Which NFL Draft prospects will show off at the Combine? Revisiting Bruce Feldman’s Freaks List


With the NFL Scouting Combine kicking off this week, a jaw-dropping show is expected in Indianapolis. The combine also serves as a great window to look back at our annual Freaks List of college studs.

In recent years, some under-the-radar players from the list have lit up the combine. UTSA corner Tariq Woolen (No. 6 on the 2021 Freaks List) ran a 4.26 40-yard dash and recorded a vertical jump of 42 inches after measuring in at over 6-4 and 205 pounds. Woolen would make the Pro Bowl as a rookie.

Last year, Michigan cornerback DJ Turner (No. 31 on the 2022 Freaks List), who I reported had posted a 4.28-second 40 out of a two-point stance, clocked a 4.26 at the combine. Pitt defensive tackle Calijah Kancey became a top-20 pick after exceeding his Freaks List 40 of 4.69 seconds by going 4.67.

Northwestern defensive lineman Adetomiwa Adebawore (No. 30 on the Freaks List) measured in at 282 pounds in Indy and ran a 4.49 40, had a vertical jump of 37 1/2 inches and went 10 feet, 5 inches in the broad jump. Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson (No. 50 on the Freaks List) wowed scouts with 4.43 speed and a 40-inch vertical to go with a rocket arm that helped him become the fourth pick of the draft.

Louisville edge rusher YaYa Diaby (No. 85 on the Freaks List) exceeded his numbers with a vertical jump of 37 inches, a broad jump of 10 feet and a 40 of 4.51. The 6-3, 275-pounder went in the third round to Tampa Bay and had a big impact, producing 7.5 sacks as a rookie.

Though there is an impressive crop of talent primed for the combine, a few Freaks to remember will not be there but are expected to put up dazzling numbers at their pro days. FAU wideout Je’Quan Burton, a two-time Freaks List honoree, has recorded 11-5 in the broad jump and over 46 inches in the vertical jump. Miami’s Tyler Harrell as a wide receiver for Louisville earlier in his career consistently hit 24 MPH on the GPS. Then-Louisville coach Scott Satterfield said he was the fastest player he’s ever timed and had him on his stop watch at 4.19 in the 40 and 4.24 on the laser.

I’ve also heard that LSU star Malik Nabers may not work out. He would have been in the top 20 of this list. Same for Iowa DB Cooper DeJean, who is still coming off of a season-ending leg injury and won’t test till his pro day. DeJean’s trainer told The Athletic last summer that he “has the capability of breaking 4.3 (in the 40) at 210 pounds.”

Here are the 40 players The Athletic is most interested to see test and time in Indianapolis. As will be evident, the collection of wideouts in this draft class stands out.

GO DEEPER

College football Freaks List 2023: Bruce Feldman’s rankings with a true freshman at No.1

The Nittany Lions produce a ton of players who star in Indy. I think Robinson, a 6-3, 254-pound junior, will be the next. In 10 games in 2023, he had 7.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. There’s been some skepticism in draft chatter about whether Robinson actually merits first-round consideration. In draft analyst circles, Robinson has become polarizing. The Athletic recently had him going No. 35 to the Cardinals, down from No. 14 in an August mock draft. Robinson is ranked No. 26 on Dane Brugler’s big board.

At Penn State, he measured in bigger than current Cowboys star Micah Parsons, and the coaches there thought he was perhaps just as fast, although matching Parsons’ 4.39 40 in Indy will be a big challenge. Robinson clocked a 4.47 last year, but he actually ran a quicker shuttle, 4.22 to Parsons’ 4.40. He also has a broad jump of 10-7 and bench press of 400 pounds. One source who has seen him in training this month predicted that Robinson “is going to go off at the combine” and will put up “absurd” numbers.

A dominant DB in the MAC, he once had four interceptions and two pick sixes in one game. He’s a solid 6-0, 195 pounds and bench pressed 225 pounds 21 times last offseason. He also had a top speed of 23.58 MPH on the GPS last summer. Last spring, he ran in the 4.3s twice in the 40 for NFL scouts. I expect him to run in the mid-4.3s in Indy and excel in everything he does there. Mitchell is a big-time talent.

He doesn’t have the heft of teammate T’Vondre Sweat, but the 6-1, 308-pounder is more disruptive and caused more problems for rival coaches. Murphy is super strong and explosive. I’m hearing there’s a decent chance he can run the 40 in the 4.8s.

4. Payton Wilson, LB, NC State

He is one of the best players in the draft. A former standout lacrosse player and state champion wrestler, the 6-4, 235-pounder won the Butkus and Bednarik awards in 2023. At NC State, Wilson had been clocked in the 40 at 4.49 and ran a 4.21 in the pro agility shuttle last offseason. He bench pressed 390, vertical jumped 35 1/2 inches and broad jumped 9-8 1/2. Don’t be surprised if he tops a lot of those numbers at the combine.

