The NFL combine shouldn't make or break any prospect, but it has to be a serious factor in the pre-draft process for everyone. We're armed with 20 years of official combine data to use in comparisons. A bad performance in Indianapolis doesn't instantly equate to a failed NFL career, it just typically alerts the percentage change a prospect ultimately thrives when he's a pro. There should be varying degrees of concern after the worse-than-expected combine workouts from these top prospects. 

Let's get to the reasons why. 

Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn 

To start, I need to be clear about my evaluation of Brown's combine. I don't expect his performance in Indianapolis to impact his draft position. He's likely going inside the top 10 overall, and it'd be a shock if he makes it to the second half of the first round. This warning strictly pertains to the amount of long-term success I believe -- and the numbers suggest -- he'll have in the NFL

Size needs to be factored in with Brown's workout. Among defensive linemen at the combine over the past two decades, his height (6-feet-5) and weight (324 pounds) placed in the 84th and 94th percentile, respectively.

However, all of his measured, on-field work was historically bad. His 8.22 3-cone placed in the third -- yes, third -- percentile among defensive tackles. His vertical? 22nd percentile at the position. His broad jump was a respectable but far from super-impressive 66th percentile. His short shuttle time of 4.79 -- 18th percentile. Ndamukong Suh -- a trendy comparison for the Auburn star -- was light years more athletic than Brown when he tested at the combine in 2010. 

Height/Weight

40

Vertical

Broad

Three Cone

Short Shuttle

Ndamukong Suh

6-4/307

5.03

35.5"

105"

N/A

4.44

Derrick Brown

6-5/326

5.16

27"

108"

8.22

4.79

And Brown's workout basically matches the film. While young -- still not 22 -- Brown wins with sheer force through blocks and tremendous block-shedding laterally to go along with stellar tackling reliability. He's the best run defender in the class, bar none. But, while that makes for fun highlights, it's simply not as valuable in the NFL in 2020 as it was even a decade ago. 

He took a step forward using his hands when attacking upfield in 2019, yet outside of a bull rush and a very rare swim, one simply can't say Brown is a refined hand-work master on pass plays. And, now, projecting him to win through a gap simply with his burst and athletic gifts at the NFL level might be a fool's errand.

What that leaves is a large, intimidating defensive tackle with easy-to-see strength and an advancing yet not loaded arsenal of pass-rushing moves with well below-average athleticism for the position. For as disruptive as Brown was during his illustrious career at Auburn, the odds are now firmly against him becoming a star (pass-rusher) in the NFL. 

Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado 

Before the combine, it was reported Shenault had a groin-area injury. But, for some reason, he decided to only run the 40 and not participate in any other drills in Indianapolis. 

That decision proved to be a mistake for the former Colorado star. He ran 4.58 at 6-1 and 227 pounds, which given his size profile, is not brutal. It's just not first-round caliber. Since 2000, there have been 16 wide receivers 220 pounds or heavier picked in Round 1. Of that group, only Plaxico Burress (4.59) and Kelvin Benjamin (4.61) ran slower than Shenault's 4.58. 

Sure, fans of Shenault will point to his injury as a reason for the slower time, and that theory probably has some legs. However, if that's the case, it speaks to Shenault's tendency to pop up on the injury list as a red flag. While I'll never label someone as injury prone or predict a future injury, Shenault's play-style is concerning on the injury front, as he's a contact-balance specialist with the ball in his hands, routinely bouncing off defenders as he accumulates yards after the catch.

He doesn't win with deadly sharp route running, pure speed, or outstanding ball skills, although he's not a liability in any of those areas. Shenault is an offensive weapon, a running back playing wide receiver. And he's entering the NFL with a laundry list of injuries over the past two years at Colorado and a slow 40-time on his resume. I think he'll land in Round 2 now and suspect we'll be viewing him in a similar light to that of Sammy Watkins in a few years. 

Cam Dantzler, CB, Mississippi State

Dantzler's claim to fame is not getting roasted by Ja'Marr Chase and the LSU offense in 2019. And, it truly was a dazzling cornerback performance. He enjoyed a steady three-year stint at Mississippi State with five interceptions and 20 pass breakups. But he's likely destined for the third round (at the earliest) after his combine workout and he had been getting first-round buzz heading into the combine.

