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The NFL Scouting Combine is the largest tryout in professional sports. Everyone from Division 1-AA to the top Power 5 athletes come to Indianapolis, Indiana to show why they deserve to be in the league.
This past combine is in the books and there were some fireworks and surprises. Some guys validated their stock, while some put themselves on the radar. With all that being said, here is what we learned.
Anthony Richardson and Nolan Smith Are Physical Freaks
Simply put, we saw two massive men put their athleticism on full display for the world to see.
Nolan Smith lead the charge running an astonishing 4.39 40-yd Dash, as well as posting a 41.5” vertical jump. Anthony Richardson or “Cam Jackson” followed that up with an 4.38 (hand timed) 40-yd Dash and a 40.5” vertical.
The scary thing isn’t the measurable numbers though, it’s the simple fact that at some point these two may meet on the field.
Small School, Big Arm
Every now and again a small school prospect comes to the combine and wows the judges. This year’s shining star was Tyson Bagent out of Division II Shepherd University.
Not only did he run well at 4.79 seconds, but he was almost perfect throwing the ball. The velocity, accuracy, and anticipation was on full display as Bagent kept pace with the likes of Will Levis and CJ Stroud. He also outperformed guys like Stetson Bennett, Jake Haener and Tanner McKee. If a team is looking for a Brock Purdy-like prospect, Tyson Bagent is your guy.
7 Fathoms Deep
One thing about the 2023 NFL Draft Class is they are deep.
Only one position has questions about its depth and that’s QB. As for the rest of the class, this may be the deepest draft we’ve ever seen.
All the linebackers can run and are smooth and instinctual.
The receivers are fast, have solid hands, and excellent footwork.
The halfbacks are all 3-tool guys who can cause nightmares for defenses.
All the defensive backs are smooth athletes with twitchy reaction time.
If there is any worry about finding an impact player late in the draft, let it go. This will be one of those drafts that will be talked about for years to come because of the depth of the field.
Tapped Into The Speed Force
Every year there is anticipation for the 40-yd Dash times. This year was no different as fans, media and NFL Brass flooded Lucas Oil Stadium to watch these athletes put on a show. Below are just some of the hand times recorded from combine weekend:
Jahmyr Gibbs, HB, Bama: 4.19s
Jalen Hyatt, WO, Tennessee: 4.20s
Cam Smith, DB, South Carolina: 4.21s
Emmanuel Forbes, DB, Mississippi St: 4.23s
DJ Turner, DB, Michigan: 4.23s
Jonathan Mingo, WO, Ole Miss: 4.28s
Derius Davis, WO, TCU: 4.28s
Chase Brown, HB, Illinois: 4.31s
Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa: 4.46s
Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern: 4.81s
These guys can flat out fly. The fact that this many guys ran sub-4.3 out on the perimeter is scary. The game is progressively getting faster, and these kinds of times are becoming more prevalent. A bright spot is Peter Skoronski, who is one of the top tackle prospects, who ran sub-5.0. To put it into perspective, he ran a time that is faster than Jared Goff, Case Keenum, Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen.
They say the game is moving faster and this is evidence of that.
For The Fans
The one thing that doesn’t show up on television broadcast is the amount of fans and fanfare that surrounds the NFL Combine.
From the NFL Combine Experience to the NOBULL Pro Shop, fans had their fair share of inclusion. The fans were involved in everything the athletes did. When they ran a fast 40, cheers. When they caught a tough pass, oohs and ahhs. When CJ Stroud walked up to throw his first pass the stadium erupted with cheers.
This was amazing because the athletes are getting a taste of the professional business of the NFL and also the love from professional fans. There is nothing like it.
The 2023 NFL Combine was an eye opener and a spectacle. This class has so much promise and showed why they are considered the best that college football had to offer.
The buck doesn’t stop here though, pro-days are coming up, and we will learn even more about the future of the NFL.