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MORSE: The NFL Combine is in the Books, Prospects Thoughts, NFL Calendar

Mark Morse
Mark Morse on Twitter
March 8, 2023 at 6:00 am ET

MORSE: The NFL Combine is in the Books, Prospects Thoughts, NFL Calendar(PHOTO: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)
Posted: Mar 08, 2023 06:00
🕑 Read Time: 8 minutes

The NFL Combine or as it’s known amongst the scouts, the Underwear Olympics is in the books, and months of preparation by the prospective players either panned out or they have to make a better impression at their Pro Days.  I was disappointed in the number of players that chose not to run, throw and compete in the field events.  They limited what they were going to do and delayed the final results.  I believe the Pro Days are rigged for the players as the Combine is a fair and even evaluation.

Day One DL and Linebackers

The first bombshell was the criminal charges levied against Georgia EDGE player Jalen Carter.   Coincidence they were filed the night before the Combine was to start?  Carter didn’t back down from the charges and flew back to Georgia to answer those charges and flew back to Indy to participate in the remainder of the combine and to take those all-important team Interviews.

PJ Mustipher NT Penn St stood straight up when running his 40, losing valuable time in doing so.  He ended up with a 5.45 40.  The Patriots spent a lot of time with him at the East-West Shrine game.

I was very impressed with Jalen Redmond in his skills drills.  At 6’2” 291, the Oklahoma sophomore ran a 4.81 40-yard dash.  He had 27 reps at 225#, a 34 1/2 Vertical Leap, and a 9’8″ Broad Jump.  During the 4 bag drill, he showed very quick feet.  Redmond missed 5 games this season due to injury.

Nolan Smith, Georgia EDGE ran a ridiculous 4.39 (O).  Smith is 6’2 ½”, 238 lbs, 41 1/2” Vertical Leap.  He is the heaviest player to have a 40” vert in Combine history.  Five Players were under 4.6 and 4 of those were under 4.4.

YaYa Digby had a 4.51 40.  The star of the DL combine was Northwestern’s Adetomiwa  Adebawore.  He opened the combine as the 1st player to run the 40 and ran a blistering 4.49 40 at 289 lbs.  Let’s put that in perspective.  That was faster than Stephon Diggs and DeAndre Hopkins’s 40 times at their combine.  Adebawore didn’t run a 2nd run and went on to look spectacular during field drills.  Many were comparing him to Aaron Donald.

Day Two DBs and Specialists

This day belonged to Christian Gonzalez the Oregon CB.  At 6’2” he has the size every team desires but he showed off elite athleticism in compiling a 9.99 (out of 10) Relative Athletic Score.  This boosted him into the #1 slot of DBs since formally Top Rated DB Devin Witherspoon didn’t work out and deferred to his Pro Day.    The Third Top DB Joey Porter performed well and solidified his spot in the Top 20.

The knock on Illinois Safety Sydney Brown is he is only 5’9”.  He is a hard hitter and ball hawk (6 INT Tied for the lead in the country).  Brown has been compared to Rodney Harrison.  His 40 was 4.47 and had the Top 3 numbers in the Vert, Broad Jump, and Weightlifting (#1).  He was listed as a 2nd round pick in my last mock draft and actually ran faster than projected.

Christopher Smith S Georgia ran a bad 40 (4.62) which will hurt his draft stock.  I had Smith as a Patriots pick in my 1st Mock draft.  Looking back at that way-too-early mock draft, it was horrible.

Jartavious Martin S Illinois He stands 5’11” 194lbs.  Martin had a very good vertical leap of 44” and combine that with his 4.46 40 he put his name in the top 5 at the Safety position.   That’s quite a secondary that Illinois had with Devin Witherspoon at CB and Martin and Sydney Brown at Safety.

Jason Taylor S Oklahoma St ran a 4.5 40, one of the fastest for safeties.  Taylor also jumped through the roof with a 43” vertical jump.  That was second to Martin’s 45”.

