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Combine Takeaways Pt. I: Who stood out on offense

The NFL Combine in Indianapolis is in the books.

Here are some of my observations from the drills, media availability and what our 25 guests said during eight hours of Big Blue Kickoff Live from Tuesday to Friday last week. I'll take it position by position.


Justin Herbert continues to win the draft process. He displayed his athletic toolset last week, just as he did at the Senior Bowl. According to reports on NFL Network, it appears his leadership and presentation in meetings with NFL personnel was impressive.

With that said, there is no guarantee that Herbert is the third quarterback off the board, or will be the target of a trade-up. The Miami Herald reported over the weekend, for example, that the Dolphins might prefer Utah State quarterback Jordan Love. The story states Miami might be hesitant to use some of its draft capital to move up to select a quarterback.

Charles Robinson from Yahoo Sports said on Big Blue Kickoff that he thinks four quarterbacks could go in the top seven of the draft. How teams view this group of quarterbacks will impact whether the Giants will have an opportunity to trade down from the fourth pick.

The consensus from the reporters in Indianapolis is that Tua Tagovailoa will be the second quarterback taken after Joe Burrow, but there is a chance his array of injuries (hip, both ankles) makes him too much of a risk for some NFL front offices.

Wide Receivers

Everyone in Indianapolis raved about the wide receiver class and the testing didn't disappoint. Some analysts have close to 30 receivers with Day One or Day Two grades (NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah has 27), which is unprecedented. In some drafts, only 35 receivers get drafted in seven rounds. There should be great value at the position heading into Day Three.

In terms of testing, the consensus top two receivers, Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb, did what was expected in the 40-yard dash. Jeudy's agility drills (short shuttle and 3-cone) weren't quite as good as some expected, but that shouldn't move him out of the top of the draft. Henry Ruggs ran an expected sub-4.3 (4.27) in the 40-yard dash but didn't participate in any of the drills after he hurt himself during the run.

Other receivers helped themselves with their times. Denzel Mims blew the doors off of Lucas Oil Stadium. He measured at 6-3 and 207 pounds and ran a 4.38 40-yard dash and a position-best 6.66 in the 3-cone drill. After being one of the top receivers at the Senior Bowl, this Baylor product may start getting late first round consideration. Justin Jefferson's 4.43 in the 40 was better than expected and will put him in first round consideration. Michael Pittman's times didn't wow (4.52 in the 40 and a 6.96 in the 3-cone) but at 6-4, 223 pounds with his catch radius and hands, those times will help his stock and make him a prime second round target. At 6-4 and 238 pounds, Chase Claypool's 4.42 in the 40 drew a lot of eyes. He did not run the 3-cone drill.

Tee Higgins didn't participate in any of the Combine drills or events but measured in at a long and lithe 6-4 and 216 pounds. Jalen Reagor measured 5-11 and 206 pounds, but a few analysts thought he bulked up a bit too much, which might be a reason for a lower than expected 4.47 40-yard dash and disappointing 7.31 3-cone time. Laviska Shenault Jr. ran a 4.58 40-yard dash, but it looked like he might have injured himself on his lone run and did not participate in any of the on-field drills. It was announced over the weekend that he will have surgery this week on a core muscle injury that hindered him most of the season. His medicals will be critical to where he gets drafted.

Must-see photos from the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis

Tight Ends

The tight end class was not highly touted coming into Indianapolis and it doesn't look like their testing scores moved anyone into first round consideration. The best 40 time came from Missouri's Albert Okwuegbunam, who ran a 4.49 at 6-5 and 258 pounds. He did not participate in any other events.

The most significant times came from Adam Trautman, who ran a 4.80 in the 40 but dominated the 3-cone drill at 6.78 seconds and the short shuttle at 4.27 seconds. Trautman has the frame to be a two-way tight end, was impressive at the podium, and dominated the FCS level at Dayton. Those agility times that show change of direction ability will be how he gets open in the NFL.

Running Backs

It was disappointing that J.K. Dobbins didn't do any of the drills or testing, but he is still recovering from a high ankle sprain suffered in the college football playoffs. He is not very thick in his upper body at 5-9 and 209 pounds, but he seemed like a very mature young man when he addressed the media.

The other top running backs did not disappoint in their drills. Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor ran a 4.39 40- yard dash, which was the fastest time among running backs. He also ran a 7.01 in the 3-cone drill, which was the fourth fastest time at the position. At 5-10 and 226 pounds, he solidified himself in the top four of the running back class and is unlikely to get to round three.

D'Andre Swift of Georgia checked in at 5-8 and 212 pounds, and ran a 4.48 in the 40. He could be the first running back off the board. Clyde Edwards-Helaire of LSU measured only 5-7 and ran a 4.6 40-yard dash. He was not known as a burner coming into the combine, so the time should not hurt him given his short area quickness.

Florida State's Cam Akers is trying to make the top tier five deep instead of four. One of the top running backs of his recruiting class, he ran an impressive 4.47 40-yard dash. His 4.42 short shuttle was the second slowest time among running backs, which might raise some eyebrows.

After an impressive Senior Bowl, UCLA's Joshua Kelley continued to impress in Indianapolis. He ran a 4.49 in the 40 and posted the top running back 3-cone time at 6.95 seconds.

Offensive Line

All discussion of moving Iowa right tackle Tristan Wirfs inside to guard should be tabled. He dominated offensive line workouts with a position group-best of 4.85 in the 40, the group's fifth-best 3-cone time (7.65), the top broad jump (by FIVE inches) at 121, and the best vertical jump at 36.5 inches. He was a shot putter and discus thrower in college, and with his 34-inch arms there are no red flags to suggest he won't be a plug and play tackle and potential Top 10 pick.

Andrew Thomas and Jedrick Wills did nothing to hurt their draft stock. Thomas measured 36-inch arms and had the fourth-best 3-cone time amongst offensive linemen (7.58 seconds). Wills was solid in all his testing and measurements.

Mekhi Becton measured in at 6-7 and 364 pounds and wowed everyone with his 5.10 in the 40-yard dash, but he pulled up with an injury and didn't do anything else in Indianapolis. Boise State tackle Ezra Cleveland showed his superior movement skills with the top 3-cone and short shuttle times amongst linemen, along with the third best 40 time.

Tackles Matt Peart and Austin Jackson did well in testing amongst offensive tackles. Houston tackle Josh Jones, considered by some to be a potential first round pick, did not test among the best players at the position.

Cesar Ruiz did well on the field and some analysts think he could be the first center taken, perhaps even at the end of the first round. Another interior offensive lineman, Temple's Matt Hennessy, was second in both the 3-cone and short shuttle drills.


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