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10 Players Who Improved Their Draft Stock At The 2020 NFL Combine

2020 NFL Combine

The 2020 NFL Combine is the second big pillar on the pre-draft calendar and is maybe the easiest outlet, outside of the college football season, to improve your draft stock. For four days, the nation’s top draft-eligible players compete side-by-side with hopes of climbing in the NFL Draft rankings. The NFL is becoming even more athlete dominated in the modern age and the combine is the best way to show off that athleticism.

There are numerous examples of players balling out at the combine before being taken selected early than expected. Byron Jones is just one example of a good player that vaulted into the first round with a blistering performance in 2015. However, that statement goes both ways. Without a good combine, players can find themselves slipping multiple rounds. Just ask Orlando Brown Jr. about how the combine can knock you down from being a sure-fire first-rounder to a late day-two pick.

From Henry Ruggs III running a 4.27 Forty to Tristan Wirfs setting the combine record in the broad jump for an offensive lineman, the weekend did not disappoint. These are 10 players that improved their stock at the 2020 NFL Combine.

2020 NFL Combine: 10 Players Who Helped Their Stock

Justin Herbert (Oregon) – Quarterback

Honorable Mention: Jalen Hurts

While the draft world seems to be very split on Herbert, he did himself a lot of favors with his combine performance. He officially measured in at 6’6″ 236 lbs and then showed off the tools that could make him a top-five pick in April. Herbert showed his ability to use his legs, running a 4.69s Forty Yard Dash (tied for third amongst quarterbacks), and finished first in the 3 Cone Drill. He then topped off his day finishing third in the broad jump and second in the vertical. While the combine doesn’t affect stock at the quarterback position like it does others, Herbert looked like he was in a tier of his own amongst the 15 quarterbacks that participated.

Cam Akers (Flordia State) – Running Back

Honorable Mention: Jonathan Taylor

Akers is one of the players that has made himself money just by watching a number of quality running backs go back to school. He was ranked by many just outside of the top-five at his position following the college football season but after a great combine performance, could vault into the top-three range. Akers looked smooth in everything he did. His Forty Yard Dash time of 4.47s ranked fifth amongst running backs and he followed it up by looking even better during the on-field drills. After showing off his shifty feet in the Duce Staley Drill, he impressed again by making a one-handed snag running routes in the flat. Akers might be the best-kept secret in the entire draft but after the combine, more people should take notice.

Chase Claypool (Notre Dame) – Wideout

Honorable Mention: Denzel Mims

The largest topic of discussion coming into the draft surrounding Claypool was his choice of position. Many draft experts believed that at 6’4″ 238 lbs, Claypool should change to tight end. After his showing at the combine, a lot more people are going to be confident in him going forward as a wideout. Claypool gave maybe the most impressive gym performance of any player in attendance. At his size, his Forty Yard Dash of 4.42s is absurd — joining Calvin Johnson as the only players to run a 4.42 or under at 230+ lbs. He also placed within the top-five in both the bench press and vertical jump. His on-field drills may not have been as eye-popping but he still stood out amongst a loaded wide receiver group.

Donovan Peoples-Jones (Michigan) – Wideout

Honorable Mention: Devin Duvernay

Peoples-Jones may not have even been one of the top-25 receivers in a very loaded class, but he showed off why he was a five-star recruit coming out of high school at the combine. His Forty Yard Dash of 4.48s was good but where he really showed out was in the jumping drills. At 6’2″ 212 lbs, Peoples-Jones nearly jumped out of the building, registering a 44.5″ vertical and a 139″ broad jump — both highs amongst wide receivers. Going into the weekend, a lot of teams may have been looking at Peoples-Jones as a return specialist and special teamer. Coming out, there are likely a number of teams that now want to feature him as a versatile piece in their offense.