Daniel Scott SS California 6’1” 208 lbs.  He came out of nowhere to post Top 5 performances in all the events.  His 4.45 40 was 2nd and his 10-yard split was a great 1.55 seconds. Vertical Jump was 39.5 and good for fifth.  Broad Jump was 4th at 10’ 8”.  Scott’s 6.75 3-cone drill was great. Note: Only 2 safeties completed this drill at the combine.  It will be interesting if they do it at their Pro Days.  The 3-cone drill is very important to the Patriots because it shows the quick change of direction.   Scott also posted 22 reps at 225# weightlift.  That was 2nd to Sydney Brown.

The Patriots sent a big contingent of special teams experts to the combine including ST coach Cam Achord, former ST coach Joe Judge, and assistant Special Teams coach Joe Houston.

One of the players the Patriots are interested in is Punter Michael Turk from Oklahoma.  Turk looks like an LB at 6’ 227#.  He ran a 4.8 40 and had a 34” Vertical Leap.  That Vertical Leap was better than the top 5 DB Kelee Ringo’s.  Turk punted at the East/West Shrine game for the Patriots coaches and they spent a lot of time with him.

Day 3 QB’s, Wide Receivers, and TEs

People cannot stop talking about the show that Florida QB Anthony Richardson put on.  At 6’4” and 244 lbs, Richardson ran a 4.43 (O) 40-yard dash.  His Relative Athletic Score (RAS), a combination of all events, was a perfect 10 out of 10.  He has rocketed into the top 10.  It was reported that his interviews have gone very well too.

CJ Stroud and Will Levis showed off their strong arms during the on-field drills.

Jaxon Smith-Njiba skipped the 40 (deferred to his pro Day) but ran a blistering 3.93 Short Shuttle.

Princeton’s Andrei Iosivas, a 6’3” 205 lbs Wide Receiver disappointed at the combine.  His training staff and agent were touting that he would blow the doors off the combine.  His numbers were good but not spectacular.  Iosivas ran a 4.43 40 which is good for a 6’3” receiver.  His 6.85 3-cone drill was very good, especially for his size.  However, his hand measurement showed he has small hands at 8 ¾” Hand measurement.    This will push him down into the 3rd day of the draft.  He is a name to remember if he is still available when the Patriots have all those 6th round draft picks (4).

The TE position is loaded and Georgia TE Darnell Washington is a freak at 6’6” and 254 lbs.  Washington ran a 4.65 40 and looked great in the gauntlet drill.  He also had a one-handed catch near the goal line.  Washington is a nightmare matchup near the goal line.

Stetson Bennett impressed everyone at the combine.  His athleticism was better than expected as was his arm strength. With his small stature (5’11” 192 lbs) Bennett needed a big day.  His 4.67 40 surprised scouts.  The Burlsworth Award winner (Top player that came from Walk On status) threw two beautiful bombs in on-field drills.  Each throw traveled 60 yards in the air and was dropped like a dime in the pocket.    He hit both receivers in stride and in bounds.  Everyone knows how smart Bennett is and what a leader he is.  I think the Patriots may consider him for a late-round pick.

Bryce Ford-Wheaton was a player that didn’t create much buzz before the combine.  Now scouts are scrambling to find out more info on him with a great performance at the Combine.   The West Virginia product stands 6’ 3 ¾ ” 220lbs, ran a 4.38 40, 41” vertical Leap, and had a 9.96 RAS score.  The scouts were comparing him to DK Metcalf.

Had you heard of TE Zach Kuntz before the Combine?  The 6’7” 255 lbs transfer from Penn St to Old Dominion put up good numbers in 2021 (73 receptions for 692 yards).  This season, he was felled by a knee injury on Oct 1st and missed the remainder of the season.   I guess the knee is alright.  His 4.55 40-yard dash is insane, 10’9” Broad Jump, and 40” vertical leap (biggest player to ever jump 40”).  His 6.87 3-cone drill blew me away.  Patriots Wide Receiver Tyquan Thornton ran a pedestrian 7.25 3-cone drill.  Kuntz was 2nd in the Short Shuttle and had one of the largest hand measurements at 10 ¼”.

