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NFL Combine 2017: Ten things we learned about the upcoming draft class

10 takeaways from the underwear Olympics.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 NFL Combine is over. Here's what we learned.

  1. The combine has come and gone. Hundreds of prospects showed the world their athletic ability and one of the final pieces in a prospect's evaluation is complete. With this deep and talented class all finished up in Indy, here are a few things that were cemented in the last few days. Myles Garrett is the clear cut best player in this class. After three years of high level production at Texas A&M, many people project Garrett to be the number one pick in the draft. While some are advocating taking a quarterback at that pick (me included), few people will deny the reality that Garrett is the best player this year. At the combine, Garrett displayed the elite athletic ability that was so evident on tape. His speed and explosiveness at his monstrous size confirmed that he is a rare prospect and Cleveland taking him first overall would surprise no one. He is a franchise building block.

  2. While the combine solidified Myles Garrett's draft stock, it shook the perception of a view guys thought to be first round level players. Jon Allen, Teez Tabor, Tim Williams and Dalvin Cook were all considered to be among the best prospects in the class. However, each had uniquely mediocre or bad combines that affected the perception of them. Combines like the ones they had force people to go back and look at the tape. In the case of Tim Williams and Dalvin Cook, it is especially hard to find where the lack the juice. Jonathan Allen was never an athletic prospect, but his testing underwhelmed even low expectations. As for Teez Tabor, his game is more about savvy and physicality then it is about being an explosive athlete. In any of these cases, beliefs that they are still top prospects in the class will take a significant leap of faith from teams and evaluators regarding their athletic ability.

  3. Marshon Lattimore is the best cornerback in this class. Lattimore has seen a meteoritic rise since the end of the season that I mostly bought into. Despite me loving his fluidity and cover skills on tape, there were aspects of Teez Tabor, Cordrea Tankersly and Sidney Jones' games that made the top corner conversation murky for me. However, after a very outstanding combine, especially relative to his peers, I am comfortable recognizing Lattimore as not only the best cornerback in the class, but one of the best players, period.

  4. This cornerback class is stacked. Even with Lattimore establishing himself, the cornerbacks did a great job as a group yesterday. Cordrea Tankersly, Ahkello Weatherspoon, Kevin King, Fabian Moreau, Adoree Jackson, Marlon Humphrey, Chidobe Awuzie and several other corners had impressive combines. When these guys are all running well and a lot of them have tape that put them in a top 75 conversation, that is incredibly good for NFL teams. There will be legit starter talent at the cornerback position going into day three considering not only the depth in this class, but the amount of NFL level athletes.

  5. The Eagles could benefit from going heavy defense this year. While the offense was clearly an issue last season, a lot of that can be chalked up to youth on that side of the ball and with some minor additions (particularly at the skill positions), the unit could see massive improvement. This class is deep with defenders at all levels of the field and the Eagles taking advantage of the abundance of pass rushers and cornerbacks would be great. The Eagles starting corners for next year are not (or at least should not be) currently on the roster and there are more questions along the front seven than answers. Luckily, this class will have starters in every round and if the team wanted to grab a cornerback, linebacker and a few defensive linemen in this year's seven rounds, they would really reap the rewards of such a deep class in doing so.

  6. The receiver probably will not be there at 14. A receiver will probably be available by the Eagles' pick, but probably not the guy who will help this football team from day one. The only two receivers I would take in the top 15 this year are Corey Davis and John Ross. Davis, even without performing at the combine, is highly regarded around the league, seemingly. Ross was able to outrun physics this weekend and boosted an already high stock, even with injury concerns. Both guys will have to make it past teams like the Titans, Bengals, Bills, Jets and Panthers who need receivers badly and both falling past those teams is highly unlikely. While the Eagles could trade up, they would be best served to stay put and keep assets to take advantage of such a deep class. At 14, a cornerback or pass rusher may make a lot more sense and then in round two grab a solid player like Taywan Taylor or Ju Ju Smith Schuster.

  7. Christian McCaffrey has the makings of a special NFL player. Christian McCaffrey nearly won the Heisman in 2016 and followed up that season with another year of breaking 2000 scrimmage yards, including 1600 yards on the ground. McCaffrey comes from one of the most pro-style, in between the tackles offenses in college football at Stanford and his productivity speaks to his translatability. McCaffrey was highly viewed by many before the combine, so him absolutely dominating it put him in the conversation to be the best back this year. While some people are concerned about a featured back of his size, he has shown he can shoulder the load at a high level. Factor in his ability catching and returning the ball, and you have one of the safest, most dynamic prospects in this class.

  8. Consensus will be difficult this year more than many others. Besides Myles Garrett, it is hard to find a prospect everyone agrees is the best at their position. The combine continued to murky that conversation. Lots of guys who many don't consider the best at their position: John Ross, Deshaun Watson, David Njuko, Budda Baker, Cam Robinson and Christian McCaffrey all had outstanding combines and interviews relative to their position group. While this does not completely flip the conversation in some cases, it makes it hard for someone to definitively say a guy is the top player at most of these positions. Besides Reuben Foster and Myles Garrett, none of these positions have a clear cut top player, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

  9. They're putting something in the water at UConn. Two years ago, Byron Jones set records at the NFL combine; Setting the broad jump and vertical jump record at nearly 200 pounds. Jones' athletic ability would push him into the first round and now he is a solid contributor for the Cowboys. This year, he was one upped when UConn safety, Obi Melifonwu, not only nearly matched his vertical jump at 44" (compared to 44.5") and broad jump (141" to 147"), but did so weighing twenty five pounds heavier. Oh, yeah, and Melifonwu also ran a 4.4 40 yard dash at 224. The 6-4 safety has been getting love up to this point, but not it will be impossible to see him falling out of the top twenty five in this class. He is a rare, rare athlete.

  10. The Eagles will have a hard time screwing this up. This is as good a class as I have seen in my six years of writing about the draft. While other classes had better top level talent, this class' overwhelming depth will help a lot of franchises rebuild their rosters. The only position that does not have relatively good depth is offensive tackle and the class still has guys like Cam Robinson, Taylor Moton, Ryan Ramczyk, Garrett Bolles and Forrest Lamp who should all be top 50 picks at the position. The amount of gifted defenders, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends in this class is astound and considering the Eagles needs, they could patch up their team in one offseason. They could play the draft multiple ways this year and still come away a much, much better team. It is exciting.

  11. BONUS TAKEAWAY: Mitchell is still a bad name for a quarterback.

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