The 2017 NFL Scouting Combine took place between February 28 and March 6 at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. All around the stadium, there 300-pound men were running 40 yards in under five seconds, hulking giants bench-pressing rep after rep, prospective NFL players jumping several feet into the air, and several yards forward. The athletic prowess displayed at the NFL combine is unlike any other.
The NFL Scouting Combine is an annual NFL event where college players invited by NFL teams perform in a variety of events including the timed 40-yard dash, the broad jump, the vertical jump and the bench press. These workouts are designed to test their mental and physical capabilities while simultaneously gauging the talent for the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft. The Combine was first proposed by Tex Schramm, the former president and owner of the Dallas Cowboys. He suggested bringing college players together for a single cohesive event, instead of each team bringing in players individually to run drills and participate in workouts. As a result, the National Invitational Camp was created in 1982, and was later renamed the NFL Scouting Combine after a merger between three such camps. Since 1987, the event has been permanently moved to Indianapolis, and has since turned into an NFL tradition.
The 2017 Scouting Combine hosted some very talented players from a variety of colleges. Some of the most notable benefactors of the 2017 NFL Combine include John Ross, Myles Garrett, Deshaun Watson, Jabrill Peppers, Obi Melifonwu and Bucky Hodges.
John Ross’ 40-yard-dash result was one of the most notable performances of the four-day event. Ross broke the previous all-time 40-yard dash record, by running the distance in an astounding 4.22 seconds. NFL teams like the Eagles, Bills and Titans who have expressed interest in drafting a wide receiver will be surely consider this speedster when it comes time for them to draft.
DE Myles Garrett and LB Jabrill Peppers were among the most dominant defensive players of the NFL Combine. Most analysts have projected that Garrett will be drafted first overall by the Browns. He proved that he deserved this tremendous honor with a vertical jump of 41 inches, higher than any other 2017 defensive lineman. Additionally, his 4.64 second-40 yard dash was faster than that of 18 starting QBs, including that of Super Bowl 51 winner Tom Brady. Not to be overlooked, Peppers also boasted impressive stats, running a 4.46 40-yard-dash and a making a noteworthy broad jump of 10 feet and 8 inches. Both of these stats were the best performances of any 2017 linebacker in their respective events. It should be noted, however, that Peppers will most likely be drafted as a safety, and that he only ran with the linebackers to stand out more. Experts project that Peppers will also be drafted in the first round either by the Chargers, Redskins, or Steelers.
Top QB prospect in the draft, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, also proved his merit at the Combine. His 4.66-second 40-yard dash, 32.5-inch vertical jump, 9 foot-11 inch Broad Jump, and 6.95-second performance in the three cone drill all placed within the top five for prospective QBs. This type of outstanding athleticism and skill, coupled with his championship win against Alabama, is why many experts think that Watson is one of the best QBs in the 2017 draft class.
Virginia Tech tight end Bucky Hodges and UConn safety Obi Melifonwu were some of the players in the NFL combine who outperformed their projections. Hodges had a 39-inch vertical, which was first among 2017 tight ends, but his best performance was in the Broad Jump, where he set a record for the longest leap by a tight end, managing a staggering 11 feet and 2 inches. Melifonwu possibly had the best performance at the 2017 NFL Combine. Both his 44 inch vertical and his 11 foot, 9 inch broad jump were the best of any player in the 2017 NFL Combine. While Hodges and Melifonwu, weren’t first-round draft prospects going into the combine, their outstanding performances definitely drew enough attention to merit first-round consideration.
Many sports analysts claim that the 2016 NFL Season was one of the worst seasons in NFL History due to more games being won by much larger margins than they have been in previous years. Teams like the Jets, Jaguars, Browns and 49ers look to start anew and they turn to this year’s draft class to give them the boost that they so desperately need. The NFL Combine was a great presentation of the skill that the incoming NFL athletes have to offer prospective teams, and shows that there is still hope for the aforementioned teams to build a new, talented core.