Michael Mayer TE Notre Dame hurt himself with poor performance.  Washington has overtaken him as the #1 TE.

 

Day 4 RB’s and OL

RB Deuce Vaughn Kansas St measure in at 5’5”.   He had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons for Kansas St.  During the on-field portion of the combine he showed outstanding vision, quickness, and change of direction.

Dawand Jones OT Ohio St measure at 6’8” 374 lbs. and ran 5.35 40.  That is great for a man of his size.  He needs work, and you can coach him up, but you can’t coach size.

Sidy Sow is a name we haven’t heard mentioned.  The 6’5” 323 lb T from Eastern Michigan has been projected to move inside to OG because of his 33 5/8 “ arm length.  Sow ran a 5.07 40-yard dash.

Brendan Daniels OT Utah ran an impressive 1.71 10-yard split in the 40.

OT Broderick Jones has vaulted into the #1 OT position with a great combine.  He looked very loose in the on-field drills.  Jones may be gone by the Patriots’ 14th pick.  He ran a 4.97 40-yard dash which is outstanding.

Blake Freeland moved well in all the drills but the 6’7” OT weighs only 302 lbs.

Bijan Robinson and Jahmyr Gibbs solidified their positions as the top two runningbacks.  Gibbs ran a very fast 4.36 40 while Johnson ran 4.46.

I was disappointed that Tulane’s Tajae Spears didn’t run at the combine.  His Vertical Leap of 39” was 2nd amongst RB, and his Broad Jump of 10’5” was 3rd.   He has the biggest hands (10”) were the largest of RBs.  He looked great in the pass-catching drills as he did in the Senior Bowl workouts.  Tulane’s Pro Day is scheduled for April 4th, a full month away.

Chase Brown RB Illinois had a great performance at the combine.  His 4.43 40 was tops amongst the RBs.  His 40” Vertical Leap (#1) and 10’ 7” Broad Jump were both top 5.  His weightlifting of 225# at 25 reps was also #1.   Brown looked good in the pass-catching drills. He stands a solid 5’11” 209lbs.

Jon Grimes OG UCLA made big gains on Sunday with a 5.01 40-yard dash 32.5” (3) Vertical Leap, a 9’6” (3) Broad Jump, and a 7.31 3-cone drill (#1).  Grime’s athleticism was evident in the field drills also.

Evan Hull RB Northwestern 5’ 10” 201 lbs ran a 4.47  and had a 6.90 3-cone drill.  He looked very very comfortable in pass-catching drills despite having small hands at 9 1/4  inch hands.

 

2023 Pro Day Schedule  (not a complete list)

DATE     SCHOOLS

7-Mar    Indiana, Southern Utah

8-Mar    UNLV, Miami (O), Fordham, Columbia

9-Mar    Nevada, Texas State, Illinois State, Praire View A&M, Harvard

10-Mar Illinois, Rice, Southeast Missouri State, UC-Davis

13-Mar South Carolina, Oregon State, Western Michigan, Portland State

14-Mar Oregon, Northwestern, Furman, Grambling

15-Mar Georgia, Michigan State, UCLA, Minnesota, Louisiana, Mercer

16-Mar Arizona, Georgia Tech, McNeese State, Southeastern Louisiana

17-Mar Michigan, San Diego State

20-Mar Iowa, Syracuse, Bowling Green, Toledo, South Florida, James Madison

21-Mar Rutgers, Iowa State, Ohio, Maine, Princeton

22-Mar Ohio State, Southern Methodist, Alabama-Birmingham, Stanford, Temple, Texas-San Antonio, UConn, New Mexico State, Weber State, Delaware, Bryant, Samford

