2017 NFL combine invitations: Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly among biggest snubs, surprises

Sometimes referred to as the NFL Draft Underwear Olympics, the annual NFL Scouting Combine is an opportunity to match quantifiable data with a prospect’s scouting report, including everything from arm length to 40-yard dash time.

The 2017 combine is scheduled for Feb. 28-March 6 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Here is the official list of participants.

Even with 330 prospects invited, there were several notable omissions from the official list.

For prospects who did not receive an invitation, it’s not the end for them. Last year, 38 players were drafted who did not participate at the combine, including one player in the third round (safety Kevin Byard ) and two fourth-rounders (defensive lineman David Onyemata , tight end Seth DeValve ).

Meanwhile, 117 players (35.2 percent) who were invited to the combine were not selected in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Also new this year is a rule that prevents players with past criminal issues to attend the combine. Once a player is invited, he is subject to a background check. And that player will be unable to participate if that search shows a misdemeanor or felony conviction involving violence or use of a weapon, domestic violence, sexual offense and/or sexual assault.

Below is a breakdown of the snubs and surprises at each position:


SNUB: Chad Kelly , Ole Miss Rebels

Presumably because of his past off-field issues, Kelly will not be in Indianapolis. He has NFL arm strength, toughness and mobility, but his character is the question mark. Still rehabbing from an ACL injury, Kelly wasn’t expected to work out at the combine, but it is a missed opportunity to interview with teams.

Chad Kelly will not be in Indianapolis, and some think it may have to do with character concerns. USATSI
  • Ten other omissions: Alek Torgersen (Penn), Patrick Towles ( Boston College Eagles ), Ryan Higgins ( Louisiana Tech Bulldogs ), Gunner Kiel (Cincinnati), Zach Terrell ( Western Michigan Broncos ), Brady Gustafson (Montana), Antonio Pipkin (Tiffin), Bart Houston ( Wisconsin Badgers ), Nick Mullens ( Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles ), Austin Appleby ( Florida Gators )

SURPRISE: Trevor Knight , Texas A&M

An Oklahoma Sooners transfer, Knight scored 29 total touchdowns (19 passing, 10 rushing) for the Aggies as a senior. His inconsistent mechanics and decision-making stand out, but so does his athleticism, which he will show off in Indianapolis.

Running back

SNUB: Joe Mixon , Oklahoma

With his 2014 off-field incident looming large, Mixon will be a hotly debated prospect this spring. And unfortunately for him, the combine won’t be an option as he attempts to convince a NFL team one terrible decision shouldn’t define him as a person.

Will an NFL team roll the dice on Joe Mixon? USATSI
  • Ten other omissions: Joseph Yearby (Miami), Marcus Cox ( Appalachian State Mountaineers ), I’Tavius Mathers ( Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders ), Tarean Folston ( Notre Dame Fighting Irish ), Khalfani Muhammad ( California Golden Bears ), Anthony Wales (Western Kentucky), Le’Shun Daniels ( Iowa Hawkeyes ), Taquan Mizzell ( Virginia Cavaliers ), Brandon Radcliff ( Louisville Cardinals ), Matt Breida ( Georgia Southern Eagles )

SURPRISE: Chris Carson , Oklahoma State Cowboys

Carson finished third on the Cowboys in rush attempts (82) this past season, but maximized each carry with a 6.8 yards per rush average and nine touchdowns on the ground.

Wide receiver

SNUB: Chad Williams, Grambling State

One of the risers coming out of Senior Bowl week, Williams is a good-sized athlete with natural receiving traits. Unfortunately for him, an arrest last May for marijuana and firearm possession might be the reason he won’t be able to continue that momentum in Indianapolis.

 An arrest last for marijuana and firearm possession might be the reason Chad Williams won’t be in Indianapolis.   USATSI
  • Ten other omissions: Ishmael Zamora ( Baylor Bears ), Damore’ea Stringfellow (Ole Miss), Tim Patrick ( Utah Utes ), Austin Carr ( Northwestern Wildcats ), R.J. Shelton ( Michigan State Spartans ), Corey Smith ( Ohio State Buckeyes ), Tim White ( Arizona State Sun Devils ), DeAngelo Yancey ( Purdue Boilermakers ), Geno Lewis (Oklahoma), Gehrig Dieter ( Alabama Crimson Tide )

SURPRISE: Victor Bolden, Oregon State

Although he is undersized and the production doesn’t catch your eye (46 catches, 542 yards, two touchdowns in 2016), Bolden has speed to burn and should light up the 40-yard dash.

Tight end

SNUB: Blake Jarwin , Oklahoma State

A former walk-on, Jarwin was underutilized as the “Cowboy” back in Oklahoma State’s offense, but his raw athletic traits are draftable.

  • Ten other omissions: Josiah Price (Michigan State), Jake Maulhardt ( Wyoming Cowboys ), Phazahn Odom (Fordham), Taylor McNamara (USC), Billy Freeman ( San Jose State Spartans ), Tyrone Swoops (Texas), Derrick Griffin ( Texas Southern Tigers ), D.J. Dowdy (Cincinnati), Jacob Hollister (Wyoming), Barrett Burns (Appalachian State)

SURPRISE: Scott Orndoff , Pittsburgh Panthers

With only 23 career catches entering 2016, Orndoff made the most of his senior season and attracted attention from NFL scouts, including after a career game in the win over Clemson Tigers (nine catches, 128 yards, two touchdowns).

