Bosa & Sweat star as running backs fail to shine - Winners and losers from the NFL Combine

The NFL's 32 teams should have a much better idea of who they want to select in this year's draft after the Combine concluded on Monday.

Prospects were put through their paces in the interview room and on the field and there were plenty who solidified their status as prospective high picks with strong showings in Indianapolis.

However, for some their pro day will now take an added importance after they failed to perform as they had hoped.

Here we look at some of the winners and losers from proceedings at Lucas Oil Stadium.

 

Winner: Kyler Murray & smaller quarterbacks

Kyler Murray had a great combine without having to do much of anything. He participated in no drills but cleared an ever decreasing size threshold for quarterbacks by measuring at just over 5 feet and 10 inches and weighing in at 207 pounds. 

Whether the weight he has added to his frame is purely for show is immaterial, and the fact his measurements were regarded as good enough to justify a possible first overall selection in the draft proves the NFL's attitude towards smaller passers is shifting dramatically.

Russell Wilson's run with the Seattle Seahawks and the recent successes of Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson have helped facilitate Murray's journey from baseball prospect to possible No. 1 overall NFL draft pick, and his acceptance into a league previously obsessed with quarterback height should pave the way for future diminutive signal-callers.


Loser: High-profile running backs

Josh Jacobs, seen as the top running back in the draft, sat out the workout, but his standing as the best in the class was likely only furthered by the struggles of his peers at the position.

The likes of Iowa State's David Montgomery, Florida Atlantic's Devin Singletary and Elijah Holyfield of Georgia may all have had hope of inserting themselves into the first-round conversation but underwhelmed with poor workouts, the latter failing to live up his father's nickname and prove he is the real deal, disappointing in the 40-yard dash with a time of 4.78 seconds.


Winner: Defensive linemen

The defensive line group was seen as the strength of the draft going into the combine and that assessment held true as numerous members of that group put on a show.

Alabama's 303-pound defensive tackle Quinnen Williams lit up Sunday's workouts with an incredible 40-yard dash time of 4.83 seconds, while Mississippi State's Montez Sweat caused a similar stir by blazing down the track in 4.41 seconds at 260 pounds, vaulting himself firmly into the top-10 discussion with a superb workout.

Nick Bosa, the top player in the draft in the eyes of many, proved his fitness by impressing in the physical testing and the on-field drills, and Brian Burns of Florida State and Michigan's Rashan Gary did their first-round prospects no harm with eye-catching performances.

Loser: Jachai Polite

Though other pass rushers such as Bosa and Burns shone, it was a combine to forget for Jachai Polite, who did not produce the explosiveness evident on his game tape and clocked a disappointing 40 time of 4.84 seconds before claiming a hamstring injury.

In addition, Polite also raised eyebrows by appearing to take shots at teams for their approach to formal interviews with him, describing the Los Angeles Rams as the only team that didn't "bash" him. 

His remarks are unlikely to have gone down well with those franchises who met with Polite, who will now have to wait until his Florida pro day to redeem himself.


Loser: Riley Ridley

There should be plenty of questions surrounding Ridley's athleticism after his dismal workout. 

The Georgia receiver's 4.58-second 40 was extremely disappointing and he had similar struggles in the vertical jump (30.5 inches) and the agility drills.

The silver lining for Ridley, however, is that his elder brother Calvin also endured a poor combine, but went on to catch 64 passes for 821 yards and 10 touchdowns as a rookie with the Atlanta Falcons in 2018.

Winner: The state of Mississippi

Arch rivals in the world of college football, Ole Miss and Mississippi State can both afford to celebrate excellent combines for their prospects.

Defensive end Gerri Green joined team-mate Sweat in showcasing his explosiveness while Johnathan Abram underlined his credentials as one of the top safety prospects in the class thanks in part to a 40 of 4.45 seconds.

Yet it was Ole Miss who owned the track, the blistering 4.33-second 40 from D.K. Metcalf leading to tears from the hulking wide receiver, who had feared he would not make it this far having previously struggled with a neck injury.

It was a man who practiced against him, however, who set the fastest time of this year's event as safety Zedrick Woods stopped the timer at 4.29 seconds.

Wideout A.J. Brown solidified his status as a likely day-two pick with a solid all-round work out and, between Ole Miss' pass-catchers and Mississippi State defenders, both schools should expect to be toasting numerous high-round picks come next month's draft.

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