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Biggest winners on defense from the 2023 NFL Combine

With the 2023 NFL Combine in the books, here are our biggest winners on the defensive side of the ball including: DL Adetomiwa Adebawore, LB Jack Campbell, CBs Deonte Banks and Christian Gonzalez, and many more.

NFL: Combine Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The 2023 NFL Combine has come and gone, and with it we’ve received valuable information on some of the top prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft. Every year there are players who surprise with incredible testing, and others who come in below expectations. It’s a good opportunity for scouts to return to the tape to evaluate discrepancies in how players looked on film versus on the track in Indianapolis.

With all the testing posted and the final numbers in, it’s time to take a closer look at the prospects who helped themselves the most with their performance at the Combine. We’ll kick things off with a look at the defensive standouts, then move to the offensive side on Wednesday.

I’ll be tracking the testing and putting the numbers into context using RAS: Relative Athletic Score. It’s a system invented by Kent Le Platte that takes the measurements of a player, combines them with the testing numbers, and spits out an easy-to-understand final RAS score between 0.00 and 10.0. That number is essentially the percentile of the athlete. A 10.0 would be the best ever at the position (100th percentile). A 7.50 would be a very good (75th percentile) athlete. 5.00 (50th percentile) would be an average athlete, and so on.

Here are the biggest winners from the Combine on the defensive side of the ball.

Edge rushers

  • Adetomiwa Adebawore, Northwestern (9.85u RAS): Perhaps the most impressive defensive line tester overall, Adebawore put up an absurd 4.49s 40, 37.5” vertical, and 10’5” broad jump at 282 pounds. For reference, those numbers are better than 2022 1st overall pick Travon Walker’s numbers, and he was 10 pounds lighter. Adebawore may have forced himself into the early-Day 2 or even late-first conversation.
  • Nolan Smith, Georgia (9.21u): Smith put on a clinic at the Combine with an absurd 4.39s 40, 1.52s 10-yard split, 41.5” vert, and 10’8” broad jump. Every single one of those marks is in the 98th percentile or better for edge rushers. He’s obviously a smaller prospect at just over 6’2, 238, but this was very impressive.
  • Isaiah Foskey, Notre Dame (9.32u): Foskey followed up his impressive Senior Bowl with a great workout at the Combine. His RAS was fourth-best among all edge rushers and included a terrific 4.58s 40 and 10’5” broad jump. Coming in at over 6’5, 264 and with 34” arms also helps him appeal to both 3-4 and 4-3 defenses.
  • Derick Hall, Auburn (9.23): Hall’s smaller stature (6’3, 254) didn’t hold him back from an elite RAS thanks to an outstanding 4.57s 40, 1.58s 10-yard split, and 10’7” broad jump. He also came in with some of the longest arms at the Combine at 34.5”.
  • Lukas Van Ness, Iowa (9.22u): Van Ness came into the Combine with significant hype, and he definitely lived up to it. At 6’5, 272, Van Ness put up at 4.58s 40 and 1.64s 10-yard spit along with some really impressive agility numbers. He also checked the length box with 34” arms.
  • YaYa Diaby, Louisville (9.84u): I must confess that I haven’t watched much of YaYa Diaby, but his testing demands a look. At over 6’3, 263, Diaby put up an awesome 4.51s 40, 1.56s 10-yard split, and some terrific jumps. A likely Day 3 pick, Diaby may have just separated himself from the pack.

