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Cover 4: Final takeaways from the NFL Combine


With the 2023 NFL Combine in the rearview mirror, the crew discusses the biggest takeaways from Indianapolis.

John Schmeelk: The results at the NFL Combine confirmed what we already knew about the 2023 NFL Draft class. Before the NFL world arrived in Indianapolis, everyone expected four quarterbacks would go in the first round, and likely in the top 15. Nothing has changed with how those quarterbacks measured and performed on the field there.

As many as six cornerbacks have been predicted to be first-round picks in early mock drafts, and the group did nothing to dissuade those notions during their field work. Every time you looked at the times of the cornerbacks on the screen, you saw another player running a sub-4.4 40-yard dash. Cornerbacks are going to rule the first round of the draft.

Likewise, wide receiver was not considered a top-heavy position in this year's draft. The top wide receivers in the class did not test to the record levels of the cornerbacks. Jordan Addison barely got into the 4.4's. Quentin Johnston and Jaxon Smith-Njigba did not run. Jalin Hyatt did not get below 4.4 despite expectations to the contrary. They are good players but none might get picked before the 15th pick, and none might have been picked in the top five of receivers in last year's draft.

The tight ends, on the other hand, tested and performed in field drills as well as their tape indicated. There could be four or even five first-round worthy tight ends, whether they actually get picked in the first round or not. This might be the odd season where a tight end is the first non-quarterback offensive skill position player selected in the draft.

This draft class lacks a lot of blue-chip talent. Talking to some people in Indianapolis, there might not be more than 15 true first-round graded players this year. It might mean more trades, whether up or back as teams try to maximize the value of their selections. It should be a wild seven weeks until the draft arrives.

View photos from the Giants' suite in Indianapolis, where the team is gathered to evaluate the top draft prospects.

Lance Medow: Normally, coming out of the scouting combine, there's a quarterback or wide receiver that's considered the favorite or somewhat of an indication of who may go first at one of those two positions. This year, it seems the field is still wide open. Alabama signal caller Bryce Young quieted some skeptics with his measurements pertaining to size, Anthony Richardson of Florida wowed most with his athleticism, putting him in a league of his own when it comes to the vertical and broad jumps and creating a lot of buzz he'll go in the Top 10 while Ohio State's C.J. Stroud and Will Levis of Kentucky impressed, as well. If you ask various draft analysts, at this point, you'll probably hear many different opinions regarding which quarterback will be taken off the board first.

The same can be said for wide receiver. TCU's Quentin Johnston, Jordan Addison of USC, Ohio State's Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Jalin Hyatt of Tennessee each helped their causes in Indianapolis but have questions and concerns whether it's injury history, versatility of route running or physical frame. Very similar to the quarterbacks, you'll find differing takes across the board, which means we could be in store for an upredictable first round. The Giants aren't slated to pick until 25th overall so by the time they'll be on the clock, a lot of the dust will have settled by then. As far as the Giants at No. 25, it's hard to see where GM Joe Schoen is leaning because decisions in free agency will provide a bit more clarity.

Matt Citak: Going into the week in Indy, cornerback was widely considered one of the most talented and deepest position groups in the 2023 draft class. Well, the cornerbacks solidified that notion with their performance. Oregon's Christian Gonzalez is one of the top CBs in the class, and his numbers last week certainly helped his draft stock. His 4.38 40-time along with his 41.5-inch vertical were among the best marks at the position, as he finished within the Top 5 of Next Gen Stats CB athleticism score leaders. Finishing at the top of that list was Maryland's Deonte Banks, who edged out Gonzalez with his 4.35 40-time and his 42-inch vertical. Banks finished with the second-highest overall athleticism score of any prospect at the Combine, according to NGS, likely solidifying his spot in the first round. Michigan's DJ Turner also opened some eyes with his Combine-best 4.26 40-time.

There are currently seven cornerbacks listed in Daniel Jeremiah's top 50 draft prospects. Illinois' Devon Witherspoon leads the group, coming in at No. 5, although he was unable to participate in on-field drills at the Combine. Despite this fact, Witherspoon is still one of the top players in the draft and certainly in the conversation to be the first CB selected. Penn State's Joey Porter (No. 12) Jr. also put up solid numbers in Indy, which should cement his status as a Top-20 pick. Mississippi State's Emmanuel Forbers (No. 38) and Georgia's Kelee Ringo (No. 45) are two more intriguing prospects, while Alabama's Brian Branch (No. 21) offers some interesting upside as a slot corner. Gonzalez (No. 13) and Banks (No. 42) round out the group of seven. Considering other prospects such as Miami's Tyrique Stevenson and Syracuse's Garrett Williams, just to name a few, are also in the mix, the 2023 CB class appears likely to produce numerous Day 1 starters.

View photos from the NFL Combine as prospects take the field for on-field drills.