NFL Combine 2019: 10 players with most to gain ahead of NFL Draft

first_imgOther than Kyler Murray, who has the most to gain at the NFL Combine?That’s the big question for this year’s scouting event, which begins Tuesday, Feb. 26 and runs through Monday, March 4 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Murray, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback from Oklahoma who chose to enter the 2019 NFL Draft over an MLB career with the Oakland Athletics, will be among the top stories of the week, especially if he decides to throw. Jachai Polite, EDGE, FloridaSpeaking of edge-rushers, there are seven such players from the SEC at the Combine, including Kentucky’s Josh Allen and Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat. Polite is already slotted in a favorable mock position, as his 2018 production (11 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss) speaks for itself.That was Polite’s only big year with the Gators, however, and he still needs to separate himself from the others from his own conference, not to mention players such as Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant. This is a talented position group in which player stock will fluctuate before April.Devin Bush, LB, MichiganBush developed into one of the best sideline-to-sideline linebackers in college football as a starter for the Wolverines over the last two seasons. He is fast, and that will show up with his 40 time.Bush’s size will be questioned, but that shouldn’t be a factor considering his production. He had 18.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks and 11 pass breakups in 2018. If size is deemed a non-issue for Murray at QB, then it should be the same for Bush at LB.MORE NFL COMBINE:What happens behind the scenes in IndyByron Murphy, CB, WashingtonMurphy is considered a first-round talent, and he has a chance to be the first CB off the board in this draft. Of course, he needs to prove it while competing against other top corners Deandre Baker and Greedy Williams, both from the SEC. But Murray is not the only player with plenty to gain at the NFL Combine. Here are 10 other players to watch — one per position group — who could get a nice NFL Draft stock bump in Indy.MORE 2019 NFL COMBINE:Full schedule | All-time Combine recordsNFL Combine 2019: 10 players with most to gain ahead of NFL DraftDwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio StateHaskins will throw at the Combine, and anybody who has seen him play in person knows what that means. The Buckeyes QB can spread the field throwing in any direction, and for those questioning his accuracy, he completed 70 percent of his passes in college while setting Big Ten single-season records in passing yards (4,831) and touchdowns (50).Haskins will be the first Big Ten QB to be taken in the first round since 1995, and his performance this week could serve as affirmation that he should be the first QB taken in this draft overall.Elijah Holyfield, RB, GeorgiaGeorgia’s RB pipeline to the NFL is strong with Todd Gurley, Sony Michel and Nick Chubb running well in the league. Holyfield is next.He split time with D’Andre Swift in college, but Holyfield averaged 6.2 yards per carry for his Georgia career and has similar dimensions to Chubb, who was a second-round value pick for the Browns last year. Holyfield can provide the same value, and the Combine is an opportunity for him to move up in a thinner RB draft class.MORE: SN’s latest NFL Mock DraftDeebo Samuel, WR, South CarolinaWe anticipate another round of viral pictures of Ole Miss receiver D.K. Metcalf from the Combine, but we can’t wait to watch Samuel perform on the field. Last season, the Gamecocks star bounced back from a broken leg that cut his 2017 season short, responding with 882 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns in 2018.Samuel also averaged 29 yards per kickoff return with four touchdowns at South Carolina, and he had a strong Senior Bowl. He is a game-breaker, and the Combine could be an opportunity for him to slide into the first round.Irv Smith, TE, AlabamaIowa tight ends Noah Fant and Dustin Hockenson have received the most attention at the position so far, but Smith can change that with a big performance this week.The 6-4, 241-pound tight end averaged 16.1 yards per catch with seven touchdowns last season — numbers that were better than those of O.J. Howard in his final season with the Crimson Tide.MORE: All-time greatest Combine performancesAlex Bars, OL, Notre DameBars, a Sporting News Preseason All-American, missed most of the 2018 season with an ACL/MCL injury, but he was still invited to the NFL Combine over Irish center Sam Mustipher.Bars has been training in California since the injury. He is next in a line of Notre Dame linemen that includes recent first-round picks Zach Martin, Ronnie Stanley, Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey.Ed Oliver, DL, HoustonOliver was generally considered the best player in college football over the last two seasons, but he is a mid first-round pick in our latest mock draft because he is more a defensive end/tackle tweener instead of an edge-rusher.However, none of the edge-rushers in this class — with the exception of maybe Nick Bosa — can put on a Jadeveon Clowney-like display at the Combine. Oliver can, and doing so could bump him right back into the top 10 or top five heading into April.center_img The conference factor might not seem like a big deal until one considers that Deltha O’Neal was the last CB from the Pac-12 who was first off the board at his position, back in 2000. If Murphy becomes the clear best CB, then that won’t matter.Jaquan Johnson, S, MiamiJohnson was one of the most productive players in the ACC over the last two seasons. He averaged 94 tackles per year in that span with six interceptions, five forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.Johnson, who wore the “turnover chain” a lot at Miami, is one of the best all-around secondary talents in this draft. Yet Delaware’s Nassir Adderley and Washington’s Taylor Rapp are getting more attention before the Combine.last_img

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