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How does a great combine performance correlate to draft position? A breakdown by position and drill

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Looking at how 2018 top combine performers by position (and overall) were drafted. A list of 2019 top performers is provided as well.

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Combine was interesting to watch. It gives insights into certain athletic traits that are coveted for an NFL player — speed, strength, change of direction, explosiveness, etc. It also gives teams the opportunity to meet with individual players, learn more about them and test their football IQ. Of course, athleticism is great to have when you’re a professional athlete, but just because you test well at the Combine doesn’t necessarily mean it translates to the field — there’s a reason it’s sometimes facetiously referred to as the “Underwear Olympics.”

So, this got me thinking: How does a good (or great) Combine performance correlate with draft position? I spent more of time delving into this than I care to admit, but I wanted to see where top Combine performers were drafted. I did not look at on-field production, but I wanted to know things like where these players being drafted on Day One, were any late round gems and did any go undrafted?

I refereed back to the 2018 Combine Top Performers by Position article I put together around this time last year. I looked at the top performer(s) from each position group, as well as the top overall performer by drill. I then created a spreadsheet with the info, which I have inserted in as a table below. Then after all of that, I compiled a list of 2019 top performers by position — again, I spent way too much of my limited free time on this.

NFL Combine Performance and Correlating Draft Position 2018 

Event: 40-yard dash Bench Press Vertical Jump Broad Jump Three-Cone Drill 20-yard Shuffle 60-yard Shuffle Misc.
Event: 40-yard dash Bench Press Vertical Jump Broad Jump Three-Cone Drill 20-yard Shuffle 60-yard Shuffle Misc.
Top Overall Performer(s) Parry Nickerson (CB), Denzel Ward (CB), Donte Jackson (CB) Harrison Phillips Mike Gesicki (TE), Terrell Edmunds (S), Joshua Kalu (CB), Matthew Thomas (LB) Denzel Ward (CB) Jordan Thomas (CB) Jordan Thomas (CB), Grant Haley (CB) Avonte Maddox (CB) N/A
Metrics (times, reps, distance, etc.) 4.32 seconds 42 reps 41.5 inches 136 inches 6.28 seconds 3.94 seconds 10.72 seconds N/A
Round Drafted 6 (Nickerson), 1 (Ward), 2 (Jackson) 3 2 (Gesicki), 1 (Edmunds), Undrafted (Kalu & Thomas) 1 Undrafted Both Undrafted 4 N/A
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Top Performer By Position (name, metrics, round drafted) 40-yard dash Bench Press Vertical Jump Broad Jump Three-Cone Drill 20-yard Shuffle 60-yard Shuffle N/A
QB Quinton Flowers, 4.63 seconds, Undrafted Kurt Benkert, 16 reps, Undrafted Josh Allen, 33.5 inches, Round 1 Josh Allen, 119 inches, Round 1 Quinton Flowers, 6.81 seconds, Undrafted Kyle Lauletta, 4.07 seconds, Round 4 N/A N/A
RB Nyheim Hines, 4.38 seconds, Round 4 Saquon Barkley, 29 reps, Round 1 Saquon Barkley, 41 inches, Round 1 Bo Scarbrough,129 inches, Round 7 Chase Edmonds, 6.79, Round 4 Chase Edmonds, 4.07, Round 4 Justin Jackson, 11.06 seconds, Round 7 N/A
WR D.J. Chark, 4.34 seconds, Round 2 Ka’Raun White, 24 reps, Undrafted D.J. Chark, 40 inches, Round 2 D.J. Moore, 132 inches, Round 1 Dylan Cantrell, 6.56 seconds, Round 6 Dylan Cantrell, 4.03 seconds, Round 6 Dylan Cantrell, 10.58 seconds, Round 6 N/A
TE Jaylen Samuels, 4.54 seconds, Round 5 Dallas Goedert, 23 reps, Round 2 Mike Gesicki, 41.5 inches, Round 2 Mike Gesicki, 129 inches, Round 2 Mike Gesick, 6.76 seconds, Round 2 Mike Gesick, 4.10 seconds, Round 2 Mike Gesick, 11.33 seconds, Round 2 N/A
OL Brian O’Neill, 4.82 seconds, Round 2 Will Hernandez, 37 reps, Round 2 Connor Williams, 34 inches, Round 2 Kolton Miller, 121 inches, Round 1 Brian O’Neill, 7.14 seconds, Round 2 James Daniels, 4.40 seconds, Round 2 N/A N/A
DL/Edge Leon Jacobs, 4.48 seconds, Round 7 Harrison Phillips, 42 reps, Round 3 Josh Sweat, 39.5 inches, Round 4 Lorenzo Carter, 130 inches, Round 3 Sam Hubbard, 6.84 seconds, Round 3 Sam Hubbard, 4.32 seconds, Round 3 Sam Hubbard, 11.61 seconds, Round 3 N/A
LB Shaquem Griffin, 4.38 seconds, Round 5 Christian Sam, 28 reps, Round 6 Matthew Thomas, 41.5 inches, Undrafted Oren Burks, 131 inches, Round 3 Dorian O’Daniel, 6.64 seconds, Round 3 Dorian O’Daniel, 4.07 seconds, Round 3 Josey Jewell, 11.52 seconds, Round 4 N/A
DB Three tied at 4.32 seconds, Denzel Ward (Round 1), Donte Jackson (Round 2), Parry Nickerson (round 6) Natrell Jamerson, 25 reps, Round 5 Two tied at 41.5 inches, Terrell Edmunds (Round 1) and Joshua Kalu (Undrafted) Denzel Ward, 136 inches, Round 1 Jordan Thomas, 6.28 seconds, Two tied at 3.94 seconds, Grant Haley and Jordan Thomas (Both Undrafted) Avonte Maddox, 10.72 seconds, Round 4 N/A
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Number of Top Combine Performers Drafted by Round 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th Undrafted
6 8 5 6 3 3 3 7
Ryan O’Bleness

