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Which Offensive Players Boosted Their Draft Stock the Most After the Combine?


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With the all-star games and the NFL Combine wrapped up, all eyes turn to the home stretch before the NFL Draft arrives in Detroit April 25-27. While players had various all-star games to choose to participate in, the combine saw 321 prospects invited to Indianapolis for the NFL Combine. As with every year, some players help themselves and improve their draft stock and adversely, some hurt their draft stock. Who helped themselves on the offensive side of the ball and boosted their draft stock the most?


 

Offensive line - The game is so often decided in the trenches. Can the offensive line keep the quarterback protected or can the defensive line get the advantage and beat blockers to disrupt offenses? The offensive line group in this draft is loaded with NFL-ready talent.



Joe Alt - An absolute mountain of a man at 6-foot-9 and 321 pounds. In his film, he uses his length to his advantage against the edge and runs people over moving to the second level. He plays with solid instincts and knows how to use his height advantage to win against defenders. At the combine, he showcased his fluid footwork and quickness. Although a plug-and-play left tackle, he does show the ability to play on the right side. Has a football lineage as his dad was a Pro Bowl tackle in the NFL. He is locked into his position to hear his name called very early in the draft in round 1, possibly as early as fifth overall.


Taliese Fuaga - Highly effective tackle playing at Oregon State, the 6-foot-6 tackle plays with the aggressive demeanor you like to see along the offensive line. Last season he didn't allow a sack in 351 pass block snaps. He also stood out in run blocking. One of the standouts on the offensive line at the Senior Bowl with a great week and had a strong showing at the combine. He showed off his athletic ability in his on-field drills with great footwork and hand usage. He is a people mover and pushes defenders every which way to open running lanes and protect the quarterback. He's done what he needed to do in school as well as the Senior Bowl and Combine and should benefit by hearing his name called in round one of the NFL Draft.



Jordan Morgan - I'll be the first to admit that I wasn't as high on Morgan as others in this draft, however after a solid week at the Senior Bowl and a strong showing at the combine I went back to see what I had missed on the tape. The 6-foot-5 311-pound product from Arizona is a force on the offensive line. He shows good instincts and awareness when engaged in blocks and keeps his balance well to counter athletic rushers. At the combine, he showed fluidity in his movements and the ability to work through initial blocks and move to the second level. He's going to hear his name called, however his efforts have put him into consideration to hear his name called in the later stages of day two of the draft. While he is a three-year starter, he came back from a torn ACL late in 2022 (game 11 of the season) to play and start all games of 2023. He is still growing into the role and should provide the team that selects him a depth piece before developing into a starter.


Graham Barton - While all the buzz is surrounding Jackson Powers-Johnson as the top center of the draft, Barton has been a workhorse, showing the NFL world why he should be high on draft boards. He's a fighter using violent hands to win against defenders and solid body control when engaging and blocking defenders. He moves with ease through his progression and plays through the whistle. He plays with a toughness and has the technique that offensive coordinators across the league look for. While he played tackle during his college career at Duke, his lack of ideal length by NFL standards will move him to guard or center.


 

Tight End - A jack of all trades and in most cases a much-needed security blanket for the quarterback. Often helping block for the running game and helping protect the quarterback. Also being called upon to help as a receiver and a primary target in the red zone.


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Ben Sinnott - The tight end from Kansas State had one of the best answers when asked what he would call for his favorite play, he said "I'm probably call pawer so I can go hit someone." While TE1 for this draft has been Brock Bowers, Sinnott made the most of his opportunities at both the Senior Bowl and the Combine. At the combine, he showed solid speed for a 6-foot-4 250-pound running a 4.68 40-yard dash. He's got the ability to handle blocks at the line as well as in space and the hands and body control to make catches in and out of traffic. At the combine, his agility throughout the drills and his route running were nice to see. He has had a solid draft process between the Senior Bowl and the Combine and improved his stock. While still a bit inconsistent, he should hear his name called on day two of the draft and provide the team with a solid option to help in the passing game as he improves his consistency in pass protection


 

Wide Receiver - One of the deepest groups in this year's NFL Draft, there are all types of skill sets for any offensive need. Speed burners to stretch and take the top off the field, possession receivers who strive at working between the hashes, and technicians who excel at running full route trees.


Rome Odunze - Heading into the Combine, everyone expected Odunze to shine as he is one of the top receivers in the draft. What we didn't anticipate was him wanting to do drills repeatedly to get times that he knew he was capable of. With both Malik Nabers and Marvin Harrison Jr. opting to not participate in drills, it gave Odunze a great opportunity to close the gap between the three. He's got the ball skills to make the contested catches. His route running is precise and he shows excellent body control to put himself between the ball and the defender to make sure he makes the catches. Although he has sub-4.5 speed, he seems to strive as a possession receiver who will gain yards with crisp routes and body control to stay in bounds as well as awareness to know where he is on the field.


Ladd McConkey - Despite an off year on production, due to injuries, he still was vital for Georgia's success and is a crisp route runner who can sell his fakes and gain separation from defensive backs. After a solid week at the Senior Bowl, McConkey followed it up with a strong showing in Indianapolis at the Combine. He ran his 40-yard dash faster than I expected, posting a 4.39 seconds. During his drills, he showcased his athletic ability and technical savvy in his routes which had him high on a lot of draft boards before the season. He showed solid body control to make catches along the sideline and an awareness of where he was on the field and where the sidelines were. At only 6-foot, many are going to try and force him to solely play in the slot, however, he can line up on the boundary as well. Regardless of where he's selected, which should be early in the draft, the team will get a fighter who will play through the whistle on every play.



