INDIANAPOLIS -- The new-look schedule for the NFL combine has thrown some things off in 2017, with the first real workouts not taking place until Friday. We got to see the running backs and offensive lineman step onto the field to perform drills, and the results were not necessarily what we expected. 

The guys on the top end of this draft class were expected to shine, and they didn’t really do that at the combine. But there were some guys in the middle tiers who really put impressive numbers next to their name and helped to vault their stock. 

An offensive line class that isn’t necessarily a slam dunk in terms of talent saw a few guys emerge as well on Friday. 


Christian McCaffrey passed the test with flying colors. USATSI

Tarik Cohen: The powerful running back comes from a small school, having spent four years at North Carolina A&T, but he put up some big numbers at the combine. Cohen starred in the 40-yard dash, running in 4.42 seconds. The biggest red flag for him is, ironically, his production. Cohen was an animal in terms of total yardage for his four years at A&T, finishing with more than 1,100 yards in all four seasons and finishing over 1,500 yards twice. It came with a price, though, as Cohen carried the ball a whopping 868 times in his career. That’s a lot of mileage even for a guy with a ton of production.

T.J. Logan: On the flip side of that is one of two North Carolina backs in this draft. Logan carried the ball less than 500 times total (498) in his four years under Larry Fedora, but never averaged less than 4.9 yards per carry over the course of a season. Logan lit up the combine on Friday, leading all running backs with a 4.37 40-yard dash time. He also benched 17 reps of 225 pounds and had a 33 1/2-inch vertical leap, impressive numbers considering his size (5-foot-9, 196 pounds). In a deep class with a lot of different backs, Logan’s versatile game is only more impressive when it’s coupled with his combine performance.

Donnel Pumphrey: The diminutive running back out of San Diego State is going to be a steal for someone, and he hinted at why on Friday. Pumphrey, who led college football in rushing yards with 2,133 last season, ran a 4.48 40-yard dash. Benching five reps of 225 isn’t great (no lie: I saw Pete Prisco rip off five reps before he ate breakfast and without warming up on Friday), but no one’s drafting him for his raw power. He’s getting picked because of his explosiveness and versatility, which he showed at the combine. Ultimately, he’s going to be a tremendous complementary runner who provides major playmaking potential for some franchise.

Garett Bolles: In a weak offensive line class, the tackle out of Utah made himself some money on Friday. Bolles ran a 4.97 40; it’s always impressive to see a lineman crack five seconds. Bolles put himself up there with Ryan Ramczyk and Cam Robinson as the top prospects in this draft class with an impressive effort in the athletic drills on Friday. Plenty of teams late in the first round and at the top of the second round need help on offensive line, so it won’t be surprising to see his star rise.

Forrest Lamp: The big man out of Western Kentucky flashed his strength and nearly led all linemen in bench reps with 34. He also ran a 5-second flat 40, which is an impressive number. Again, it’s a weak draft class and guards are more valued in the NFL than they have been in years past. Lamp is a guy who is going to get a look from teams who strike out in free agency while trying to chase either Kevin Zeitler or T.J. Lang. There’s a dearth of protection for NFL clubs these days, and Lamp should cash in. It’s hard to imagine him falling out of the first round at this point.

Christian McCaffrey: The explosive player out of Stanford put up some big numbers at the combine, running a 4.48 in the 40 and posting a second-best 37 1/2-inch vertical jump. His 12-foot-1 broad jump was also a top-tier number. McCaffery doesn’t get the same attention as the other top guys in this class (Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook), but he should, and I think ultimately he doesn’t make it out of the first round. As colleague Rob Rang put it, he’s a “four-down back” who can contribute in so many ways. A smart team will realize what a weapon he is and utilize him.


Leonard Fournette lacked explosion in drills Friday. USATSI

Leonard Fournette: The biggest name in the running back class disappointed in his overall combine showing, as he came to Indy weighing 240 pounds, five more than he weighed in college. Fournette attributed that to “water weight,” which is a pretty big red flag for an excuse. He wasn’t explosive in the vertical jump, and although he ran a 4.5 40 to somewhat quell some of the concerns, there are still issues at play here if someone wants to spend a top-five or top-10 pick on the powerful back out of LSU.

Wayne Gallman: There were so many pieces from the Clemson offense that it shouldn’t be a surprise they won the title. Gallman was one of those, but he was lost in the shuffle in Indy. His 12-foot broad jump is fine, but a 29 1/2-inch vertical isn’t great and a 4.6-second 40 isn’t going to wow anyone. This is not the draft class you want to be in if you’re a running back struggling to put up big numbers at the combine.

Samaje Perine: The Oklahoma back who owns the single-game rushing record (427 yards against Kansas) was an animal on the bench press, posting 30 reps. But his 40 time of 4.65 certainly lacked in explosiveness. Rang pointed out that he might very well be a fullback in the NFL, and when you combine the lack of explosion and strength, it’s not hard to see.