Offensive line

SNUB: Erik Magnuson , Michigan Wolverines

With 37 career starts spread between right tackle and both guard spots, Magnuson has a versatile skill set with the lower body athleticism to see NFL snaps.

Despite his versatility, Erik Magnuson will not be in Indianapolis.   USATSI
  • Ten other omissions: Jonathan McLaughlin ( Virginia Tech Hokies ), Levon Myers (Northern Illinois), Jylan Ware (Alabama State), Richard Levy ( Connecticut Huskies ), Greg Pyke ( Georgia Bulldogs ), Tyler Catalina (Georgia), Kyle Kalis (Michigan), Evan Goodman (Arizona State), Cameron Tom (Southern Miss), Jon Heck ( North Carolina Tar Heels )

SURPRISE: Collin Buchanan , Miami (Ohio)

A player who looks the part, Buchanan needs to find consistency, but the NFL tools are appealing.

Pass rusher

SNUB: Hunter Dimick , Utah

With 20 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks, Dimick had a career-year as a senior, but his production is based more on hustle than skill and the lack of athletic traits kept him from receiving a combine invite.

Despite having a career season and tallying 14.5 sacks, Dimick will not be in Indy. USATSI
  • Ten other omissions: A.J. Jefferson ( Mississippi State Bulldogs ), Keion Adams (Western Michigan), Lewis Neal (LSU), Pat O’Connor (Eastern Michigan), Deon Hollins (UCLA), Se’Von Pittman (Akron), Darius English ( South Carolina Gamecocks ), Cameron Malveaux ( Houston Cougars ), Terrence Waugh ( Kent State Golden Flashes ), Corey Vereen ( Tennessee Volunteers )

SURPRISE: Ifeadi Odenigbo , Northwestern

After a productive senior season, Odenigbo was overlooked by the major all-star games, but he will receive a chance to audition for NFL scouts in Indianapolis.

Defensive line

SNUB: DeAngelo Brown , Louisville

With his strong hands and ball-tracking skills, Brown has the upper body power to split doubles and collects himself well in space to make stops, collecting a team-best 13 tackles for loss as a senior.

  • Ten other omissions: Joey Ivie (Florida), Ralph Green ( Indiana Hoosiers ), Travis Tuiloma (BYU), B.J. Singleton (Houston), Matthew Godin (Michigan), A.J. Wolf ( Duke Blue Devils ), Adam Butler ( Vanderbilt Commodores ), Josh Banks ( Wake Forest Demon Deacons ), Woody Baron (Virginia Tech), Darius Hamilton ( Rutgers Scarlet Knights )

SURPRISE: Fadol Brown , Ole Miss

With only four starts and 2.5 sacks, Brown’s senior year didn’t go quite as planned, but he received an invite to Indy to showcase his skills for NFL teams.


SNUB: Calvin Munson , San Diego State Aztecs

Although not elite in any one area, Munson is a well-rounded linebacker who can defend the run, blitz and drop in coverage with seven career interceptions. This is a surprise omission.

  • Ten other omissions: Elijah Lee ( Kansas State Wildcats ), Dylan Cole (Missouri State), Steven Taylor (Houston), Javancy Jones (Jackson State), Tau Lotulelei (UNLV), Jimmie Gilbert ( Colorado Buffaloes ), Psalm Wooching ( Washington Huskies ), Keenan Gilchrist (Appalachian State), Paul Magloire (Arizona), Brandon Bell ( Penn State Nittany Lions )

SURPRISE: Blair Brown , Ohio Bobcats

It is easy to overlook him due to his undersized frame, but Brown flies all over the field and has the closing burst that should translate to his workouts at Lucas Oil Stadium.


SNUB: Desmond Lawrence , North Carolina

Lawrence doesn’t have ideal sudden twitch or long-speed for the position, but he checks boxes with his height, length and competitive nature and should be in Indianapolis with the other cornerbacks in this class.

  • Ten other omissions: Jeremy Cutrer (Middle Tennessee), Dwayne Thomas (LSU), Aarion Penton (Missouri), Greg Mabin (Iowa), Brad Watson (Wake Forest), Michael Davis (BYU), Cole Luke (Notre Dame), Breon Borders (Duke), Najee Murray (Kent State), Brandon Wilson (Houston)

SURPRISE: Jeremy Clark , Michigan

Clark has been a forgotten prospect because of a September ACL injury, but he will have the opportunity to show he is fully healthy and draftable.


SNUB: Jordan Sterns , Oklahoma State

With a team-best 101 tackles and three interceptions as a senior, Sterns had the 2016 season that earned him a Senior Bowl invite, but it wasn’t enough to get him to the combine.

  • Ten other omissions: Randall Goforth (UCLA), Fish Smithson ( Kansas Jayhawks ), Dante Barnett (Kansas State), Demetrious Cox (Michigan State), Leon McQuay (USC), Damariay Drew (California), Zach Hoffpauir ( Stanford Cardinal ), Weston Steelhammer ( Air Force Falcons ), Tony Conner (Ole Miss), Dymonte Thomas (Michigan)

SURPRISE: Jamal Carter, Miami (Fla.) Hurricanes

Often overlooked by former safety teammate Rayshawn Jenkins , Carter led the Hurricanes with 85 tackles in 2016 and was a senior captain.

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