Ryan, what the hell is this thing? A “top performer” is a player who was first (or tied for first) in their position group (and/or all participants overall) at the 2018 Combine. The first section is broken down by top overall performer from each event. The specific drill is located in the top row, while the player name(s) are in the second row; the metrics (times, reps or distance) are in the third row and the round in which the top performers in each event were drafted in the fourth row.

The second section breaks down top performer by position in each drill. The drills are broken down into columns while the positions are by row. Information on player name, metrics for that drill and round drafted are available here.

TL; DR: For those of you who just like to skim or just want the bottom line, the third and final section of the table shows the total number of combine performers drafted by round, or those who went undrafted.

Notes:

  • Of the top performers, only six were first-rounders.
  • The Jaguars drafted two top performers: D.J. Chark (Round 2) and Leon Jacobs (Round 7).
  • In total, 33 players who ranked as a top performer were drafted. Seven went undrafted.
  • The second round saw the most top performers drafted with eight.
  • Unsurprisingly, the later rounds (fifth through seventh) saw the least amount of top performers drafted with three each.
  • One of the players to go undrafted was Oklahoma’s Jordan Thomas. Not only was he a 2018 top performer in the three-cone drill, he set an all-time record for it.
  • Of all the top performers listed, Thomas is the only player not currently on an NFL roster at any capacity (several spend time on practice squads in 2018). Thomas is with the San Antonio Commanders of the AAF.
  • Two of the players to go undrafted were quarterbacks, Quinton Flowers and Kurt Benkert. Flowers actually signed with the Cincinnati Bengals as a running back, while Benkert signed as a UDFA with the Atlanta Falcons

Key takeaway:

While the sample size is small, according to this data from 2018, a strong Combine performance does go a long way toward a player’s draft stock. If a player does well and ranks at the top of their position group for at least one of the various drills, there is a very strong chance that player gets drafted. If not, those athletes are highly likely to be signed as a priority free agent, and there is also a good chance they make at least the practice squad from there — as 40 of the 41 players listed are currently with an NFL franchise.


