The underwear olympics is a term you may have heard in reference to the annual event which takes place in Indianapolis known as the NFL combine. The name is usually meant as a disparaging one meant to shoot down the importance of the showcase.
While combine performances don’t always translate to actual NFL success, there is a recent precedent of workout warriors being drafted higher than initially expected due to big time showings in Indy. Players like Byron Jones, Carson Wentz, John Ross and many more all saw moved up draft boards after the combine with varying degrees of actual NFL success. Wentz’s stock improved with impressive measurements and meetings, while Jones and Ross received attention for their athleticism.
So how did the combine impact this year’s draft order?
1. Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
Murray was the talk of the town in Indy, though not all of the rumblings were rave reviews. Regardless, the consensus at this point is that the Cardinals love him. Arizona offloads Josh Rosen (this time in a first round pick deal with the New England Patriots) and selects Kliff Kingsbury’s guy first overall.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State
If Rosen is traded over the next few weeks, the suspense at the top of the draft will pretty much end there. Murray would be a lock at one, and the same would be true with Bosa. San Francisco needs pass rush, and don’t necessarily need the draft capital they would get from trading back. As a result, the second pick is pretty predictable as well (but nothing less of a home run).
3. TRADE - Washington Redskins: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
The Redskins (similar to the Jets in 2018) are in a pretty hopeless scenario. They have very few options at quarterback and don’t have prime draft picks. Looking to make a splash, Washington jumps up to the Jets pick (who do need the capital after trading up to grab Sam Darnold last season) and selects Haskins, arguably the best quarterback in this draft. The cross town and division rivals team up to stick it to the Giants who likely have their sights on the New Jersey native at six.
4. Oakland Raiders: Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky
There’s a lot of buzz around Jon Gruden being high Murray, but if he doesn’t fall, they really need to beef up their outside pass rush (among many other positions). Allen isn’t quite the prospect that Bosa is, and in all likelihood won’t be able to replace Khalil Mack, but is the rock solid pick Oakland needs to begin their big overhaul.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
The Bucs find a perfect replacement for an aging Gerald McCoy and find a Calais Campbell type for new head coach Bruce Arians. Williams was among the several defensive lineman who had a stellar combine, and he seems to be a great character guy.
6. New York Giants: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
I’m absolutely not buying that the Giants are stubborn enough to continue to rely on an aging Eli Manning. I think they’re definitely picking a new QB in the first round, and it wouldn’t shock me if they take Lock in this scenario. It’s rumored that they’d like to follow the Alex Smith-Patrick Mahomes model, so it would actually make a lot of sense considering Lock is a raw prospect. Still, it’s fair to wonder how long Eli would last as a starter with a young, promising, physical specimen sitting behind him.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
Think this is a bit too high of a spot for Metcalf to be picked? You may be right in the long run, but make no mistake about it, Metcalf made himself some serious dough last week in Indy.
We already knew he was an athletic beast, but he blew already high expectations out of the water with a 4.33 40 time and some ridiculous measurements. The Jaguars are the overwhelming favorite to land Nick Foles in free agency, signaling that they want to try capitalize on their talented defense while they still have the chance. If so, they’ll have to surround the quarterback with talent, and in this situation they grab him his Alshon Jeffrey.
8. Detroit Lions: Rashan Gary, EDGE, Michigan
The Lions are once again in no-mans land after some down, injured years from Matthew Stafford. There’s an especially bad taste in their mouth after a tough first year under Matt Patricia, who’s defense would greatly benefit by grabbing Gary from up the road at Ann Arbor at eighth overall.
9. Buffalo Bills: Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
This comes down to the top two guys available in a scenario like this: Taylor and Alabama’s Jonah Williams. It was already thought that Williams may be more of an interior player, which was somewhat reinforced by his combine measurements.
That may end up not being the case, but for now it looks like Taylor came out of the combine as the top guy. He’d slot into a starting spot immediately to protect Josh Allen, which is certainly a top priority.
10. Denver Broncos: Ed Oliver, EDGE, Houston
The Broncos miss out on a top quarterback here, though they’ll still have options to address that position later. In this scenario, John Elway goes BPA.
They won the Super Bowl in 2015 with a ferocious pass rush, and plugging Oliver into a line where he plays next to Von Miller and Bradley Chubb will give them that. Joe Flacco has historically won with great defenses, and they’ll have other opportunities to get him help.
11. Cincinnati Bengals: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
Cincinnati has invested heavily into their O-line, and they do so again by nabbing Williams who has the versatility to play in or outside. If they’re truly still interested in the Andy Dalton resurrection (this time hopefully via Zac Taylor), they’d be smart to continue to beef things up in front of him.
12. Green Bay Packers: Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State
Believe the hype. Sweat was already highly regarded before he jumped out of the gym at the combine, and his monster performance only guaranteed him a better draft spot. This is going to be a rise like Metcalf, and Sweat is the perfect type of athletic pass rusher to slot into Mike Pettine’s defense.
13. Miami Dolphins: Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State
Word has come out that the Dolphins have already thrown in the towel on competing in 2019, and will instead “organically tank” with the hopes of landing a top quarterback in 2020. In the meantime, Brian Flores is going to want to build a culture, likely starting on defense.
Burns is yet another athletic freak to blow things up at the combine, running a 4.53 forty time at nearly 250 pounds. That’s the type of player Flores can use to begin building up front.
14. Atlanta Falcons: Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson
The Falcons appear to be pretty much set on offense, and actually resemble a team that had no business missing the playoffs last season. Unfortunately, they were unable to stay healthy in any way shape or form which now has them picking at 14.
