NFL Analysis


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2024 NFL Combine: Predicting This Year's Best Performances

Braelon Allen, in white, runs along the sideline while Wisconsin coaches, in black, celebrate
Wisconsin Badgers running back Braelon Allen (0) runs for 50 yards against the Minnesota Golden Gophers during the third quarter at Huntington Bank Stadium. (Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports)

The NFL Combine takes place next week, and all the best athletes will be on the field competing. While many like to downplay the importance of the combine, the truth is: It means more than ever. Athleticism matters in athletics, and with more front offices becoming in tune with analytics, these prospects must post great numbers.

But which players will stand out the most in Indianapolis? Here are six players who should have elite performances on the field next week.

>> READ MORE: Latest 2024 NFL Draft Big Board

6 Potential Elite Combine Performances

Braelon Allen, RB, Wisconsin

There are only three running backs since 1999 to run a sub-4.60-second 40-yard dash at 240 or more pounds: Derrick Henry, Leonard Fournette and AJ Dillon. Of those three running backs, the fastest was Fournette at 4.51 seconds.

Braelon Allen makes this list because he can do something we haven't seen done in over 20 years: run a sub-4.50-second 40-yard dash at 240-plus pounds at the running back position.

Allen is reportedly up to 245 pounds but is still expected to run in the 4.45-4.48-second range. If that happens, it would be one of the most spectacular combine performances by a running back.

There are some reports he could post a 1.49-second 10-yard split, which round rank in the 95th percentile among all running backs since 1999. The last running back over 230 pounds to run a post a sub-1.50-second 10-yard split was Jonathan Stewart (1.46) ahead of the 2008 NFL Draft. Only eight running backs since 1999 have posted a sub-1.50-second 10-yard split.

Allen should also post elite jump scores and arguably the best bench numbers among the running backs. If he can perform as well as expected, Allen could be among the biggest risers at his position this offseason.

There just aren’t a lot of players like him right now in the NFL.

Xavier Worthy, in an all-white uniform, looks to evade an Oklahoma State defender (in black)
Oklahoma State Cowboys cornerback Kale Smith (10) and Texas Longhorns wide receiver Xavier Worthy (1) in action during the game between the Texas Longhorns and the Oklahoma State Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

Xavier Worthy, WR, Texas

This year's wide receiver class is loaded, and it's filled with a bunch of high-end athletes. Marvin Harrison Jr. and Malik Nabers should both post insane workout numbers if they participate in the combine.

But which wide receiver will run the fastest in Indianapolis?

One of the favorites is Xavier Worthy from Texas, who is widely expected to run in the low 4.3 seconds. The only question is if he can reach somewhere in the 4.2-second range. There have only been 11 receivers to run a sub-4.30-second 40-yard dash at the combine since 1999. Worthy has an excellent chance of joining that exclusive club.

He's expected to weigh around 175 pounds, which is certainly on the lighter side for a wide receiver. But his elite speed and quickness should be on full display.

>> READ MORE: See Where Worthy Lands in Latest Mock Draft

Joe Milton (in an orange jersey) throws the ball on the run; the background is blurry, and no other player is in frame
Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Joe Milton III (7) passes the ball against the Georgia Bulldogs during the first half at Neyland Stadium. (Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports)

Joe Milton II, QB, Tennessee

We'll never see anyone replicate the numbers Anthony Richardson posted last year. He's the most athletic quarterback we've seen enter the NFL, running a verified 4.43-second 40-yard time at 244 pounds. But there are a few quarterbacks in this class who could post silly combine numbers and raise their stocks.

The one to watch here is Joe Milton, who measured in at 6-foot-5, 235 pounds at the Senior Bowl. He's widely expected to run a sub-4.60-second 40-yard dash, which would be incredible for someone his size. He should also perform well in the jumps and could reach 37 inches in the vertical (94th percentile).

As a quarterback, Milton is a Day 3 lottery pick. He deserves the opportunity to try to be a backup quarterback at the next level. But if that doesn’t work out, he could be the next player to attempt the transition to tight end from quarterback.

We've seen athletic marvels like Logan Thomas and Tyree Jackson make that move in recent seasons, and it could be possible for Milton, too, should he post big numbers in Indianapolis.

