The NFL Combine is happening this week. For a lot of these players, this week will be the first time that NFL teams are speaking with them as the evaluations truly begin. Prospects will be in interviews, psychiatrical evaluations, medical evaluations and more before taking the field beginning on Thursday evening and showing the NFL what they can do.
Much can be made of the necessity of such an event. Is it really worth a large part of the evaluation? For each prospect, that question can be answered differently. Some veteran and former players will tell you that it’s an overrated event that cost them their draft position. Others will tell you that it made them into a professional prospect.
Either way, this is truly a rite of passage for NFL prospects. Most everyone else has done it and been through the grind of the event, so now it’s time that the new players looking to make their mark on the NFL ranks.
Here are a few guys that I truly believe can shine in this year’s event.
CB Dane Jackson, Pittsburgh
Dane Jackson is one of the more physical and entertaining cornerbacks to watch coming out of college this season. Jackson has a real chance to stand out at this event, as he has already done so at the Senior Bowl where he performed very well back in January. Jackson plays bigger than he is, and has good athleticism that hasn’t been widely acknowledged yet.
If Jackson performs well in the 40-yard dash and other agility/speed type drills, it will only re-enforce what scouts have seen on tape. What’s been hard to assess is just how athletic and how fast Jackson is. That’s what the drills are for, to attach numbers to the athletic traits. Jackson might just blow scouts out of the water.
WR Devin Duvernay, Texas
Wide receiver Devin Duvernay was often overshadowed by the taller, bigger Collin Johnson while at Texas, but he’s still the physical slot receiver, or a #2 guy, who NFL teams like to have around. When Johnson went down with an injury during the 2019 season, Duvernay became the star receiver and worked effortlessly to provide his offense with a spark. It showed up in the stat sheets because Duvernay was about unstoppable.
His athleticism is off of the charts, and the numbers that he puts up on Thursday night will be the telling sign of that. Duvernay performed well during the Senior Bowl week as well, so after he runs his forty hard dash and displays his explosion in the leaping events, Duvernay has a real chance to take his stock into the second round.
S Jeremy Chinn, Southern Illinois
Jeremy Chinn is one of these smaller school guys who got his chance to play in the Senior Bowl and really put his name on the map within the NFL. He’s a smart kid with passion. I got the chance to speak with him at the Senior Bowl and I came away impressed.
Chinn expects to run his forty very fast, and if he does the NFL will take notice. He’s still working on zone coverage, and because he’s so tall he’s still working on lowering his pad level, but he’s got a lot of upside to be one of the better safety prospects in the league. With his size and speed, he could boost his stock into the second round.
TE Stephen Sullivan, LSU
Being a back-up tight end on a team is difficult, especially when you are bigger and faster than the guy starting in front of you. That’s what Stephen Sullivan did at LSU, sitting behind Thaddeus Moss during a championship run. I got the chance to speak with him in Mobile and I was very impressed with just how passionate he is.
Sullivan is going to test off of the charts. He’s a converted wide receiver, and he has speed, quickness, and he’s insanely good for his size off of the top of his routes. Sullivan didn’t have much tape, so instead, he showed out during Senior Bowl week. I think Sullivan can get himself into second-round consideration.