Albert Okwuegbunam (Missouri) – Tight End

Honorable Mention: Adam Trautman

With the tight end group in 2020 as muddled as it is, no one has jumped out ahead of the pack and taken the title of TE1. However, if you look back to the beginning of the year, Okwuagbunam was a popular choice. After fading into the rest of the group by catching just 26 balls for 309 yards and six touchdowns in 2019, all career lows, he may back in the discussion. Okwuagbunam balled out at the combine showing off the hands that allowed him to catch an SEC-leading 11 touchdowns in 2017 during the on-field drills and ran the fastest Forty Yard Dash time amongst tight ends. His time of 4.49s was 0.17s faster than any other tight end in at the combine. That topped the times of each Ceedee Lamb, Michael Pittman Jr., and Laviska Shenault.

Okwuagbunam didn’t participate in any other off-field drills but he’s back on scouts radars after his work in Indi.

Tristan Wirfs (Iowa) – Offensive Line

Honorable Mention: Jedrick Wills Jr.

Coming into the combine, people were aware of the way Wirfs could move but no one expected to see completely him dominate in the way that he did. At 6’5″ 320 lbs, recording a 4.85s Forty Yard Dash is crazy. He then proceeded to set the combine record amongst offensive lineman with a 36.5″ vertical and tied Kolton Miller‘s record with a 10’1″ broad jump. Wirfs finished within the top-five in four of the six drills he participated in. Though he might not end up being the OT1 in the upcoming draft due to the crazy athletic depth at his position in 2020, Wirfs likely cemented his place as a top-10 pick with his combine performance.

Neville Gallimore (Oklahoma) – Defensive Interior

Honorable Mention: Justin Madubuike

At a position that is very tight outside of the top-two prospects, Gallimore did a good job standing out in the group. He looked the smoothest of any of the defensive lineman at the combine. Gallimore showed off his speed, clocking a 4.79s Forty Yard Dash — good for the fifth-highest of any player all-time with a weight of 300 lbs or higher. However, where Gallimore impressed the most was with incredibly nimble footwork and clean change of direction in the on-field drills. Gallimore’s 1.69s 10-yard split showed his explosiveness and he could potentially be creeping up behind Javon Kinlaw as the best pass-rushing interior defensive lineman in the class.

Willie Gay Jr. (Mississippi State) – Linebacker

Honorable Mention: Isaiah Simmons

If you hadn’t heard of Gay before the combine, there’s a reason. After a solid sophomore season at Mississippi State, in which he totaled 48 total tackles, 5.5 for loss, five sacks, and two interceptions, Gay was suspended for parts of eight games in 2019 because of academic violations. The scandal never allowed Gay to get his feet under him during the year but he made a statement at the combine. Gay finished top-two in each the Forty Yard Dash, broad jump, and vertical jump, and finished tied for fifth in the bench press. The fact that anyone in his group even kept up with Simmons is impressive. While some teams might have Gay completely off their board due to is issues in college, he definitely rose up the boards he is on with a spectacular athletic showing at the combine.

C.J. Henderson (Florida) – Defensive Back

Honorable Mention: A.J. Terrell

In a class loaded with athletic corners, Henderson stood out from the pack in a big way. He ran a 4.39s Forty Yard Dash (t-second) and put up 20 reps of 225 lbs (t-fifth) on the bench, at 6’1″ 204 lbs. Where Henderson shined the brightest was in the on-field drills. Henderson looked like a polished NFL corner in each of the drills — showing off his smooth backpedal, fluid hips, great ball skills, and explosiveness out of his break. If there was any doubt that Henderson is a mid-first round corner, they’ve been dispelled.

Antoine Winfield Jr. (Minnesota) – Safety

Honorable Mention: Jeremy Chinn

Winfield’s name alone makes you notice him but NFL scouts didn’t have a choice at the combine. He introduced himself on Sunday by running a blazing 4.45s Forty Yard Dash (fourth amongst safeties) and then looked like the smoothest moving safety taking part in the on-field drills. With his Big Ten-leading seven interceptions, everyone knew Winfield had ball skills. His hands looked natural during the gauntlet and made a number of clean catches throughout the day. Winfield’s 5’9″ 203 lbs frame might lose him some evaluation points but he showed, like his father, that he doesn’t need to be huge to make a big impact in the NFL.

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