The 2023 NFL Combine is in the rearview mirror. Several prospects helped themselves out with their measurables, on-field drills performances, or both. Some names solidified their cases as first-round selections. Others are fast risers on Draft boards everywhere. Some have even found themselves in a position to be drafted when the odds seemed long before the Combine.
Here are some prospects who have done a lot to help themselves and their stock after their week in Indianapolis.
Anthony Richardson – QB – Florida
Years from now, we will be talking about Anthony Richardson‘s Combine, for better or for worse. Looking strictly at measurables, this was an all-time great performance, which is why he’s one of the biggest risers coming out of the 2023 NFL Combine. He was measured at 6’4″ and 244 pounds, putting him in the category of Quarterbacks such as Cam Newton (6’5″, 245), Ben Roethlisberger (6’5″, 240), and Peyton Manning (6’5″, 230). From there, he turned in a 4.43 40-yard-dash time, a 40.5-inch vertical (a Combine record for the position), and a 10’9″ broad jump (also a Combine record for the position). He would also look impressive in the throwing drills, showing off a cannon of an arm on several deep throws and firing off passes with great velocity.
Some questions remain about his overall accuracy and inconsistent footwork in the pocket. However, QB-needy teams around the league are salivating over the opportunity to roll the dice on him. His one-of-a-kind toolkit, combined with his up-and-down game tape, make him an all-time boom-or-bust candidate, though.
Andrei Iosivas – WR – Princeton
Before the Combine, Andrei Iosivas was a “sleeper” prospect that has seen his Draft stock steadily rising. A celebrated Track & Field athlete, he has the fastest 60-yard-dash time (6.71 seconds) in NCAA heptathlon history, and set the Ivy League heptathlon record, finishing 4th in the country. His speed and athletic ability showed on the football field, and he saw his numbers improve across the board every season for the Tigers.
Iosivas would measure at 6’3″ and 205 pounds in Indianapolis, and would go on to impress in all of the events he participated in. Among all Wide Receivers, he finished tied for 7th in the 40-Yard-Dash (4.43 seconds), tied for 6th in the 10-Yard Split (1.52), 2nd in the 20-Yard Shuttle (4.12), 2nd in the 3-Cone Drill (6.85), tied for 5th in the Vertical Jump (39″), tied for 7th in the Broad Jump (10’8″), and 4th in the Bench Press (19 reps). His on-field drills would see him show good footwork, smooth route running, and impressive, albeit slightly inconsistent, hands.
After an impressive 2023 NFL Combine as one of the top WR risers, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him enter the discussion as a day-two pick in the Draft.
Nolan Smith – EDGE – Georgia
Smith arrived in Athens as a heavily hyped recruit. He topped his class and earned some all-time high grades on some recruiting sites. While his stats at Georgia never quite reached that level of hype (20 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles in 38 total games), much of that can be attributed to how deep and talented Georgia’s defenses were. A lot of their players rotated in and out, never allowing for the big stats you see at other schools.
This meant that Smith’s Combine was more important than usual, and he treated it as such. At 6’2″ and 238 pounds, he is certainly on the smaller side for an edge rusher. However, his athletic ability was on full display during the events. He clocked in with a 4.39 40, which is one of the fastest numbers of all-time for his position, and had an incredible 41.5″ vertical. Of the events he participated, he either had the best number for his position, or was just behind the top number.
NFL teams have been falling in love with the potential and measurables of Georgia defenders recently, and Smith is going to be on the receiving end of that love this year, given his performance as one of the top risers out of the 2023 NFL Combine.
Adetomiwa Adebawore – EDGE/DT – Northwestern
Adebawore was already a fast-riser after a senior year that saw him post career-best numbers in tackles (38), tackles for loss (9), and sacks (5). He followed that up with an impressive Senior Bowl, winning Practice DL Of The Week for the National team.
His showing at the Combine really made teams take notice of him, though. At 6’2″ and 282 pounds, he blazed a 4.49 40 time. That is one of the fastest times in Combine history for any player of his size. He tied for the 4th highest time in the 10-Yard Split for his position (1.61 seconds), had the 3rd highest Vertical Jump (37.5″), tied for the 5th best Broad Jump (10’5″), and had the 4th most Bench Press reps (27).
One thing that could potentially hurt him is the “tweener” tag. He’s shorter than many teams would prefer their edge rushers to be, but also a little lighter than teams want their interior linemen to be. Right now, he looks to be someone that has made a play to be selected in the 2nd or 3rd round of the Draft, as teams figure out what to do with him and where to put him.
CJ Stroud – QB – Ohio State
Being in the discussion to be the top pick in the Draft, there’s not a lot of room to rise. CJ Stroud didn’t participate in the individual testing at the Combine, preferring to wait for Ohio State’s Pro Day. What he did do, though, was put on a clinic during the on-field exercises. He made every throw look easy, showing off tremendous touch and accuracy to all levels. NFL Network Analyst Daniel Jeremiah would say it was one of the best throwing sessions he’s seen at the Combine.
