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NFL Combine 2019: Day 1 Winners & Losers

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Who checked the boxes? Who failed the test?

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Day 1 of the NFL Combine is in the books! Who won? Who lost? Does it matter? It depends.

We’ve talked about which aspects of the Combine will be important for specific prospects on The Kist & Solak Show, but now it’s time to put these players to the test. The literal test. The.. athletic testing. You get where I’m going with this.

This list is purely based on measurements and testing; I’ll re-watch the on-field drills with more scrutiny throughout the process. I will say that adding Joe Thomas to the crew was a plus for NFL Network as he brought excellent pointers to the table.

One tool I use to formulate my athletic score is Kent Lee Platt’s “RAS” (relative athleticism score). This is great to help gain a better understanding of how prospects performed against a large historical database.

Enough qualifying my terrible opinions, TO THE TAKES!

WINNERS

GARRETT BRADBURY – OC, NC State

My top rated interior offensive lineman, Bradbury achieved the third highest RAS score for a center all time. It will only slightly help his grade, as I projected Bradbury as an elite athlete based on his film. Regardless, it’s good to see the tape match the testing.

Daniel Jeremiah dubbed him “The Grim Reacher” for his ability to out-leverage opponents with quickness from disadvantageous starting positions. The moniker fits. I have a hard time believing Bradbury isn’t scooped up in the first round.

CHRIS LINDSTROM – iOL, Boston College

Lindstrom’s appeal is that he’s scheme versatile, which helped him achieve a first round grade on my board. He only reinforced that thinking with his testing.

A standout performer at the Senior Bowl, Lindstrom is a technically sound, powerful dude with alluring athleticism. Teams will love his attitude. Stock up, unless you weren’t sleeping on him.

KALEB MCGARY – OT, Washington

McGary has one of the most interesting backstories of any prospect in the draft and made himself an even more intriguing option with his 40-yard dash and explosive jumps.

I love a little nasty in my linemen and McGary has plenty of that on film. He’s got a finishers mentality with plus movement skills. Solid day for McGary who should garner a good deal of interest in Day 2.

ANDRE DILLARD - OT, Washington State

Daniel Jeremiah called him the best pass protector in the class several times and even if you didn’t buy that, it’s hard not to be impressed by Dillard’s day.

That’s the type of athletic profile that offensive line coaches drool over. You’ll see a lot of love for Dillard now, but I still have questions about his ability to be a difference in the run game and learn a larger variety of techniques. Still, can’t say today wasn’t a big win for Dillard.

MILES SANDERS - RB, Penn State

Well, well, well.. looks like I’ll be going back to the tape on this guy. Full disclosure: I was not high on Sanders after watching his film. I projected him to have “solid” athleticism, but this is a far cry from it.

Did Sanders’ lack of experience and mental processing speed limit his play speed and hide his athleticism? It’s possible; Sanders only has 276 rushing attempts to his name. Or did I just flat out miss how special of an athlete he was? User error is always a possibility.

The important part is that we get to the bottom of this riddle before the draft. Be correct, not right.

JUSTICE HILL - RB, Oklahoma State

I’d yet to do a formal evaluation on Hill, but from what I’d seen I expected him to be a plus athlete. To say I expected him to test this well would be a reach.

That’s some doggone impressive explosion shown throughout his 40-yard dash and his jumps. Hill is a smaller back who can change direction and chain cuts together extremely well. I’m looking forward to digging into his game.

LOSERS

ELIJAH HOLYFIELD – RB, Georgia

Boy oh boy it’s tough to have a rougher day than Holyfield. I had a third round grade on Holyfield before today and he did himself no favors. There were concerns about his functional burst on film and those came to life when he tanked the 40-yard dash.

I don’t think that 40 time wholly reflects Holyfield’s on-field speed, as he appeared to have trouble with his form from the jump, but it’s definitely not what he wanted to put out into the world. Pressure will be on him to improve at the Pro Day, where he should test again.

DEVIN SINGLETARY - RB, Florida Atlantic

It was very clear what Singletary needed to do to assuage concerns about his functional burst. Long story short, those concerns aren’t going away.

The 10-yard split, which ideally would be sub-1.60, fell short of the mark. Granted, it’s a projection, but I’m not sure the official time will be significantly faster. The jumps were better, but not by much. It also doesn’t help that he flunked the short shuttle and 3-cone. For a lighter back, more was expected. I like Singletary, but this was rough.

GREG LITTLE – OT, Ole Miss

Look, I don’t care much for the 40-yard dash regarding offensive lineman. With that qualified, Little could have improved his chances to sneak into the first round, but didn’t do himself any favors with his average athletic testing.

On the plus side, 35 ¼” arms are a win in the measurements category. Little is a polarizing prospect and it looks like that will continue to be the case.

DAVID EDWARDS – OT, Wisconsin

With inconsistent tape despite receiving excellent coaching at Wisconsin, many people still believed in Edwards. Part of that belief was founded in the assumption that he was an above average athlete and fluid mover.

If he really is a special athlete, that explosion and short area juice did not show up in his results. He’ll have the chance to improve on those numbers if he elects to participate in a Pro Day, but I don’t think it’s a reach to say that many expected better. I currently have a fourth round grade on Edwards and his testing isn’t sending me racing back to the film.

In Summation...

When it’s all said and done, the Combine is an important part of the process, but it’s not the end all be all. Can the player play is the real question, which is why film should be the driving force behind any evaluation. It’s good to have checks and balances though. There are aspects of the Combine that will reveal unknowns or check unchecked boxes, so it’s useful in that way.

There’s also the Quenton Nelson way to look at things, which I will never argue with him about:

Some Combine “winners” will struggle in the NFL. Some Combine “losers” will have long productive careers. Don’t get carried away in the hype.