Six college programs that won the NFL Combine
The NFL Combine is in the books and many teams represented well with prospects putting up excellent numbers and showing out on the field. Here are the top colleges that should be proud of their players’ efforts.
GODFATHER AND GORNEY PODCAST: Who shined, fizzled at NFL Combine?
Let’s start with running back Saquon Barkley. He interviewed well, he was excellent during the drills and he was great with the on-field work. The running back is now being discussed possibly being taken with the No. 1 overall pick by the Cleveland Browns.
Tight end Mike Gesicki also tested really well and could be in the conversation as the top tight end drafted. Defensive back Troy Apke definitely helped himself with a 4.35 40 time. The Nittany Lions also had a bunch of defensive backs work out that could move up draft boards.
Farrell’s take: It’s not a huge surprise that Barkley killed the combine, but did we think he would dominate as much as he did? Gesicki is also a very freaky athlete so his performance isn’t stunning, but like Barkley he cemented himself as the No. 1 player at his position. Apke and others also helped their stock and the Nittany Lions recruiting of late showed up at the combine and that should continue in the future.
Defensive end Bradley Chubb solidified himself as a top-five pick and at 6-foot-4 and 269 pounds, his testing numbers were fantastic. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said Chubb reminds him of Joey Bosa and that’s a tremendous compliment. Lots of mock drafts have Chubb taken third overall by the Indianapolis Colts and he could be special immediately.
One surprise for the Wolfpack was just how good running back Nyheim Hines tested. Running 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash could move him up at his position because of his dynamic ability. BJ Hill had a very good showing at defensive tackle, running a sub-5.0 and showing out in the on field drills. Kentavius Street also posted a sub 5.0 at 287 pounds.
Farrell’s take: NC State is a bit of a surprise. Yes we knew Chubb would kill it, but Hill was a bit of a surprise and Hines time really helped his stock. Street looked the part as well despite only testing in the bench and 40-yard dash. It’s easy to see why NC State had a nice run last season with all of this talent and these performances should only help recruiting.
Some Florida State defensive players that had questions entering the combine answered those in a big way, led by defensive end Josh Sweat and linebacker Matthew Thomas. Posting a 4.53-second time in the 40-yard dash, Sweat impressed a lot of evaluators and it could drastically help his draft status. Thomas was phenomenal in the vertical jump and other drills that show off explosive athletic ability.
Of course, safety Derwin James was closely watched as well and he did nothing to move him off the No. 1 or 2 spot at his position. It was a solid weekend all around for the Seminoles.
Farrell’s take: Sweat was a freaky kid coming out of high school but with that near career-ending injury he suffered his senior year of high school, who knew how he would test? He was off the charts in every category and has pushed his stock way up. Thomas was fluid in everything he did and James is an elite safety prospect so FSU should be well-represented as always. Based on the recruiting of Jimbo Fisher prior to this past year, this has to be expected.
With 14 players at the combine, more than any other team, there were a lot of eyes on Crimson Tide players in Indianapolis and there were definitely some standouts. Running a 4.43-second 40-yard dash and moving so quickly in drills, Calvin Ridley solidified himself as the top receiver in the draft. He could be a top-10 pick. Defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne continues to impress and will be in the discussion for one of the top players at his position taken off the board.
A whole group of defensive backs looked good in Indianapolis led by Minkah Fitzpatrick, who ran 4.47 seconds in the 40 and whose versatility at corner, safety and nickel make him attractive to many teams high in the first round.
Farrell’s take: Stunning right? Alabama always does well at the combine and could make a case for having the top wide receiver, defensive tackle and defensive back prospect. Ridley was sudden and explosive in everything he did and his gauntlet drill was nearly perfect while Payne showed great athleticism. Fitzpatrick showed he can play any defensive back position and secured himself as a top 10 pick. Rashaan Evans, Tony Brown and others also did well on the field.
The running back duo is the main story for the Bulldogs as Sony Michel especially looked good at the combine and could continue to shoot up draft boards after a strong showing in the College Football Playoff. Nick Chubb might not be far behind. Chubb ran a respectable 4.52 in the 40, tied Barkley on the bench press with 29 reps and then Chubb was fantastic in the other drills that test explosiveness.
Roquan Smith could be the first linebacker taken off the board. Georgia sent 10 players to Indianapolis and several impressed.
Farrell’s take: There’s a reason why Georgia played for the national title and many of the players that stood out were keys to the run. Chubb’s time was great to see as he is fully recovered from that horrific injury from a couple of years ago and Michel could be this year’s Alvin Kamara, a guy who slips past round one but dominates. Smith and Tremaine Edmunds are battling for the top linebacker spot and Lorenzo Carter had a great time as a hybrid guy.
Also sending 10 players to the combine, no one helped themselves more than receiver D.J. Chark, who posted excellent numbers across the board especially with a 4.34 40 and a 40-inch vertical. In a down year for receivers, Chark could quickly move up a lot of draft boards. Another impressive performance came from running back Derrius Guice, who ran sub-4.5 in the 40-yard dash and could battle for the No. 2 running back spot behind Barkley. Cornerback Donte Jackson ran 4.32 in the 40 and that could intrigue some teams.
Farrell’s take: This is a bit of a surprise. Not that LSU is a surprise team because they always produce elite combine performers, but this was supposed to be a down group for them. Chark was one of the surprises of the combine, Guice ran a very good time and helped his stock and Jackson was tied with two others for the best time overall at the event. LSU could put two guys in round one and heading in, that was in question.