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Payton Wilson (11) is one of the top prospects this year. (Rob Kinnan / USA Today)

The son of a Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver checks every box in a big way. Listed at 6-4, 208 pounds, he has everything. Harrison figures to do exceptionally well in interviews and testing. Despite his lanky frame, he’s a near 400-pound bencher and has done 20 reps at 225. He’s broad jumped 10-8 and clocked a 3.94 shuttle — it’s impressive to be that tall and have that kind of agility. Harrison has told The Athletic he’ll run in the high 4.3s in the 40. That might surprise some, but he did hit 23.5 MPH last year, so depending on his start, it seems realistic for a player who could become a top-three pick.

Here’s our latest two-point stance speedster from the Wolverines. Wilson clocked a 4.33 40 out of it last offseason. Even more impressive, Wilson ran a sizzling 6.20-second 3-cone drill and topped everyone at Michigan with a 3.77 shuttle time. Those two times have been met with some disbelief in combine training circles, so there will be a lot of eyeballs on Michigan’s top receiver. Wilson, who also flew up the Wolverines’ reactive plyo stairs in 2.22 seconds (tops in the program), had a fantastic few days at the Senior Bowl.

The 20-year-old junior ran for 1,000 yards this season and a few scouts this week predicted he would be one of the three fastest players in Indianapolis. The 5-11, 210-pounder, No. 24 on the Freaks List in 2022, has a lot of juice. He’s clocked 23.6 MPH in practice and vertical jumped 44 inches and went 10-8 in the broad jump last year. In high school, he ran a hand-timed 4.28 40.

Last year, BYU’s Blake Freeland created buzz at the combine, when at 6-8, 302 pounds, the left tackle ran a 4.98 40 and posted a combine record for offensive tackles with a 37-inch vertical jump. The coaches at BYU say the 6-6, 325-pound Suamataia is more athletic.

“Kingsley is off the charts,” BYU sports scientist Skyler Mayne told me last summer. “He’s faster than our linebackers. He’s just a freak in the weight room. What makes it look different from Blake is that Kingsley just makes it look a little more effortless. Blake was a better jumper, but Kingsley was our fastest lineman by a good bit.”

Suamataia hit 21.5 MPH last year as a 318-pound freshman. Mayne thinks Suamataia could run in the 4.8s and is “definitely a sub-5 guy (in the 40).”

The Tigers DB has good range at 6-2, 185 pounds and tremendous acceleration. A good note on Wiggins: He accounted for two of North Carolina QB Drake Maye’s 16 career interceptions. Wiggins’ burst was best illustrated when he ran down UNC star running back Omarion Hampton on a 64-yard run and forced a fumble at the 1-yard line. Wiggins was clocked at 22.6 MPH on the play.

 

The son of the former star NFL D-lineman by the same name was described by Jim Harbaugh as “the mutant of all mutants.” Some of the freaky stuff Jenkins can do that merited the No. 1 spot on the Freaks List in 2023 won’t be relevant at the combine. At 307 pounds, Jenkins did a Turkish get-up with a 170-pound dumbbell — the heaviest former Michigan strength coach Ben Herbert has ever witnessed. Jenkins also does pull-ups with a 100-pound weight strapped to his waist and could do 760 pounds on the combo twist.

What will show up in Indy are his agility numbers and explosiveness. Last offseason, Jenkins ran a 7.16 3-cone, a 4.33 shuttle, broad jumped 9-8 and vertical jumped 34 inches. He also did 32 reps at 225 pounds. All those numbers would be among the best for his position if he can match them, especially the agility times.

One of the biggest breakout stars of the 2023 season, Thomas exploded for 68 catches for 1,177 yards and 17 TDs, basically doubling what he’d done in the previous two seasons combined. The 6-4, 205-pound Thomas is expected to light it up in Indy, potentially running the 40 in the 4.3s and vertical jumping 38-inches plus.

12. Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State

The 6-6, 320-pounder from Washington, D.C., has a chance to cement his status as a top O-lineman by displaying the same kind of agility he showed last offseason, running a 4.97 40 and a 4.63 shuttle time. That 40 time would’ve tied for the best at last year’s combine for all offensive linemen.

Franklin tore up Pac-12 defenses last year, catching 81 passes for 1,383 yards and 14 touchdowns. He had 15 catches of 30 yards or more in 2023. Only LSU’s Malik Nabers (17) had more. Franklin is rangy at 6-3, 187 pounds and very explosive. Expect him to blur through the 40 in the mid-4.3s. Maybe even faster.

