Live from the NFL combine: Updates, news and 40-yard dash times from Indianapolis
After three days of interviews, medical exams, more interviews and some bench pressing, the first group of NFL prospects finally get to show coaches and executives what they're made of. Offensive linemen and running backs hit the field for drills, giving us plenty of opportunities to scrutinize their vertical leap and 40-yard dash times. Quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends took to the podium to face the media for the first time. And we're here bringing you all the analysis.
Highlights so far: It's been all Leonard Fournette so far—the potential first-round pick weighed in at 240 pounds and claimed it was 'water weight,' because he drank a ton of water right before weighing in. (He didn’t help his case with his 28.5-inch vertical leap.)
Check back for updates from Indianapolis throughout the day.
Despite questions about his (water?) weight, Leonard Fournette proves that he's quick
- Leonard Fournette is certainly not a jumper, but the running back proved that he can sure can turn on the motors—and more takeaways from running back workouts at the NFL combine.
INDIANAPOLIS — The offensive linemen were the opening act Friday. The running backs were the headliners.
Most of the big names took full part in the RB on-field workouts, wrapping their week in Indianapolis. Here’s some of what we learned:
Leonard Fournette, LSU: What a strange week for Fournette, who turned out to be the embodiment of why the combine overreaction cycle is so ridiculous.
This week has been on the strange side for Fournette, arguably the top RB prospect this year. It started with the weigh-in, where he tipped the scales at 240 pounds, then continued with this explanation for that number: “I drank a lot water before I weighed in. it’s water weight. It went away completely.”
He said he thought he’d weigh 235, as he did at LSU. Five pounds of water weight, gone in the hours between weigh-in and interviews? Is that possible? I have no idea. To steal Cardale Jones’s line, “I ain’t come here to play school.”
Anyway, Fournette opened Friday with a dismal 28.5" vertical, among the worst RB marks—he told the NFL Network that was what he expected, saying, “I’m not jumper”—and then bowed out of the broad jump.
But lo and behold, when the 40-yard dash came around, Fournette shined, posting times of 4.51 and 4.52 seconds. Whether he’s at his goal weight of 235 or his human-waterbed 240, those are outstanding. Per the NFL Network, it was the fastest time by a 240-pound back (and Fournette officially counts there) since at least 2002.
Fournette showed throughout his college career that he could pull away in the open field and that he’ll lower the boom on a tackler. He’s special.
Dalvin Cook, Florida State: Cook was better in game action than he was in Friday’s combine action. That doesn’t necessarily mean Cook was bad, at all, during the on-field workouts, just that he fell short of blowing everyone away.
Cook ran a 4.49 40, which was 0.02 seconds better than Fournette. Whereas Fournette’s time will be viewed as a win, though, Cook’s could be a bit disappointing because a) he weighed 30 pounds less than Fournette and b) he looks closer to a 4.4 back on tape than a 4.5. Add in so-so marks in the broad jump (116") and vertical (30.5"), and an inconsistent showing in pass-catching drills, and teams may take a second look back at what Cook did as a Seminole just to make sure Friday was a bit misleading. (And an important note: As of the writing of this post, the three-cone and shuttle times had not been posted.)
For most backs in this class, Cook’s performance would have been perfectly acceptable—just six other RBs topped his 40 time, for example. Cook entered with higher expectations because he is viewed as a challenger for the position’s top spot.
He won’t drop based on what happened Friday, but if there was ground between he and Fournette, he didn’t close it.
Christian McCaffrey, Stanford: Less than 24 hours after McCaffrey’s 10 bench-press reps drew a few jeers, the Cardinal star may have locked himself into a first-round selection. He boasted a 37.5" vertical to go with a 121" broad jump and 4.48 40—barely topping Cook’s time, lest anyone still be panicked over Cook. On top of that, McCaffrey may have been the most comfortable of all the backs during pass-catching drills.
How comfortable? Well ...
No, he’s not a strong, power back. He is what we knew he was all along: a quick-footed, all-around threat who should be able to thrive in the NFL if his offensive coordinator uses him creatively.
Alvin Kamara, Tennessee: Players never actually broad jump during a game, and rarely do they stop and leap vertically, so folks might wonder why these combine drills matter. The answer: They help NFL teams figure out how explosive players can be. With that in mind, Kamara probably made himself some money Friday—and showed why he had crept into the Round 1 conversation—with a group-best 131" broad jump and 39.5" vertical, both group-best marks.
“I think the league is moving more towards having running backs that can do more catching out of the backfield and do more things in the offense,” Kamara said this week, “and that’s what my game displays.”
His 40 time of 4.56 landed around the average for this year’s backs.
D’Onta Foreman, Texas: Conspicuous in his absence. Foreman, who slimmed down a dozen pounds from his college weight to 233, might have surprised a few people with his speed. Friday morning, though, multiple reports revealed that Foreman had been shut down from drills by the combine’s doctors, after they found a stress fracture in his foot.
For now, Foreman is expected to work out at Texas’ Pro Day on March 28, but we’ll see.
T.J. Logan, North Carolina: We can’t wrap on the running backs’ workout without mentioning the fastest among them. North Carolina’s 5’ 9”, 190-pounder blazed the Lucas Oil Stadium turf to the tune of a 4.37 40. That’s nowhere near Chris Johnson’s all-time combine mark of 4.24, but no other player Friday made it under 4.4.
Forrest Lamp, Garrett Bolles make their case for Round 1 in O-line combine drills
- Little is certain atop the 2017 draft's class of O-linemen, but Forrest Lamp and Garrett Bolles have made their case to garner some first-round buzz.
