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Things to Watch at the NFL Combine

The NFL Combine is a key event for rookie prospects every year. Let's take a look at some things to watch for this weekend.

The NFL Combine is among the last essential steps for many NFL teams to evaluate these 2024 rookies. The Combine will measure many things on these prospects that can help or hurt their draft value. At the same time, everyone loves watching the 40 times; so much more is involved in evaluating these prospects. We will discuss the top four things to watch for during the NFL Combine.

Do the Tier 2/3 Quaterbacks Step Up?

As we know, this quarterback class has four prospects that could go in round one and a few more that could be early day two picks. The top quarterbacks like Caleb William and Jayden Daniels will not throw at the NFL Combine. They will mostly be there for interviews and meetings. Drake Maye has not given official word if he will throw, but I could easily see him waiting until his pro day.

(Photo Courtesy of David Buono/Icon Sportswire)

J.J. McCarthy will throw at the Combine, which is a smart move for his part. In mock drafts, McCarthy has flirted within the 10 to 15 range during the NFL mock drafts. If he can show off and be the best quarterback at the Combine, it could give him automatic top 10 capital during the draft. McCarthy will want to show NFL teams that he can make all the pro-level throws for the next level. It will be necessary for McCarthy to be as stellar as he can during the NFL Combine.

Tier three quarterbacks like Michael Penix, Bo Nix, and Spencer Rattler have sometimes been considered first-round quarterbacks. Heading into the Combine, they are not in that situation right now. Penix competed in the Senior Bowl but didn’t help his value or hurt it that much. Penix’s production over the last two years at Washington should have him as a round-one player. His medical history and performance at the National Championship have dropped his draft value. Hopefully, Penix will see some medical evaluation during the Combine to give him clearance. He tore his ACL twice and dealt with shoulder injuries before coming to Washington. Penix will be one to watch to see if he can rise to a late first-round pick during the NFL draft.

Nix is looking to rebound at the NFL Combine. He had a poor Senior Bowl week where he never looked comfortable and missed plenty of throws. Nix set a single-season NCAA record for completion percentage but did not look good that week. He must be on his game to help improve his draft stock. Some out there believe in Nix, but he needs to show off on the throwing drills to improve his stock. This NFL Combine could make Nix an early day two pick or fall to day three and miss out on good capital in the draft.

Rattler is another quarterback who must be watched at the NFL Combine. Rattler went off as a freshman but has fallen in value ever since. He had a solid Senior Bowl week and will look to the NFL combine to build off that. Rattler needs to show off more poise in his decision-making as a quarterback. Rattler could significantly increase his draft stock.

Can a Running Back Break Off From the Pack?

The 2024 running back class doesn’t have a clear star running back that most experts can agree on. Players like Jonathan Brooks, Trey Benson, Bucky Irving, Blake Corum, Will Shipley, and Audric Estime have all been grouped in a similar tier. You can look at many different rankings and mock drafts and see different players at the top. In the past few years, guys like Breece Hall and Bijan Robinson have been the consensus running backs in their classes.

We already know that Brooks is still recovering from an injury, so he won’t participate in the drills but will meet with teams. Keeping your eyes on the rest of the grouping will be important to see if one can step up. The running back drills will be essential to watch. Athletic testing like the three-cone, 40s time, and the vertical Jump all impact running backs’ draft stock. We could see a few of these backs creep up to solid round two picks and a few fall to day three picks instead.

Marshawn Lloyd – Photo Courtesy of Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire)

Some sleepers could help improve these stocks as well. Some players who flash at the Senior Bowl are Marshawn Lloyd, Emari Bailey, Cody Schrader, and Kimami Vidal. Can they continue to rise the boards with another great showing this week? Jaylen Wright is another guy with so much speed. I’d love to see what he can do at the Combine. We may not have many running backs in the first two rounds, but those three to five-round range will be critical to many NFL teams.

Listening to What NFL teams are Saying/Watching

Another critical piece may not be watching the NFL Combine itself but what NFL teams are saying while there. Every year, teams love to talk about players and who are highlighted among them. Whether it’s trade talk or free agency coming up, it’s a topic discussed at the NFL Combine. We could see some trades or more franchise tagging while the Combine is going on.

The running back position during the Combine could shift dramatically depending on how those rookies perform. Many teams have said that tagging their free-agent star running backs is likely out of the question, but that could change based on how the Combine goes. It’s also important to see who is meeting with whom. You’ll better understand where teams are likely viewing some of these players and who they may find the most interesting.

How Many More WRs Can Become Round 1 Draftees?

The receiver position is one of the deeper positions in this year’s draft. After looking at many different mock drafts, it’s expected that we will likely have six receivers drafted. The top three are Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers, and Rome Odunze, likely all top 12 selections. Harrison and Nabers will not be participating in the NFL Combine. Odunze will be testing at the NFL Combine. This could help him secure a top-ten selection during the NFL draft. Odunze should be able to show his speed and quickness during drills.

After the big three, Brian Thomas Jr. is in that next tier of players projected for a round-one pick. It will be important for Thomas to secure himself good draft capital. Thomas showing he can run all the routes would help his value. Xavier Worthy, Troy Franklin, Adonai Mitchell, Keon Coleman, and Xavier Legette all could use a great Combine to move up in the draft. If any of these players can shine during the Combine, it will give them the potential to go in the first round of the NFL draft. The 40 times and 3-cone drills are critical factors for the receivers. Of course, the receiver drills will highlight all their potential strength to NFL teams.

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