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7 winners and 3 losers from the NFL Scouting Combine 2023

The Combine is in the books, and here is who caught our eyes — for better or worse.

NFL Combine Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The NFL Scouting Combine is officially in the books. While it always has to be seen for what it is — one piece of the big mosaic that is pre-draft player evaluation — it is still a fascinating close-up look at some of the best prospects coming out of college this year.

With that said, here are the players that caught our eyes over the course of last week for better or worse.

Winner: QB Anthony Richardson (Florida). Combine measurements are very much not an indicator for future NFL success. That said, Richardson still put on a show at the Combine. How good was he? He recorded a perfect Relative Athletic Score of 10.0, and is now the highest-graded quarterback prospect in Combine history ahead of former first overall draft pick Cam Newton.

Richardson’s strong showing did not end at the testing portion; he also looked very promising throwing the football. He might have helped bolster his stock quite a bit, after entering the week as a fringe first-round prospect.

Winner: QB C.J. Stroud (Ohio State). There was little room for improvement when it comes to Stroud’s stock. That said, he did what he had to do: even though he did not go through the testing portion of the event and does therefore did not register an RAS score to compare to others, his on-field workout was very good. He remains on track to come off the board maybe as early as first overall.

Winner: WR Jaxson Smith-Njigba (Ohio State). If the New England Patriots want to go after a wide receiver in Round 1, Smith-Njigba makes a lot of sense. He opted not to run the 40-yard dash at the Combine but other than that had a strong outing. His fluidity going through his routes was apparent, and he displayed a strong pair of mitts. In a wide receiver class that lacks any true blue-chip prospects, he might be WR1.

Winner: TE Zack Kuntz (Old Dominion). The tight end group might be one of the deepest in the draft this year, with several players expected to come off the board in first two rounds. Whether or not Kuntz will be among them remains to be seen, but he sure did help himself at the Combine. Measuring at 6-foot-7, 255 pounds, Kuntz had a 40-inch vertical and a 4.55-second 40-yard dash. He also looked good in agility drills.

The result: when looked at his RAS score, he is now the most athletic tight end ever tested at the Combine.

Winner: DL Adetomiwa Adebawore (Northwestern). Adebawore measured at just under 6-foot-2 and 282 pounds, and still ran the 40-yard dash in mind-boggling 4.49 seconds. His straight-line speed was not the only thing that stood out, and he finished with an impressive RAS of 9.85. The projected mid-round option made himself some money in Indianapolis.

Winner: CB Christian Gonzalez (Oregon). Gonzalez already entered the Combine in conversation as the No. 1 cornerback available. He did nothing to hurt his stock — quite the opposite: no other cornerback present had a higher RAS score than his 9.99. The 6-foot-1, 197-pounder is not just a freak athlete but a very good cornerback as well. If the Patriots, who met with him, want to have a shot at getting him they might have to trade up.

Winner: CB Julius Brents (Kansas State). Brents is not in the same tier as Christian Gonzalez, but he still looks like a candidate to come off the board early on Day 2. Even though he ran the 40-yard dash in a comparatively pedestrian 4.53 seconds (i.e. slower than Adetomiwa Adebawore who outweighs him by 84 pounds), he had a very good performance and scored a 9.82 RAS. Brents will not be a universal fit such as Gonzalez, but his baseline athleticism makes for an intriguing prospect.

Loser: WR Jordan Addison (USC). Together with Jaxson Smith-Njigba, Addison is arguably one of the top wide receivers available. As opposed to the Ohio State prospect, however, he failed to impress. Standing at 5-foot-11, 171 pounds he tested poorly in the 40-yard dash (4.49), broad jump (10’2”) and vertical jump (34”), and his agility drills at the USC Pro Day might decide whether or not a team ultimately pulls the trigger in Round 1. His tape says yes, his workout numbers say no.

Loser: WR Nathaniel Dell (Houston). A potential top-100 pick, Dell falls in the same category as Addison. He is undersized at 5-foot-8, 165 pounds, and did not make up for it with eye-popping testing results — quite the opposite. He ran a 4.49-second 40-yard dash and had a 10.1-inch broad jump without doing agility drills and vertical jumps.

Loser: CB Clark Phillips III (Utah). One of the second-tier cornerbacks and as such a possible first-round pick, Phillips’ workout in Indianapolis might hurt his stock quiet a bit. He had a 3.99 RAS and as such was the only cornerback to come in sub-5. With the exception of a very good 10-yard split (1.51) he had a rough day at the office — one that might contribute to him dropping out of Day 1.

Additional mentions:

  • Chase Brown (Illinois) will likely not come off the board before Day 3, but he sure bolstered his stock last week. While he measured at only 5-foot-9, 209 pounds, he put on a show in the workouts: he led all running backs in the broad jump (10’7”), vertical jump (40”) and bench press (25) and finished fifth in the 40-yard dash (4.43).
  • Interior offensive lineman Andrew Vorhees (USC) entered the Combine as a potential Day 2 pick, but he was feared to have suffered a torn ACL that will leave his status in question. Vorhees still did the bench press despite the injury, though, managing 38 reps.
  • Peter Skoronski (Northwestern) and Broderick Jones (Georgia) are two of the top tackle prospects available, and they very much lived up to the hype in Indianapolis. Whereas Skoronski put any questions about his arm length to rest by looking very fluid in on-field workouts, Jones put on a show and showed why he has serious starter-level potential even as a rookie. Both should come off the board in the first round, with the Patriots possibly having an eye on both.
  • Led by potential Day 2 selection Jammie Robinson (Florida State), the safety class had a relatively disappointing performance last week. The group collectively did not perform well across the board, with Sydney Brown (Illinois) one of the few exceptions. However, on the whole, the safety position is one of the weaker groups in the draft this year and the Combine was more proof of that.
  • Jalen Carter (Georgia) is still on track to be drafted in the first round, but there are plenty of question marks after his alleged involvement in a Jan. 15 car crash that left his teammate Devin Willock and Bulldogs staffer Chandler LeCroy dead. Carter’s draft status is insignificant in comparison, but we will still keep an eye on how the story plays out and what all of it might mean for when arguably the top talent in the draft will come off the board.