Chris Braswell (red helmet, red jersey, white pants), stands with both arms out
Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Chris Braswell (41) reacts in the first quarter against the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports)

Chris Braswell, EDGE, Alabama

Over the last few years, we've become accustomed to seeing pass rushers post ridiculous combine performances. Travon Walker in 2022 might be the best example, running a 4.51-second 40-yard dash at 272 pounds. His performance in Indianapolis is a big reason he went No. 1, despite modest college production.

While Chris Braswell won't be selected anywhere near as high as Walker, Braswell can raise his draft stock with a strong performance. And that shouldn't be an issue for him. Braswell had a breakout season in 2023, recording 10.5 tackles for a loss along with eight sacks. He became a full-time player in Nick Saban’s defense, but he’s only starting to scratch the surface of his potential.

Braswell put on a significant amount of weight during his final season at Alabama and is expected to weigh around 260 pounds. But that shouldn’t affect his speed, as scouts around the league are looking for him to run in the low 4.5 seconds.

He isn’t just straight-line fast. According to Bruce Feldman of The Athletic, Braswell posted a vertical jump of 38.5 inches last season, putting him in the 96th percentile among all defensive linemen since 1999.

If Braswell can post a sub-4.55-second 40-yard dash along with elite jump scores, he could hear his name called at the end of Round 1. There aren't many players with his size and athleticism who can rush the passer as well as he does.

Kentucky LB Trevin Wallance celebrates touchdown
Sep 30, 2023; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Kentucky Wildcats linebacker Trevin Wallace (32) celebrates an interception during the first quarter against the Florida Gators at Kroger Field. Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Trevin Wallace, LB, Kentucky

We've seen linebacker prospects put on incredible shows during the combine in recent years. Ahead of the 2019 draft, we saw Devin White and Devin Bush run in the low 4.4s, one after another. While we might not see that type of speed at the combine this year, one linebacker bears watching.

Trevon Wallace could be one of the biggest surprises at the combine — particularly during the jumps. Wallace was a high school track star, jumping 23 feet, 4.25 inches in the long jump. According to Feldman, that broke a school record that stood for over 40 years. But Wallace isn't just a long jumper; he ran a 22.34-second time in a 200-meter race at a home meet. That's flying for a man of his size.

Despite weighing more than 240 pounds, Wallace is widely expected to run a time in the 4.5 seconds, and there's a slight chance he could even hit the 4.4s. He should finish first among linebackers in the vertical and broad jumps, which indicate explosiveness.

Wallace is considered a fringe top-100 player but could see his stock rise dramatically with a huge performance next weekend.

Cam Hart and a Navy player both go up for a pass; the ball sails to the right as the two have their hands intertwined
Notre Dame Fighting Irish cornerback Cam Hart (5) breaks up a pass intended for Navy Midshipmen wide receiver Mark Walker (80) during the second half at M&T Bank Stadium. (Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports)

Cam Hart, CB, Notre Dame

Gone are the days of the "big" cornerbacks in the NFL.

During the peak Seattle Seahawks era (2012-16), NFL teams searched for long, athletic cornerbacks. The league has reverted to finding smaller cornerbacks who can mirror receivers and play in space. In 2023, the average weight of all the cornerbacks participating in the combine was 192 pounds. There were only eight cornerbacks who weighed more than 200 pounds, and none of them were selected during the first two nights of the draft.

Cam Hart makes this list partly because he is a true outlier compared with where the league is headed. Hart measured in at the Senior Bowl at 6-foot-3, 204 pounds with 32 5/8-inch arms.

He's a long cornerback with the size and physicality to bully receivers. But the main reason he makes this list is because he will shock the world when it comes to his testing numbers at his size.

Hart should crush the jumps, as he posted a confirmed 11-foot-2-inch broad jump last offseason. If he were to match that number at the combine, it would rank in the 97th percentile among all defensive backs since 1999. He's also recorded a 38-inch vertical, which would put him 77th among all defensive backs during that same period.

Hart is also expected to run a time in the low 4.4s, which would be well above average for his size — 4.50 seconds was the average time of the eight cornerbacks who weighed more than 200 pounds at the 2023 combine.

With Hart's combination of size, length and explosiveness, he'll be one of the week's biggest winners.