23-Mar Alabama, Utah, Wisconsin, Cincinnati, Stephen F Austin, Holy Cross, William&Mary, Eastern Kentucky, Yale, Richmond, Albany

24-Mar Kentucky, Boston College, Missouri, Houston, BYU, San Jose State, Old Dominion, Missouri State

27-Mar North Carolina, Miami, West Virginia, Arizona State, Boise State, Memphis, Alcorn State, Jackson State, Sam Houston State, UT-Martin

28-Mar Texas A&M, North Carolina State, Vanderbilt, Washington State, Arkansas State, Middle Tennessee, Shepherd, NC A&T, Gardner-Webb, Campbell

29-Mar LSU, Notre Dame, Arkansas, Pittsburgh, Maryland, Oklahoma State, Washington, Wake Forest, Texas Tech, Western Kentucky, Incarnate Wood, North Texas, North Dakota State, North Dakota, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Austin Peay, Tennessee State

30-Mar Tennessee, Oklahoma, Florida, TCU, Appalachian State, UNC-Charlotte, South Dakota

31-Mar Florida State, Kansas State, Kansas, Chattanooga, South Dakota State, Sacramento State,

4-Apr     Tulane

5-Apr     Montana State

 

League Dates and Events

March 7                Deadline to designate Franchise or Transition Players 1:00 pm Pacific (4 pm ET)

March 7                College Pro Days Begin.

Mar 7-Apr 19      Draft-Eligible Facility Visits Begin. Clubs permitted 30 non-local players for physical exams/visits; no on-field workouts.

March 13             Free Agent Negotiation Period opens at 9:00 am Pacific (Noon ET).  Legal Tampering

March 15             Start of League Year/Free Agency/Trading period 1:00 pm Pacific (4 pm ET).

March 26-29       Annual League Meeting (The Biltmore, Phoenix, AZ)

April 3                   Clubs that hired a new Head Coach after the end of the 2022 regular season may begin offseason workout programs.

April 17                 Clubs with returning Head Coaches may begin off-season workout programs.

April 19                 Deadline for clubs to time, test, visit, interview, or conduct a physical examination with a draft-eligible player at its club facility.

April 21                 Deadline for Restricted Free Agents to sign Offer Sheets.

April 26                 Deadline for Prior Club to exercise the Right of First Refusal to Restricted Free Agents.

April 27                 Deadline for clubs to time, test, visit, interview (including video and phone calls), or conduct a physical examination with a draft-eligible player at any location.

April 27-29           NFL Draft (Kansas City, MO)

 

Comings and Goings

The Patriots announced they have brought Pat Stewart back into the fold in the Scouting Department.  Stewart is the former ATL Assistant GM.  This was a very good get for the Patriots as there were several other teams looking at obtaining his services.  His role with the team is unknown at this time.

Offensive lineman Hayden Howerton was let go by the Patriots.  The SMU product was a UDFA signee by Tennessee and was one of their final cuts.  The 6’3” Guard played 153 snaps for the Titans in pre-season.  He signed a few months later with the Patriots Practice Squad but saw no game action.

READ NEXT:
Patriots Fourth And Two Podcast: Free Agency Is Around The Corner

About Mark Morse

Merrimack Valley native and lifelong fan of the New England Patriots. My earliest memories of the Patriots were attending as a child with my dad, the off-season practice at Phillips Academy. I was at the Patriots game at Harvard Stadium in 1970 where Bob “Harpo” Gladieux was called out of the stands by the stadium announcer over the PA to play in the game. Analyzing the draft since ESPN first started to televise it in 1980 and former writer for the Lowell Sun Newspaper.


Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: 2023 NFL combine

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    Tony Turk
    Tony Turk
    11 months ago

    The very first football jersey my little 7-year-old son (Michael Turk) put on was a Patriots #12 (Tom Brady) jersey! It would seem “God’s Will” if Michael winds up on Patriots☝️
    (Not to mention that my wife&I and Michael’s two brothers and sister would all be ecstatic✋

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