Interior defensive linemen

  • Jalen Redmond, Oklahoma (9.63u RAS): I knew Redmond would impress with his testing, but I didn’t expect it to be this good. While he’s on the small side at 6’2, 291, his 4.81s 40, 34.5” vert, and 9’8” broad jump were all above the 97th percentile. He also turned in an absurd 7.3s 3-cone. Redmond definitely earned himself some money.
  • Gervon Dexter, Florida (9.21u): I was honestly surprised by how well Gervon Dexter tested. He measured in at an imposing 6’6, 310 and paired that with a 4.88s 40 and some excellent jumps. His 7.5s 3-cone was also impressive. Dexter didn’t live up to the hype on tape, but clearly has the ceiling of a Day 2 pick.
  • Bryan Bresee, Clemson (9.07u): Bresee has tumbled down draft boards thanks to a lackluster season, but his athleticism was never in doubt. At over 6’5, 298, Bresee posted an absurd 4.86s 40 and 1.71s 10-yard split. He’s a special mover on the interior and will likely get drafted highly as a result.
  • Keeanu Benton, Wisconsin (8.65u): Benton continued his strong pre-draft process with an excellent Combine workout. At 6’4, 309 and nearly 34” arms, Benton posted above-average speed times along with an 9’3” broad (85th percentile) and elite 7.34s 3-cone (91st percentile). He’s firmly entrenched himself on Day 2.
  • Zacch Pickens, South Carolina (8.97u): The former five-star showed off his athleticism and size in Indianapolis. At 6’4, 291 and with over 34” arms, Pickens hit 9’8” on the broad, 7.45s in the 3-cone, and 4.89s (!) in the forty. He’s clearly an elite athlete and will move up draft boards.


  • Jack Campbell, Iowa (9.98u RAS): The only question I had about Campbell was his overall athleticism, and he answered that question in the most emphatic way possible. Campbell turned in one of the best overall workouts at the Combine at over 6’4, 249. He was no worse than 78th percentile in any metric, but his 6.74s 3-cone (98th percentile) was particularly noteworthy. Campbell could easily be the first linebacker taken, potentially even in the late 1st.
  • Trenton Simpson, Clemson (9.86u): Unlike Campbell, Simpson was expected to blow up the Combine with his testing—and he absolutely delivered. At over 6’2, 235, Simpson blazed a 4.43s 40 (99.5th percentile) and 1.57s 10-yard split (93rd percentile). While Campbell’s Combine makes it a little tougher to predict who will get drafted first, neither should last past the middle of the second round.
  • Owen Pappoe, Auburn (9.24u): It was rumored that Pappoe would run the fastest 40 of any linebacker, and he delivered with an awesome 4.39s 40 (99.9th percentile) and 1.56s 10-yard split. His 10’6” broad jump was also pretty darn impressive. At just over 6’0, 225, Pappoe is undoubtedly a smaller LB, but the athleticism is undeniable.
  • Yasir Abdullah, Louisville (9.47u): Another prospect who I haven’t seen much of (who is also coincidentally from Louisville), Yasir Abdullah had some really impressive testing at over 6’0, 237. With an elite 4.47s 40 and 10’9” broad jump, this is clearly a high-end athlete. Abdullah was projected as a late-Day 3 or priority free agent before the Combine, and this will certainly help him stand out.
  • Daiyan Henley, Washington State (8.89u): Have to shout out my guy Daiyan Henley, who was one of my favorite linebackers at the Senior Bowl. Despite measuring in on the very small end at 6’1, 225, Henley ended up with an elite RAS thanks to an excellent 4.54s 40, 1.56s 10-yard split, and 10’5” broad jump.