Ferrell is a good consolation prize. He didn’t participate a ton at the combine, which may scare some teams off. With Dan Quinn facing job security questions, he needs to get his defense in order, and Ferrell’s game tape shows he can fill that need.
15. New York Jets (via WAS): Devin White, LB, LSU
The Jets have an absolute alpha dog on their defense in Jamal Adams and would get another from the same school for their front seven in White. Trading back gives them extra capital to pursue many options which allows them to take the best player available here.
16. Carolina Panthers: Cody Ford, OG, Oklahoma
Rumors were at one point percolating that Cam Newton may not even play this season. That’s not what you want to hear from a franchise QB in the middle of his prime, so they’ll need to protect him a hell of a lot better going forward.
Ford played tackle at Oklahoma, but projects better as a guard at the next level. Wherever he plays for the Panthers, he’ll be a welcomed addition as Newton has seen too much of the turf these past few seasons.
17. Cleveland Browns: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
The Browns are beginning what looks to be a run of success, and Williams fits the mold of the kind of player that John Dorsey likes to bring in. Pairing him up with Denzel Ward spells trouble for the rest of the receiver challenged AFC North.
18. Minnesota Vikings: Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
A lot of teams pick for need, especially when in the midst of a disappointing start to a pretty clear championship window. Kirk Cousins is the Vikings quarterback for better or for worse, and he was brought in to bring them a Lombardi trophy. With that said, they need to have more in front of him than they did last season, and Dillard can provide them help in that sense.
19. Tennessee Titans: T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
The Marcus Mariota experience may be reaching a breaking point, though it’s fair to question whether he’s been surrounded by an offense that’s tailored to help him succeed. I personally have my doubts, but giving him a big athletic target like Hockenson (plus whatever else they add in the offseason) will likely provide the true litmus test as to whether he can be a top tier starter in this league.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
In terms of cousin-to-cousin torch passing, the only more high profile situation I can think of than this would be Tony Soprano to Christopher Moltisanti. I’d imagine the Steelers would hope picking AB’s young counterpart would go better than that as they’re now going to have to fill a huge void in the absence of the future Hall of Famer. Marquise isn’t as well rounded as his older cousin, but his explosiveness is legit and will show at his pro-day; don’t be surprised if his hype train begins to depart from there as opposed to the combine due to the injury he suffered.
21. Seattle Seahawks: Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
Great organizations don’t chase mistakes with other missteps, and the Seahawks are among the better franchises in the league. I don’t see them allowing the mistake that was Rashad Penny in round one to preclude them from taking a thumping playmaker like Jacobs, who’s much more Marshawn Lynch than any option they’ve brought in to replace their former bell cow back since his one time retirement.
22. Baltimore Ravens: A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss
Other more conventional prospects will all come into play in a scenario like this, but here’s the rub: the Ravens too often failed to surround Joe Flacco with the appropriate talent to succeed. Unless Eric DeCosta is willing to take some big swings at the receiver position, then history is doomed to repeat itself with Lamar Jackson.
There are more explosive and physically intimidating receivers than Brown in this class, but in terms of skill and polish, he’s up there at the top. He would step into Baltimore’s receiving room as one of the top two options from the start.
23. Houston Texans: Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
Houston has a window to capitalize on Deshaun Watson’s rookie contract, and they still have some work to do. With a lot of the top offensive line options gone, they could do much worse than Fant in the first to give a legit vertical threat for their young QB.
24. Oakland Raiders (via CHI): Taylor Rapp, S, Washington
The Raiders got some juice up front by picking Josh Allen and do the same for the back end of their D with Rapp. He may be the best of the bunch among a pretty good group of safeties, and Oakland could really use some more range in their secondary.
25. Philadelphia Eagles: N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
Carson Wentz is facing a critical juncture of his career. Will he succumb to the pressure and allow Nick Foles’ legacy to cast a shadow over him? Or will he rise to the challenge and become an MVP type player again?
If the Eagles would like for him to do the latter, picking a guy like Harry is a good start. He has size to match up with the other towers they have at receiver and tight end, and concerns about his speed went away when he posted a 4.53.
26. Indianapolis Colts: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
The Colts are focused on building their team the right way, meaning from the outside in. Wilkins would give them a huge presence on their interior, and does things the right way himself, having earned a reputation as a high character guy from his former head coach Dabo Sweeney.
27. Oakland Raiders (via DAL): Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State
The draft wouldn’t be complete without the Raiders jumping on a track star receiver in the first. In all seriousness, Campbell is a more complete player than that and would provide some pedigree to a receiving corp that desperately needs it.
28. Los Angeles Chargers: Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
The Chargers should be in quarterback consideration here with Phillip Rivers on the back nine, but with no great options available they grab an immediate plug and play starter for their front seven.
29. Kansas City Chiefs: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
Lack of defensive depth really killed the Chiefs late in the game against New England. They still need front seven help, but Murphy is a legit outside corner who would immediately step into replace his former fellow Huskie Marcus Peters.
30. Green Bay Packers (via NO): Garrett Bradbury, C, NC State
Aaron Rodgers isn’t getting any younger or healthier. The Packers could use some more depth along the o-line, and Bradbury may be good enough to start for them from day one.
31. Los Angeles Rams: Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware
The Eric Weddle signing is a stop gap, and Adderley’s skills pair up well with John Johnson on the Rams back end. They’ll groom him to become the starter sooner rather than later.
32. Arizona Cardinals (via NE): Erik McCoy, C, Texas A&M
After grabbing Murray at the top of the round, Arizona still needs o-line help for him. They can thank Josh Rosen for this pick and will use it to add an anchor to a line that desperately needs one.