Tuesdays with Gorney: Programs that are pleased after the NFL Combine
The NFL Scouting Combine took place over the last few days and Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney followed along closely. In today’s Tuesdays With Gorney, he breaks down six teams that could be helped in recruiting for the 2024 class and beyond based on how players from those schools performed in Indianapolis:
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Coach Billy Napier and his staff could absolutely use all the hype and attention surrounding quarterback Anthony Richardson in recruiting especially since he blew away the combine with his athletic ability and on-field performance and is now in the discussion as the No. 1 quarterback to be taken. That could help the Gators immensely when it comes to quarterback and skill position recruiting.
Former five-star Gervon Dexter also flashed his length, athletic ability and speed in Indianapolis and that’s another good bit of news for the Gators, who finished 6-7 in Napier’s first season. Brenton Cox, another former five-star who transferred from Georgia to Florida, had a disappointing showing at the combine though.
It was a little bit of a mixed bag for Georgia players at the combine with a lot of good but also some bad. But it will help in recruiting regardless that the Bulldogs sent 12 players to Indianapolis.
Former five-star Broderick Jones ran the fastest 40-yard dash of any offensive lineman at the event and he surprisingly measured at 6-foot-5 ⅜ after being listed at 6-foot-4 by Georgia. Nolan Smith also moved himself way up as the former five-star posted a 4.39-second 40 which would have been the sixth-fastest among the receivers group which is a phenomenal time.
Tight end Darnell Washington, another former five-star, also impressed at the combine not only with his size and speed but he had arguably the nicest catch of the weekend with a one-handed grab while twisting his body the other way. He could be moving up maybe into first-round discussion as well.
But Georgia also had the Jalen Carter off-field situation, defensive backs Kelee Ringo and Christopher Smith Jr. didn’t blow away a lot of analysts and running back Kenny McIntosh was not among the standouts during his position work.
It was a great weekend for Illinois and it’s something coach Bret Bielema and his staff could absolutely build upon when it comes to recruiting and developing defensive backs in Champaign.
Defensive backs Sydney Brown and Jartavius Martin were especially impressive in Indianapolis and could surprise to the upside on draft day. Running back Chase Brown was also someone who helped himself a lot by running 4.43 in the 40.
Illinois’ top draft prospect, defensive back prospect Devon Witherspoon, disappointed from an athletic metric standpoint but was one of the highest at his position when it came to production numbers. He should still be a first-round pick and that’s only more good news for Bielema when it comes to recruiting.
Speed is something coach Mike Locksley and his Maryland staff are going to sell especially after many of his players at the combine put up incredible testing numbers.
Cornerback Deonte Banks went 4.35 in the 40 and finished first in the athleticism score by NextGenStats for players at his position. Fellow cornerback Jakorian Bennett went 4.3 flat. Receiver Jacob Copeland ran a 4.42 and former five-star Rakim Jarrett, who has not lived up to that billing and is expected to be a mid-round selection, posted a 4.44.
The Terrapins in Indianapolis showed they have elite athletes on both sides of the ball and it should only assist Locksley and his staff when they’re selling the program to those types of players on the trail.
Defensive lineman Calijah Kancey recorded a 4.67-second 40-yard dash, the fastest for a defensive tackle in combine history dating back to 2003. What makes it more interesting is that the record he broke was held by another former Pitt DL – Aaron Donald – as both were former three-star prospects as well. Kancey clearly was one of the top testers at the combine and it could help his draft stock even though he didn’t participate in on-field drills.
Defensive back Brandon Hill was the other Pitt star at the combine with a 4.43-second 40 and maybe even more important a 1.5-second 10-yard split which is becoming even more important for NFL decision-makers. The former three-star safety also looked good during drills and is now definitely in that second-day draft conversation.
The Panthers could get even more good news after Pitt’s pro day where running back Israel Abanikanda is waiting to run his 40 and he could put up an impressive time. Texas A&M’s Devon Achane posted the best time at 4.32.
Everything still seems to be looking up for Tennessee as the Vols had a great showing at the combine and could easily sell a lot of successes coming out of Indianapolis
Defensive lineman Byron Young was a big surprise not only in testing with a 4.43-second 40, but also with how he looked muscled up and his on-field work could have easily moved him into an early Day 2 selection. Linebacker Jeremy Banks also tested well although where he will be drafted is still a matter for debate.
Wide receiver Jalin Hyatt continues to see his stock go through the roof after off-the-charts testing numbers combined with a great senior in Knoxville could put him in that late first-round discussion. Former five-star offensive tackle Darnell Wright is also someone who impressed in Indianapolis as NextGenStats placed him among the top four at his position in production and athleticism scores.