2019 NFL Draft: Kyler Murray, D.K. Metcalf, Jamel Dean win combine, Jachai Polite has bad week in Indy
There was a lot to love at the 2019 NFL combine but several players will need to reset the narrative
INDIANAPOLIS -- The 2019 NFL combine has officially come to a close and plenty of players helped their cause with great performances -- some in the 40-yard dash, others in the on-field drills, and in the case of Kyler Murray, just by showing up. Not everyone is leaving on a high note, however. There are those players who have hurt their draft stock and will need solid pro days and private workouts to change the narrative. Here are the winners and losers from Indianapolis.
Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
Murray didn't take part in any on-field drills ... and he came out the other side as one of the big winners. Partly because he had nothing to gain by throwing to receivers he'd never worked with but also because the other quarterbacks in the group didn't separate themselves with noteworthy performances.
There's also this: We didn't know how tall Murray would be. He measured just under 5-feet-10 at Oklahoma in the fall and he's now just over 5-feet-10. He also weighed 207 -- a pound heavier than Russell Wilson when he came to the combine in 2012 -- and his hands are bigger than Baker Mayfield, the first overall pick last spring. Murray will throw at his pro day but he's a lock for the top 10, and before it's all said and done he could follow Mayfield as the No. 1 player taken.
Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
This draft is stocked with physical freaks and Williams is another manifestation of that. He ran a 4.83 40 at 303 pounds, which makes your head hurt if you think about it too much. But running in a straight line isn't what's going to make Williams a top-five pick -- that'll happen because of everything he put on tape during the 2018 season. He has one of the quickest first steps in this draft class, and he dominates one-one-one blocking situations and regularly wins against double teams. Yes, edge rushers are the second-most important position after franchise quarterback but we're making an exception for Williams, who can change games from the interior of the defensive line.
D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
This is how good D.K. Metcalf was during the combine: Everyone knew he was a physical freak of nature coming into the week and he still left everyone -- from NFL teams to media to fans -- picking their jaws up off the floor. He torched a 4.33 40-yard dash, put up 225 pounds 27 times, and oh by the way, his body-fat percentage is somehow 1.6 percent.
If there's a reason to go back and look at more tape it's this: Metcalf's times in the three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle were among the worst in his position group. He came into the week as our No. 1 receiver and that hasn't changed. That said, he's almost certainly catapulted himself into the top 10.
Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State
Sweat dominated last season (12 sacks, 14.5 tackles for loss) and the season before (10 sacks, 15.5 tackles for loss), he dominated in Mobile at the Senior Bowl in January, and the trend continued in Indianapolis this week. His 4.41 40 is still hard to explain, but he also was among the best edge rushers in the shuttle, three-cone drill, broad jump and vertical leap too.
We've had him as a late first-rounder for months but it's going to be hard to keep him out of the top 15 (we have him going No. 16 to the Panthers ).
Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State
Campbell arrived in Indy as a solid Day 2 pick but that changed the moment he lined up to the run the 40. 4.31 seconds later and Campbell had sprinted his way into the first-round conversation. This isn't solely a function of his ability to move -- we all knew that from watching him for the Buckeyes -- but he ranked among the top wideouts in his group in the 20-yard shuttle (which measures stop-start ability), and the broad jump and vertical leap (which measure explosiveness). Taken together, it's why we had the Raiders .
Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
If you're looking for a traditional inline tight end, this isn't it. But if you're enamored by Evan Engram's playmaking athleticism, then we'd like to introduce you to Noah Fant. He ran a 4.50 40 and posted a 39 1/2-inch vertical leap and a 6.81 three-cone drill (all tops among tight ends). His Iowa teammate, T.J. Hockenson, is considered one of the most complete players in this draft class but Fant is more athletic -- and in the right system he can be a game-changer. If he's still on the board at the bottom of the first round, Fant would make a lot of sense in Green Bay and New England. (We have him going to the Packers .)
Garrett Bradbury, C, NC State
Bradbury anchored that really good Wolfpack offensive line that protected Ryan Finley and he continued to make his case as the best interior offensive linemen in the country at the Senior Bowl. That became all but set in stone at the combine when he busted out a 4.92 40-time as a 306-pounder. He also dominated the three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle, confirming his athleticism. In we have him going 18th to the Vikings.
Jawaan Taylor, RT, Florida
Taylor didn't run the 40-yard dash, but he otherwise impressed in athletic testing and showed why many people already had him as the top tackle on their boards. And while Jonah Williams, the next guy on this list, didn't fall flat on his face, his measurements might have tackle-needy teams opting for the more sure thing at the position in Taylor. Like, say, the Buccaneers, and will need to protect Jameis Winston if Bruce Arians wants to consistently throw the ball down the field. Don't expect him to fall outside the top 15 on draft day, and don't be surprised if Taylor, who dominated in the run game a season ago, is the first offensive lineman off the board.
Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State
Butler was the deep threat for the Cyclones last season, hauling in 60 passes for 1,318 yards (22.0 yards per catch!) and nine touchdowns. The knock on him was that he sometimes lost focus, resulting in dropped passes, and whether he had the flexibility to get in and out of his breaks. NFL teams will be rushing back to watch more film after Butler, who is 6-5, ran a 4.48 40 and was in the 98th percentile among all wideouts in hand size, arm length, wing span and height. With cornerbacks getting bigger and stronger, Butler makes a lot of sense for teams looking for downfield threats.
Andy Isabella, WR, UMass
Isabella is at the other end of the spectrum from Hakeem Butler -- at 5-8 and change he's in the fourth percentile in height, arm length and hand size among all wideouts -- but all he does is catch passes and make plays. Isabella led the nation in receiving yards per game last season and he had mind-blowing performances against Liberty (303 yards, two touchdowns) and Georgia (219 yards, two touchdowns). He followed that up with an impressive week at the Senior Bowl, punctuated by a game-high seven receptions for 74 yards.
Isabella continued to impress at Indy and while he'll draw comparisons to Wes Welker and Julian Edelman, Isabella is one of the fastest players in this draft class as evidenced by his 4.31 40 time. He feels like a third-round pick but we won't be surprised if he finds his way into Round 2.
Jamel Dean, CB, Auburn
At 6-1, 206 pounds, Dean looks the part, and it's confirmed when you watch him play. Here's what we wrote in our notes last fall: "Solid in single coverage, especially on go routes down the sideline, uses sideline to his advantage, has the speed to keep pace with WR."
Yeah, that's an understatement. That 4.3 time means he has the speed to keep pace with just about anybody on the planet. It also means that he's a solid Day 2 pick and in the 50-something days between now and the draft he could find himself in the first-round conversation too if a team feels comfortable with his medical check.
Jachai Polite, EDGE, Florida
There is so much to love about Polite when you see him terrorizing SEC opponents -- he had 11 sacks, 19.5 tackles for loss and six forced fumbles last season -- but things took an awkward unexpected turn in Indianapolis this week. Instead of focusing on his on-field production, Polite suggested that many of the teams he interviewed with.
His combine workouts were also pedestrian (Polite ran a 4.84 40, and his vertical jump ranked in the 37th percentile among all edge rushers) and things went from bad to worse when he pulled out of several drills because of an injury. The good news, if you can call it that, is that Polite said he had a good interview with the Rams though his draft stock could go from top-15 pick to Day 2 selection based solely on what has transpired the last 48 hours.
Kelvin Harmon, WR, NC State
First things first: We love Kelvin Harmon. He was a dominant receiver at NC State, and reminded us a lot of D.K. Metcalf -- big receiver who excelled at the contested catch, and had the ability to beat defensive backs deep. But unlike Metcalf, Harmon only ran a 4.6 40 time. And while that's not slow, it's also not in the same conversation as Metcalf, Campbell and Isabella -- or even other big receivers like Emanuel Hall (4.39 40) or N'Keal Harry (4.53 40). Fair or not, that could push Harmon down draft boards and out of the first round altogether.
But when you watch Harmon play it's hard to ding him too much for his performance in Indy; he can take over games, and one 4.6 40-yard dash doesn't change that. He'll have a chance to improve on that number at his pro day but even if he doesn't we wouldn't be surprised if a team like the Patriots grabbed him at the bottom of Round 1.
Elijah Holyfield, RB, Georgia
When you watch Holyfield play, "running angry" is one of the first things that comes to mind. Unfortunately, running fast doesn't follow; he clocked a 4.78 40 time, which is in the fourth percentile among all running backs in Indy this week. In fact, he was underwhelming in just about every combine-related category except the bench press. That's ... not good. This doesn't mean Holyfield isn't a good player -- because he is -- but it guarantees that he'll need a much-improved effort at his pro day and that is draft stock is headed south.
Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
We've regularly had Baker in our weekly mock drafts because he was one of the best cornerbacks in college last season. He faced some of the top wideouts in the country on a weekly basis -- and almost always came out on top. But he didn't crack the 4.5-mark in his 40 time, and that'll be a concern, especially since he's 5-foot-11 and 193 pounds. It's not a death knell for his NFL career but it does mean that those bigger, taller, faster defensive backs will now be in the first-round conversations. But even if Baker slips to Day 2 he'll be an impact player who can contribute from Day 1.
Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss
LIttle got plenty of first-round buzz during the 2018 season but his tape was inconsistent and he did little to help his cause this week. While Little looks the part -- he's got the wingspan and arm length to go along with his 6-5 frame but the poor 40 time (5.33 seconds) and vertical jump (25 inches) and middling 20-yard shuttle (4.74 seconds) compared to all the offensive linemen at the combine will undoubtedly affect his draft stock.
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