NFL Analysis


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2024 NFL Combine: 7 Bold Predictions Heading Into This Year's Event

Penn State Edge Rusher Chop Robinson
Oct 14, 2023; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions defensive end Chop Robinson (44) celebrates following a sack on Massachusetts Minutemen quarterback Taisun Phommachanh (3) during the second quarter at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Massachusetts 63-0. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

The eyes of the NFL and its fans will turn to Indianapolis, Indiana, this week for the 2024 NFL Combine. Most of the top draft prospects will participate in athletic testing, positional drills and medical examinations. 

Performances in the 40-yard dash, three-cone drill, jumps and positional workouts draw much of the attention, but the medicals provide vital information for teams. It’s not unusual for prospects to move up or down draft boards due to their combine performances. With that in mind, here are seven bold predictions for the combine.

>> READ MORE: Who Will Run Combine's Fastest 40?

7 Bold Predictions for 2024 NFL Combine

1. Texas iDL Byron Murphy II emerges as top-15 pick

Which interior defensive lineman will be the first one drafted in the 2024 NFL Draft? Texas DL Byron Murphy II could end that debate this week. 

Jer’Zhan Newton is not expected to work out due to offseason surgery to repair a partial Jones fracture, so all eyes will be on Murphy during drills and athletic testing.

There are whispers Murphy expects his 40 time to be in the 4.8-4.9 range at around 305 pounds. While a 40 time for defensive tackles is not of huge concern, Murphy also expects to run his three-cone around 7.2 seconds and put up at least 35 reps on the bench press; Murphy told The Athletic’s Dane Brugler in a recent sit-down.  

Murphy is no stranger to being labeled a freak. He landed on Bruce Feldman’s 2023 college football Freaks List heading into the season.

“The junior, who had 26 tackles and three TFLs last year, has been clocked at 18 MPH on the GPS, had a team-best 455-pound front squat, and power-cleaned 375 pounds. He could’ve gone heavier, but strength coach Torre Becton shut him down. Becton says Murphy could’ve gotten 500 on the front squat and 405 in the power clean.” 

Bruce Feldman, Feldman's Freaks List

That means Murphy is in line for a monster combine to pair with his exceptional tape, all packed into an NFL-ready frame. While the top half of the draft is expected to be offensive-heavy, Murphy could work himself into the discussion for being the first defensive player drafted after blowing up the combine.  

2. Toledo’s Quinyon Mitchell Emerges as CB2

Toledo CB Quinyon Mitchell is one of the biggest “risers” of the offseason. He had a dominant Senior Bowl week earlier this month, relieving concerns about how he’d fare competing against an uptick in competition.

The combine gives Mitchell another opportunity to raise his stock even more. Anyone who has watched Mitchell’s tape at Toledo knows that he is a great athlete, but there are rumors swirling that “great” may not do his upcoming workout justice.

Feldman reported Mitchell bench pressed 225 pounds 21 times, squatted 44, and had a top speed of 23.58 mph on the GPS this summer. He also ran in the 40 in the 4.3s twice for NFL scouts last spring.

Mitchell is in a race to be the second cornerback drafted with Nate Wiggins and Kool-Aid McKinstry. Alabama CB Terrion Arnold seems to be the consensus CB1, but the door is wide open for Mitchell to take control of the second spot.

Listed just under 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds, Mitchell has NFL-ready size and length at a premium position. He is expected to test off the charts in speed, agility and explosive drills.  

3. Washington WR Rome Odunze takes over as WR2

We found out earlier this week that Ohio State WR Marvin Harrison Jr. and LSU WR Malik Nabers won’t participate in workouts. While it made sense for Harrison to not participate due to being the consensus WR1 in this draft class, the Nabers opt-out was a bit interesting.

Neither guy testing this week won’t change my grades. But for scouts and teams, I wonder if Washington WR Rome Odunze could overtake Nabers on a few teams' boards.  

As impressive of an athlete as Nabers is, Odunze will be the top receiver working out in Indianapolis. Odunze is expected to come in around 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds. He should run in the high 4.3’s or low 4.4’s. Along with testing better than expected in the 40-yard dash, Odunze should crush the agility testing and is expected to perform well in explosive testing. 

Most evaluators consider Odunze, a former high school sprinter, a top 10-12 prospect. If he can dominate testing and drills in Indianapolis with Harrison and Nabers absent we could see Odunze work his way into the WR2 conversation.  

