Five players to watch after intriguing NFL Combine results

montez-sweat-runs-at-the-nfl-combine

Mississippi State defensive lineman Montez Sweat runs the 40-yard dash during the NFL scouting combine, Sunday, March 3, 2019, in Indianapolis. (Darron Cummings/AP)

After four days of 40-yard dashes, bench presses and cone drills, the 2019 NFL Combine is in the books.

The event has transformed over the years into a nearly week-long prospect extravaganza with results providing plenty of fodder for football fans and makers of mock drafts, but it’s hard to know how much value to put on a standout – or disappointing – result. Ultimately, there’s not often a lot of new information that can be taken away from the combine as top prospects usually solidify themselves as such while coaches, executives and scouts try to get the best sense of how to sort out the rest of the NFL hopefuls.

But every year, a handful of prospects are able to create some buzz at the combine – both good and bad – and help add some intrigue to the eight weeks until the draft.

Here are five intriguing players who made waves this weekend and we’ll be keeping an eye on between now and April 25.

Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma

The most interesting prospect in the 2019 NFL Draft didn’t participate in any drills – choosing instead to wait until his March 13 pro day – but still came out of the combine as one of the big winners.

Since making the decision to play football over baseball, much has been made about Murray’s size and how he would transition from the college game to the pros. A lot of that concern was put to bed after Murray was measured at 5-foot-10 and 207 pounds, comparable measurements to diminutive QB stars Russell Wilson and Baker Mayfield.

Now rocketing up post-Combine mock drafts (both NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah and Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller have him going No. 1) and following critical reviews from former executive Charlie Casserly on Tuesday, the hype around Murray will only intensify in the days leading up to his pro day.

D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss

Metcalf made headlines even before he took to the field at Lucas Oil Stadium for the wide receiver workouts when he was said to have had just 1.9 per cent body fat – although it’s a number disputed by some.

Regardless, Metcalf is undeniably a physical specimen, and his performance at the combine will likely vault him into the top half, if not the top-10, of next month’s draft.

At 6-foot-3 and 228 pounds, the Ole Miss wideout posted a stellar 4.33-second run in the 40-yard dash – a great result for a player of Metcalf’s size.

Wide receiver-needy teams near the top of the draft will be intrigued by Metcalf’s physical gifts and he could end up being the first pass catcher off the board on April 25.

Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State

In a draft that will likely be remembered for its talent and depth at defensive line, Sweat improved his stock from mid-first rounder to possible top-10 pick with an otherworldly 40-yard dash on Sunday.

At 4.41, Sweat set a modern combine record for a d-lineman and bested the 40-yard dash times of Odell Beckham Jr. and Ezekiel Elliott.

That kind of speed off the edge will entice a lot of teams with a high first-round pick, making Sweat a prospect whose stock is worth monitoring as the draft approaches.

Jachai Polite, DE, Florida

While Sweat likely saw his stock rise thanks to his showing at the combine, Polite may have put in this year’s worst performance in Indianapolis.

Considered a possible first-round pick and ranked No. 21 in NFL Network’s draft guru Daniel Jeremiah’s top 50 heading into the combine, Polite spoke openly about his combine interviews with the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers, even saying the Packers “bashed” him.

Polite also posted the third-worst 40-yard dash time among defensive lineman (4.84 seconds) and ended his day early due a lingering hamstring injury.

How the combine impacts Polite’s draft positioning is yet to be seen, but it won’t have helped.

Justice Hill, RB, Oklahoma State

Alabama’s Josh Jacobs, considered the top running back in the class, didn’t take part in the combine due to injury. Instead, it was OSU’s Hill stole the show with the best performance of all the backs.

In all likelihood, Jacobs will be the lone running back selected in the first round of this year’s draft, but Hill’s combine performance will put him on the radar of the plethora of teams likely searching for running backs on Day 2.

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