The NFL Scouting Combine is an important piece in the evaluation process for prospects. That doesn't mean a player's grade is based solely (or even mostly) on his combine performance. His play on Saturdays is still the best indicator of future success.
However, the position drills and workout results are a good way for general managers, coaches, and scouts to confirm the talent they saw on tape. If someone looks clumsy and slow on the Lucas Oil Stadium turf, it's a red flag.
After watching every player work out in Indianapolis, here are nine top-rated prospects that certainly didn't disappoint scouts with their speed and athleticism.
1. Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M: Garrett was the top prospect coming into the combine, and looked fast and explosive both on the track (4.64 40 , 41-inch vertical, 33 bench reps at 272 pounds) and in position drills. There's not much to question about this Aggie at this point in the process.
2. Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford: At 273 pounds, Thomas ran like a linebacker both in timed events (4.69 40, 35-inch vertical, 6.95 three-cone) and when he was asked by NFL coaches to move laterally and vertically on the field. Adding this performance to his impressive game tape locks him in as a top-10 pick.
4. Garett Bolles, OT, Utah: The mobility Bolles displayed while dominating as a pass protector and run blocker was on full display on the Lucas Oil Stadium turf. For a 6-5, 297-pound lineman, his 40 (4.95, 1.71 10-yard split) and 4.29 three-cone were quite good, keeping him in the conversation to be the draft's top left tackle prospect.
5. Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State: McDowell actually weighed more than expected (295 vs. his listed 280), but looked fluid and fast during drills. With a 4.86 40 and 1.69 10-yard split, he confirmed the quick-twitch movement that showed up on film, setting himself up for an early round selection as a five-technique or interior player.
6. Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State: Conley was the top performer among cornerbacks in the first group of defensive backs Monday morning, and ran a sub-4.5 40 to prove his long speed to NFL teams. I would have included his teammate, Marshon Lattimore, because he ran a sub-4.4 40, but he didn't compete in position drills due to an injury. Teams are still likely to consider Lattimore the top corner prospect, however, and Conley might be No. 2 at the position.
7. Jamal Adams, S, LSU: Adams' test results weren't exceptional (4.56 40, 10-1 broad, 31-inch vertical), but they were good enough for a 214-pound safety with elite film. He was very impressive during position drills, looking like an NFL veteran with his decisive movement and pure confidence. Adams will clearly be a leader and reliable starter from Day One.
8. Haason Reddick, LB, Temple: Already a first-round value because of his play during the season and at the Reese's Senior Bowl in January, Reddick made scouts sure of their grades with an excellent combine (4.52 40 at 237 pounds, 36-inch vertical, 11-1 broad, 7.01 three-cone). His fluid hips and movement abilities also allowed him to stand out among the defensive end group and portend a move to linebacker at the next level.