4. Georgia TE Brock Bowers runs a sub 4.5 40

One of the more polarizing prospects is Georgia TE Brock Bowers. While most admit he is a top-10 talent in this draft class, his position has many debating about how high he could go in the first round.  

Bowers can silence many of his critics with a dominant performance. Listed at 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds, Bowers is on the smaller side for an NFL tight end, but he is not a typical tight end prospect. Bowers was used in-line, as a Y-TE and as an outside receiver in the Georgia offense.  

At 6-4, 240, Bowers can broad-jump 10-2, and his 36-inch vertical would’ve tied for fourth-best among tight ends at the 2023 combine. His 40 time is somewhere in the 4.5s. Bowers also power-cleaned 355 pounds this offseason to go with a 485-pound squat and a 330-pound bench.” 

Bruce Feldman, Feldman's Freaks List

Bowers is an exceptional athlete and a really good football player. He plays fast on tape, and we will see him post some astonishing numbers in the 40-yard dash on Friday.  

>> READ MORE: Bowers Is Bonafide Top-10 Pick

5. Penn State’s Chop Robinson runs fastest ever EDGE 10-yard split 

One word comes to mind when you turn on the tape of Penn State EDGE Chop Robinson. Explosive.

Robinson is the next in line to get the “freak” label. He comes from a program known for putting freaky athletes in the NFL. Robinson is expected to test well in all drills, but I am interested to see how fast his 10-yard split is. He easily has the class's best first step and one of the best first steps I've seen from a college edge rusher. 

Nolan Smith holds the record for the fastest 10-yard split recorded by an edge rusher at the combine at 1.52 seconds. Based on the explosiveness Robinson put on film, I would not be surprised if he posts a number in the high 1.4s. That would be ridiculous for a 6-foot-3, 250-plus-pound edge rusher. 

Robinson’s high-end athletic traits are no secret as he was No. 9 on Feldman’s freak list heading into the 2023 college season. 

The 6-3, 254-pound junior is a little bigger than Micah Parsons, and almost as fast. He clocked a 4.47 40 this offseason and ran a quicker shuttle, 4.22. He also broad-jumped 10-7 and bench pressed 400 pounds.” 

Bruce Feldman, Feldman's Freaks List

Robinson’s pass-rushing technique is a bit rough, as is how he plays the run. But the athletic traits will give NFL teams plenty to dream about after he blows up the combine on Thursday. 

6. Tennessee RB Jaylen Wright runs fastest 40 on offense

Running backs is one position group the combine could impact the most. There is no consensus RB1, and not many running backs are expected to be drafted in the top 60. This week's athletic testing could separate these backs.

Tennessee RB Jaylen Wright can separate himself with a dominant showing. Wright is a borderline top-five running back but could solidify himself as a top-five back if he blows up the combine. He is a former star high school track and field athlete and is expected to put up elite testing speed and explosiveness numbers. Those traits showed up on tape often at Tennessee. 

Listed at 5-foot-11, 210 pounds, he showcased his long speed and burst throughout his three years, averaging 6.2 yards per carry (7.4 in 2023).

He will likely have some competition in Texas WR Xavier Worthy, Michigan WR Roman Wilson and Louisville RB Isaac Guerendo. Still, Wright should have no issues finishing with one of the fastest 40 times. I like his odds of edging out one of the other offensive players for the top time. 

7. Texas Tech S Tyler Owens Posts fastest 40, highest vertical

Unlike the names listed above, you may not be as familiar with Tyler Owens. Though he is expected to be drafted on Day 3, the Texas Tech defensive back is one of the best overall athletes in the draft.

Owens was a four-star recruit coming out of high school with an accomplished track and field background. He set multiple high school track and field records at Plano East High School, and his high-end athleticism was often on display at Texas Tech. 

Owens is one of the top height, weight, speed players in this class, registering impressive GPS numbers at this year’s Shrine Game. He also was on Feldman’s Freaks List heading into the 2023 season. 

“He had an impressive showing in the TaxAct Texas Bowl, making a career-high six tackles to go along with his first career interception and a key forced fumble. Owens, 6-2, 205 pounds, is an eye-catching talent who vertical jumped over 40 inches this offseason and also was running at more than 23 mph in a game.” 

Bruce Feldman, Feldman's Freaks List

Owens isn't a highly touted prospect like the guys listed above are. However, he will carve out a nice role as a versatile depth defensive back and key special teams player.

My final bold prediction is Owens running the fastest 40-yard dash and having the best vertical jump.