As I mentioned yesterday, we’re going to end this week on a high note with the biggest winners of the 2015 NFL Combine. These aren’t the Marcus Mariotas and Leonard Williamses of the world, guys and gals. These are the guys we weren’t necessarily expecting to breakout and put-up the numbers they did. I love covering out-of-nowhere recruits, so this is one of my favorite columns of the year.
1. Washington DT Danny Shelton may have skyrocketed himself into the top ten on draft weekend with his super-impressive Combine appearance. For a big man (and at 6’2, 339 pounds, Shelton is a big boy), he can move and jump. Shelton ran a 5.66 second 40 and had a 30-inch vertical jump. I can’t wait to see what this kid does in the pros.
2. Hobart and Williams Smith Colleges (student body size: 2,272) OL Ali Marpet first came into the public eye with an impressive Senior Bowl performance. At the Combine, Marpet put-up more excellent numbers, namely a 4.98 second 40-yard dash (since nobody really cares about 40 times for O-linemen, just look at this as proof of the kid’s natural athleticism).You can bet there will be a ton of scouts rushing to watch this guy’s tape before the draft rolls around.
3. Kentucky LB Bud Dupree tried to tell everyone that he would have a darn good Combine and it turns out he was right. Dupree, at 6’4, 269 pounds, ran the 40 in 4.56 seconds and had a 42-inch vert. Dupree, coming out of one of the SEC’s least impressive football programs, is a fairly raw prospect, but his draft stock is definitely on the rise after his showing in Indy.
4. Connecticut may be the reigning NCAA basketball champs, but they also have an excellent CB in Byron Jones. Jones is recovering from a torn labrum, so he didn’t participate in the 40-yard dash or in position drills. However, Jones did have the longest broad jump in Combine history at 12 feet, 3 inches. That’s 8 inches longer than Calvin Johnson’s pro day record. Oh, and he also had a 2015 Combine best with his 10.98 second 60-yard shuttle. Look for Jones to go early on Day 2.
5. Clemson OLB Vic Beasley is an exceptional athlete; we already knew that. However, Beasley ended up proving just how beastly he is by becoming a top performer at his position in all of the workouts and drills he took part in. 4.53 40? Check. 35 reps on bench press? Check. 41-inch vert? Check. Look for Beasley to be snapped-up early on draft weekend.
6. Mississippi CB Senquez Golson wasn’t a top name heading into the Combine, but he emerged with much-improved draft stock. Golson has a lot of the skills (namely footwork, speed, and ball awareness) that NFL scouts are looking for. He could become one of the best under-the-radar picks in this year’s draft.
7. UCLA DE Owa Odighizuwa put-up impressive numbers in nearly all categories. His 4.63 40 and 127-inch broad jump were among the best of all linemen. Furthermore, Odighizuwa looked extremely comfortable during position drills; a natural understanding of the game can’t be coached, so that should improve his stock with scouts around the league.
8. Michigan State CB Trae Waynes was ranked at the top of all cornerbacks heading into the Combine and did everything he could to maintain his spot. Waynes ran a 4.31 40 and looked solid during position drills; the boy clearly knows his stuff. He’s ranked low on today’s list because, let’s face it, everybody already expected Waynes to put on a good performance at the Combine.
9. USC CB Josh Shaw had 26 reps on bench, the most at his position. Shaw also showed more speed than he was expected to when he ran a 4.44 40-yard dash. Shaw isn’t likely to go in Round 1, but he certainly improved his draft stock with his Combine appearance.
10. Georgia WR Chris Conley showed-off his athletic prowess by tying Ohio State CB Donald Washington’s 45-inch vertical jump record at this year’s Combine. Conley isn’t likely to be a Round 1 wideout, but it wouldn’t hurt to keep your eyes on him.