All eyes were on the 2020 NFL Combine last week as the top college football players from across the nation descended on Indianapolis for measurements, interviews, medical re-checks, and athletic testing. While we won’t be privy to the majority of the information gained from interviews and medical testing, we did get a chance to see how some of the top prospects performed on the field.
I covered a lot of the players I believed the Falcons would have on their radar in my Combine Prospect Previews, but here are 10 players that impressed in a big way with their performance in Indianapolis.
RB Darrynton Evans, Appalachian State
Appalachian State’s Darrynton Evans was a popular sleeper for many coming into the Combine due to the athleticism he showed on tape and his impressive production (255 carries, 1480 yards, 5.8 YPC, 18 TD, 21 receptions, 198 yards, 9.4 YPR, 5 TD). Evans needed a big Combine performance to stand out in a loaded RB class, as his draft stock had been hovering in the mid-to-late Day 3 range. He did just that by running a blistering 4.41 40-yard yard dash—second among RBs and in the 90th percentile for the position. Evans also posted a 125” broad jump (89th %) and a 37” vertical jump (81st %), showcasing his explosiveness.
His impressive testing has almost certainly vaulted him into early-Day 3 consideration. If the Falcons are looking to inject some athleticism into the RB corps, Evans could be a strong choice.
RB Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
Coming into the Combine, a lot of analysts expected Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor to be fast—particularly for a 226 pound RB. But I doubt many expected Taylor to be 4.39 fast, which is downright incredible for a player of his size. Taylor’s 40 is in the 93rd percentile for RBs, and he paired it with impressive vertical (36”, 73rd %) and broad (123”, 83rd %) jumps. Taylor is currently competing for the top spot in the draft class with guys like D’Andre Swift and J.K. Dobbins, but it’s clear that Taylor is the most impressive athlete of the bunch. The Falcons may be in play for one of the top RBs, if rumors about Freeman’s departure are true. It’ll be interesting to see if they prioritize the size and athleticism of Taylor over the skillsets of Swift and Dobbins.
TE Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri
With the majority of the TE class falling short of athletic expectations at the Combine, Missouri’s Albert Okwuegbunam stood out in a big way with his blazing-fast 4.49 40-yard dash—which is in the 97th percentile for TEs. He didn’t do any other testing, but he measured in with great size (6’5, 258) and arm length (85th %). Okwuegbunam is a bit of a polarizing prospect due to his lack of high-end production and injury history. He tested out as a far faster player than I saw on tape, but here’s how I described his skillset in my TE prospect preview:
Okwuegbunam’s best traits are his soft hands and ability to win with his physicality in contested situations. Athletically, I’m not sure he’s any better than average, and despite his size he’s been lackluster as a blocker. The Combine will go a long way in determining his final stock, as a strong showing could convince a team to take a chance on developing him early on Day 3. As it stands now, I’d be most comfortable adding Okwuegbunam late as a long-term TE2 candidate who can be developed into a better blocker and red zone specialist.
WR Chase Claypool, Notre Dame
I’ve been a fan of Chase Claypool for a while now as a late-Day 3 prospect who could come in and immediately add size and red zone capability to the Falcons offense. On tape, he was a smooth player—particularly for his size—but I didn’t see anything like the incredible athletic ability he showed at the Combine. Claypool weighed in bigger (6’4, 238) than expected, and blew the doors off the athletic testing with a 4.42 40-yard dash, a 40.5” vertical, and a 126” broad jump. I mean, just look at this spider graph:
Claypool tested out as a borderline elite athlete at 98th percentile weight and 90th percentile height. That is incredible, and will almost certainly vault Claypool into Day 2 consideration. He may have lifted himself out of range of the Falcons, but Claypool remains an excellent target to bolster the WR corps.