Brian Thomas Jr. - The LSU wide receiver was another to benefit from Nabers not participating in the drills at the Combine. It provided Thomas with an opportunity to step out from the shadow of his teammate and one of his best friends in Nabers. He is a crisp route runner with elite speed and ran a 4.33 at the combine. Modeling his game after Julio Jones while he was younger and Tee Higgins now, it is clear why route running is so important to his game. At the combine, he showed his ability to track the ball as well as his route-running ability. His combination of size, speed, and length is going to provide a solid value for an NFL team. He still needs to polish his game, but should hear his name on day two of the NFL Draft and provide a team with a weapon on offense.


 

Running Back - Similar to tight ends, running backs are often called on to help in pass protection and as receiving options for the quarterback. Although some want to undervalue the position, those who watch football know the inherent value in the position as well as the player.


Trey Benson - One of the bigger backs in this year's draft at 6-foot and 215 pounds, Benson delivered a blistering time in his 40-yard dash with a 4.39. With his frame, he showed the ability to not only run with power between the tackles but to use his speed to get to the outside for big gains. He is a one-cut downhill runner who shows good instincts to maintain his balance and stay upright through contact. During his media availability at the combine, when asked about his style of play, he said "I just run. Some of my teammates call me Forrest Gump. I just run. I make cuts sometimes. Really just running and not being caught." adding "Most DBs and linebackers underestimate my speed because of my size." His performance in Indianapolis, cemented his spot as one of the top backs in the draft, possibly even the top back.



Tyrone Tracy Jr. - Although still refining his game and growing into the position, with only one season of full-time experience, he's shown the drive to succeed. Converting from receiver to running back while at Purdue, he uses his hands well as a receiver and to assist in blocking. The former Boilermaker made a name for himself at the Combine with some great numbers in the testing. Highlighted by a sub 4.5 40-yard dash (4.48), he almost jumped out of Lucas Oil Stadium with a 40" vertical, which is more impressive when you consider that he measured in at 5-foot-11 and 209 pounds. While he should he followed up a career year with a strong showing at the combine. While his development will probably mean he won't hear his name until the latter part of day two, his ability to create will see him on the field often as he refines his game.


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Jaylen Wright - Similar to Benson, Wright enters the league without the wear and tear that workhorse backs would have. He was part of a three-headed rushing attack while at Tennessee and at 5-foot-10 and 210 pounds, he has a great combination of a compact frame and track star speed, he ran a 4.38 40-yard dash at the Combine. His speed allowed him to regularly beat defenders to the outside for large gains, he had 10+ yards on 25 percent of his carries in 2023. He will rely more on finesse running and is a capable receiver out of the backfield. Coming off a career year where he topped 1,000 yards rushing and his strong performance at the Combine elevated his stock. Wright should hear his name called on day two of the draft and although it could be in the latter stages of the day, he will provide a team with a dynamic option for the offense.


 

Quarterbacks - Another position group where the top names opted not to participate in the on-field portion of the combine. It created an opportunity for the other quarterbacks to shrink the gap between the top guys and possibly overtake them on a lot of team's big boards. The spotlight is the brightest for the quarterbacks and they can make or break efforts to rebuild a team.


Bo Nix - One of the most experienced quarterbacks ever with 61 games played in his college career. Nix offers NFL teams experience at the position. Nix however is still eager to learn. During his availability to the media while in Indianapolis, Nix was asked about his experience. He said, "Learning new things, with five systems in five years is a lot to learn, but it's a lot of fun." Coming off the best season of his career, where he threw for 4500 yards and 45 touchdowns to three interceptions, he was selected to participate in the Senior Bowl. Although most comfortable in the pocket, he has shown the ability to extend and create plays with his feet averaging 5.2 yards per carry in his career. With Williams and Maye choosing to not participate in the on-field portion of the combine, Nix was able to show what he could do and took advantage of the opportunity. While his week at the Senior Bowl was decent, his showing at the combine was stronger and gave a better impression of his ability. Nix should certainly hear his name in the first round of the draft as several teams are in the market for a quality quarterback.


Michael Pennix Jr - Another quarterback who benefitted from others opting out of on-field drills at the combine. When we last saw Pennix in the Championship game he was hurting and struggled to lift his non-throwing arm. Penix's injury history is well documented, however, when arrived in Washington he had his most productive years throwing for 9,000+ yards and 67 touchdowns. His efforts earned him an invite to Mobile for the Senior Bowl and although he had a good week, he left some to be desired after the Senior Bowl. His strong showing at the Combine gave people a better take on his ability as a quarterback for the NFL stage. Although he can extend plays with his feet, he's suited more for pocket passing and shows solid instincts of when to escape the pocket. Despite his injury history, from which he has battled and come back each time, Penix should hear his name called early in the draft. Hearing his name in the first round is likely although he could slip into the second round.



Jordan Travis - The all-time leader in passing for the Seminoles had a season-ending injury in the 12th game of the season for the Seminoles. For the season, he was on pace to have the best season of his career. Although on the smaller side by NFL standards for a quarterback, he's got a solid arm and can make the throws needed as well as extend and create plays with his legs. He shows good instincts in the pocket to move when pressure approaches. He can also adjust his delivery to suit the window he has to throw. As a runner, he can evade defenders and make them miss. What puts him on this list, is that he was without crutches, a cast, or a walking boot for media and evaluators to see his recovery progression. Former teammate Trey Benson said "When I saw it I almost teared up. Seeing him walking is big." His rehab progressing well, Travis stated at the combine, "I should be ready by May." Travis will hear his name on day two (round three), even though his recovery is going well I see parallels to Hendon Hooker. Seeing Travis go to a team that has a starter where he doesn't have to rush his recovery would be a good spot for him to land.






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