I didn’t include the obvious “winners” (Myles Garrett, John Ross, OJ Howard, ect.) who turned in tremendous combine performances, but most of whom were already legitimate first round prospects.
Post NFL-Combine Risers
1. Kevin King, CB, Washington
After producing a workout that places him in the 99th percentile among prospects at the position, King could sneak into the Rd1 conversation. According to 3-sigma athlete, only 1% of NFL cornerback prospects entering the NFL since 1999 were more athletic than King. At 6-foot-3, 200 pounds and 32 inch arms, King produced a 4.43 forty, 3.89 short shuttle, and 39.5-inch vertical jump, all numbers near or at the top of his position. King also had the top time of anyone at the Combine in the three-cone drill — 6.56 seconds.
2. Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado
Draft Analyst, Tony Pauline reports Awuzie appears to be a “first round lock” following the NFL Combine. Awuzie tested in the 89th percentile, per Zach Whitman. A natural nickel, Awuzie’s stock had fallen after he struggled against Oklahoma State’s James Washington in Colorado’s bowl game, but it is now being reported he dealt with a turf toe.
3. Chris Godwin, WR, Penn State
From the Rose Bowl until now, Godwin has been on a steady rise. He burned USC cornerback Adorée Jackson for two touchdowns in his final game, and Godwin put up some impressive numbers for NFL teams to chew on: 19 bench-press reps, a 4.42 40-yard dash, a 4.00 short shuttle and a 126-inch broad jump.
4. Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, Villanova
With game tapes against laughable competition, I was quick to jump on Kpassagnon’s bangwagon, but now I an on board. At the combine, he ran a 4.83 in the 40-yard dash. It’s insane that Kpassagnon broad jumped 10 feet, 8 inches at 6-foot-7, 289 pounds. I thought that he would struggle with tests like the 3-cone drill, but he ran a very good 7.46 seconds (same as Carl Lawson, faster than Takk McKinley).
5. George Kittle, TE, Iowa
Before the start of the season, I had a friend tell me Kittle was his top-ranked TE. Unfortunately, Kittle endured a 20-catch season that was marred by injuries. Among tight ends, he turned in the third-fastest 40 time (4.52), the third-best broad jump (132 inches) and the sixth-best vertical (35 inches). This is a very deep TE class, but Kittle is one of the best blocking TEs in the class, and flashed very good athletic traits.
6. Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
Watson flashed his athleticism when he clocked a 4.66-second 40. Additionally, Watson supposedly interviewed with teams very well. When teams asked other players about the best or toughest player they ever faced, Watson was a frequent response. While I wanted to primarily highlight players not previously projected in round one, with Watson it is important to note that reputable analysts suggested they would not draft him until the 3rd/4th rounder just a few months ago, and now he is almost certainly a top-12, potential #2 overall pick.
7. Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA
Takk McKinley was supposed to the the Bruins' standout who blew up the combine, but instead it was Moreau. Underrated throughout the process, I expected a bump-up to the Senior Bowl after an impressive showing at the East-West Shrine Bowl, but that never happened. Moreau clocked a pair of 4.3-second runs in the 40-yard dash and had an overall great workout.
8. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
Despite a historic 2015 season and a very good 2016, McCaffrey had many doubters that he would be effective in the NFL. He alleviated some concerns about his speed and explosiveness with an impressive broad jump (10 feet 1 inch), 40-yard dash (4.48), vertical jump (37.5 inches, tied for fifth among all RBs and WRs), three-cone drill (6.57, tied for first at those positions) and 60-yard shuttle (11.03, second in that group). During positional drills, he showed his smoothness and agility, catching passes with ease.
9. Jordan Willis, Edge Rusher, Kansas State
Despite a pair of sacks in the Senior Bowl and a very productive career at K State, Willis also had many doubting his “flexibility” and ability to “bend the edge”. At the NFL Combine, Willis ran a 4.53 40 (2nd among Dline group that unfairly included LB Haason Reddick), leaped for 39 inches in the vertical and posted a silly 6.85 on the 3-cone drill (Willis' 6.85 three-cone time would have placed No. 18 among wide receivers).
10. Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech
I have been up and down on Hodges for two years now. He was one of just two red-shirt sophomores I wrote about while previewing the 2015 season, then surprised me by returning to school. Upon his return, the new coaching staff used him almost exclusively out wide. My pre-season #2 TE, I had soured on him, and planned on slotting him around pick #90 on my big board. Hodges had a great combine, with a combine-record (for a TE) 134” broad jump and ridiculous 39-inch vertical jump. At 6’6, and 257 pounds, he ran an impressive 4.57-second 40-yard dash.
11. Zay Jones, WR, East Carolina
I have always said, I like Zay Jones, I just don’t agree with the top-50, potential Rd1 narrative. In fact, I still don’t, but he has certainly changed some people’s opinions. Already a Senior Bowl “riser”, Jones only further improved his stock with a strong official 40 time of 4.45. Jones, who weighed in at 6-foot-2, 202 pounds, also posted solid numbers with a 36.5-inch vertical, an 11-foot, 1-inch broad jump and 15 reps on bench press. When it was all said and done, he finished with the No. 2 SPARQ score among receivers. Jones was in the 50th percentile or above in 10 of 11 measurables, with the only one he was below the top half being hand size. Of course, Jones’ hands have never been in question.
12. Josh Jones, S, NC State
Jones was pegged as a fourth/fifth round talent prior to the NFL Combine, but showcased his speed with a 4.41 40-yard dash, at 6’1, 220. That time was the second fastest among all safeties. He was also first in bench press reps (20), third in the vertical leap (37.5 inches), and second in the broad jump (11 feet).