WR Denzel Mims, Baylor
One of the fastest risers of the 2020 NFL Draft class, Baylor’s Denzel Mims turned a dominant Senior Bowl performance into real late-Day 2 hype. He’s now followed up his play on the field with elite athletic testing at the Combine, which could lift his stock even higher. Mims showed up with great size (6’3, 207) and tremendous arm length (33 7/8, 93rd %). He then paired those measurables with a 4.38 40-yard dash (90th %), a 6.66 3-cone (90th %), and excellent vertical (38.5”, 84th %) and broad (131”, 94th %) jumps. The Falcons certainly have a need for a big-bodied WR to complement Ridley and Julio, and Mims could fit the bill early on Day 2. The only question is whether or not Atlanta’s other needs outweigh WR.
LB Willie Gay Jr., Mississippi State
An under-the-radar LB prospect who played in just five games in 2019 due to academic suspension, Mississippi State’s Willie Gay Jr. certainly made a name for himself with an elite Combine performance. Gay showed up with solid size (6’1, 243) and paired it with an incredible 4.46 40-yard dash (97th percentile). He also showcased his explosiveness with a 39.5” vertical jump (93rd %) and a 136” broad jump (99th %). Gay didn’t have much production during his final season and questions about his suspension will certainly hurt his stock, but he fits the athletic profile that Dan Quinn loves in his LBs. On Day 3, the Falcons might be willing to take a chance on him.
LB Davion Taylor, Colorado
Colorado’s Davion Taylor has a truly unique story, and it’s been hard not to root for him throughout the draft process. Taylor spent time in JUCO before transferring to Colorado, where he’s had two productive years as a LB. He’s certainly on the small side for the position at 6’0, 228, but the Combine showed off his strong athletic gifts: a 4.49 40-yard dash (95th %), 127” broad jump (94th %), and a 6.96 3-cone (72nd %). Taylor is incredibly raw due to his lack of experience, but he’s got excellent physicality and has a tremendous attitude for the game. He’d be a developmental project for the Falcons on Day 3, but I think he checks all the boxes that Quinn requires from his LBs.
EDGE Jabari Zuniga, Florida
Jabari Zuniga was a player who just missed the cut on my EDGE prospect preview, but he’s got plenty of fans in the draft community. Above all, Zuniga’s play strength, bull rush ability, and run defense stand out. But after very inconsistent production as a pass rusher and an injury-shortened 2019 season (high ankle sprain), Zuniga had been pushed down into Day 3 territory for many analysts. A strong Combine performance may have returned him to Day 2 relevance, however. Zuniga posted the 2nd-fastest 40-yard dash time among defensive linemen at 4.64 (93rd %) and paired it with impressive broad (127”, 97th %) and vertical (33”, 68th %) jumps. He needs a lot of development as a pass rusher before he can be relied upon on third downs, but Zuniga has the athletic profile and strength to be a worthy late-Day 2/early-Day 3 EDGE selection.
CB Javelin Guidry, Utah
The second-fastest player in the 2020 draft class, Utah’s Javelin Guidry turned heads with an incredible 4.29 40-yard dash time. At 5’9, 191, Guidry is too small to survive on the outside in the NFL, but has the potential to be a lightning-quick slot corner. He’s known for his strength (his 21 bench reps are in the 93rd percentile for CBs) and his work ethic, but he’s very underdeveloped in coverage at this point in his career. His speed will get him looks on Day 3 as a developmental CB prospect and special teams weapon, and we know the Falcons aren’t afraid of taking shots on athletes.
S Jeremy Chinn, Southern Illinois & S Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne
I covered both of these players in my safety prospect preview, where you can read a little bit more about each of their skillsets. Most expected them to test well, but man, both of these guys absolutely blew the doors off the Combine. At 6’3, 221, Chinn ran a 4.45 40-yard dash, put up 20 reps on the bench, and jumped an incredible 41” vertical and 138” broad jump. Dugger was right there with him, measuring at 6’1, 217 and posting a 4.49 40-yard dash, 17 reps on the bench, a 42” vertical and a 134” broad jump. Both of these guys are incredible athletes with a lot of versatility, and both almost certainly moved themselves into Day 2 consideration. I guarantee that the Falcons have these guys on their radar.
What are your thoughts on these standout players from the 2020 NFL Combine? Who were some of the players that impressed or disappointed you the most over the past week?