As the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine comes to an end, the 2014 draft class only has their pro day separating them from the draft. But pro days do not have as much information as the combine does, and for many of us the combine yielded some big winners. These guys stepped up and improved their status for the upcoming draft. Now, in the end most NFL teams have their mind made up based on the last few years of college football, but the combine can offer some things as well. Here are three winners from this year’s combine.
Jerick McKinnon, Athlete, Georgia Southern
McKinnon does not have a defined position at the next level, but with his combine performance and athletic ability, someone will find a place for him even if it is just special teams. McKinnon ran a 4.41 40 yard dash, 32 reps of 225 pounds on the bench, a 40.5 inch vertical leap, an 11 foot broad jump, and two great times in the three-cone (6.83 seconds) and the shuttle run (4.12 seconds). In terms of the 40, bench-press, vertical and broad jump he was in the top 10 in every single category. This was one of the best combine performances we have seen from a guy his size, and that will not go unnoticed.
Brandin Cooks, Wide Receiver, Oregon State
Even before the combine, we knew Brandin Cooks was fast. But, what many did not know is how well rounded of an athlete he is. Cooks was a top performer in the 40-yard dash, and all the agility drills. He posted a 3.81 20-yard shuffle, which was best at the combine by far. Most naysayers will say Cooks is just a straight-line runner with his electric 4.3 40-yard dash, but it confirmed his tape at the combine that he is very agile as well. His 16 reps on the bench surprised a lot of people. By no means is that a spectacular number, but at 189 pounds that is a great number. Keep an eye out for Cooks to be taken in the top 40 in May.
Ryan Shazier, Linebacker, Ohio State
Shazier’s biggest knock has been his size for an NFL linebacker. But, he is not as undersized as you think. Shazier measured in at 6’1 and 237 pounds. That is not the prototype for size, but when you are as athletic as Shazier, it does not make a difference. The former Buckeye was always looked at as a top 75 pick, but the show of his athleticism may force some teams to go back and re-evaluate if they graded him low. Shazier put up 25 reps on the bench, a whopping 42-inch vertical, 10 feet 10 inch broad jump, and a solid 6.91 seconds in the three-cone drill. He did not run the 40-yard dash, but trust me on this, he is as fast as an outside linebacker comes.