2019 Top Performers

Bench Press (Reps):

QB (N/A)

RB

  1. Alex Barnes, Kansas State, 34
  2. Jalin Moore, Appalachian State, 27
  3. Elijah Collins, Georgia, 26
  4. Rodney Anderson, Oklahoma, 25
  5. Myles Gaskin, Washington, 24

WR

  1. Two tied at 27: N’ Keal Harry, Arizona State; and D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss
  2. Jalen Hurd, Baylor, 23
  3. Felton Davis, Michigan State, 21
  4. Gary Jennings, West Virginia, 20
  5. Two tied at 19: A.J. Brown, Oklahoma; and Cody Thompson, Toledo

TE

  1. Trevon Wesco, West Virginia, 24
  2. Kendall Blanton, Missouri, 22
  3. Alize Mack, Notre Dame, 22
  4. Foster Moreau, LSU, 22
  5. Josh Oliver, San Jose State, 22

OL

  1. Iosua Opeta, Weber State, 39
  2. Garrett Bradbury, North Carolina State, 34
  3. Phil Haynes, Wake Forest, 33
  4. Yodny Cajuste, West Virginia, 32
  5. Hjalte Froholdt, Arkansas, 31

DL/EDGE

  1. Dexter Lawrence, Clemson, 36
  2. Albert Huggins, Clemson, 35
  3. Kevin Givens, Penn State, 32
  4. Ed Oliver, Houston, 32
  5. Porter Gustin, USC, 31

LB

  1. Drue Tranquill, Notre Dame, 31
  2. Cody Barton, Utah, 30
  3. Ty Summers, TCU, 27
  4. Deshaun Davis, Auburn, 25
  5. Kendall Joseph, Clemson, 25

DB

  1. Khari Willis, Michigan State, 22
  2. Juan Thornhill, Virginia, 21
  3. D’Cota Dixon, Wisconsin, 20
  4. Will Harris, Boston College, 20
  5. Three tied at 19: Kris Boyd, Texas; Darius West, Kentucky; and Zedrick Woods, Ole Miss

40-Yard Dash (seconds)

QB

  1. Trace McSorley, Penn State, 4.57
  2. Tyree Jackson, Buffalo, 4.59
  3. Easton Stick, North Dakota State, 4.62
  4. Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State, 4.64
  5. Drew Lock, Missouri, 4.69

RB

  1. Justice hill, Oklahoma State, 4.40
  2. Ryquell Armstead, Temple, 4.45
  3. Jordan Scarlett, Florida, 4.47
  4. Mike Weber, Ohio State, 4.47
  5. Travis Homer, Miami (FL.), 4.48

WR

  1. Parris Campbell, Ohio State, 4.31
  2. Andy Isabella, Massachusetts, 4.31
  3. Mecole Hardman, Georgia, 4.33
  4. D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss, 4.33
  5. Terry McLaurin, Ohio State, 4.35

TE

  1. Noah Fant, Iowa, 4.50
  2. Caleb Wilson, UCLA, 4.56
  3. Josh Oliver, San Jose State, 4.63
  4. Irv Smith, Jr., Alabama, 4.63
  5. Foster Moreau, LSU, 4.66

OL

  1. Erik McCoy, Texas A&M, 4.89
  2. Chris Lindstrom, Boston College, 4.91
  3. Garrett Bradbury, North Carolina State
  4. Andre Dillard, Washington State, 4.96
  5. Iosua Opeta, Weber State, 5.02

DL/EDGE

  1. Montez Sweat, Mississippi State, 4.41
  2. Justin Hollins, Oregon, 4.50
  3. Brian Burns, Florida State, 4.53
  4. Rashan Gary, Michigan, 4.58
  5. Chase Winovich, Michigan, 4.59

LB

  1. Devin White, LSU, 4.42
  2. Devin Bush, Michigan, 4.43
  3. Gary Johnson, Texas, 4.43
  4. Blake Cashman, Minnesota, 4.50
  5. Ty Summers, TCU, 4.51