Dantzler had a unique weigh-in of 6-2 and 188 pounds with arms under 31 inches then ran 4.64 and had a 34-inch vertical, the latter placing him in the 31st percentile at the position over the past two decades. The 4.64 is in the seventh percentile. 

In that time frame, 16 cornerbacks 6-1 or taller have been picked in the first round. The slowest time in the 40 of the players in that group was 4.52 from Marlin Jackson and Will Middlebrooks. Also, 26 cornerbacks 6-1 or taller have been picked in the second round since 2000, and fellow Mississippi State alum Johnthan Banks is the only player of that group to run 4.60 or slower. He ran a 4.61.

You have to venture into the third round to find a cornerback who ran as slowly as Dantzler did (Daryl Worley, 2016) in the 40, which pencils in the feisty cornerback in that round after getting first-round buzz heading into the combine. 

Now, I am much more interested in getting an evaluation correct about a prospect than I am his draft position, but I did see a decently slower, overly grabby cornerback in Dantzler when watching him on film. If he can get away with his overtly physical nature at the line of scrimmage in the NFL, he could ultimately be a solid player. But teams are going to stretch him vertically, and without disrupting a wideout's timing initially, he is going to struggle to stay with them down the field. 

Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

Disclaimer: Jeudy is still inside my top 10 prospects in the 2020 class. I do not think he's going to bust in the NFL. But based on super-high expectations, the Alabama star's combine was mostly underwhelming. And it should alert us that he's not exactly an Odell Beckham caliber athlete fully prepared to light the NFL on fire in his rookie season as Beckham did in 2014. 

Here's a comparison of the two: 

Height/Weight

40

Vertical

Broad

Three Cone

Short Shuttle

Odell Beckham

5-11/198

4.43

38"

122"

6.69

3.94

Jerry Jeudy

6-1/193

4.45

35"

120"

N/A

4.53

At a quick glance, they're similar. But let's add some context. Beckham was more compact at 5-11 and 198 pounds, and his short-shuttle time -- one that measures agility and change-of-direction -- was significantly better than Jeudy's. In this case, the times were the difference between the 96th percentile and the third percentile. 

And sure, some prospects are quicker/faster on the field than they are in Indianapolis at the combine. Jeudy very well could be one of those players. But I think his best pro comparison is actually Adam Thielen, not Beckham. Jeudy's combine and Thielen's pro day workout were almost identical -- even down to a bad short-shuttle time -- and Jeudy is a route technician just like the Vikings star. 

Height/Weight

40 

Vertical

Broad

Three Cone

Short Shuttle

Adam Thielen

6-1/192

4.49

36"

120"

6.77

4.49

Jerry Jeudy

6-1/193

4.45

35"

120"

N/A

4.53

Beyond strictly measured athleticism, Beckham was a catch-radius unicorn at LSU, and his ridiculous ball skills and propensity to make the circus grab has probably been as much of trump cards as this supreme athleticism in the NFL. Those areas are not where Jeudy thrives. Per Pro Football Focus' draft guide, Jeudy made just three contested catches in 2019. Yes, part of that low number was due to how open he was, but the team drafting him is not doing so because of his large catch radius. 

And while his cuts in space are violent, I'm not sure if Jeudy enters the league making NFL defensive backs miss in space with insane regularity. Per PFF, he forced 15 missed tackles on 77 catches last season (19.4%), a slightly lower rate than Clemson's Tee Higgins (20.3%), someone not being labeled as a make-you-miss, YAC wideout. The rate for Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb? An absurd 41.9%. Jumping to Jeudy's conference for competition purposes, South Carolina receiver Bryan Edwards' forced missed tackle rate was 21.1% (15 on 71 grabs). LSU's Justin Jefferson's was 20.7%. 

Look, if Jeudy turns into Adam Thielen 2.0, no one will be angry about it. Yes, he's outstanding at the line and will win vertically in the NFL. But we can't just simply ignore the combine for a few prospects while factoring it in for others, and Jeudy's workout was very Thielen-esque. So is his playing style.