Another box was checked in the lengthy pre-draft process with the completion of the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine. The next seven weeks put scouts back on the road and prospects back under the microscope with only pro days and official team visits remaining before April's draft.
The first step of the postseason draft process is the annual Senior Bowl. The Executive Director of the game, Jim Nagy, was a long-time area scout in the league. Nagy says the combine is all about confirming what the tape tells the scout.
"All [the combine] is, is just to make you go back and check yourself," Nagy said. "Whether it's something testing-wise, or the other day everyone made the big deal about Joe Burrow's hand size. With Joe's hand size, you go back and pull up LSU tape of a bad weather game, or two bad weather games, and see how he controlled the ball. If a guy runs a slower 40 time than maybe you thought he played, then go back and check your eyes again."
Every year, it seems, the athletic feats become more of a marvel. Here, we'll cover the players that measured atop their respective position groups across the five major categories: 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump, broad jump and 3-cone.
|40-yard dash||Cole McDonald, Hawaii (4.58)|
|Vertical jump||Cole McDonald, Hawaii (36”)|
|Broad jump||Kelly Bryant, Missouri/Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma (125")|
|3-cone||Justin Herbert, Oregon (7.06)|
Cole McDonald piled up 82 total touchdowns during his time on the island of Oahu. In addition to 12 rushing touchdowns, McDonald threw for 8,032 yards in Nick Rolovich's run-and-shoot offense.
The tie atop the broad jump standings reunited two familiar foes. Kelly Bryant and Jalen Hurts quarterbacked Clemson and Alabama respectively in the Crimson Tide's 2018 Sugar Bowl victory. Hurts returned to the postseason each of the next two years (one at Oklahoma), while Bryant posted a career high in touchdown passes last season at Missouri.
Justin Herbert, fresh off a Rose Bowl winning season, acquitted himself well with the 7.06 3-cone time. Herbert's three rushing touchdowns in the victory over Wisconsin were a career high, bringing his four-year total to 13 house calls via the ground. Herbert is the No. 3 player on The Draft Network’s quarterback rankings, and No. 15 overall.
|40-yard dash||Henry Ruggs, Alabama (4.27)|
|Bench press||Quintez Cephus, Wisconsin (23 reps)|
|Vertical jump||Donovan Peoples-Jones, Michigan (44.5")|
|Broad jump||Donovan Peoples-Jones, Michigan (139")|
|3-cone||Denzel Mims, Baylor (6.66)|
Henry Ruggs came within .05 seconds of matching John Ross' record-time of 4.22 seconds. That blazing speed produced a career-average of 17.5 yards per reception and 25 touchdowns on 100 touches.
"As a blocker, at the catch point, at the line-of-scrimmage or in run-after-catch scenarios, he's got a good blend of quickness, strength, balance and intensity that blend for a fun mix." That's the note on Quintez Cephus' competitive toughness from Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network.
The strength and tenacity of Cephus' game translated to his position-pacing performance on the bench.
Donovan Peoples-Jones' vertical jump ranks third in the history of the combine, and was a half-inch shy of tying that record. With 14 touchdowns and 1,327 yards, Peoples-Jones could be only scratching the surface on his potential.
Denzel Mims' 12 touchdowns and 1,020 yards helped Baylor to a school-record-tying 11 wins. His 4.38 40-time ranked third among wideouts at this year's combine.
|40-yard dash||Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri (4.49)|
|Bench press||Josiah Deguara, Cincinnati (25 reps)|
|Vertical jump||Cole Kmet, Notre Dame (37”)|
|Broad jump||Dalton Keene, Virginia Tech (125”)|
|3-cone||Adam Trautman, Dayton (6.78)|
At his size, 6-5 255 pounds, Albert Okwuegbunam's position-winning 40 time makes for an intriguing prospect. He caught 23 touchdowns in three years at Missouri.
Regarded as one of the more versatile tight ends in the class, Deguara showcased the functional strength that shows up on his tape.
"[Deguara is a] versatile blocker and receiver [who] can win both in-line and flexed as a receiver," writes Joe Marino of The Draft Network.
Cole Kmet won the tight end vertical jump, and finished second in the 40 and broad jump. Notre Dame is a run-first offense, but Kmet still scored six touchdowns and gained 515 yards to finish up his college career.
Dalton Keene was a top-five finisher among tight ends on the bench press, broad and vertical jumps, and the 40-yard dash.
Adam Trautman was a high school quarterback that transitioned to tight end at Dayton. He carried a lot of positive buzz from the Senior Bowl into his workouts, winning the position's 3-cone time and also broad jumping the fourth-furthest among tight ends.
|40-yard dash||Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin (4.39)|
|Bench press||Scottie Phillips, Mississippi (29 reps)|
|Vertical jump||A.J. Dillon, Boston College (41”)|
|Broad jump||A.J. Dillon, Boston College (131”)|
|3-cone||Joshua Kelly, UCLA (6.95)|
Jonathan Taylor entered this event with more production than any of his peers, and now he has the testing time to match. Taylor scored 55 career touchdowns and gained 6,174 yards on the ground during his three-year Wisconsin career.
Scottie Phillips hit the ground running in 2018 as a junior college transfer. He scored 14 of his 20 career touchdowns and averaged 6.1 yards per carry in his junior season.
A.J. Dillon's explosiveness was on display in both jumping tests and every Saturday in the fall. Those broad and vertical jumps are almost as impressive as his 4.53 40-time, especially at 247 pounds.
