After the offensive stars got on planes and left Indianapolis, the defensive stars took to the Lucas Oil Field over the weekend. Consequently, there were a number of winners, but two schools' defenders kept posting insane numbers during the defenders' workouts on Saturday and Sunday. Here are my Harris Hits from the weekend at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine.
The first group that put on a show was not a surprise if you paid any attention to college football last season. Kirby Smart/Dan Lanning's Georgia Bulldog defense was dominant all season long. That unit gave up just over ten points a game, leading the Bulldogs to a national championship. This weekend showed exactly why. Bulldog defenders, on all three levels, put on an absolute show.
DT Jordan Davis, wait, let me be clear, 6-6, 341 lb. Jordan Davis ran a 4.78 40-yard dash. Um, WHAT?!? Oh, then he followed that up with a 10-3 broad jump and a 32-inch vertical jump. I mean, that's ridiculous!! Then, he threw in a great Rock impression in his interview post workout for NFL Network. I went on Sean Pendergast's national radio show on Sunday and he asked how many times I watched Davis' 40-yard dash. Oh, I don't know, like 50 times? Maybe more.
Fellow DT Devonte Wyatt isn't 341 lb., just 304 lb. (yeah, JUST 304 lb.). Regardless, he ran another ridiculous 40-yard dash, posting a 4.77. in addition, he registered a 29-inch vertical and 9-3 broad jump, again, at 304 lb. Keep in mind, Davis' numbers are off the charts for a defensive tackle and Wyatt's numbers weren't that far behind.
Then, later that afternoon, Georgia's DE Travon Walker put on a show. I'm still dumbfounded with what he did and I KNEW he was going to test through the roof. At 6-5, 272 lb, he ran 4.51. FOUR. FIVE. ONE. AT 272 LB?!?! What the heck? Oh, he was far from done. He posted a 35.5-inch vertical jump and a 10-3 broad jump (of course, Davis equaled that number at 341 lb.). Then, Walker did the change of direction drills, posting a 4.32 20-yard shuttle and an outstanding 6.89 3-cone. During the drills on the field, he was as smooth, agile and explosive as any player at any position in Indianapolis.
Oh, it wasn't over for the Bulldogs as the linebackers took the field later that night. All-American ILB Nakobe Dean didn't workout and will do so at his Pro Day, but his running mates did. Fellow starting LB Quay Walker, 6-4, 241 lb. Quay Walker, ran 4.52 in the 40-yard dash, posted a 32-inch vertical jump and 10-2 broad jump.
Then, BACKUP, yes BACKUP, ILB Channing Tindall ran 4.47 in the 40-yard dash which is outstanding. But, how about a 42-inch vertical? 10-9 broad jump? Those are unreal numbers. Now, I shouldn't really say backup, really, but he didn't start over Dean and Walker. He was in a three LB rotation with those two at Georgia and it's clear why they all got on the field as much as they did, including Tindall.
Oh, there was more. S Lewis Cine, All-American safety from Texas, LIT up the 40-yard dash with a 4.37, posted a 37.5-inch vertical jump and a 11-1 broad jump. That's just unreal. If you didn't know, now you know why Georgia won the national championship in 2021.
On Friday night, Baylor WR Tyquan Thornton blazed an official 4.28 40-yard dash, coming up just 0.06 short of John Ross's record 4.22. I mean, he smoked that 40 and had everyone buzzing when the unofficial time came up as a 4.21. But, then the Baylor defenders arrived over the weekend and WENT FASTER THAN THORNTON. Well, one Bear did - CB Kalon Barnes. I wrote about Barnes last week heading into the Combine and he didn't disappoint. He was a track star in high school, winning 100-meter and 200-meter state championships in Texas. All he did was run 4.23, missing Ross's mark by just 0.01 seconds. Safety J.T. Woods then followed up with a 4.36 40-yard dash, in addition to registering a 39.5-inch vertical and 10-8 broad jump. C'mon, NOW! Baylor could've put together a track star relay team and it was the first school in the history of the Combine to have three prospects run sub 4.4 in a single Combine. WOW.
At the Senior Bowl, I noted how many defensive backs from Texas universities would "go OFF" at the Combine. So, let's recap.
Woods - 4.36, 39.5-inch vertical & 10-8 broad jump
Barnes - 4.23
Zyon McCollum, Sam Houston - 4.33, 39.5-inch vertical, 11-0 broad jump, 3.94 short shuttle, 6.48 3-cone drill
Tariq Woolen, UTSA - 4.26, 42-inch vertical
Notice, not one of those guys played at traditional power schools that wear maroon or Texas orange.
McCollum has been my guy for a while and I've written about him for a while. I've been calling his games at Sam Houston since he and his twin brother were true freshmen. So, his workout wasn't surprising, but even in totality, it made A LOT of people stand up and take notice for sure. At 6-2, 199 lb, he's a big corner with HIGH football/off-the-field character, insanely high football IQ and, as he showed in Indy, unmatched athleticism.
Woolen looks a bit odd at nearly 6-4 moving that fast but that could certainly work in his favor heading into the 2022 NFL Draft. Now, it's not a bad thing at all, quite the opposite. It's just such a striking sight to see a guy his size run that darn fast. I've noted things he needs to work on at the next level, but a player with those athletic gifts is so hard to find, especially at the CB position.
All in all, twelve DBs went sub 4.4 in the 40-yard dash. That's just a sick number.
Michigan star edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson measured nearly 6-7 and 260 lb. He then posted a 4.74 in the 40-yard dash and a 36-inch vertical jump. He also ran the change of direction drills, which many prospects eschewed, and, not surprisingly, he crushed it, posting a 4.15 short shuttle and a 6.73 3-cone. Yeah, that's freaky.
Oregon star edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux left people with more questions than answers. Now, his answers, i.e the tests that he DID do, were definitive. He put up 27 reps on the bench press which was the highest number for the defensive ends. He then went out and ran a 4.58 in the 40-yard dash. Those are insane, eye-popping numbers, but he made it clear throughout the week that he was going to do everything. However, after he ran his 40-yard dash, he stopped. Stopped everything. He just put on his warm-ups and watched the rest of the day. He didn't do another drill. The enigmatic tag will continue to follow Thibodeaux for a while. He is so wildly gifted but he didn't endear himself to NFL personnel people and those at home watching to see what he would do.
Cincinnati CB Sauce Gardner showed up for the workout in a suit and a SAUCE necklace draped around his neck. Do that and it's time to put on a show. Thankfully, he did. At 6-3, 190 lb and 33 ½ arms, Gardner did one test - the one that everyone wanted/needed to see - the 40-yard dash. He didn't disappoint as he posted a 4.41 in the 40, then went over and showed off his outstanding movement skills in the drills part of the workout. He apparently showed up in a suit to each of his interviews at the Combine and that story will be told for years if the man nicknamed Sauce plays the way he did in his career at Cincinnati.
University of Connecticut's season ended way back in November but DT Travis Jones has used the past two months to make himself some money. At the Senior Bowl, his power just overtook interior offensive linemen. At the Combine, it was his overall athleticism that caught many people's attention. At 325-lb, he ran a 4.92 40-yard dash. Between Jones, Davis and Wyatt, my goodness, there are some massive dudes that can fly. That can't be good news for running backs on an outside zone that stretches to the sideline. Those big fellas are FLYING and in a bad mood.
Sadly, the Combine is over for another year and there's no telling if we're going back to Indianapolis for it next year or somewhere else. Either way, it was a memorable weekend, capped off by some outstanding defensive player workouts.