Every year, the NFL's top draft prospects gather in Indianapolis to participate in the NFL Scouting Combine (March 3-6 on NFL Network). This is a great opportunity for these players to impress decision makers for all 32 teams, by either testing well on the field during the day or interviewing well in the evenings.
Some players put up eye-popping testing numbers, while others blow away coaches/executives with their football knowledge and personality. Without fail, we will start hearing the buzz build on a handful of players immediately following the event. I reached out to five NFL team executives to get their prediction: Which player will generate the most buzz at this year's combine? Here are their answers:
Executive 1: Ashland TE Adam Shaheen
"He's clearly the third-best tight end in this year's class and I think you'll start to hear first-round buzz about him by the time his workout is finished. It's hard to find tight ends with his combination of size, speed and toughness. He's a unique talent."
Executive 2: Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes
"He will check every box in Indy. Tech was terrible (in 2016) and he didn't get much attention, but everyone will be talking about him after the combine."
Executive 4: Stanford DL Solomon Thomas
"Solomon Thomas is going to put on a show. He's incredibly explosive and he'll destroy the change-of-direction drills. I wouldn't be shocked if he ran (the 40-yard dash) in the 4.6s and jumped in the high 30s (inches)."
Executive 5: Vanderbilt LB Zach Cunningham
"We're split on Cunningham in the draft room but we all agree he's going to test really well. He can really run and he's going to impress teams in the interview room as well."
Summary: That's two votes for Thomas and one apiece for Shaheen, Mahomes and Cunningham.
Conclusion: This is a great group of players to keep an eye on during the combine. Thomas is building a lot of momentum and I've been told by sources at Stanford to expect some incredible testing numbers from him. Shaheen is a personal favorite of mine. I just recently gained access to his 2016 tape and it was extremely impressive. If he were playing at a Power 5 school, he would be in the discussion to be the top tight end in the draft class. Mahomes definitely has his supporters around the league. He has rare arm talent and his upside is sky high. I'm not as high on him as others, but I recognize his potential. Cunningham is one of the toughest players for me to evaluate in this class. I love his size/speed combination, but I thought he was a little tight and a little late to key/diagnose in the run game. I need to do more homework on him.