NCAA

2016 NFL Combine Winners And Losers

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The 2016 NFL Scouting Combine has come to a close, which means we can now shift through the data and make concrete judgments on these players. It also means that there isn’t a ton of new information that can be gleaned from these prospects, as pro days are the only events left before the NFL draft.

Some players improved their stock and some players didn’t. Now let’s take a look at which players fell in which category.

Winners

Shaq Lawson, Edge Rusher, Clemson

One of the big winners of the combine was Clemson defensive end, Shaq Lawson. Among a group of edge rushers that failed to impress, Lawson showed that he has the athleticism to be an elite player in the NFL. More than any other position, edge rushers have to be athletic to be extremely productive in the NFL.

Despite measuring in at 6-foot-3 and 269 pounds, Lawson ran 4.7-second 40-yard dash, 4.21-second 20-yard shuttle and 7.21-second three-cone drill along with jumps 10-feet in the broad and 33-inches in the vertical jump.

Before the combine, Lawson was trending at a top-20 pick, after this performance, combine with his stellar tape, Lawson could see himself climb all the way into the top 10.

Josh Doctson, Wide Receiver, TCU

Among a group of wide receivers who underwhelmed, Josh Doctson lit up the combine with his speed, reliable hands and explosive jumping ability. A big question entering the combine was whether Doctson had enough deep speed to be a true downfield threat. Those questions were put to rest when the TCU receiver ran a 4.5-second 40-yard dash, which is more than enough speed to be a consistent deep threat in the NFL.

Furthermore, Doctson posted impressive numbers in the rest of the agility drills. Before the combine, Doctson was in a group of four or five wide receivers vying for the No. 2 receiver spot. Now, Doctson appears to have taken a firm grasp of the No. 2 wide receiver ranking behind Laquon Treadwell.

Doctson could see himself vaulted into a surefire first-round pick after his performance in Indianapolis.

Jack Conklin, Offensive Tackle, Michigan State

Michigan State Jack Conklin has a lot of questions as to whether he could make it on the edge in the NFL. He doesn’t appear to be very athletic on tape and many thought that would limit his ability to play at offensive tackle in the NFL. However, Conklin proved that those concerns were due to a lingering knee issue, which limited his movement ability, and that he does have the ability to prosper on the edge against NFL edge rushers.

Conklin tested above the 54th percentile among NFL players in every drill at the combine. In fact, he tested above the 69th percentile in the three-cone, 20-yard shuttle and 40-yard dash drills. Conklin may have worked his way into the top 15 picks with his performance at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Losers

Darian Thompson, Safety, Boise State

Before the combine, Darian Thompson received a lot of hype as the No. 1 safety in this draft class, depending on if you rank Jalen Ramsey as a safety or cornerback, but he had a terrible day testing on Monday.

Thompson didn’t test above the 36th percentile among NFL players in any drill at the NFL Scouting Combine. He particularly had poor performances in the agility drills. This calls into question as to whether Thompson has the athletic ability to play as a true centerfield safety, which significantly limits his value to NFL teams.

The Boise State safety was receiving a lot of first-round hype prior to the combine, if he doesn’t significantly improve his times at his pro day, he may be lucky to be a third-round pick in the draft.

Alex Collins, Running Back, Arkansas

Maybe the biggest disappointment at the combine was Arkansas running back Alex Collins. He was seen has a quick, agile and explosive running back who is extremely elusive in the open field. You would think that a player like that would test well in Indianapolis.

Nevertheless, Collins tested extremely poorly in front of the scouts and executives at Lucas Oil Stadium. He put up below-average numbers in all the agility drills, which leads some to question whether he can be a bell-cow running back in the NFL.

Collins was thought to be the No. 2 running back by some draft analysts; however, it is hard to believe that he will remain there after his poor showing at the combine.

Noah Spence, Edge Rusher, Eastern Kentucky

One player who was universally thought to have a fantastic combine performance was edge rusher, Noah Spence. He plays like an explosive and bendy pass-rusher who should put up great times and jumps during the drills at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Nonetheless, Spence did the exact opposite. Spence did well in the vertical and broad jumps, but he really failed to live up to his billing in the three-cone, 20-yard shuttle and 40-yard dash. In the NFL, Spence is going to win with his speed and flexibility, but these numbers call into doubt whether he will be able to do that.

In Spence’s defense, he was reported to have tweaked a hamstring prior to the combine, which could be a reason why his numbers failed to impress. If he doesn’t improve his number at his pro day, his hopes of going in the first round will be all but gone.


About John Owning

John Owning

John Owning is a NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has years of experience covering the NFL, NFL draft and NCAA football. John's work has been featured on the Bleacher Report and DraftBreakdown.com