Elite athletes. Physical Freaks. Workout warriors. These descriptions come out to play at the NFL Combine each year, as fans’ and NFL teams’ begin to water at the sight of these athletic specimens sprint, change direction, and bench in compression shorts and t-shirts.
But for the following prospects, it’s important to know going into the Combine just how “freakishly” talented, fast, and strong they are. Their athleticism is likely already a part of their scouting report, and impressive showings are almost expected, not surprising. Here are some of the best athletes in Indianapolis that should wow, but their “wowing” likely won’t move their grades much at all.
Tavon Austin, RB/WR, West Virginia
For the quick twitch, electric athlete, Austin is expected in run in the 4.4s (maybe low 4.5s, thanks to shorter legs, but still unexpected) as well as testing at an elite level in the short shuttle, the L-cone drill, and potentially well in the long shuttle, thanks to his elite burst and change of direction. His numbers should be consistently impressive throughout the testing, as he shows on film. He’s probably the most naturally short-area quick prospect attending the 2013 NFL Combine.
Marquise Goodwin, WR, Texas
Goodwin won two NCAA championships and competed in the Olympics in the long jump (owns the high school national record), and is among the best in the country in track and field in the 60 and 100 meters along with the triple jump. He ran a 6.69 second 65 yards (60m) and 10.24 second 109 yard sprint. Expect him to be the Combine’s best in the broad jump and the 40 yard dash. However, despite his huge numbers, I’ll be curious to see his 10 yard split (testing his initial burst compared to other WRs), and to see his 3-cone drill, to see his NFL-level change of direction.
Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
One of the most impressive big-bodied receivers in this class, Hunter will look to make up for his lackluster junior season with an impressive showing in Indianapolis. He’s represented the US in the World Junior Championships in 2010 as a long jump after winning the state title twice in the long and high jump, and should wow in those areas at the NFL Combine. At 6’3+, 200 pounds, if he can impress as a vertical athlete and run in the 4.5s as a downfield receiver, he could push himself back into the 1st round discussion for a team hoping to help him reach his upside.
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
While he doesn’t have the major track background his teammate Hunter has, Patterson on film looks the part of an athletic freak in the short area and working downfield, and should impress across each Combine drill. At 6’3, he could be running in the 4.4s, impress in the long shuttle, and wow with his overall physical build and high upside. His film says inconsistency and need for polish, but his work in shorts could make him a “fast riser” for those in the media.
Terron Armstead, OT, Arkansas Pine-Bluff
If you haven’t heard of this name yet, then you’ll likely be caught up at the NFL combine. After being one of the best tackles I evaluated on film this year, he impressed at both the Shrine Game and Senior Bowl, and now has garnered a 2nd round grade from us. The 6’5, 300+ pound offensive tackle should run in the 4.8-4.9 and likely will impress in any speed/quickness drills. His bench numbers or broad jumps may not be elite (needs to add muscle in upper and lower half to be more consistent), but athletically, he should wow.
Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State
A former college basketball player at Marist College from 2009 to 2011 who considered boxing after quitting the basketball team, the 6’6 offensive tackle likely will run in the 4.8s in the forty yard dash. After just a year of football, it’ll be hard for teams to go all-in on Watson as a 1st rounder, but a wowing Combine showing may do enough to give teams a reason to gamble on him in the Top 40.
Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
The 6’8, 279+ pound athletic freak Margus Hunt began training for Olympic throwing events in 2004, eventually establishing a new junior world record in the discus throw, and getting a gold medal in the shot put in 2006. Physically, he’s one of the most impressive athletes in the draft this year. He’s got an 82 inch wingspan, should put up 40+ reps at the bench press and a sub-4.7 forty time, along with testing well in the broad and vertical jump.
Barkevous Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
An impressing athlete on the field, the 6’4, 240 pound athlete got by on natural ability too much at LSU to be considered a “safe” Top 20 pick. However, at the NFL Combine, his natural upside will be on display, as he should run in the 4.6s (or lower), and impress in other drills as well as wowing without pads on in defensive end drills. But likely with his wowing workout will come similarities to Kambila Edwards and Vernon Gholston, both athletic freaks wow busted.
Jamie Collins, OLB, Southern Miss
A former defensive back turned linebacker turned defensive end pass rusher, Collins has the raw upside to develop wherever his drafted team chooses to work him. Still very moldable and raw as a prospect, Collins will need ample time to contribute as a starter in the NFL. But he’ll test very well for a linebacker in his 40 and short shuttle, and should do better than most pass rushers in the 3 cone drill and broad jump.
Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
The NFL is looking for linebackers who have the length and natural athleticism to cover the slew of tight ends and slot receivers that are dominating the NFL offensive coordinator schemes. Ogletree fits that mold very well, both with his size and length (6’3 and a long wingspan for a linebacker) and his fluidity as an athlete. He’ll likely need to impress in all drills and maintain that “fantastic athlete” reputation in Indianapolis, as he’ll be answering major character questions for NFL teams as well.
JJ Wilcox, S, Georgia Southern
A running back turned safety just this year, the dynamic, well-built athlete who flashed as both a returner and safety this year, JJ Wilcox could be a sneaky impressive athlete. Built well in his lower half that gives him fantastic explosion and change of direction burst, he’ll likely be among the best broad jump and 10 yard split safeties in Indianapolis, and likely test well in most drills relative to his class.
Others Who Could Wow With Athleticism
Marcus Davis, WR, Virginia Tech
Corey Fuller, WR, Virginia Tech
Justin Cunningham, TE, South Carolina
Travis Kelce, TE, Cincinnati
Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Sio Moore, OLB, UConn
Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB, UConn
Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International