showing across the board, but Utah’s Cody Barton was impressive as well. In a weak linebacker class, those two and Notre Dame’s Drue Tranquill really helped themselves.

-I’m not willing to throw out Kelvin Harmon based on his average-to-below average Combine results. He’s a highly technical route runner with the necessary physical traits and elite ball skills to win close-quarter combat the vast majority of the time. He doesn’t need to run by people to make his game work, nor does he need to create huge windows of separation. I won’t take him Round 1, but I’m fine with him after that if your offense needs a power forward wide receiver.

-Malik Gant tested poorly across the board, but he’s so stacked and instinctive around the line of scrimmage that I would still be interested in him day three as a no. 3 safety who can play a Patrick Chung-role for my team. At the very least, Gant will be the heart-and-soul of any special teams unit he lands on.

-Based on what I’ve heard about Deandre Baker’s football character, the shockingly small amount of work he put into training for the Combine and the dismal results he subsequently achieved, I would expect him to “fall” in the draft. It only takes one team to ignore all the red flags and fall in love with his senior year tape, but it is no secret that Baker comes with some question marks that will make it tough for him to live up to expectations in the NFL.

-What a stock boost for Amani Oruwariye. The nearly 6-foot-2, 205-pound corner ran 4.47, jumped 36.5 inches and had a 6.82 3-cone despite being 15 pounds bigger than the average Combine corner. In a weak cornerback class, he helped himself a ton.

-We still have a lot to learn about the safeties. Taylor Rapp didn’t run, Deionte Thompson and Nasir Adderley didn’t do anything and John Abram and Thornhill didn’t do agilities, my biggest question mark for both of them. Kind of a frustrating day to Combine scout the position due to the absence of key information.