Joshua Kelly had a terrific Senior Bowl week and carried that success into the combine. Kelly scored 25 touchdowns in his two-year UCLA career with 2,303 rushing yards.
|40-yard dash||Tristan Wirfs, Iowa (4.85)|
|Bench press||Netane Muti, Fresno State (44 reps)|
|Vertical jump||Tristan Wirfs, Iowa (36.5)|
|Broad jump||Tristan Wirfs, Iowa (121”)|
|3-cone||Ezra Cleveland, Boise State (7.26)|
Tristan Wirfs did as well for himself this week as any player in Indianapolis. Winning three of the events across his position group, Wirfs was the first true freshman to start for Kirk Ferentz at Iowa. He played the left and right side, and has been compared to Quenton Nelson as a guard, should he to kick inside as a pro.
Netane Muti only played five games the last two years, but his tape is as good as any guard in this class. The strength displayed by the bench press work pairs well with his athletic profile. "Special movement abilities," says TDN's Benjamin Solak of the Fresno State product.
On the topic of rare movement abilities, Boise State's Ezra Cleveland's 3-cone time was nearly .20 seconds better than the offensive line's second-place finisher (Temple's Matt Hennessy at 7.45). Cleveland finished third among linemen in the 40, and in the top 11 in both broad and vertical jumps.
|40-yard dash||James Smith-Williams, North Carolina State (4.60)|
|Bench press||Davon Hamilton, Ohio State (33 reps)|
|Vertical jump||Jonathan Garvin, Miami (36”)|
|Broad jump||Jabari Zuniga, Florida (127”)|
|3-cone||Derrek Tuszka, North Dakota State (6.86)|
This week is one of marvels. James Smith-Williams continued that trend by blazing a 4.60 time at 265 pounds. The combination of length and athletic ability make for an intriguing edge option.
Those that saw Davon Hamilton's tape are not surprised by his work on the bench. Hamilton is more than just a power player, however. He showcased his athleticism with a 102-inch broad jump and a 40 time of 5.14 seconds.
A Lake Worth native, Jonathan Garvin played his home games at Hard Rock Stadium for the University of Miami. He was all over the leaderboard among the defensive linemen, finishing second in the broad jump and tied for ninth in the 40-yard dash.
The combine is an event made for Jabari Zuniga. In addition to pacing the defensive linemen in the broad jump, he came within .04 seconds of leading the 40-yard dash results.
Derrek Tuszka put a significant gap between himself and the second-place finisher among defensive linemen in the 3-cone time. He was the only one of the group to come in under seven seconds, and polished off a great workout with a 4.79 40-time and a 120-inch broad jump.
|40-yard dash||Isaiah Simmons, Clemson (4.39)|
|Bench press||Khaleke Hudson, Michigan (30 reps)|
|Vertical jump||Dante Olson, Montana (42”)|
|Broad jump||Willie Gay Jr., Mississippi State (136”)|
|3-cone||Malik Harrison, Ohio State (6.38)|
Isaiah Simmons had the best chance of any player to run the table among his contemporaries. He barely missed the mark. Simmons shut it down after finishing fourth in the vertical jump and second in the broad jump. The workout is an impressive capper to an even more impressive career. He filled up the stat sheet this season with 104 tackles (16.5 for loss), eight sacks, three interceptions and two forced fumbles.
Khaleke Hudson has been talked about as a potential safety/linebacker hybrid convert because of his 224-pound frame. A sign of his power, Hudson set the standard on the bench press for all linebackers in Indianapolis despite weighing less than most of his position-mates.
Dante Olson had a great workout with the best broad jump and sixth-best 3-cone time among all linebackers.
Willie Gay Jr. was all over the linebacker leaderboard. His lowest finish among the five categories was in the 3-cone at 11th place. He checked in with the second-fastest 40 time and vertical jump, and out-benched all but six linebackers.
With requisite length, instincts and production for the position, Malik Harrison helped his draft stock with a terrific workout. Leading the way for the linebackers in the 3-cone time, he impressed with 36-inch vertical and 122-inch broad jumps.
|40-yard dash||Javelin K. Guidry, Utah (4.29)|
|Bench press||Kamren Curl, Arkansas/Daniel Thomas, Auburn (24 reps)|
|Vertical jump||Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne (42”)|
|Broad jump||Jeremy Chinn, Southern Illinois (138”)|
|3-cone||K’Von Wallace, Clemson (6.76)|
Finishing .09 seconds faster than the next best time, Javelin K. Guidry finished second behind only Henry Ruggs in 40-yard dash times regardless of position. He paired the expeditious number with an impressive 21 bench press reps.
Karmen Curl's 24 reps on the bench press were impressive, even more so considering his 32 5/8-inch arm length. He also registered 125 inches on the broad jump. Daniel Thomas tied both Curl's bench press and broad jump metrics.
Kyle Dugger blew the roof off the combine, as expected. He was third among defensive backs in the broad jump and broke the coveted 4.5-mark with this 4.49 40 time.
Jeremy Chinn announced his presence in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, then asserted himself all over again this week in Indianapolis. In addition to pacing the defensive backs in the broad jump, Chin finished second in the vertical.
K'Von Wallace showcased his twitchy skillset by posting the best 3-cone time among all defensive backs, and the second-best time of the entire combine (behind Mims). His ball production this year jumped to career-highs in interceptions (2) and pass breakups (10); a credit to his explosiveness. Wallace jumped 133 and 38 inches in broad and vertical leaps, respectively.