  • Deonte Banks, Maryland (9.99u RAS): In one of the most athletic CB classes in recent memory, Deonte Banks still managed to stand out. Banks measured in with good size at just over 6’0, 197, but blew the doors off every other metric. 4.35s 40, 1.49s 10-yard split, 42” (!) vert, and a 11’4” (!!) broad jump. Simply incredible, generational-level athleticism.
  • Christian Gonzalez, Oregon (9.96u): The expected top tester at CB, Christian Gonzalez also turned in a special day at the Combine. At over 6’1, 197 and with 32” arms, Gonzalez absolutely checks the size box. Then he backed it up with an elite 4.38s 40, 41.5” vert, and 11’1” broad jump. If he’s still on the board at 8, I think Gonzalez will be a Falcon.
  • DJ Turner II, Michigan (9.56u): I knew DJ Turner was athletic, but I was not expecting 4.26s 40 athletic. Turner also posted a blazing 1.47s 10-yard split and a 10’11” broad jump. He did measure in a bit smaller than expected at just over 5’11, 178, but Turner should still be a fringe first-round pick.
  • Riley Moss, Iowa (9.89u): Riley Moss was also rumored to be a very good athlete, and finished with third-best RAS score of any CB. Pretty impressive. At nearly 6’1, 193, Moss ran a good 4.45s 40, elite 1.48s 10-yard split, and jumped 39” in the vert.
  • Julius Brents, Kansas State (9.82u): One of the winners from the Senior Bowl will also be getting a big boost from his Combine testing. Brents is one of the longest CBs in the class at nearly 6’3, 198 and with 34” (!!) arms. On top of that, he ran an solid 4.53s 40, 1.57s 10-yard split, and posted an elite 6.63s 3-cone. Oh, and he jumped 41.5” in the vert and 11’06” (!!) in the broad. Brents could start getting late-first buzz.
  • Darius Rush, South Carolina (9.73u): A player I hadn’t watched at all prior to the Senior Bowl, Darius Rush turned heads with his play in Mobile and his timed speed. That translated to a terrific day at the Combine, which included a 4.36s 40 and 1.51s 10-yard split at 6’2, 198. Oh, and Rush has over 33” arms. Rush has had one of the best pre-draft processes of any CB and could wind up in the Day 2 range.
  • Jakorian Bennett, Maryland (9.58u): I wasn’t overly impressed with Jakorian Bennett’s play in Mobile, but he absolutely put on a show at the Combine. Bennett blazed a 4.3s 40 and 1.48s 10-yard split, then turned around and jumped 40.5” in the vert and 11’1” in the broad. At 5’11, 188, he’s on the smaller side, but this testing will help him stand out on Day 3.
  • Joey Porter Jr. (9.63u), Kelee Ringo (9.61u), Cam Smith (9.57u): All three of these projected first-round corners had terrific days at the Combine. Porter Jr. finished 7th in RAS, Ringo was 9th, and Cam Smith was 11th. All three checked the necessary boxes to go early in the draft. It’s a testament to the depth and talent of this class that these guys are so far down the list.


  • Daniel Scott, Cal (9.87u RAS): One of my biggest winners from the Senior Bowl, Daniel Scott has also emerged as the most athletic safety in the class. With good size at 6’1, 208, Scott posted a 4.45s 40, 1.55s 10-yard split, and incredible 6.75s 3-cone. He then backed it up with a 39.5” vert and 10’8” broad jump. Oh, and 22 reps on the bench (95th percentile). Scott should shoot up draft boards to the early-Day 3 range after this performance.
  • Sydney Brown, Illinois (9.63u): My other big winner from the Senior Bowl at safety, Sydney Brown also showed off his athleticism in Indianapolis. Despite measuring in at just 5’10, 211, Brown finished with an incredible 9.63u RAS thanks to elite testing across the board. A 4.47s 40 and 1.51s 10-yard split coupled with a 40.5” vert and 10’10” broad jump led to him finishing second in overall safety RAS. I feel pretty confident he’ll be a Day 2 pick at this point.
  • Chamarri Conner, Virginia Tech (9.44u): I must admit that I haven’t seen much of Chamarri Conner, but his Combine performance has certainly piqued my interest. At 6’0, 202, Conner ran a very good 4.51s 40 and 1.56s 10-yard split. He also jumped 40.5” in the vert and 10’5” in the broad.
  • Jordan Battle, Alabama (8.99u): The most impressive athlete of the Alabama safeties was clearly Jordan Battle, who measured in with a good frame at 6’1, 209 and posted a strong 4.55s 40 and 1.56s 10-yard split. With the other top safeties posting relatively lackluster numbers, Battle could see his name called earlier than expected.
  • Jason Taylor II, Oklahoma State (9.05u): Another safety prospect I haven’t yet watched, Jason Taylor II turned heads with his almost record-setting 43” vert. He also ran a very impressive 4.5s 40 and 1.52s 10-yard split at over 5’11, 204.