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NFL Combine 2017 Update: Winners and losers so far

Observations, measurements and predictions.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday was a big day for the Eagles and Eagles fans as running backs took center stage to go through drills and athletic testing during the combine. Offensive linemen also took part, but it is well known that running back is among the Eagles top needs. Did anyone win the day? Or lose?

  • The big winner from yesterday was Christian McCaffrey. After folks got in their feelings about him weighing a bit light and not killing the bench press, McCaffrey had an outstanding day of testing. He ran a 4.48 40 yard dash, which tied him for fourth at his position in the drill, a 37.5 inch vertical, which was among the best at his position and better than Dalvin Cook or Leonard Fournette and an insane 6.57 second 3-Cone drill. That number is second best at the position in the last 14 years. Needless to say, McCaffrey answered any questions folks may have had about his athletic ability and reasserted himself as a top back in the class.
  • More winners yesterday include Wyoming's Brian Hill. Hill has flown under the radar in a strong class, but the 6'1" and nearly 220 pound back ran a 4.54, 34 inch vertical and over 10 foot broad jump. Those are very good numbers for any back, let alone a bigger one. Aaron Jones out of UTEP is a smaller school guy who helped make a name for himself with a 37.5 inch vertical and a 10'7" broad jump. At 5'9" and 208 pounds, Jones is a short, well built back and he proved his explosive ability yesterday. Alvin Kamara was another guy who needed a big combine. While his tape is impressive, his lack of touches at the college level makes him a difficult projection. However, teams may feel more comfortable taking him after a 10'11" broad jump and a 39.5 inch vertical. That type of explosive ability is rare for running backs and it shows up on Kamara's tape. Will he be one of the first five backs off the board?
  • The biggest names from yesterday were Dalvin Cook and Leonard Fournette. Fournette had an underwhelming vertical jump, but then posted the best 40 yard dash time for a 240+ pound running back ever. So it is hard to discredit Fournette's combine performance when his scouting report is essentially "Gigantic, incredibly fast human being." Like I have said before, combine numbers should run in line with strengths and weaknesses on tape, which this certainly does. As for Dalvin Cook, he only had a slightly better vertical and 40 yard dash time despite weighing 30 pounds less than Fournette. While the numbers are still good for a running back, I am slightly surprised they are not better.It is not a huge concern, since it's not like Cook tanked the combine. I just expected a track burning performance from the Florida State speedster.
  • The offensive linemen featured some pretty impressive athletes. Cam Robinson, Dion Dawkins, Aviante Collins, Forrest Lamp and Garrett Bolles all had impressive performances. Dawkins surprised a lot of folks considering many thought of him as an NFL guard but with his long arms and proven agility (7.3 second 3 cone drill), he could have the flexibility to kick out to tackle. While a lot of folks were very impressed by Garrett Bolles, I am very hesitant because of his age. His advanced athletic ability is not very surprising due to the fact that he is a 24 year old taking a test that is mostly 21 and 22 year olds. His body being further along in development translates to better numbers and higher percentile testing. Also, Bolles being as old as he is and still being in the 4th percentile for weight among offensive tackles suggests his body is maxed out where it is. While Bolles is dominant on tape, I wonder how different a player he becomes when he is no longer blocking guys who are 4-6 years younger than him on a regular basis.
Today is another exciting day for Eagles fans because of wide receivers taking to the tests, along with wide receivers and quarterbacks. Here are some expectations for the day.
  • I know I said this yesterday (and I was wrong), but there is a good shot at some sub 4.4 40 times today. With John Ross, Curtis Samuel and Shelton Gibson running today, expect some seriously fast times.
  • Overall, if I had to make a prediction, I would guess that John Ross and Taywan Taylor have the best overall combines. Their speed and agility was dominant in college and I bet that translates to the workouts.
  • Ju Ju Smith Schuster may test alright today, but expect him to dominate the gauntlet exercise.
  • It is a bummer that Corey Davis and Mike Williams will not be running today considering many see them as the two best receivers in the class. However, it will be noteworthy to keep an eye on the rest of their numbers. I could see Davis impressing overall without running his 40 today.
  • There are some freaks among these tight ends. OJ Howard and David Njoku are both incredibly athletic players on tape and Michael Roberts, Evan Engram and Bucky Hodges are some more guys who move very well at the position. I would expect this to be the most athletically impressive group of tight ends in recent memory.
  • While it may not matter to Eagles fans, it will be fun to see this group of quarterbacks go through the tests. The top five guys; Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes, Deshone Kizer, Mitch Trubisky and Jerod Evans are all impressive athletes in different respects. Of the five of them, I bet Deshone Kizer has the best combine. He is the best built of the five and he showed he can run on tape. Expect good numbers for all of these guys, but Kizer should really have a nice day of testing.
  • The fact that Mitch Trubisky wants to go by Mitchell in the NFL is abhorrent. That is all.

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