DB

  1. Zedrick Woods, Ole Miss, 4.29
  2. Jamel Dean, Auburn, 4.30
  3. Darnell Savage, Maryland, 4.36
  4. Mark Fields, Clemson, 4.37
  5. Greedy Williams, LSU, 4.37

Vertical Jump (inches)

QB

  1. Tyree Jackson, Buffalo, 34.5
  2. Will Grier, West Virginia, 34
  3. Daniel Jones, Duke, 33.5
  4. Gardner Minshew, Washington State, 33.5
  5. Easton Stick, North Dakota State, 33.5

RB

  1. Justice Hill, Oklahoma State, 40
  2. Travis Homer, Miami, 39.5
  3. Alex Barnes, Kansas State, 38.5
  4. Damien Harris, Alabama, 37
  5. James Williams, Washington State, 36.5

WR

  1. Miles Boykin, Notre Dame, 43.5
  2. Emanuel Hall, Missouri, 43.5
  3. D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss, 40.5
  4. Darius Slayton, Auburn, 40.5
  5. Parris Campbell, Ohio State, 40

TE

  1. Noah Fant, Iowa, 39.5
  2. T,J, Hockenson, Iowa, 37.5
  3. Foster Moreau, LSU, 36.5
  4. Kahale Warring, San Diego State, 36.5
  5. Alize Mack, Notre Dame, 36

OL

  1. Joshua Miles, Morgan State, 36
  2. Kaleb McGary, Washington, 33.5
  3. Trey Pipkins, Sioux Falls, 33.5
  4. Iosua Opeta, Weber State, 33
  5. Michael Jordan, Ohio State, 32.5

DL/EDGE

  1. Ben Banogu, TCU, 40
  2. Jamal Davis, Akron, 39
  3. Christian Miller, Alabama, 38.5
  4. Rashan Gary, Michigan, 38
  5. Jordan Brailford, Oklahoma State, 37.5

LB

  1. Devin Bush, Michigan, 40.5
  2. Devin White, LSU, 39.5
  3. Cameron Smith, USC, 39
  4. Andre Van Ginkel, Wisconsin, 38
  5. Two tied at 37.5 — Blake Cashman, Minnesota; and Drue Tranquill, Notre Dame

DB

  1. Juan Thornhill, Virginia, 44
  2. Ken Webster, Ole Miss, 43
  3. Marvell Tell, USC, 42
  4. Sean Bunting, Central Michigan, 41.5
  5. Jamel Dean, Auburn, 41

Broad Jump (feet and inches)

QB

  1. Two tied at 10’0”: Tyree Jackson, Buffalo; and Daniel Jones, Duke
  2. Easton stick, North Dakota State, 9’10”
  3. Ryan Finley, North Carolina State, 9’8”
  4. Gardner Minshew, Washington State, 9’8”
  5. Brett Rypien, Boise State, 9’8”

RB

  1. Three tied at 10’10”: Justice Hill, Oklahoma State; Travis Homer, Miami; and Dexter Williams, Notre Dame
  2. Alexander Mattison, Boise State, 10’7”
  3. Alex Barnes, Kansas State, 10’6”
  4. Miles Sanders, Penn State, 10’4”
  5. Karan Higdon, Michigan, 10’3”

WR

  1. Emanuel Hall, Missouri, 11’9”
  2. Miles Boykin, Notre Dame, 11’8”
  3. Parris Campbell, Ohio State, 11’3”
  4. Darius Slayton, Auburn, 11’3”
  5. D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss, 11’2”

TE

  1. Noah Fant, Iowa, 10’7”
  2. T.J. Hockenson, Iowa, 10’3”
  3. Kahale Warring, San Diego State, 10’2”
  4. Foster Moreau, LSU, 10’1”
  5. Alize Mack, Notre Dame, 10’0”

OL

  1. Andre Dillard, Washington State, 9’10”
  2. Chris Lindstrom, Boston College, 9’9”
  3. Michael Jordan, Ohio State, 9’8”
  4. Isaiah Prince, Ohio State, 9’7”
  5. Yosh Numan, Virginia, 9’6”

