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5 takeaways from Day 1 of the NFL Combine

We have officially reached the NFL Scouting Combine with the defensive linemen and linebackers kicking off the weekend’s event at Lucas Oil Stadium on Thursday afternoon.

The importance of the combine is more for the medicals and team interviews but the testing does help confirm what you see on tape or it may force you to go back to take a look because a prospect performed better than expected or fell short of expectations.

With Chris Ballard’s love of the trenches and ability to find linebackers via the draft, odds say that some of the prospects that were on the field on Thursday will be back on it in the fall.

Here are the five biggest takeaways from Day 1 of the NFL combine:

Braden Fiske solidifies and improves draft stock

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Entering the combine Braden Fiske was viewed as a borderline top 50 pick. However, after putting on an impressive performance in his testing, he has given a reason for teams to bet on the athletic traits he is bringing with him to the next level.

Here is how Fiske started the day with his measurements:

Fiske’s day kicked off when he ran a 4.78 40-yard dash with a 1.68 10-yard split time on his first attempt.

It wasn’t just his 40-yard time that shined, but also his short shuttle time.

Fiske continued to look good with his smooth movements during the drills.

According to Next Gen Stats, he’s the first defensive tackle to lead his position group in the 40-yard time, vertical jump, and broad jump since 2004.

Fiske also recorded the best Next Gen Stats athleticism score among the defensive tackles.

Next Gen Stats wasn’t the only metric that loved Fiske’s day. His RAS score ranks 14th among all defensive tackles since 1987.

As far as the Indianapolis Colts, Fiske is likely a Chris Ballard type of prospect despite his 31-inch arms. He played in the Senior Bowl and has the athletic traits he loves in the players he selects in the NFL draft. He is a three-tech defensive tackle so his role in Year 1 would be developing behind DeForest Buckner.

Buckner is entering the final year of his contract and will be 31 years old when he is on his next deal. The position’s future has to be considered during this draft, and Fiske is a player I can see Ballard betting on to hit his ceiling.

Dallas Tuner: First defensive player off the board?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There is a debate on which defensive prospect will be the first off the board come late April but after Thursday, Turner may have put himself in a position to be a top 10 selection.

His height and weight don’t jump off the charts for an edge rusher but his 83-inch wingspan is eye-popping.

As far as his testing, Turner caught eyes first with his 40.5-inch vertical jump.

He also had a 10’7″ broad jump to show off his explosiveness.

The most impressive part of Turner’s performance was his 4.47 40-yard time.

His RAS score ranks 85th among all defensive ends since 1987.

For the Colts, it would be interesting to see if Chris Ballard would select an edge rusher in the first round. Samson Ebukam has two years left on his deal, a decision on Kwity Paye’s fifth-year extension has to be made, and Dayo Odeyingbo showed he deserves more snaps and is entering the final year of his rookie contract.

I can see Ballard going with the best player on his board regardless of the position but if he wants Turner, he might have to trade up for No. 15 to make it happen.

The Mammoth: T'Vondre Sweat

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With T’Vondre Sweat not weighing in at the Senior Bowl, there was speculation that he was attempting to cut weight for the combine after being listed at 365 pounds in his final year at Texas. That wasn’t the case at all.

Sweat is one of three defensive tackles that weighed over 355 pounds at the combine since 2000.

Sweat hyped up his 40-yard time ahead of testing and might not have blown people away, but his 1.80 10-yard split backs up the quick movements in short space you see on his film.

His RAS score ranks 956th among defensive tackles since 1987 but that shouldn’t come as a surprise. The unit of a prospect didn’t come close to setting records with his testing.

For the Colts, Sweat would be a prospect to keep an eye on as a potential one-tech for the defense if Grover Stewart walks in free agency. But with that being said, I like the idea of re-signing Stewart and selecting Sweat in the second round for depth and future at that position.

Chop Robinson: LEO of the future?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Another edge rusher prospect who had a great day was Chop Robinson out of Penn State. His measurables don’t grab your attention but NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah found a similar body type to a successful pass rusher in Yannick Ngakoue.

This is notable for Indianapolis since Ngakoue played the LEO role in Gus Bradley’s defense. Robinson’s similar frame won’t sell Bradley and Chris Ballard alone but his athleticism will.

His eye-popping 4.48 40-yard time at 254 pounds was impressive.

It was the fifth-fastest time for a 250-plus-pound edge rusher since 2003, according to Next Gen Stats.

His 1.54 10-yard split was the best for an edge rusher his size.

Robinson’s RAS score ranks 53rd among defensive ends since 1987.

For the Colts, as I mentioned with Dallas Turner, the starting edge rushing spots are spoken for and there are decisions to be made with Kwity Paye and Dayo Odeyingbo. That being said, I believe Chris Ballard needs to find a solid backup for Samson Ebukam.

Over the last two seasons, it was apparent that the defense missed someone for that role when Ebukam and Ngakoue were sidelined with injuries. Paye and Odeyingbo are best served playing in their roles so having a quality option like Robinson so they can stick in their regular position, would benefit the defense.

Plus, the coaching staff can develop and have Robinson ready to roll in Year 3 when Ebukam’s contract comes to an end.

Payton Wilson passes first tests

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Measurables, athletic testing, and medicals are what the combine is all about. N.C. State linebacker Payton Wilson passed on his measurables coming in at 6-foot-3 and 233 pounds.

Wilson quickly caught the attention of draft media in his testing when he ran a 4.43 40-yard dash.

His RAS score ranks 52nd among linebackers since 1987.

The biggest test result for Wilson that we won’t learn about until it is reported is his medical testing. There is a concern that he could get a red flag which could push him down the draft board or remove him entirely. If a team clears him, he could go as high as the second round.

For the Colts, linebacker isn’t a major need but there needs to be some quality depth and competition added for the third spot on the depth chart. Plus, Zaire Franklin and E.J. Speed are entering the final year of their contracts so I can see Chris Ballard taking a prospect like Wilson if he passes his medicals.

Story originally appeared on Colts Wire