by Rob Joyce
The NFL Combine is now far more popular than it probably should be. After all, it pretty much consists of watching guys in skin-tight clothes perform drills, as opposed to padding up and playing football. Fans watch the 40-yard dash, bench press and other drills and judge solely based off that. Teams generally use the combine for the interview process more so than the numerical numbers, but sometimes the numbers are so skewed one way or the other that a prospect can dramatically raise (or lower) his draft stock.
Here are the ones who both helped and hurt themselves the most in Indianapolis.
The UCF linebacker wasn’t even invited to the combine at first, but quickly proved why he belongs despite not having a left hand. One report quoted a general manager as saying he’d be impressed if Griffin could get five reps on the 225-lb. bench press using a prosthetic – he finished with 20. He followed that up by running a 4.38 40, the fastest by a linebacker in over a decade. He’s far more than just a feel-good story.
The Wyoming quarterback didn’t wow anyone with his short throwing routine, but no one ever does. What’s most important is that Allen, a potential No. 1 overall pick, threw the ball accurately and showed he has one of the strongest arms in the draft class with a 70-yard bomb. At 6-foot-5, 237 pounds, long arms, big hands and athleticism, he’s sculpted like a franchise’s dream quarterback. He might have done enough to turn some doubters.
The NC State product cemented his status as a top-5 pick, and he might be flirting with the No. 1 overall spot after he put on a show for scouts. In the 40 many teams look at the first 10 yards to see explosiveness. A 1.75-second split is good – Chubb’s was 1.63. Add that with a 36-inch vertical and a 10-foot broad jump and you have a franchise pass rusher.
A consensus All-American and projected first-round pick, the Oklahoma left tackle posted some of the worst numbers across the board this century. He was last among offensive linemen in the 40 (5.85 seconds), bench press (14 reps), broad jump (82 inches) and vertical jump (19.5 inches). For context, no one has ever been drafted with those vertical and broad jump figures. He’ll need to vastly improve for Oklahoma’s pro day.
It’s not even really Jackson’s fault that he winds up here. Despite being a former Heisman winner and putting up truly eye-popping numbers the last two seasons at Louisville, the biggest storyline from Indy all weekend was whether teams were asking Jackson to line up at wide receiver instead of quarterback. It’s a narrative that just won’t go away, and Jackson has nothing to do with it.
In his actual on-field performance he skipped out on the athletic drills (the 40, shuttle, etc.) and instead only performed in the throwing portion, where he was average. Footwork issues prohibited him from consistently hitting his target. He should still absolutely be drafted as a dual-threat signal caller, and nothing else.
Generally considered to be the first wide receiver off the board, he may have cost himself a few spots with very poor showings in the vertical (31 inches) and broad jump (110 inches). He had a nice 4.43 40 time, but his size (6 feet, 189 lbs.) and strength (15 reps on the bench press) are going to raise even more question marks heading towards the draft.