Shaquem Griffin opened many eyes with his impressive, all-around performance in Indianapolis
The shrimp cocktails at St. Elmo’s were drowned by the dozens and the scouts have come and gone as the annual NFL Scouting Combine is finally in the books from Indianapolis. As a result, every team has made adjustments to their scouting reports and will return home to make further tweaks to their draft board in the wake of medical evaluations, 40 times and agility drills.
While some top prospects like Saquon Barkley lived up to the hype on the turf of Lucas Oil Stadium, others saw their stock rise by outperforming expectations during testing. Here are a dozen players who impressed at the Combine.
Stock Up After NFL Scouting Combine
Desmond Harrison, OL, West Georgia
Harrison had one of the better 40 times in the offensive line group and showed off some elite athleticism like many thought he would. He checks off all the boxes in terms of what you’re looking for in a tackle getting off the bus and came in heavier than he did at the Senior Bowl. This was the second big stop in terms of interviews for the player to explain why he moved around to so many schools so he likely helped himself off the field as well and could go earlier than expected on Day 2 as a result.
Kolton Miller, OL, UCLA
Pitt’s Brian O’Neill and Miller were the two “wow” guys of the tackle group who made you turn your head at just about every number they put up. The Bruins’ former left tackle — at 6-foot-9 no less — dropped a sub-5.0 40-yard dash and a position group record of 10-1 in the broad jump. He looked great during the movement drills as well and was able to showcase an impressive amount of athleticism that he didn’t seem to showcase at UCLA. Don’t be surprised if he’s now a high second-rounder if not somebody who sneaks into the first as teams re-evaluate Miller with a higher grade.
Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
Saquon Barkley got all the attention at the Combine but Guice (above, right) had a better outing relative to expectations (everybody knew Barkley was a freak athlete, after all). Guice’s 4.49 40-yard dash time was fifth among running backs and an excellent number for some wondering if he was fast enough to be one of the elite guys in this year’s draft class. Most importantly, Guice looked fully healthy and likely solidified first-round status.
D.J. Chark, WR, LSU
Chark ran a blazing 4.34 40-yard dash to light up the sidelines at Lucas Oil Stadium and looked ever so smooth going through drills like the gauntlet. There’s plenty of fighting over who might be the second wideout to go behind Calvin Ridley and Chark laid his claim in a big way (especially as one of the bigger options at 6-foot-3). Add in his ability to return kicks and teams might be fighting over him on Day 1.
DJ Moore, WR, Maryland
Moore has been naturally compared to former Terps star Stefon Diggs and that probably won’t stop after a terrific run through the drills at the Combine. While the 4.42 40-yard dash was plenty, his 39.5 vertical jump turned a few heads and he also checked in at an even 6-feet after being labeled a little shorter. Already a top-40 or top-50 prospect, the trip to Indy might have made Moore the second receiver off the board next month in Dallas.
Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
It was an impressive quarterback group but the most controversial of the prospects probably emerged with the most momentum and showed off the upside that will likely get him into the top 10. Allen (right) showed an easy, smooth motion and launched some balls with his cannon of an arm with ease. The deep ball got the TV folks excited but the shorter throws were where he made some money with accuracy he doesn’t consistently display on film.
Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State
The Penn State strength and conditioning staff turned into the best recruiters in the country this week between the Indy outings of Barkley and Gesicki. The Nittany Lions’ former tight end moved like few in the TE group could with a 4.54 in the 40 and an eye-opening 41.5 vertical jump. While everybody thinks he’s more of a pass catcher than a blocker, putting up the second-most bench reps helped him in that department and introduced him into the conversation as a potential late first-round pick.
B.J. Hill, DL, NC State
Bradley Chubb was the headliner of a strong Wolfpack contingent at the Combine but Hill kind of stole the show with some of his numbers. Going 4.99 in the 40 at 311 pounds is kind of hard to fathom and he posted the third-most reps among the defensive line group on the bench too. Just as big were the drills where Hill looked less like a defensive tackle and more like a defensive end (despite being 311) running around out there with some great quickness and change of direction.
DaRon Payne, DL, Alabama
Payne running 4.95 in the 40 at 311 pounds was one of the most impressive times among the defensive line and he was absolutely moving during drills. College fans know all too well how good the Crimson Tide star is and his surprising display of top-notch athleticism for a defensive tackle will only help him move up draft boards to the point where he could hear his name much earlier than we thought coming into Indy.
Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College
Everybody needs pass rushers and Landry put himself firmly in the mix in the first round with his showing at the Combine. He posted one of the top three cone times (a good predictor for EDGE guys) and ran much faster than many expected with a 4.64. He looked solid during change of direction drills and showed why there’s plenty of upside with him given some of the numbers he posted as he regains momentum on draft boards after a sub-par 2017 season on the field.
Shaquem Griffin, LB, UCF
There’s no question what the story of the Combine was and Griffin’s performance will be talked about for years and years to come. His 20 reps on the bench press made many awestruck at what he was doing and then he followed it up with a head-turning 4.38 40-yard dash. At this point, the question is not if Griffin gets drafted but where — and it’s looking like Day 2 can’t be ruled out as teams fall in love with the prospect with the best story (and tape) of just about anybody.
Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
Teams hoping Alexander would be there in the second round to boost their secondary may need to make other plans after a strong outing in Indianapolis. He blazed a 4.38 40-yard dash to jump on everybody’s radar early on Monday and then followed it up by looking very impressive during the drills portion of the day. He looks fully healthy after dealing with some injuries and that resulted in a very lucrative Combine performance for Alexander.
— Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.