I expect the former high school track star’s stock to continue to rise after a good showing at the Senior Bowl. The 242-pound linebacker, who once long jumped 23-4 1/4 inches to break a school record that stood for 44 years and also won the state weightlifting title with a 335-pound power clean, hit 22 MPH on the GPS at Kentucky and also vertical jumped 38.5 inches.

He could work his way up well up into the top 10 and should flourish in this setting. He was a terrific high school sprinter at Las Vegas powerhouse Bishop Gorman. He won the 4A state title in the 200 meters (21.25) and the 4×100 relay (41.36). Last offseason, the 6-2, 216-pound Odunze ran a 4.34 40, a 4.19 pro agility shuttle and also did 37.1 inches on the vertical and 10-1 in the broad jump.

At 6-2, 205 pounds, Owens is something of an eye-catching talent who could become an elite player on special teams. He’s a big, explosive safety who should excel in Indy. Last offseason, he vertical jumped over 40 inches. He also was clocked at more than 23 MPH in a game.

He began his college career as a defensive back at Tennessee, then transferred to Louisiana Tech, where he blossomed into a big-play receiver. He transferred again, landing at Pitt, where he averaged 18 yards a catch this season. Means has excellent size and speed at 6-2, 215 pounds. Last offseason, he clocked a 4.36 40 and vertical jumped 39 inches. I expect he’ll back and possibly exceed those numbers in Indy.

The former two-star recruit reminds a lot of scouts of Deebo Samuel because he’s that strong and that good with the ball in his hands. In 2022, he led the country in yards after the catch with 975 and in missed tackles forced with 40. The 5-11, 220-pounder hit 23 MPH on the GPS and clocked a 4.43 40 with a 4.08 shuttle time.

Hart has great size for a corner at 6-2 1/2, 204 pounds but also exceptional measurables. Last offseason, he broad jumped 11-2, vertical jumped 38 inches and hit 23.01 MPH on the GPS.

The Beavers might’ve had the fastest wideout tandem in college football last year with Gould and Silas Bolden. Neither is particularly big but both can flat-out fly. Bolden is still in college, but Gould (44 catches for 711 yards and two TDs) is in the draft, and he was one of our scout’s picks to win “fastest man in Indy” this year. He flashed that explosiveness in the Shrine Bowl on an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown. The 5-8, 165-pound Gould, an All-American return man in 2022, was a high school sprint champ who might run in the 4.2s.

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Oregon State wide receiver Anthony Gould could be one of the fastest prospects in Indy. (Troy Wayrynen / USA Today)

He wasn’t as productive as Alabama products Will Anderson Jr. or Dallas Turner, but Braswell probably will test better. At Alabama, Braswell vertical jumped 38 1/2 inches and hit almost 22 MPH on the GPS while weighing 256 pounds. He’s also extremely strong.

A bright spot for the Gators in a dismal 2023, the Arizona State transfer had almost 1,000 yards receiving to go with 66 catches and two rushing TDs on three carries, averaging 21 yards per rush. Not bad. The 6-1, 193-pounder was one of the fastest Gators, and I hear he’s been testing very well in training. Don’t be shocked if he cracks 4.4 in the 40 and tops 40 inches in the vertical jump.

The Ohio State transfer made a big impact at Notre Dame in 2023, producing a team-best 10.5 TFLs to go with five sacks. The 6-4 1/2, 260-pounder broad jumped 10-5 last offseason and vertical jumped 35 inches. He also hit 20.4 MPH on the GPS. He should be one of the most impressive D-linemen in Indy.

Last year, the Red Raiders produced long D-lineman Tyree Wilson (6-6, 271 pounds with 35 5/8-inch arms), who went No. 7 overall to the Raiders. Cole is even bigger and longer with an 87-inch wingspan. He wasn’t as much of a problem for offenses as Wilson, but he’s an intriguing prospect. His max speed at Texas Tech was 20.3 MPH, which was an area he really improved upon after transferring from Louisiana-Monroe.

A wiry 6-foot corner, Johnson is the second-fastest Senior Bowler since they started tracking data in Mobile, behind only Tariq Woolen. Earlier this year, Johnson clocked a 22.17 MPH at the Senior Bowl. He’s expected to run very fast in Indy.

A former 400-meter runner and all-conference high jumper in high school, Kneeland is now a coveted 6-3, 270-pound D-lineman with 34-inch arms who in one game last season clocked almost 20 MPH chasing a player down. His stock is rising in this draft process and figures to ascend with his workout in Indy.

An intriguing talent at almost 6-7, 240 pounds, Wilson has 36-inch arms, 10 1/4 inch hands and a standing reach of 8-10. Last offseason, he vertical jumped 35 1/2 inches and broad jumped 10-5. Impressive numbers, especially for guy who is almost tight end size. He’s topped out in games at over 21.2 MPH.

