NFL Combine: Who To Know In This Year’s Draft

Joe Clark

With the NFL Combine ending March 6th at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, multiple players solidified their draft stock while others provided more question marks than answers. With the Combine officially over, we’ll take a look at some players who made headlines in Indy.

Myles Garrett

It’s hard to have a better combine than Myles Garrett did. The 6’5, 269 lb EDGE out of Texas A&M came in as the consensus #1 talent in the draft and did more than enough to confirm that assessment. He ran a 4.64 40 yard dash, did the 10 yard split in 1.63 seconds (faster than Devonta Freeman’s combine time) and had a vertical jump of 41.0,’’ higher than Odell Beckham Jr.’s at his combine, in addition to putting up 33 reps on the bench press. Garrett is a physical freak who racked up 31 sacks in three years at A&M, including 12.5 his freshman year. If the Browns pass on him at #1, it will be a huge mistake.

John Ross

After a breakout season at Washington where he had 1,150 receiving yards and 17 TD, John Ross was considered a late 1st/early 2nd round prospect thanks to concerns about his height and strength, as teams worried he may not be able to win 50/50 balls. Well, after running a combine record 4.22 40 yard dash, teams may not have to worry about being in a situation where Ross needs to win a 50/50 ball. He solidified himself as a 1st round prospect, as teams (rightly, at least in this case) salivate over anyone with that kind of speed and production. Ross is a very similar player to Brandin Cooks, who the Titans have rumored interest in, so don’t be surprised if Tennessee takes Ross at #18.

Reuben Foster

Heading into the combine, the ILB from Alabama was considered a likely top ten pick and a near lock to go in the top 15, and since he wasn’t planning on working out, the only thing he could’ve done to hurt his draft stock was to interview poorly. Instead, Foster got frustrated with a long wait for a physical, and became hostile and got into an argument with a hospital worker, even dropping the old “Do you know who I am?” line. Foster was sent home from the Combine, and over the weekend he sent a letter to NFL teams apologizing for his actions and told them he’d be available to meet and discuss the incident before Alabama’s Pro Day. Of course, this is a bad look for Foster, and while NFL teams won’t care too much about the incident, this could push him out of the top 10 and closer to the 12-20 range, but he still has top 10 talent and I could see the Bengals picking him up at #9.

Zay Jones

An under the radar prospect, Jones, a 6’1 WR from East Carolina, posted absurd numbers last season (158 receptions, 1,746 receiving yards, eight touchdowns) and overall during his college career, where he finished with 499 career receptions and over 4,000 yards, but he was largely considered to be a day two prospect as teams were concerned over his perceived lack of speed. At the combine, he put that notion to bed by running a 4.46 40 yard dash, while also posting a 4.01 time in the 20 yard shuttle and an 11 foot-1 inch broad jump. While Jones may not end up as a 1st rounder, he solidified himself as a very solid early Day 2 selection.

George Kittle

Kittle, a TE out of Iowa, hasn’t generated much buzz in what is one of the deepest TE classes in years. While all the focus has been on OJ Howard and David Njoku for TEs, Kittle shouldn’t be ignored. At the combine he turned in a 4.52 40 yard dash and an 11 foot broad jump, and while a foot injury limited his production last year at Iowa where he had 22 catches for 314 yards and four touchdowns, he’s one of the best, if not the best, blocking TE in the draft (just look at this block) and teams can always use TEs that can block. Kittle’s athleticism, size, speed, and blocking ability lead me to think he’s one of the most underrated players in this draft.

Obi Melifonwu

Arguably no one helped their stock in Indianapolis more than Melifonwu, the athletic safety from UConn. Standing at 6’4, he has phenomenal size for the position, and while considered a fringe day one prospect heading into Indy, he could sneak into the end of the 1st
round. His broad jump was 11 feet, 9 inches, the 2nd best combine number since 2003 (trailing only fellow UConn safety Byron Jones’ world record-breaking jump two years ago), while he got up for a 44’ vertical, the best of anyone at the combine this year and the 3rd best total since 2006. He also tied for the 5th best 40 time out of any defensive back, clocking in at 4.40 seconds, which is all the more impressive when you consider his 6’4, 224 lb size. His versatility may lead teams to try him out as a cornerback, which would increase his value, but starting him at safety and maybe easing him into a transition at corner seems like the smart thing to do. Last season at UConn, he tallied 118 total tackles and 2.5 sacks, and actually had eleven career sacks, which is a pretty amazing total for a safety. If a team picking in the 25-38 range (I can’t see him falling any further) has a hole at safety, Melifonwu should be the first guy they look at.
Obviously, there are hundreds of more guys who are going to be drafted this year and try to achieve their dream of playing in the NFL, but I feel that all of these guys (with the exception of Foster) boosted their stock, and while Jones and Kittle aren’t getting a ton of buzz, even after their impressive combine performances, those two are guys that I feel will end up being very good NFL players despite their relative lack of media coverage. Just for fun, you can see my Mock Draft below, which is guaranteed to have an accuracy of less than 5%, as my two-round mock draft last year (it can be viewed here) had a whopping 3/64 picks right for 0.04% accuracy rate. (I did have 5 guys pegged to the right teams, just not in the right spot) So, without further ado, here is my 2017 NFL Mock Draft:

  1. Cleveland Browns-Myles Garrett, EDGE, Texas A&M
  2. San Francisco 49ers-Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
  3. Chicago Bears-Mitch(ell) Trubisky, QB, UNC
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars-Solomon Thomas, DL, Stanford
  5. Tennessee Titans-Jamal Adams, S, LSU
  6. New York Jets-Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
  7. Los Angeles Chargers-Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
  8. Carolina Panthers-Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
  9. Cincinnati Bengals-Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama
  10. Buffalo Bills-Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
  11. New Orleans Saints-Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
  12. Cleveland Browns-Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
  13. Arizona Cardinals-Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
  14. Philadelphia Eagles-Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
  15. Indianapolis Colts-Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
  16. Baltimore Ravens-Derek Barnett, EDGE, Tennessee
  17. Washington Redskins-Haason Reddick, LB, Temple
  18. Tennessee Titans-Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
  19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers-OJ Howard, TE, Alabama
  20. Denver Broncos-John Ross, WR, Washington
  21. Detroit Lions-Forrest Lamp, G, Western Kentucky
  22. Miami Dolphins-Adoree’ Jackson, CB/KR, USC
  23. New York Giants-Garrett Boles, OT, Utah
  24. Oakland Raiders-Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State
  25. Houston Texans-DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
  26. Seattle Seahawks-Jabrill Peppers, S/LB, Michigan
  27. Kansas City Chiefs-Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
  28. Dallas Cowboys-Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
  29. Green Bay Packers-Takkarist McKinley, EDGE, UCLA
  30. Pittsburgh Steelers-Carl Lawson, EDGE, Auburn
  31. Atlanta Falcons-TJ Watt, EDGE, Wisconsin
  32. New England Patriots-Charles Harris, EDGE, Missouri