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2020 NFL Combine Preview: Day 2 (RB/OL)

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Here it is. The 2020 NFL Combine. Indianapolis. The capital of Hype Country. And the first group of prospects are a couple of hours away from hitting the field!

Disclaimer number one: Teams value combine medicals and interviews over the workout. Athleticism can be evaluated on tape, perhaps even more accurately as they’re playing the game. What they’re thinking during a specific play, however, is much harder to get a grasp on.

Disclaimer number two: for a majority of these prospects, this is simply a box to tick and nothing more should be made of it. Isaiah Simmons is an outstanding athlete. We don’t need his future freakish combine numbers to tell us that. It’s a big reason why we’re seeing top-end prospects hold-out from the on-field workouts, understandably so.

Disclaimer number three (regarding WRs and RBs): a 4.5s 40-yard dash is fast, even 4.6 for certain players. Plenty fast enough. Anything lower than that is bonus speed. Great bonus speed, but bonus speed nonetheless.

This article has two goals: pointing out where your eyes should be as we go through the combine evaluation process, as well as where they shouldn’t be. Not every workout at the combine means the same for every position, and not every measurement should be interpreted similarly. Data collected at the combine doesn’t mean much when isolated from the tape. A 280lb edge rusher shouldn’t be evaluated to the same standards as a 240lb edge rusher. Their game isn’t the same and they win in different manners.

Use the tape to point you to what you should pay attention to during the combine. And vice-versa if you find anomalies during the combine. Some players show traits that don’t pop up on tape. If people watched D.K. Metcalf‘s games at Ole Miss, they wouldn’t have expected a fast 3-Cone and thus wouldn’t have made as much of a deal out of it. It’s not a part of his game, and it hasn’t been in his rookie season.

I’ll break down every position group, which workouts matter and which don’t, as well as what I hope to see from certain prospects. You’ll also find my “best performance” predictions for certain measurables per position.

You can refer to this piece as a guide throughout the week as positional groups take turns hitting the field, at the 2020 NFL Combine.

Click here to read my 2020 NFL Combine Day 1 Preview (QB/TE/WR).

2020 NFL Combine Preview: Day 2 (RB/OL)

Click here to view my Top-100 2020 NFL Draft Big Board

Running Backs

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RBFavoriteDark HorseHonorable Mentions
40 Yard DashSalvon AhmedDarrynton EvansAnthony McFarland
Bench PressA.J. DillonSewo OloniluaJames Robinson

We started yesterday’s preview by saying the measurable drills at the combine do not matter for quarterbacks. Well, the second position on this list is the running back position. We don’t need a 40-yard dash to tell us who has breakaway speed and who doesn’t, it’s the most obvious trait to scout on film. Devin Singletary ran a 4.66 last year, do you want to know how much that factored in my 2nd round evaluation? Zilch. Singletary won with quickness, vision, agility, creativity and the ability to sequence moves. Exactly what he’s done at the NFL and none of those manifested themselves at the combine. Singletary is one recent example from a long-running list of NFL combines.

Now, this is not to say that great athletes at the combine never translate into great NFL backs, but it’s a disclaimer to not scout combine drills as traits. Take it for what it is: athleticism and explosivity testing.

Nevertheless, it is the combine, headlined by the 40 and we still love it. Today should be fun as Salvon Ahmed is kicking off RB class and he could set the bar pretty high right off the bat. Ahmed has blazing speed and showcased it on film, he’s a legitimate candidate to win the 40. Another sleeper is Appalachian State running back: Darrynton Evans. Evans shows great burst on tape and the ability to break away when given space. He looks like he has track speed and could put up a great number. As predicted yesterday, Dillon and Olonilua had great sets on the bench. It means literally nothing but it was a fun watch.

Positional Drills

The positional drills aren’t very significant for running backs either but it provides an opportunity to filter out sub-par prospects. Holyfield looked quite stiff running through these drills last year, despite some physically impressive tape. While I didn’t write him off following the combine, it was hinting at some limitations when compared to the rest of the class. Here are some previews:

  • Swift, Dobbins and Taylor are firmly at the top of the class in my mind, and simply need to tick the box and not look out of place.
  • A.J. Dillon’s athletic testing is very important for me. He checked in at 240+ lbs which is HEALTHY. He plays big and physical which I love with nice contact balance. Dillon looks like a good, explosive mover for a player of his stature. The combine is important for Dillon.
  • Eno Benjamin has some outstanding footwork and stop-go quickness. He’s quick in short areas and instinctive as a runner. His burst and explosiveness could standout. He should look really fluid in the positional drills.
  • Cam Akers’ evaluation is based a lot on his athleticism on tape, which stands out. It’ll be fun to get some numbers on his explosiveness and see his flexibility on display during positional drills.
  • Zack Moss is another physical runner in the class. He looks pretty strong athletically with some burst to him, he’s a player to keep an eye on during positional drills.

The value for running backs lies in testing quickness in and out of breaks and hip fluidity in a lab-test setting, as they run one after the other. That’s about as far as scouting goes here for running backs.

Offensive Line

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OLFavoriteDark HorseHonorable Mentions
40 Yard DashAustin JacksonBen BartchPrince Tega Wanogho & Tristan Wirfs
Bench PressNetane MutiJohn MolchonTristan Wirfs

The NFL loves nimble movers in the draft, and these guys should stand out today at the combine. While the running back combine is fun, the most valuable event today is for the offensive line.

The overall 40 speed isn’t as important for the offensive line as the 10-yard split. How quickly do you get out of a (non-football) three point stance and travel 10 yards. I would have loved to see Prince Tega Wanogho in this event, as he reportedly ran a 4.6 in high school in standard sports shoes. But we’ve still got some great movers in this class that should be fun to watch


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Positional Drills

  • First and foremost, get ready for the Mekhi Becton show. He won’t run a fast 40. But man is he gonna look GREAT on the positional drills. First of all, he’s huge: checking in at 6-7, 364 lbs. But the value is on how well he moves around for a player of his stature. He’s incredibly nimble on his feet and precise with his footwork. He covers ground on his kick slide and should wow a lot of scouts who watch him in person in Indy. He could come out as the clear winner for the offensive line.
  • At the top of the class, we have three other tremendous movers: Andrew Thomas, Tristan Wirfs, and primarily Jedrick Wills. Wills has some of the best feet I’ve seen in a while in this offensive line class and he may steal the show from the other two (who also move around well). Wirfs will impress for how well he gets out in space on the pulling drills. Wirfs and Wills should have nice and smooth 40s, they’re very fluid athletes.
  • The combine was built for tackles like Josh Jones and Austin Jackson. Jones needs to get stronger and improve his anchor ability from his tape, but both are very smooth athletes and that should show during the positional drills. They both have great developmental upside as pass protectors at the next level.
  • On the interior, Nick Harris is a very mobile center that should look good athletically. The same goes for Lloyd Cushenberry. While Cushenberry isn’t as fast or precise laying blocks out in space, his mirror ability and footwork inside is impressive.
  • Muti tore up the Bench Press as expected. He’s a tank, but I’m interested in watching him move around on the field.

There are a lot of mesmerizing tackles in the class, it’ll be a great day to evaluate who the top athletes of the bunch are. I believe the IOL class is a bit weaker than the tackle class, but today should provide a nice opportunity to find some athletic prospects and circle back to the tape.


Click here to read my two-round 2020 NFL Mock Draft

About Selyan Lonqueux

Junior NFL Draft analyst, and aspiring football coach. Active Wide Receiver across the pond, in Europe. The truth lies in the tape, the whole tape and nothing but the tape.

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