A former two-star prospect, the 6-2, 250-pounder emerged as a star for one of the best Group of 5 programs in the country. The chiseled Solomon has just seven percent body fat. He should test well on the bench press, having maxed at 425 pounds. Expect him to run well as he’s topped out at 21.63 MPH.

The 6-5, 296-pound Hall, who has 34-inch arms, flashed early at the Senior Bowl. He should make some noise in Indy. He bench presses 500 pounds, and he’s hit 19.9 MPH on the GPS.

30. Ryan Flournoy, WR, Southeast Missouri State

He had no Division I offers out of high school and began his career at Division II Central Missouri, where he tore his ACL. At FCS Southeast Missouri State, Flournoy, a 3.9 GPA student, impressed coaches with his work ethic. Last offseason, the 6-2, 205-pounder vertical jumped 41 inches, broad jumped 10-10 1/2 and ran a laser-timed 4.40 in the 40 with a 4.35 hand time. His shuttle time was 4.22 and his L-drill was 6.66; that’s less than a tenth of a second off of Jaxon Smith-Njigba’s 6.57, which was the quickest time of anyone at the 2023 combine. He’s a name to know.

The 6-4, 240-pounder has terrific film and should test very well. Last offseason, he broad jumped 10-2 and vertical jumped 36 inches. I’ve heard that he’s clocked in the 4.4s in the 40 in the past. I’ve heard he might save his workout for his pro day, but whenever he goes, expect his athleticism to back up the film of a natural playmaker who was a dominant weapon for the Dawgs.

Few players look more impressive live. He had a strong year at Texas after transferring from Georgia, catching 55 passes for 845 yards and 11 TDs. His potential is tantalizing  At 6-4, 200 pounds, he can really roll, and I expect him to light it up in Indy. To have that kind of frame, he may crack 4.4 in the 40 and jump around 40 inches in the vertical and be in the 11-foot range in the broad jump.

The son of the greatest receiver ever, Jerry Rice, Brenden had a strong 2023 season. Rice is very strong at 6-3, 215 pounds and has done 17 reps of 225. He’s also hit 23 MPH on the GPS and had an impressive 1.43 10-yard split. Last offseason, Rice vertical jumped 38 inches.

The Tigers have cranked out a bunch of excellent D-linemen in recent years, and the 6-2, 302-pounder is an an underrated talent. Davis is a powerhouse on the field and in the weight room, having done 30 reps of 225. Davis also moves well for his size. He was timed last offseason at 4.95 in the 40.

As a sophomore in high school in California, Worthy clocked a 10.55 100 meters. He’s still very wiry at about 6-1, 175, but he’s gotten quite a bit stronger, and I’ve heard good buzz about his training sessions over the past two months. Worthy was clocked at 22.7 MPH on a punt return against Iowa State last season, faster than any FBS player had been timed in 2023. Can he run in the 4.2s in Indy?

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How fast will Longhorns receiver Xavier Worthy be at the combine? (Scott Sewell / USA Today)

At around 5-10, 180, Griffin will be one of the smallest guys in Indy, but he might just be the fastest. A few NFL scouts told me last week that Griffin, MSU’s leader in catches (50), receiving yards (658), and receiving TDs (4), was one of their picks to be among the top three fastest players, and is capable of running the 40 in the 4.2s.

37. Sione Vaki, safety-RB, Utah

The 6-0, 207-pound sophomore probably could’ve used another year of seasoning, but he definitely made a big impact for the Utes. Vaki had 51 tackles with 8.5 TFLs and also ran for 317 yards to go with 11 catches for 203 yards with five touchdowns, sparking Utah offense when it really needed it. He’s incredibly explosive and twitchy. He made the Freaks List last summer after bench pressing 400 pounds, vertical jumping 39 inches and broad jumping 10-5 1/2.

The Western Michigan transfer turned out to be an ideal fit for the Seminoles’ stout defense. The 6-3 1/2, 295-pound Fiske is relentless and has a great burst. He notched nine TFLs and six sacks. Scouts told me this month they expect him to be one of the most impressive D-linemen working out.

An intriguing talent with excellent size at 6-3, 227, Legette clocked one of the fastest bursts of any college player in 2023 when he hit 22.3 MPH on a 76-yard touchdown against Mississippi State.

The 6-5, 240-pound Floridian had an up-and-down college career. He finished on a high note at Tennessee, throwing 30 TDs and five INTs in his last two seasons with the Vols. While there are some questions about his consistency and accuracy, there is no doubt about his arm strength. At the combine, Milton will have plenty of chances to air it out and make jaws hit the floor. Launching a ball 90 yards might not be out of the question.

(Top photo: Matthew O’Haren, Joseph Maiorana and Jerome Miron / USA Today)





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