The NFL combine is this week and with it come the hopes and dreams of landing the picks your franchise needs to achieve Super Bowl success in the NFL. The best prospects from the NCAA will meet together at Lucas Oil Stadium for what has become passionately known as the Underwear Olympics.
I love the combine simply because it can mean absolutely nothing to the pro game, but can easily sky rocket a no name guy into the first round. Need an example of combine success turned into draft stock? Look no further than former Pitt DT and now DPOY Aaron Donald. Donald was considered a first round talent but was thought to be too short for the modern game. The kid went into the combine and blew the entire place up with his athletic ability and got him taken by the Rams at 13.
Workouts for the combine start on Thursday and I wanted to get some names out into the atmosphere that is the draft process so when these guys really do hit I can brag with a belly full of “I HaD HiM iN My bLog!”
Henry Ruggs – WR – Alabama
Ruggs is thought to be either the 3rd or 4th receiver taken in the draft and for good reasons. At Alabama, he was clocked at an impressive 24.3 miles per hour on a touchdown against South Carolina. Ruggs is projected to run the fastest 40 yard dash in the entire draft class and if he hits that mark expect him as a top 20 draft pick easily. He measures in at 6 feet 190 pounds and has been very productive in his three years at Alabama, but a solid combine could propel ruggs much higher than expected.
Cam Akers – RB – Florida State
This is a product of Malek, a term I have created where Greg says something about a guy two months before I do draft research and it sticks in my brain like a worm. Akers is arguably the best blocking back in this class, something that I rate very highly when considering backs out of college. Florida State was a dumpster fire recently so Akers hasn’t been as talked about as many other backs, but the kid deserves his. Cam is 5’11” 212, a decent size for todays NFL back. With a strong combine performance, Akers could find himself taken as high as the second back overall.
Van Jefferson – WR – Florida
At 6’2″ 197, Jefferson can fall into the “larger” bodied receiver group for this class. I love this kid and I think he has a very high chance of instantly impacting whichever team takes him as a quality WR2/3. Jefferson is a student of the game type player, someone who really prides themselves in their route running ability. With how deep this receiver class, you need to set yourself a part in that second tier and Jefferson has a great chance to catch the eye of teams this week.
Adam Trautman – TE – Dayton
I’m a little worried about this pick based on the last guy Mel Kiper loved at the tight end position from a small school by the name of Adam Shaheen, but Trautman is a guy a lot of scouts are banging the table for. The 6’5″ TE from Dayton had a very good senior bowl and should be able to prove he can play at the NFL level at the combine. Not often you hear about guys from Dayton on draft day.
Yetur Gross-Matos – DE – Penn State
Yetur is a monster athlete with an amazing story to tell. His father passed away due to a boating accident when Gross-Matos was only two, but that has done nothing but motivate this kid. In a DE class that’s pretty undefined after Chase Young, YGM has a chance to rise up draft boards with a solid performance at the combine.
Zack Baun – LB – Wisconsin
Baun was an absolute winner at the senior bowl proving to teams that he can cover with the best linebackers in this class. It’s pretty set that Isaiah Simmons will be the top LB(S) type guy taken, but Kenneth Murray hasn’t completely solidified himself at the #2 so look for Baun to continue on his late success and sneak into that first round conversation.
Dane Jackson – CB – Pitt
Okay, so I’m a homer but Dane Jackson has a chance to at least be a starter in the NFL. The Pitt Alum has a great frame but lacks the general ability of the Okudah’s and Fulton’s of this class. Jackson has room to grow in the NFL and could showcase his athletic abilities this week.
Netane Muti – IOL – Fresno State
A pretty unknown name in the current draft process, Muti is a guy I learned about from PFF. Honestly, their draft coverage is ok and the guys who discuss it on YouTube annoy me, but this pick was one I really can get behind. This dude is basically Maui from Moana and can man handle kids. This class has a fairly week interior lineman class, so Muti has a chance to reach the first round with a quality combine.
Zack Moss – RB – Utah
This is slightly where I bring up a point about PFF and their rankings because they have Moss as their top back based on data. Moss is the best at shedding the first tackle and there’s no debating that, but he still has room to grow in terms of draft stock. I like Moss a lot and he should make one NFL team very happy, but his combine performance could be the difference between round 2 and 3.
Antonio Gandy-Golden – WR – Liberty
The best receiver you’ve never heard of is here and hopefully can break the stereotype of a small school name to not quite make it. AGG has one handed catches burned into his membrane and should produce well enough at the combine to be a high day 2 selection. His only true downside is that this is a very deep WR class, so Gandy-Golden will have to ball out to showcase his abilities through the process.
Jacob Eason – QB – Washington
Eason has scouts scrambling to be completely honest. Some teams have him as high as the 2nd best QB in this draft while others have him around the 6-7 mark. Eason has a cannon for an arm and the presence to be an NFL, but there are questions about his leadership after being beaten out by Jake Fromm at Georgia. Set the record that I love Eason, but showing off that big arm the same way Josh Allen did could bring him up high into the first round.