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!
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.
Garrett Bradbury finishes the #2019NFLCombine with one of the highest #RAS for a center ever, currently sitting at 3rd all time. If he were an inch taller, or posted a broad jump 4 inches better, he'd have the top spot all time.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 1, 2019
*Splits Projected* pic.twitter.com/TcqWX097oY
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.
Chris Lindstrom posted an awesome #RAS at the #2019NFLCombine, one of the highest we've got so far. Excellent speed, explosion, and agility drills across the board.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 1, 2019
*Splits Projected* pic.twitter.com/T7WhQHPLA3
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.
Kaleb McGary posted an elite #RAS at the #2019NFLCombine. Great speed, explosion scores to go with good agility, all while posting an awesome size grade. Rare.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 1, 2019
*Splits Projected* pic.twitter.com/PTRn3tcSWL
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.
Andre Dillard landed an elite #RAS at the Combine with great speed and explosion, but more importantly elite agility. Crushed the 4.44 shuttle threshold, hitting 4.4 flat.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 1, 2019
*Splits projected* pic.twitter.com/FSHJRF5l91
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.
A shame Justice Hill was injured as he posted an elite #RAS at the #2019NFLCombine with great speed and explosiveness. Hopefully he heals up and can complete the agi drills at his pro day.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 1, 2019
*Splits Projected* pic.twitter.com/BAxeT1p5R8
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.
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.
Elijah Holyfield posted a very poor #RAS at the #2019NFLCombine with very, very poor speed and a terrible vert. He did not do agility drills, but knowing his style I don't think it would have helped.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 1, 2019
*Splits Projected* pic.twitter.com/cOdSxFgYRV
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.
Devin Singletary posted a very poor #RAS at the #2019NFLCombine with very poor speed and agility scores, especially at his size, and just above average explosion.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 1, 2019
*Splits Projected* pic.twitter.com/DhrRcKrbgo
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.
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:
"Turn on the tape, all I do is drive guys into the ground. If you cant figure that out, that's your problem." - Quenton Nelson to a team that said if he didn't run a 40 they wouldnt draft him.— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) March 1, 2019
Some Combine “winners” will struggle in the NFL. Some Combine “losers” will have long productive careers. Don’t get carried away in the hype.