The NFL’s Scouting Combine began on Feb. 27 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, with the first day of on-field drills beginning on March 2 and running through March 6. This is the final installment in a four-part series of predictions from The 33rd Team's Scouting Department leading into the event.
The previous three installments:
The NFL Scouting Combine gives relatively unknown players a fantastic opportunity to raise their profiles. But what about those who already have a high profile and its accompanying expectations? We asked three of our former NFL general managers and four members of our scouting team which player has the most at stake in this year's combine.
The 33rd Team Scouts
- Jeff Diamond: Former GM of the Minnesota Vikings and team president of the Tennessee Titans
- Rick Spielman: Former GM of the Dolphins and Vikings
- Mike Tannebaum: Former GM of the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins
- T.J. McCreight: Former player personnel executive for the Philadelphia Eagles and former director of college scouting for the Indianapolis Colts
- Justin Casey: Worked for the Arizona Cardinals in football administration and then as the senior player personnel executive for the Montreal Alouettes
- Kevin Cohn: Former scouting assistant for the Jacksonville Jaguars and assistant director of player personnel for the University of Connecticut
- Evan Pritt: Former Eagles scouting assistant and player personnel assistant for the University of Maryland
Players with Most to Gain, Lose
Diamond: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
"The big question on Alabama QB Bryce Young (scouting report) is his lack of size. He’s listed at 6-foot, 194 pounds, but it’s speculated he might be closer to 5-10, which teams will find out for certain at the combine. That’s Kyler Murray’s height, but Murray is heavier at 207 pounds and built sturdier, as is Russell Wilson at 5-11, 215 pounds, among current smaller NFL quarterbacks. Young was durable in college and reportedly has been trying to bulk up in his pre-combine/pro day training. His height and weight will be closely monitored by teams at the combine. Young reportedly won't throw in Indy, instead waiting until his pro day. There’s a lot at stake for Young, who wants to separate himself from the other top QBs in the draft, and possibly gain the coveted and lucrative position of No. 1 overall pick. The Bears are considering trading down, or less likely, could pick Young and trade Justin Fields."
Spielman: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
"Kentucky quarterback Will Levis (scouting report) did not play as well in 2022 as he did in 2021. There are a lot of questions that he will have to answer during the interview process. Will he take the blame or will he blame others? I don’t know if he was injured or not, but he opted out of Kentucky’s bowl game, and he did not show up at the Senior Bowl. Will he work out or throw at the combine? There are a lot of questions to be answered, and a lot at stake for Levis."
Tannenbaum: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
"There are disparate opinions about Anthony Richardson (scouting report) around the league. He hasn’t ever thrown for 250 yards in a game, but he has tremendous physical tools. Everything about this week is important for him — the interviews, the workouts. He has a chance to help himself tremendously with a good week."
"Richardson is about to embark on the most important week of his life. Everyone in the league recognizes his talent and ability, but there are a lot of questions that need to be answered on and off the field. He is from Gainesville, Fla., and has lived there all of his life. Teams have to figure out how he will handle leaving home for the first test players go away to college and have experienced a new city, a new state, etc. Most players have experienced being away from home and the homesick feeling when they were freshmen, but Richardson never had to deal with that. Teams also will want to get him on the whiteboard and find out his level of football acumen — he really has only played one year in college and does not have a lot of experience. When you are about to make a quarterback the face of your franchise, you need to be certain that he can handle the pressure that comes with that position. How will he compare to the other passers on the field at Indy? How will the ball jump out of his hand? How accurate is he? Is he a guy coaches will want to spend hours with day after day after day? Because he has so little experience, he is a bit of an unknown, and teams will try to find out as much as they can about him. Ace the test, and the sky's the limit for Richardson."
Casey: Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU
"LSU wide receiver Kayshon Boutte (scouting report) has a lot of boxes to check at Indy. He has carried first-round expectations since he set the SEC record for receiving yards in a game (308) as a freshman in 2020. His 2021 season ended in October due to an ankle injury that resulted in offseason surgery. He was less than stellar upon his return under new coach Brian Kelly in 2022, posting just 48 catches for 538 yards with two touchdowns and seven drops. He announced his return for the 2023 season, then he made a sudden change and opted out of the Tigers’ bowl game. He will have to answer some questions about that decision. Clean medical exams, solid testing, a smooth on-field workout, and forthright interviews could clear things up for him on lots of draft boards."
"Richardson is a true high-risk, high-reward talent. There is no denying his arm strength and the 'wow' factor when the ball comes out of his hand, but he had a very inconsistent season in 2022. He is very raw in terms of accuracy and anticipation. This week will be a great opportunity for him to not only show off his impressive athletic ability but to interview with teams and convince them he is more than just a talented thrower. If Richardson can do that, he has a chance to be one of the first quarterbacks off the board."
Pritt: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
"Ohio State receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (scouting report) has a lot on the line at the combine. The first hurdle will be how his medical exams check out. He missed most of the 2022 season because of a hamstring injury, and soft-tissue injuries can be a red flag until teams get more clarity. The second hurdle will be whether or not he runs the 40. When watching his film, speed is one of his biggest question marks, and a poor showing could hamper his draft stock. It will be interesting if he opts to run at his pro day instead. That would give him more time to heal if his hamstring is still bothering him and provide more time to prepare for the 40."