In the wake of the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine, former NFL player and scout Bucky Brooks spotlights 10 particular prospects who made big impressions, for better or worse, in Indianapolis:
Jared Goff, QB, Cal: The ultra-polished pocket passer clearly distinguished himself as the most pro-ready quarterback in the draft with a strong performance at the combine. Goff not only impressed evaluators with his flawless footwork and fundamentals, but he displayed outstanding zip and velocity on his short and intermediate throws. In addition, he threw the ball with great anticipation and timing, which is hard to do with random receivers. With the Cal standout also shining in chalk-talk sessions throughout the week, Goff is the undisputed top player at the position -- at least in my mind.
Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame: The lack of speed in the 2016 receiver class makes Fuller one of the crown jewels at the position. He clocked a 4.32-second 40-yard dash and flashed excellent acceleration tracking down deep balls along the boundary. While those traits were expected from the Notre Dame star, the sticky hands and consistent pass catching throughout the workout could send Fuller's stock soaring as draft day approaches. If he continues to catch the ball well in drills at his pro day and other private workouts, Fuller could sneak into the top 20 as the premier deep threat in the draft class.
Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana: Spriggs is squarely in the first-round conversation following an excellent workout in Indy. He confirmed his athleticism with a 4.94 40 and a dazzling display of ballerina-like footwork in position drills. Springs showed exceptional balance, body control and agility executing lateral slides and kick-step maneuvers. Most importantly, he appeared light on his feet when instructed to flip and turn in agility drills. With ultra-athletic offensive tackles always coveted at a premium, Spriggs' solid performances at the NFL Scouting Combine and the Senior Bowl have raised his status in a major way.
Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State: Ogbah wasn't hailed as one of the top pass rushers in the draft prior to the combine, despite an impressive résumé that featured 24 sacks over the past two seasons. But his name is flying up boards after a dazzling display in Lucas Oil Stadium that showcased his combination of size, strength, speed and explosiveness on the turf. Ogbah posted a 4.63-second 40 time, as well as remarkable measurements in the vertical jump (35.5 inches) and broad jump (10-1). Although he is strictly a straight-line power rusher off the edge, Ogbah's athleticism, force and production will make it hard for coaches and scouts to ignore his potential as a top prospect.
William Jackson III, CB, Houston: Long, rangy cover corners with speed and ball skills are valued commodities on draft day. Thus, Jackson could become one of the draft's biggest risers following a spectacular performance that shocked many in the scouting community. The Houston standout blazed a 4.37 40 and showed terrific quickness as he crushed the position drills. Jackson's combination of fluid movement skills, sticky hands and physical dimensions (6-foot, 185 pounds) makes him the big specimen most teams seek as a potential CB1.
Noah Spence, DE/OLB, Eastern Kentucky: Scouts are having a hard time dubbing Spence a premier pass rusher after witnessing his so-so performance on the turf in Indianapolis. He recorded a pedestrian 40 (4.80) that pales in comparison to the times clocked by a few elite pass rushers with similar physical attributes: Von Miller (4.53) and Khalil Mack (4.65). In addition, he didn't appear to flash the same first-step quickness and burst in bag drills that allowed him to dominate opponents at the Senior Bowl. Although Spence's final evaluation will be based primarily off the game-tape evaluation, the fact that he failed to impress as an athlete will make it hard for some teams to consider him an elite prospect on draft day.
Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State: Cook failed to seize the opportunity to separate himself from the pack of second-tier quarterbacks vying for the No. 3 position on draft boards around the league. The winningest quarterback in Michigan State history struggled with his accuracy and ball placement in drills. He repeatedly missed the mark on throws at short and intermediate range, which confirmed scouts' concerns about his accuracy based on his sub-standard college completion percentage (57.5). With questions about his leadership skills and intangibles still hovering like a black cloud, Cook's lackluster workout failed to boost his stock as a top prospect at the position.
Vadal Alexander, OL, LSU: Alexander was considered a strong top-40 prospect prior to his poor performance last Friday. The LSU product lumbered down the track on his 40-yard dash (5.57) and looked heavy-legged in position drills. He simply lacks the lateral quickness and agility to play offensive tackle, which plummets his stock as a potential swing player at the next level.
Darian Thompson, S, Boise State: After trending favorably following a solid week of workouts at the Senior Bowl, Thompson will see his stock head in the opposite direction after his disappointing performance at Lucas Oil Stadium. Coaches and scouts will not only have a tough time ignoring the 4.69 40 time for a potential center-field candidate, but they will struggle believing Thompson has enough quickness or range to serve as an over-the-top defender in a single-high defense. Although Thompson's 17 career interceptions suggest otherwise, the Boise State product will need to run a faster time at his pro day to prove to scouts that he is speedy enough to be a front-line starter at the next level.
Harlan Miller, CB, Southeastern Louisiana: The feisty corner widely had been considered one of the sleepers of the draft class, due to his solid cover skills and spectacular footwork, but a sluggish 40 time (4.65) will make it harder for scouts to sell him as a Day 2 pick. Coaches are reluctant to take chances on corners without solid speed and quickness on the perimeter. Thus, Miller will need to post a faster time at his pro day to change the perception surrounding his potential following the underwhelming workout.