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NFL Draft - Big Winners Of The 2023 NFL Combine

With the 2023 NFL Draft fast approaching, prospects showcased their skill set at the annual Scouting Combine. It’s a fantastic opportunity to make an impression on general managers who will run the draft for their respective teams. An outstanding performance at the Combine at a prospect's skill position can improve their chances of getting drafted earlier. But aside from the physical aspect, these potential NFL rookies must deal with the pressure from hundreds of eyes watching their every move.

Each participant must undergo evaluations like the vertical jump, the broad jump, and the 225-pound bench press. There are also mobility drills like the 20-yard shuttle, the 3-cone drill, and the 60-yard shuttle. Prospects also go through additional tests based on their position. Finally, they showcase their speed through the 40-yard dash. The Combine also has a Wonderlic test to assess cognitive ability and interviews to know the athletes’ train of thought.

Every year, certain players become Combine darlings after completing the tests with flying colors. The hype about them increases, while front office units discuss the merit of selecting them. That said, here are the participants who made a noise in Indianapolis.

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Anthony Richardson

Aside from being an impressive physical specimen, the former Florida quarterback showed his versatility by having the best 40-yard time, vertical leap, and broad jump among all quarterbacks. Richardson’s 40.5-inch vertical leap is the best among quarterbacks who have participated in the Combine since 2003. His 10’ 9” broad jump dwarfs the opposition. He validated his athletic ability with these tests, making him a legitimate top-five pick.


C.J. Stroud

While he did not take part in the athletic testing, the play-caller from Ohio State had an exceptional throwing session. His performance will spark a debate among teams that obviously need a quarterback and have an early first-round selection. Will they go for a dynamic player like Richardson or get a pure passer like Stroud? He won’t have to wait long until Commissioner Roger Goodell calls his name on stage.


Will Anderson Jr.

It’s highly likely that the Carolina Panthers will draft a quarterback with the number one overall selection. But what if Anderson’s Combine performance was enough to make him the first person called? He had a solid showing, courtesy of a 4.6 40 and 1.61 in the 10-yard split. Those numbers are comparable to elite pass rushers, and they project him to be the best prospect in chasing the quarterback among this year’s draftees.


Chase Brown

Draft experts consider Bijan Robinson and Jahmyr Gibbs as the top running back prospects in the draft. However, Brown made a case at the Combine by running the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds. He also had a 10’ 7” broad jump and clocked in at 1.53 in the 10-yard split. Brown is a workhorse, finishing with 328 carries for 1,643 yards and 27 touchdowns in his final year at Illinois. Teams that would like to boost their backfield can take a flier on him during the draft’s second day.


Jaxon Smith-Njigba

He was already one of the best prospects at wide receiver coming into the Combine. However, Stroud’s throwing highlighted his commendable route-running and reliable pass-catching. Smith-Njigba erased all doubts about his readiness for the NFL, especially after playing just three games for the Buckeyes last season. He also led all wideouts in the short shuttle (3.93 seconds) and the three-cone drill (6.57 seconds). The Texas native will probably be a late first-round selection.


Darnell Washington

The 2023 NFL Draft is a fantastic opportunity to select a tight end, given the vast talent pool at the position. However, Washington took center stage after running the 40 in 4.64 seconds and executing the split in 1.57. He also had an impressive 20-yard shuttle time of 4.08 seconds and an out-of-this-world one-handed catch. Washington was primarily a blocker rather than a pass catcher at Georgia but an NFL team can turn him into a matchup nightmare given those attributes and his 6’ 7”, 264-pound build.


Blake Freeland

Typically, offensive linemen have the slowest 40-yard time among all positions. But this offensive tackle from BYU completed the drill in 4.98 seconds. Add his 10-foot broad jump and 37-inch vertical leap (a Combine record among offensive linemen), and teams are enticed to get Freeland aboard. Beyond his freakish physical attributes, his blocking ability has plenty of room for growth.


Nolan Smith

Smith had difficulty carving out consistent playing time in Georgia’s deep defensive rotation. Suffering a pec injury last season didn’t help his cause, either. However, the Mathematics major impressed with his numbers. He flew through the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds, the best mark among defensive linemen. Smith also had a 41.5-inch vertical and a 10' 8" broad jump. He can be a disruptive force on the field if he can carry those attributes to actual games.


Adetomiwa Adebawore

The defensive lineman from Northwestern checked in a 282 pounds. However, his massive build did not hinder him from turning in an outstanding display. He ran the 40 in 4.49 seconds, a time comparable with wide receivers. Adebawore also completed a 37.5-inch vertical and 10’ 5” broad jump. Count in his 27 bench presses, and he had one of the most impressive performances at the Combine.


Christian Gonzalez

The cornerback from Oregon might have edged Devon Witherspoon as the position’s top prospect. He blazed through the 40 at 4.38 seconds, making him one of seven cornerbacks who completed the drill in under 4.4 seconds. His 41.5-inch vertical will help him defend taller receivers. Gonzalez also completed an 11’ 1” broad jump to close a solid demonstration.

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