Two days worth of combine on-field workouts are in the books, with the second day featuring the offensive linemen, running backs and special teamers. The workouts were dominated by two men, who will highly likely come off the board outside of the New England Patriots’ range in the first round: Iowa’s Tristan Whirfs and Louisville’s Mekhi Becton, who broke combine records for offensive tackles and established themselves as potential top-15 picks.
The two obviously can be classified as “winners” when looking back on Friday’s session, but there were other players as well who improved or hurt their stock — some of which possibly even on the Patriots’ radar. Let’s take a closer look at them.
OT Ezra Cleveland, Boise State
A raw talent that likely needs some development before being able to compete as a starting-caliber offensive tackle at the next level, Cleveland delivered an impressive combine workout. Measured at 6-foot-6 and 311 pounds, the Boise State product ran the fastest 3-cone drill (7.28 seconds) and shuttle (4.46 seconds) among all offensive linemen. Furthermore, he was one of only three offensive linemen — the other being Wirfs and Ball State’s Danny Pinter — to finish the 40-yard dash in under five seconds.
Cleveland ran a 4.93, the third fastest among the 40 blockers who were tested. Add all his number up and you get an impressive Relative Athletic Score as calculated by Pride of Detroit’s Kent Lee Platte:
So uh, Ezra Cleveland. We're gonna have to have a chat. pic.twitter.com/PD7aRKa4U2— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) February 29, 2020
While Cleveland still projects to be a mid-round selection, he certainly helped his stock with an impressive on-field workout on Friday. His RAS score of 9.92 reflects this: no offensive lineman achieved a better results, not even Wirfs and Becton.
RB Darrynton Evans, Appalachian State
Only Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor — who had a tremendous combine as well and is on his way to possibly become the first running back to get selected in late April — ran a faster 40-yard dash than Darrynton Evans’ 4.41. Evans did beat Taylor in numerous other categories, though, and had a better vertical jump (37 vs 36 inches), broad jump (125 vs 123 inches), and bench press (20 vs 17 reps). A high-upside running back, he might become an attractive and high-value selection on day three.
OC Matt Hennessy, Temple
Hennessy projects to be a day one starter in the NFL due to his combination of football intelligence, terrific technique and prototypical size to line up along the interior offensive line. The 22-year-old may not be the most powerful or versatile blocker but he is as pro-ready as they come at the center position — something he showed on Friday when he moved extremely well through the various offensive linemen drills:
Matt Hennessy going through OL drills https://t.co/UJWmWciSrT pic.twitter.com/3srwqKhbvN— SUSPENDED AGAIN (@FTBeard1) February 28, 2020
Hennessy’s numbers also looked good: he ran the 40-yard dash in 5.18 seconds, had 23 reps on the bench press, reached 30 and 110 inches, respectively, in the vertical and broad jumps, and had a 7.45-second 3-cone drill. To go back to the aforementioned Relative Athletic Score, he reached a 9.08 which made him the eighth best offensive lineman tested on Friday. Hennessy certainly is a player to watch on day two of the draft.
OG Cesar Ruiz, Michigan
Ruiz came close to Hennessy’s RAS and finished with an impressive 8.97 after posting some solid numbers on Friday: considering that he was weighed at 307 pounds, his 33-inch vertical jump and 113-inch broad jump were very good — as was his 7.91-second 3-cone drill. Given his experience at both center and guard in combination with the functional strength to win both on the move and when asked to block defenders one-on-one, Ruiz could very well come off the board as early as the second round.
His strong combine workout certainly did him some favors in this regard.
OT Austin Jackson, USC
Jackson is a big man at 6-foot-5 and 322 pounds, but he still proved himself a nimble athlete on Friday with a strong 40-yard time (5.07 seconds) and particularly impressive starting speed as he reached the 10-yard split in just 1.73 seconds. Add a 31-inch vertical jump as well as a 115-inch broad jump and you get a player who might enter draft day as the number three offensive tackle behind Wirfs and Becton. This is especially true considering that Jackson also moved pretty well in the pass protection drills.
RB Zack Moss, Utah
It is a not a great on-field combine for players named Moss. One day after LSU tight end Thaddeus Moss had to cancel his workouts after a foot injury was discovered during the medical testing, Utah running back Zack Moss tried to run the 40-yard dash despite a hamstring injury. The results were unsurprising: Moss finished the race in just 4.65 seconds — only three running backs were slower than the potential day two pick.
OT Trey Adams, Washington
Adams brings tremendous size to the table at 6-foot-8, 318 pounds, but he comes with considerable risk. Not only did he suffer knee and back injuries in college, he also did not have a good combine: the 22-year-old ran the slowest 40-yard dash among all offensive lineman at just 5.6 seconds and also did not look good in the vertical (24 inches) and broad jumps (92 inches). Formerly considered a potential first-round pick, his injuries plus his mediocre testing — he has a RAS of only 1.54, third worst among all offensive linemen — have likely pushed Adams down the draft boards quite a bit.