INDIANAPOLIS — True, this does not have the look of an all-time great offensive line draft class. There still are four, and maybe five, O-linemen with designs on the first round.
Utah’s Garrett Bolles and Western Kentucky’s Forrest Lamp definitely helped their respective causes Friday during on-field workouts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Bolles, already pegged as one of the most athletic linemen in this class, ran a 4.96 40-yard dash with a 1.71 10-yard split. Only TCU’s Aviante Collins—en route to an impressive 4.78 40—topped Bolles’s 10-yard mark, at 1.69. (Collins, by the way, also recorded 34 bench-press reps at 225 pounds, one behind Isaac Asiata’s top mark among the offensive linemen.)
“I know I have what it takes to be a franchise tackle in this league,” Bolles said earlier this week.
Lamp was right on the five-second mark with his two 40 efforts (4.99 and 5.0 flat, unofficially), with sub-1.8 splits in the 10-yard window. He matched Collins’s 34 bench reps.
Bolles (6' 4", 295 pounds with 34" arms) has the physical measurements to play on the edge at the next level. Lamp (6' 4", 309 with 32 1/4" arms) may not, even though his arm length rose an inch from where it was at the Senior Bowl—multiple players seemed to have been shortchanged by the arm measurements in Mobile.
But in the cases of both Bolles and Lamp, athleticism is the calling card, as the timed and positional drills showed Friday. The question of whether these prospects would go Round 1 is starting to give way to figuring out just how high they can climb.
Garett Bolles recorded a 9'7" broad jump— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) March 3, 2017
Only 3 OL recorded better jumps since 2006
Bolles might not be able to leapfrog Cam Robinson atop the tackle group, but he should be in the mix right behind him, along with Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk (who isn’t running drills in Indy, following hip surgery). Bolles comes with a unique background, though, which includes being kicked out of his own home by his father, being dismissed from five different high schools and an arrest. He’ll also be 25 by rookie training camp. NFL teams will have to decide how that all factors in with his obvious upside as a blocker.
Lamp’s anticipated bump inside to guard after playing tackle in college puts him into competition with the likes of Ohio State’s Pat Elflein (who’s probably an NFL center), Indiana’s Dan Feeney, Pittsburgh’s Dorian Johnson and Temple’s Dion Dawkins to be the first interior lineman off the board. A team still could try Lamp at tackle, too, shortish arms be damned.
There’s plenty more to unpack about this O-line class before the draft arrives, but Bolles and Lamp are solidly in the first-round mix and Friday’s workouts only reaffirmed as much.
Combine weigh-in takeaways: Jabrill Peppers's NFL role becomes a little clearer
- Jabrill Peppers is working out as a linebacker in Indianapolis, but his measurements say he should stick to safety. Plus, more takeaways from the weigh-ins for Myles Garrett and the top D-linemen.
INDIANAPOLIS — The combine’s on-field workouts began in earnest Friday, with the offensive linemen and running backs hitting the field. The weigh-ins aren’t over yet, though. A little of what stood out from the defensive linemen and linebacker numbers:
Myles Garrett, Edge, Texas A&M (6' 4 1/2", 272 pounds): But wait, there’s more. Per Yahoo’s Charles Robinson, Garrett also checked in with 35 1/4" arms and and 82 5/8" wingspan. This is the odds-on favorite to go No. 1 overall, so the fact that he is a physical freak should come as no surprise. Still, he put official numbers behind what shows up on tape.
Malik McDowell, DL, Michigan State (6' 6 1/4", 295 pounds): An 83-inch wingspan here, so just above Garrett’s reach. The intriguing note on McDowell, though, is that weight. He was listed at 276 at Michigan State, so 295 marks a bump of nearly 20 pounds. We’ll see what, if anything, that increase does to McDowell’s quickness when the defensive linemen test on Sunday, but the size helps his cause—J.J. Watt is 6' 5", 295, if you need a point of reference.
One reason McDowell may have added weight, other than to solidify himself as a DT/3–4 DE: durability. He missed several games this past season, so showing that he can pack on pounds could help him sell those absences as a fluke.
Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama (6' 2 1/2", 286 pounds): Down five pounds from his listed weight at Alabama—McDowell aside, it’s a theme for players to drop a few before arriving in Indianapolis, since there is so much focus on the 40-yard dash and three-cone drills. Lighter usually means faster.
So, Allen needs to be quick. Even more so on the heels of the NFL Network’s report that both of his shoulders are “moderately arthritic” after they each required surgery during his college career.
Derek Barnett, Edge, Tennessee (6' 3", 259 pounds): Another example of cutting weight ahead of the combine—Barnett was listed at 265 in college. But it definitely pushes the perception that Barnett could be seen as a hybrid edge, rather than a straight 4–3 guy. Similarly sized prospects last year included Jordan Jenkins (6' 3", 259), Shaq Lawson (6' 3", 269) and Noah Spence (6' 2", 251). Barnett is expected to test well, especially in the three-cone drill.
Jabrill Peppers, LB/S, Michigan (5' 10 7/8", 213 pounds): Yeah, dude’s a safety. Peppers is working out with the linebackers this week, for whatever reason, and there remains debate over his actual NFL position. But his skill set—both the positives and negatives—combined with those weigh-in numbers keep pushing him away from the linebacker prototype. Michigan actually had him listed at 6' 1", which always seemed like an exaggeration.
Solomon Thomas, DL, Stanford (6' 2 5/8", 273 pounds): A good start to the day for Thomas, who also had 33" arms and a 78 7/8" wingspan. There’s nothing off the charts in any of those measurements, but there’s also nothing that jumps out as a red flag for being too small. If teams project Thomas as an edge rusher (or a hybrid), the size and length are passable grades.