Former NFL player and scout Bucky Brooks is spotlighting the prospects who make a mark -- for better or worse -- at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine. After surveying the field for four days, here are the five most notable winners and losers (in alphabetical order) from Indianapolis.
Adoree' Jackson, CB, USC: The world-class athlete lived up to the hype as one of the most dynamic players in the 2017 class after showcasing his impressive talents on the turf. Jackson posted a strong 40-yard dash time (4.42 seconds) and displayed extraordinary movement skills in positional drills. He is an easy turner with exceptional agility and change-of-direction quickness. Most importantly, he displays strong hands and ball skills as a natural ballhawk. With Jackson also fielding punts like an MLB center fielder shagging fly balls, the USC standout is destined for a rise up the charts following his strong combine performance.
Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee: Kamara leaves Indy as one of the fastest risers in the draft following a spectacular performance on and off the field. I was told he crushed the interview portion of the event, exhibiting a high football IQ and energetic personality. Coaches raved about his understanding of the game, including pass protection and run-blocking schemes. On the field, he flashed enough explosiveness (39.5-inch vertical jump and 4.56-second 40) to affirm his explosive potential as a triple threat (runner, receiver and returner). He also showcased remarkable receiving skills while shagging balls as a slot receiver at the end of the workout. Considering the buzz surrounding his name at this event, I firmly believe Kamara is being considered by teams as one of the top running backs in the draft.
Haason Reddick, LB, Temple: The fastest riser up draft boards around the league continued to bolster his chances of coming off the board on Day 1 with a strong workout in Indianapolis. Reddick crushed the explosive athletic drills (40, vertical jump and broad jump) while displaying exceptional movement skills and versatility. He floated over the bags like a first-place winner in a dog show, and he also showed impressive power and pop smashing dummies in pass-rush drills. Most impressive: Reddick continued to display the versatility that could make him an ideal Swiss Army Knife on a defense that showcases multi-faceted playmakers on the second level.
John Ross, WR, Washington: Whenever a guy breaks the 40-yard dash record, scouts will take notice -- especially when it's a blue-chip prospect with a polished overall game. That's why Ross is poised to make a serious climb up draft boards after posting a 4.22-second time in the 40 that confirmed his explosiveness as a playmaker. Though Ross was unable to finish the workout due to a series of cramps, he certainly caught scouts' attention with his blistering run down the track. He can save that energy for his pro day on Saturday (March 11).
Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson: The two-time Heisman finalist continued to cement his reputation as a big-moment player with a strong performance here at the combine. Watson flashed his athleticism when he clocked a 4.66-second 40 that surprised scouts who were expecting the 6-foot-2, 221-pound dual threat to post times in the mid-4.7 range. While Watson was expected to check the box as an athlete, he showed evaluators he has the tools to be an effective quick-rhythm passer at the next level. He displayed pinpoint accuracy on short and intermediate routes, including speed outs, curls and digs following a traditional five-step drop. Although he missed the mark a bit on a few deep throws (go routes), the Clemson star was so efficient as a connect-the-dots passer that scouts will still give him glowing marks for his work on the day.
Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama: Foster was expected to come out of the combine as a lock to hear his name called among the top 20 picks, but questions about his character following a surprising dismissal could send his stock tumbling. While some teams will attempt to sweep the incident under the rug due to Foster's spectacular play on tape, there are likely to be concerns raised about his professionalism, emotional control and trustworthiness away from supervision. Considering the value teams place on character and professionalism, Foster's issues will need to be addressed before a team can buy into his potential as a blue-chip prospect.
Wayne Gallman, RB, Clemson: It's hard for a pedestrian runner to get a look in a loaded running back class. That's why Gallman's slow 40 time (4.60) could send his stock tumbling. Although there have been plenty of successful NFL runners without elite speed and quickness, it is hard to convince a team decision-maker to spend a top pick on a runner who fails to crack the 4.6 mark.
Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami: The Miami product didn't have his fastball working during the positional workout on the turf. Kaaya missed on a handful of throws at intermediate and deep range that highlighted some concerns about his arm strength and accuracy. In addition, he failed to address concerns about his athleticism when he elected to sit out the 40. While a workout doesn't replace the film, Kaaya's ho-hum showing will make it hard for scouts to sell him as a franchise quarterback in some rooms.
Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington: The small-school standout was enjoying a magic carpet ride up the charts following a spectacular week of work at the Senior Bowl. Scouts were discussing Kupp as a potential top-40 pick with plenty of teams viewing him as a potential WR2 in the right system. That narrative will certainly change after Kupp clocked a pair of 40-yard dashes in the 4.6-range and looked nothing like an explosive playmaker on the perimeter. Sure, the scouts will go back to film and assess his dominance against Big Sky competition, but the pedestrian 40 will make it hard to cast him as more than a WR3 in meetings.
Teez Tabor, CB, Florida: The Gators' CB1 arrived in Indy amid questions regarding his speed, quickness and technique, and he did little to alleviate those concerns. Tabor not only clocked a pedestrian 40-yard dash time (4.62 seconds), but he didn't look smooth or fluid in drills. From his ragged turns and transitions to his lackluster burst in the W-drill, Tabor certainly didn't impress scouts with his movement skills. In a draft loaded with talent on the perimeter, Tabor's subpar workout could lead to a drop down the charts.