INDIANAPOLIS — A total of 337 prospects were invited to the annual scouting combine in 2019. Really, they all have something to prove as they hope to transition from college football to the NFL.
There are, however, a few who have a little something extra to prove for various reasons.
Here are 12 of those players:
QB Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
It wasn’t that long ago that we all thought Murray was going to bypass the NFL to pursue a career in baseball, but now he’s fully committed to playing football. First, we’ll need to see what size Murray is officially. Will he reach 5-foot-9? I expect Murray will perform very well in the on-field drills — he’s athletic, fast, explosive. But I also imagine every team that talks to him will want to know about his love for football. Would an NFL team that picks him in the first round always have to worry about the possibility Murray leaves for baseball? What if, in a couple years, Murray isn’t performing well or isn’t playing much at all? Will he stick with it? Murray will know those questions are coming.
CB Rock Ya-Sin, Temple
The cornerback from Temple is quickly rising in the minds of folks as they get to know him a little better. At 6-2, 190, he’s got the right physical makeup to be an NFL corner, but has just one year at Temple under his belt. He played in 12 games, but will his physical tools translate? He’s certainly raw. In his latest big board, NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah has Ya-Sin as the 28th-best prospect in this draft. A good showing at the combine could really help him become a high pick.
S Nasir Adderley, Delaware
He’s considered to be one of the top safeties in this draft class, but he did play at a small school, which is one of the most common reasons players need to prove themselves at the combine. He’s an explosive athlete and should have a good showing at the combine.
OT Tytus Howard, Alabama State
Another small school guy, Howard took the first step to proving himself at the Senior Bowl against other top-notch competition. At 6-6, 311 pounds, he has all the physical attributes wanted in a top offensive tackle. If he adds a good combine to his Senior Bowl, Howard could hear his name called in the first few rounds.
WR Andy Isabella, UMass
At just 5-foot-9, Isabella doesn’t look like someone who is going to put up a sub-4.3 time in the 40-yard dash, but he very well might. Isabella told reporters at the Senior Bowl that he has run a hand-timed 4.26 before, which would be pretty insane because the fastest time ever at the combine was a 4.22. Don’t expect Isabella to challenge John Ross’ record, but Isabella has a chance to turn some heads.
WR D.K. Metcalf, Mississippi
By now you’ve seen that viral photo of Metcalf from a recent workout. He looks like the freaking Hulk.
But how will a receiver that big be able to move on the field at the combine? And is he completely healed from a neck injury that ended his college career? A good showing in Indy could earn him a Day 1 call.
EDGE Oshane Ximines, Old Dominion
Even though he’s from a small school, Ximines is pushing to become a first-round pick. At the very least, he’s a Day 2 guy with potential. He had 12 sacks in 2018, but he did face much lesser competition overall in college. Ximines had a good Senior Bowl, but he needs to put up decent numbers at the combine.
EDGE Zach Allen, Boston College
He’s 6-5, 280, so Allen is a big guy, but we’re going to want to see some athleticism out of him. This is a deep and competitive class of defensive linemen, so if Allen has a big performance in Indy, he can take a much higher spot among his competitors. He’s not known for his athleticism, so he just needs to do enough.
LB Ben Burr-Kirven, Washington
A 225-pound linebacker? A 225-pound linebacker. Welcome to the NFL in 2019. We’ll see how much Burr-Kirven weighs at the combine, but either way, he’s going to lack prototypical size for an NFL linebacker. He’ll need to test very well to alleviate some of the fears about his size, but some of the field drills will also give NFL coaches a glimpse into how they might use him at the next level.
LB Chase Hansen, Utah
Similar to Burr-Kirven, Hansen is another undersized linebacker prospect. He’s a former safety who switched to linebacker in college, so he might even have a jump on a guy like Nate Gerry, who didn’t switch until he was drafted in the NFL. Hansen had to back out of the Senior Bowl with a hip injury, so he missed that chance to stand out.
DT Ed Oliver, Houston
You’ll notice a lot of the same themes with these players. Oliver falls into the undersized category. He played around 280 pounds at Houston, which is very small for an interior lineman in the NFL. To put it in perspective, the Eagles’ lightest DT in 2018 was Tim Jernigan at 295 pounds. Hopefully, Oliver’s frame can support some weight. Either way, I expect him to smash the combine with his quick feet and agility. Will that be enough to prevent a draft-day slide?
WR Hakeem Butler, Iowa State
He’s a tall, lanky receiver, who has made some ridiculous plays in college. But he’s had issues with drops and at 6-6, his combine times will be important. NFL teams will want to see how he runs. If he turns in a good 40 time, I think it’s possible he ends up being a first-round pick.
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