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Keep your eyes open for these things at the NFL Combine!

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NFL Draft preview

Memphis v Tulane Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Every football fan nerd’s favorite time of the offseason is upon us with the 2019 NFL Combine kicking off this week. As press conferences and interviews ramp up, player tests and drills are approaching quickly. In an NFL Draft class with a lot of intrigue, here’s what to get excited about over the next few days.

  • Big Men Running: The 2019 defensive line class has already garnered a lot of hype. Guys like Ed Oliver, Quinnen Williams, Dexter Lawrence, Josh Allen and Clelin Ferrell are only a few names on a long list of exciting pass rushers and run stuffers. With defensive linemen being some of the best athletes on the planet, this NFL Combine will resemble the Olympics more than anything when these guys are running and jumping. A handful of these guys are well proven on the field, but putting a number to their athletic ability is always going to have fans and teams alike watching closely. Vying for the top pass catcher: This class has a lot of intriguing wide receivers, but lacks a consensus top guy. While the Combine isn’t the be-all and end-all, it can create some distance for impressive (or disappointing performances). AJ Brown is a favorite to impress at the combine after an injury shortened season, but don’t count out JJ Arcega-Whiteside and N’Keal Harry from putting on a show in Indianapolis.
  • Hawkeyes battle in tight (end) positional race: TJ Hockenson and Noah Fant headline this year’s right end class. The former Iowa teammates both bring something unique to the table that will have teams interested. Hockenson is the polished pass catcher while Fant is the tantalizing talent. Expect Hockenson to wow in drills while Fant dazzles in athletic testing.
  • Greedy and the Baker: One of the more interesting comparisons this year is LSU’s Greedy Williams versus Georgia’s DeAndre Baker. Williams is a talented redshirt sophomore with upside for days and immediate impact ability as a man cover corner. Baker, a senior and longtime starter, may not have Williams’ upside but his game is as complete as any cornerback to come out in the last few years. While Greedy’s athleticism is assumed, Baker could surprise people by testing very well and possibly securing his position as the class’ top cornerback.
  • Running back the running back hype: After four straight drafts with multiple first round running backs (eight total), this year doesn’t seem to have that same starpower at the position. There’s no player with Saquon Barkley’s spellbinding athletic ability, Christian McCaffrey’s dangerous versatility or Ezekiel Elliott’s complete game. However, this class has a ton of guys who will be contributors as day two and three picks. Josh Jacobs is a popular name as Alabama’s top back last year while Devin Singletary and Darrell Henderson are coming off productive college careers. Meanwhile guys like LJ Scott, David Montgomery and Elijah Holyfield have a ton of potential but never got to really fill up box scores in college. The Combine could help highlight some of the more talented players and potentially help distinguish someone as the clear-cut top back.