The NFL Combine finished up on Sunday evening out in Indianapolis, and boy is there a lot to take away.
Not only are there reports surfacing that the Patriots are one of several teams to have reached out to the Arizona Cardinals about trading for wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins – but there’s also “chatter” that the Raiders might try to acquire quarterback Mac Jones from New England. Here we go!
On top of the trade rumors, 200+ athletes took the field over the last four days to try and separate themselves from their competition and earn a spot in the NFL. I broke the majority of the Combine down on my Twitter, @mikekadlick, but here are my main takeaways from the event:
Stock Up ?
Jaxon Smith-Njigba – WR, Ohio State
Jaxon Smith-Njigba had been under the microscope due to an apparent “lack of speed” by talent evaluators – and even though he didn’t run the 40 in Indy, impressed during speed drills on Saturday.
The Ohio State wide receiver ran a 6.57s 3-cone drill 3.93s short shuttle, and also showed out during the pass-catching portion of the combine.
JSN is an elite route runner and would be a slam dunk pick for New England at pick 14. If he’s still there, the Patriots should sprint the card to the podium and insert Smith-Nijiba directly into the high-volume slot receiver position of Bill O’Brien’s offense.
Darnell Washington – TE, Georgia
Darnell Washington had the Comebine of a lifetime on Saturday night. The Georgia tight end was already known as an A+ blocker, but he put any worry about his speed to bed this weekend. Washington ran a 4.65 40-yard dash at 6’6″, 265 pounds(!!). He also made this ridiculous catch during on-field drills (credit: @NFL):
After watching some film on Washington earlier this month, I moved him into my “tier one” of tight ends just behind Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer. After his performance in Indianapolis, he’s now my overall TE1. I have no problem with his player comp being Rob Gronkowski.
Julius Brents – CB, Kansas State
Julius Brents is an athletic specimen. Coming in at 6’3″ 198 pounds, here’s how the Kansas State product performed against the rest of the cornerbacks:
- First in the broad jump (11’6″)
- First in the 3-cone droll (6.63s)
- First in the 20-yard shuttle (4.05s)
- Second in the vertical jump (41.5″)
Brents’ 40-yard dash was a bit on the slower side at 4.53, but his size and athletic ability is going to catapult him up draft boards. Though he’s a winner from the event, I now have a hard time thinking he’ll be available for the Patriots at pick 46.
Blake Freeland – T, BYU
Blake Freeland from BYU set an NFL Combine record for offensive linemen with a 37″ vertical earlier on Sunday morning. He then ran a sub-5s 40-yard dash (4.99u), at 6’8″ 302 pounds.
If the Patriots were to go with a wide receiver or a cornerback at pick #14 and then trade #46 in a deal for DeAndre Hopkins, there’s certainly some left tackle depth in this class for New England to pounce on later on, Freeland being one of them.
Stock Down ?
Jordan Addison – WR, USC
The 2021 Bilentnikoff winner was atop just about everybody’s board for wide receivers heading into the NFL Combine. That may have changed on Saturday.
Addison ran just a 4.49 in the 40-yard dash, and while the time itself isn’t necessarily anything to be ashamed of – it’s the fact that he did so after measuring in at just 173 pounds.
Someone will still take a chance on the shifty pass catcher at some point in the first round, but I’d avoid Addison if I’m the Patriots. They need a big-bodied, receiver with high-end speed in the slot. After this weekend, I’m not sure Jordan Addison is that guy.
Peter Skoronski – T, Northwestern
Considered one of the best tackles in this draft class, Northwestern’s Peter Skoronki’s measurements from Sunday morning were rather disappointing to see.
Though it was expected, Skoronski measured in with just a 32 1/4 inch arm measurement. Only two tackles have gone in the first round over the last ten years with a measurement under 33 inches (h/t Alex Barth). Though Skoronski said on Saturday that teams haven’t boxed him into playing guard or even brought up his arm length in interviews, it’s looking like interior offensive line would be the easiest path to success for him in the NFL.
Trey Dean III – S, Florida
After an incredibly disappointing showing in the 40-yard dash on Friday night, Florida safety Trey Dean III tweeted that he has labral tears in both of his hips, (yet ran the 40 anyway) – and says that you “can’t question [his] love for the game”.
Dean did lead all defensive backs in the bench press with 25 reps, but the speed and injuries could certainly be a cause for concern.
The Patriots worked with the 6’2″ safety out on Las Vegas at the Shrine Bowl in February – where Dean won the defensive player of the week award during practice and the defensive MVP in the game itself. If New England liked what they saw in Sin City – perhaps they ignore the hiccup in Indy.
Henry To’oto’o – LB, Alabama
For everyone who wanted the Alabama to New England pipeline to continue on with Henry To’oto’o, the chances are looking slimmer after this weekend.
The 6’1″ 227-pound linebacker had a pedestrian showing in Indianapolis and didn’t really do much to help his stock. New England has been a team that’s been looking for speed at linebacker ever since Dont’a Hightower decided to call it quits – and 4.62s 40-yard dash likely won’t move the needle for the Patriots.
Now that the combine has come to a close – it’s time to focus on free agency. We’ll have you covered all off-season long on CLNSMedia.com. Keep it here.
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