DL/EDGE

  1. Ben Banogu, TCU, 11’2”
  2. Brian Burns, Florida State, 10’9”
  3. Jordan Brailford, Oklahoma State, 10’6”
  4. Montez Sweat, Mississippi State, 10’5”
  5. Maxx Crosby, Eastern Michigan, 10’2”

LB

  1. Otaro Alaka, Texas A&M, 10’11”
  2. Sione Takitaki, BYU, 10’5”
  3. Devin Bush, Michigan, 10’4”
  4. Blake Cashman, Minnesota, 10’4”
  5. Four players tied at 10’3”: Jordan Jones, Kentucky; Cameron Smith, USC; Ty Summer, TCU; and Andre Van Ginkel, Wisconsin

DB

  1. Juan Thornhill, Virginia, 11’9”
  2. Marvell Tell, USC, 11’4”
  3. Corey Ballentine, Washburn, 11’3”
  4. Justin Layne, Michigan State, 11’2”
  5. Two tied at 11’1”: Isaiah Johnson, Houston; and Ken Webster, Ole Miss

Three-cone (seconds)

QB

  1. Easton Stick, North Dakota State, 6.65
  2. Daniel Jones, Duke, 7.00
  3. Drew Lock, Missouri, 7.03
  4. Jordan Ta’amu, Ole Miss, 7.06
  5. Will Grier, West Virginia, 7.09

RB

  1. Miles Sanders, Penn State, 6.89
  2. Alex Barnes, Kansas State, 6.95
  3. Dexter Williams, Notre Dame, 7.00
  4. James Williams, Washington State, 7.01
  5. Ryquell Armstead, Temple, 7.02

WR

  1. Miles Boykin, Notre Dame, 6.77
  2. Stanley Morgan, Nebraska, 6.78
  3. Hunter Renfrow, Clemson, 6.80
  4. Cody Thompson, Toledo, 6.87
  5. Bisi Johnson, Colorado State, 6.88

TE

  1. Noah Fant, Iowa, 6.81
  2. T.J. Hockenson, Iowa, 7.02
  3. Kaden Smith, Stanford, 7.08
  4. Dawson Knox, Ole Miss, 7.12
  5. Two tied ar 7.15: Dax Raymond, Utah State; and Drew Sample, Washington

OL

  1. Garrett Bradbury, North Carolina State, 7.41
  2. Andre Dillard, Washington State, 7.44
  3. Ryan Bates, Penn State, 7.45
  4. Shaq Calhoun, Mississippi State, 7.46
  5. Hjalte Froholdt, Arkansas, 7.51

DL/EDGE

  1. Sutton Smith, Northern Illinois, 6.75
  2. Maxx Crosby, Eastern Michigan, 6.89
  3. Chase Winovich, Michigan, 6.94
  4. Anthony Nelson, Iowa, 6.95
  5. Two tied at 7.00: Jamal Davis, Akron; and Montez Sweat, Mississippi State

LB

  1. Benn Burr-Kirven, Washington, 6.85
  2. Dakota Allen, Texas Tech, 6.88
  3. Andre Van Ginkel, Wisconsin, 6.89
  4. Cody Barton, Utah, 6.90
  5. Devin Bush, Michigan, 6.93

DB

  1. David Long, Michigan, 6.45
  2. Marvell Tell, USC, 6.63
  3. Alijah Holder, Stanford, 6.70
  4. Julian Love, Notre Dame, 6.72
  5. Davante Davis, Texas, 6.76

Top Overall Performers

Bench Press: Iosua Opeta (OL), Weber State, 39 reps
40-yard Dash: Zedrick Woods (DB), Ole Miss, 4.29 seconds
Vertical Jump: Juan Thornhill (DB), Virginia, 44.0 inches
Broad Jump: Emanuel Hall (WR), Missouri, 11’9”
Three-cone Drill: David Long (DB), Michigan, 6.45 seconds
20-yard Shuffle: David Long (DB), Michigan, 3.97 seconds
60-yard Shuffle: Taylor Rapp (DB), Washington State, 11.33 seconds