This matches a lot of what Stroud has shown on the field at Ohio State. He completed 69.3% of his passes over two seasons, throwing for 8,123 yards and 85 touchdowns, with only 12 interceptions. He might not have the potential ceiling that Anthony Richardson has, but his floor is considerably higher. With a strong showing at his Pro Day, Stroud might prove that he’s worthy of being the first player drafted.
Zack Kuntz – TE – Old Dominion
To say that Kuntz had an impressive Combine would be quite the understatement. Measuring at over 6’7″ and weighing 255 pounds, he blazed a 4.55 40. That put him just behind Miami’s Will Mallory (4.54) for the fastest 40 among all Tight Ends this year. At his position, Kuntz finished tied for 2nd in the 10-Yard Split (1.57 seconds), 1st in the 3-Cone Drill (6.87), 2nd in the 20-Yard Shuttle (4.12), 1st in the Vertical Jump (40″), 1st in the Broad Jump (10’8″), and tied for 1st in the Bench Press (23 reps).
There’s still some mystery surrounding him, even with the great Combine numbers. After two seasons at Penn State (3 receptions for 26 yards), he transferred to Old Dominion. He had a nice first season with the Monarchs, catching 73 passes for 692 yards and 5 touchdowns. Last season saw his stats tumble as he battled injuries, catching 12 passes for 144 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Combine proved that he has freakish speed and athletic ability for his size, as well as some solid strength.
DJ Turner II – CB – Michigan
When your time in the 40 is 4.26, people are going to take notice. It was the fastest time for anybody, at any position, at the 2023 NFL Combine, including this list of risers. Great numbers in the other events only made people pay closer attention.
He has elite speed and athletic ability, but there are questions about how he can handle the size and physicality of NFL receivers. At 5’11” and 178 pounds, he is slightly small for the Cornerback position. He has shown the knack for using that speed and athleticism to help recover from a lot of instances where a larger player was able to get physical with him. If he can continue that at the pro level, he is in a prime position to become a star.
Darnell Washington – TE – Georgia
When you’re the same position on the same team as Brock Bowers, your stats aren’t going to be flashy. Since Bowers arrived at Georgia, Darnell Washington has caught 38 passes for 608 yards, with 3 touchdowns, in 23 games.
As always, it isn’t just about stats when it comes to Draft prospects. Washington measured at 6’7″ and weighed in at 264 pounds at the Combine. That gives him elite size for the position. At that size, he ran a 4.64 40, good for 6th best at his position. He tied for 2nd in the 10-Yard Split (1.57 seconds), was 1st in the 20-Yard Shuttle (4.08), tied for 6th in the Broad Jump (10’2″), and finished 2nd in the Bench Press (21 reps). The man would then dazzle in the on-field exercises, complete with the most viral moment of the Combine, when he hauled in a highlight-reel one-handed catch on the sideline.
He had a lot of chances to show his worth as a blocker in college, but his unique combination of size, speed, strength, and athletic ability are going to give him a chance to be more of a well-rounded Tight End as a pro.
Jack Campbell – LB – Iowa
If you’re looking for someone at the Combine who surprised people the most, Campbell might top that list. Over the last two seasons, Campbell has been a rocked up old school Linebacker with great size, strength, and physicality. The knock on him was that he might not have the necessary speed and athletic ability to succeed in the NFL.
Then the Combine happened.
At 6’5″ and 249 pounds, he remains a throwback to the days of Brian Urlacher (6’4″, 258), Junior Seau (6’3″, 250), and Dick Butkus (6’3″, 245). His 4.65 40 was impressive, but it was his his athleticism in the other events that really stood out. For his position, he tied for 2nd in the Vertical Jump (37.5″), was 2nd in the Broad Jump (10’8″), 1st in the 3-Cone Drill (6.74 seconds), and 1st in the 20-Yard Shuttle (4.24). His 3-Cone Drill number was especially impressive, as it was .26 better than any other LB at the Combine. That drill is designed to showcase a player’s flexibility, change of direction, and body control. All of those traits are very important for the LB position.
Now that he has shown he can be more than a one-dimensional player, he has started to get projections of going in the 1st round. A combination of old school size and new school attributes makes him a very intriguing player in the Draft, which is why he’s one of our top risers from the 2023 NFL Combine.
Christian Gonzalez – CB – Oregon
Gonzalez has been in a battle with Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon over who should be the top Cornerback in this class. Unfortunately for Witherspoon, he was dealing with a minor hamstring injury, and wasn’t able to participate at the Combine.
Gonzalez took advantage of his time in the spotlight and turned in a fantastic set of numbers. A 4.38 40 had him at 5th for his position, and he tied for 2nd with a 41.5″ Vertical. His on-field exercises were, perhaps, the best of any CB that participated. He looked incredibly smooth and fluid, with good hands and effortless backpedaling. This matched the game tape from last season, when he intercepted 4 passes and defended another 7 passes.
The top CB in this year’s class could find themselves selected in the top 10 picks. That strong showing from Gonzalez at the Combine might have earned him a lot of money.