The NFL Combine is officially underway, as all the players settle in and undergo measurements. On Thursday afternoon, the long-awaited workouts will begin. The schedule is as follows:
THURSDAY, FEB 27
4-11 PM ET
TE, QB, WR
FRIDAY, FEB 28
4-11 PM ET
PK, ST, OL, RB
SATURDAY, FEB 29
4-11 PM ET
SUNDAY, MAR 1
2-7 PM ET
The Combine is an intriguing event that — in my opinion — is best used to verify things observed about a player during their college career. We have seen far too often teams overreact to the good or the bad that is on display here, and sometimes lose sight of what happens on the field. The following prospects are guys who should be on the Falcons’ radar, and whose draft stock could be profoundly impacted by their combine performance, for the better or the worst.
With the Falcons having two second-round picks, Jonathan Taylor could be a realistic selection if Atlanta opts to cut Devonta Freeman and replace him with a budding star. However, if Taylor blows away teams at the Combine, he could sneak into late first-round territory. His measurements thus far have not hurt his stock, with a 31 1/8″ arm length and 75 3/8″ wingspan. He seems primed to blow away his over/under of a 4.51 40-yard dash, as he ran in the 4.3’s last spring per Bruce Feldman. If this is the case, between the speed and the elite college production, we could see a meteoric rise from the future every-down back. If he falls more in line with his projection, the Falcons may be able to snag a franchise back in the second round.
Like Taylor, Dobbins has already shown he can provide elite production as evidenced during his career at Ohio State. He is also a guy who the Falcons may take a long look at in the second or third round as a replacement for Devonta Freeman. Daniel Jeremiah thinks Dobbins has a lot to prove at the Combine:
“But the last image we have of him is him dropping two balls in that Clemson game in the (College Football Playoff). So I want to see him catch the football, see how he does in all those pass drills there at the Combine. He can answer that question.”
It will be interesting to see how Dobbins performs with his hands, as he may fall down many teams’ draft boards if they do not think he is an every-down back. He caught over 20 balls in every season in college, and I happen to believe he can play on third downs, but Dobbins’ loss could be the Falcons’ gain.
Epenesa has been the favorite in most mocks to land with Atlanta, and his Combine performance could substantially affect his first-round value. While scouts love his pass-rushing production, there are certainly red flags that may be verified or debunked by his performance. He has already been a winner with his measurables, logging in an 81 2/8″ wingspan. But scouts have questions about his ability to change direction, speed, and bend. If Epenesa can show up and have an excellent combine, he may be able to jump up the board a bit, but I expect he will be a prime candidate for Atlanta if they stay at 16th overall.
Gross-Matos has already shown off fantastic measurables at the Combine, tying for the longest arms among pass rushers at 34 7/8″. He has reached first-round territory, and given his incredible athleticism, size, and agility, he could end up moving into the Falcons’ range with their first pick. Apparently, he has run around 4.5 in the past. He seems primed to become a riser from this event and could end up competing with K’Lavon Chaisson and A.J. Epenesa as a first-round pass rusher for Atlanta. Few look better on paper, and if there is anything he will need to prove to scouts, it is his strength during workouts.