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NFL Scouting Combine: 12 Underrated Workouts


I’ve covered just about everything I could think of from the combine: winners & losers each day, 10 takeaways, risers & fallers. This is my last post about the combine (sad) and probably overkill at this point, but I wanted to highlight some players who had stellar combine workouts, but are flying under the radar because either they aren’t well-known names or other players at their respective positions stole the spotlight. If I left anyone off, hit me up in the comments.

Combine: Underrated Workouts

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DE Kony Ealy, Missouri (6’4, 273) – Some amateur draft analysts are saying Ealy had a pedestrian combine, but I strongly disagree. His 40-time and bench press were nothing special, but his 3-cone time of 6.83 is ridiculous. To put it in perspective, LeSean McCoy, one of the quickest RBs in the NFL, ran a 6.82 in the 3-cone at the combine. Ealy is 6 inches taller and 70 pounds heavier than McCoy and basically did the 3-cone in the same time. That is outstanding. In my opinion the 3-cone drill is a more relevant drill than the 40 yard dash for projecting defensive linemen. How often do D-linemen run for 40 yards in a straight line? The 3-cone measures change of direction ability and short area quickness, two important factors in beating blocks and getting to the QB. Ealy’s 3-cone time of 6.82 is the best for a DE since 2001 (Kyle Vanden Bosch) with JJ Watt being the closest recent time (6.88). Some teams, like the Patriots, consider  the 3-cone more important than the 40 and draft accordingly. Over the last two drafts, 4 of the 6 DEs with the best 3-cone times at the combine are on the Patriots roster. The Bears have two of the top 10 (David Bass & Chet Ozougwu), so it could be important to Phil Emery as well.

RB Bishop Sankey, Washington (5’9, 209)  – He ran a better-than-expected 4.49 40-yard dash, did 26 reps on the bench press which was 2nd among running backs, and had the best times in both the 3-cone and 20-yard shuttle. If not for Jerick McKinnon’s ridiculous workout numbers, Sankey would have had the best combine workouts for RBs. When you combine his workouts with his smooth hands in the receiving drills and his production in college (1,870 yards, 20 TD), you have the #1 RB in this year’s draft class and a 2nd round lock.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

OLB Adrian Hubbard, Alabama (6’6, 257) – Measured as the tallest and heaviest linebacker at the combine but still ran the 7th fastest 40-time (4.69) and had the 4th best vertical leap. Pretty impressive numbers for a guy his size and it also helped his draft stock considerably. Hubbard was considered primarily a 3-4 OLB pre-combine, but his surprising 40-time gives him more versatiltiy and opens up the option of playing the SAM backer in a 4-3.

RB Charles Sims, West Virginia (6’0, 214) – Sims is a do-it-all back whose only question mark was his straight-line speed. His 40 (4.48) was a hair faster than Sankey’s and the 6th best time among running backs. Sims was one of the best pass-blockers at the Senior Bowl and one of the best in the receiving drills at the combine. He’s a well-rounded back whose stock has skyrocketed this off-season. It’s surprising that Sims is under the radar considering he’s been compared to Matt Forte and DeMarco Murray by analysts this off-season.

CB Dontae Johnson, North Carolina St (6’2, 200) – A tall corner / safety hybrid in college, who ran much better than expected (4.45), had the 3rd best vertical leap, 6th best broad jump, 8th best 3-cone, and the best 60-yard shuttle time. Johnson is a good fit for zone coverage schemes and could be on the Bears radar in the 3rd-4th round.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

TE CJ Fiedorowicz, Iowa (6’5, 265) –  His 40 time was what scouts expected him to run, but his 3-cone (7.10) and 20-yard shuttle (4.26) times were the best of all the tight ends. To put those times in perspective, his 3-cone time was considerably better than big receivers Martavus Bryant, Kelvin Benjamin, and Brandon Coleman. His 20-yard shuttle time was .08 better than what Sammy Watkins ran it in! Fiedorowicz’s  short area quickness will serve him well as both a blocker and a short-to-intermediate receiver. He also showed good strength with 25 bench reps. I have Fiedorowicz locked in as the 5th best tight end with a 3rd-4th round grade.

DE Kareem Martin, North Carolina (6’6, 272) – Pretty good workouts across the board with the highlight being a 129″ broad jump which was 5 inches farther than the next best guy (Clowney). I’m not that excited about Martin’s tape but he has an ideal combination of size and athleticism for an NFL defensive end.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

RB Isaiah Crowell, Alabama St (5’11, 224) – One of those red-flag guys (firearms, charges dropped) who bounced around to different schools; You might remember Crowell as the SEC freshman of the year at Georgia in 2011. This was an important combine for Crowell who has been hidden away at Alabama St the last two seasons. He has dominated (6.6 YPC, 15 TDs), but the SWAC isn’t exactly loaded with NFL caliber talent. Crowell needed to show that he has NFL athleticism and that is exactly what he did. His 4.57 40-time was solid for a 224 pound back, he showed great strength with 23 bench reps, and good explosion with a 38″ vertical leap. If Crowell is mature enough to stay out of trouble, he could be a steal for some team willing to gamble on day 3 (Do it, Emery!).

DE Larry Webster, Bloomberg (6’6, 252) – Small school prospect with big-time pass rush potential. Webster ran a 4.58 which was 2nd only to Jadeveon Clowney’s 4.53 among defensive lineman. No one is talking about Webster but they should be because after a year of strength training his elite speed and height could make him a dangerous pass rusher.

TE A.C. Leonard, Tennessee St (6’2, 252) – Another red-flag guy (battery), Leonard started his college career at Florida and was a blue-chip recruit. He looks like it in shorts with a chiseled physique and obvious athleticism. His workouts backed it up; His 4.50 40-time led all tight ends, he tied Lyerla for the longest broad jump (128″), and had the 3rd highest vertical leap. Leonard is an elite athlete, but also looked good in the positional drills showing fluid change of direction skills and soft hands. His production in college (34, 454, 5) didn’t match up with his physical skills, but I know nothing about the Tennessee St offense and whether the tight end was used at all. What I do know is that Leonard looked like an explosive “move” tight end prospect, which just so happens is exactly what the Bears are looking for in the late rounds.

WR John Brown, Pittsburgh St (5’10, 179) – Who? That was my reaction when Brown ran an unofficial 4.3 at the combine. His official time of 4.34 was just .01 behind the fastest of the receiver group, Brandin Cooks at 4.33. Brown put up prolific stats during his career at Pitt St (185 catches, 3380 yards, 32 TDs) and is an interesting slot receiver / kick returner prospect. I wouldn’t be surprised if a team took a flyer on Brown sometime on day 3.

WR Jeff Janis, Saginaw Valley St (6’3, 219) – I was down on Janis after he whiffed on his chance at the Senior Bowl. He was one of the only healthy receivers on the North squad during the game and he failed to make an impact at all (2 catches for 7 yards). I’ve heard he was a great athlete, but didn’t see any sign of it in the practices or the Senior Bowl game. Janis showed it at the combine. At his size, a 4.42 40-time is excellent. His unofficial 10-yard split of 1.47 was the best of any receiver not named Dri Archer and translates to an elite burst on short routes. The rest of Janis’ workouts were outstanding as well; Janis finished 3rd in the bench press, 3rd in the 3-cone, 5th in the 20-yard shuttle, and in the top 7 in vertical leap and broad jump. He’s a lock for day 3.

Twitter: @MikeFlannery_