Biggest winners from the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine

The 2023 NFL Scouting Combine is officially in the books, and just like every other year, a handful of top prospects made the most of their chance to shine in front of league decision-makers in Indianapolis.

Here are our picks for the biggest winners from this year’s event:

EDGE Adetomiwa Adebawore, Northwestern

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Adebawore began raising eyebrows in the pre-draft circuit at the Senior Bowl last month, where he was a standout in the trenches. He carried that momentum over to Indianapolis, showcasing his immense athleticism. Checking in at 6-foot-2 and 282 pounds, Adebawore posted a 4.54 40-yard dash, a 1.61 10-yard split, a 37.5′ vertical, and a 10’5″ on the broad jump. Before today, the fastest 40-time at the combine since 2000 by a player over 280 pounds was by Aaron Donald (4.68 seconds).

EDGE Nolan Smith, Georgia

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Despite coming into the combine as one of the top edge rushers in this year’s class, Smith drew some pause when he came in at 238 pounds. However, it wasn’t long after when Smith silenced those in question when he took the field to test. Smith jumped out of the gym, posting a 41.5″ vertical and 10’8″ broad. Soon after, he zoomed down the turf, finishing with a blazing 4.39-second 40-yard dash. His size shouldn’t be a concern, and when you turn on his tape, there are plenty of explosive plays, like what he displayed on Thursday.

EDGE Will McDonald IV, Iowa State

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

McDonald came down with a fever close to 104 degrees on Tuesday evening, according to NFL Media’s Peter Schrager. Despite being sick and losing weight over the last 48 hours, he still worked out on Thursday and had an eye-popping 11-foot broad jump, which ranked second among all defensive linemen and linebackers and third among edge rushers since 2009. Additionally, McDonald had a 36-inch vertical and looked silky smooth and loose during the on-field drills.

DL Calijah Kancey, Pittsburgh

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kancey generated plenty of buzz before the combine. But he further helped himself on Thursday. Even though he came in with very short arms at 30 5/8 inches, Kancey’s testing overshadowed the measurements. Kancey logged a 4.67-second 40-yard dash, the fastest time recorded by a defensive tackle since 2003. Who did he surpass? Fellow Pitt and Rams superstar Aaron Donald, who ran just 0.01 seconds slower than Kancey. With the numbers he posted and the player on tape, Kancey should be a top-50 pick.

DL Jalen Redmond, Oklahoma

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Seen as a Day 3 player, Redmond needed to have a strong showing at the combine to boost his draft stock. And that he did. At 6-foot-2 and 292 pounds, Redmond finished with a 4.85-second 40-yard-dash with a 1.72-second 10-yard-split. In addition, he had a 34.5″ vertical jump (first among defensive tackles) and a 9-foot-8 broad jump (first among DL). Furthermore, Redmond looked very smooth during the drill work. Now it’s time to revisit the tape.

LB Trenton Simpson, Clemson

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

In a relatively underwhelming linebacker group, Simpson is still trying to find his way in the first round. However, his testing may have officially warranted him a spot. Simpson posted a 4.43-second 40-yard-dash, which was second among linebackers. His movement and athleticism are special on tape, and he manifested it on Thursday.

CB Christian Gonzalez, Oregon

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

A transfer from Colorado who followed his position coach to Eugene, Gonzalez was one of the big-ticket items on this year’s DB slate, and he didn’t disappoint. After measuring in at 6-1 and just under 200 pounds, Gonzalez lit up the track with a 4.38-second 40-yard dash, along with top-five finishes among corners in the broad jump and vertical jump. With Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon sitting out this year’s workouts, Gonzalez made the most of his chance to stake claim to the CB1 title with a stellar workout.

CBs Deonte Banks & Jakorian Bennett, Maryland

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

It was a banner day for this pair of Terrapins, as both Banks and Bennett turned in incredible performances across the board. These two teammates each finished in the top five among corners in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, and broad jump, with Banks’ 42-inch vert taking the No. 1 spot in their position group. Banks was already regarded as one of this year’s top corner prospects and a potential first-round pick, and while he solidified that status with his performance, it’s Bennett that could see a massive leap up the board with those numbers.

CB Julius Brents, Kansas State

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

After an impressive showing at the Senior Bowl, Brents continued his dominant offseason with another stellar performance for NFL scouts Friday. After measuring at 6-3 and 198 pounds (with the longest wingspan for a cornerback at the combine since 2003), Brents put on an absolute show throughout the drills, finishing first among corners in the three-cone drill, 20-yard short shuttle, and broad jump, and second in the vertical leap. Along with a respectable 4.53-second 40-yard dash for his size, Brents’ performance should take him from Day 2 darling to a potential first-round pick.

Safeties Jartavius Martin & Sydney Brown, Illinois

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Another pair of teammates that delivered dueling performances to remember, Martin and Brown were among the best in their position group at just about everything Friday. They finished 1-2 in the broad jump among safeties, first (Martin) and third (Brown) in the vertical, and third (Martin) and fourth (Brown) in the 40-yard dash. Brown was already ascending after a strong week at the Senior Bowl, but Martin will now be joining him as they both climb up the board heading into this year’s draft.

QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State

Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Stroud elected not to run the 40-yard dash or do other testing drills. And while he did not post any numbers, Stroud was one of the best passers on Saturday. Stroud threw with great accuracy and anticipation, placing footballs precisely where they belonged on throws at all levels of the field.

QB Anthony Richardson, Florida

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

While he is not considered to be as polished of a passer as Stroud, Richardson is far away more athletic. At 6-foot-4, 244 pounds. Richardson set combine records for a quarterback with a vertical jump of 40.5 inches and a broad jump of 10-foot-9. In addition, Richardson, in his only attempt, ran an official clocking of 4.43 seconds in the 40-yard dash, tied for the 6th-fastest of any player weighing at least 240 pounds at the combine since 2003.

WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Smith-Njigba missed most of the season with a nagging injury, but he showed why he will be one of the first wide receivers taken. He did not do any athletic testing beyond the vertical and broad jumps. Smith-Njigba was an elite tester in the three-cone drill and shuttle run, which displayed his excellent short-area quickness. In the drills, his route-running was silky smooth and showed sticky hands, catching everything cleanly.

TE Darnell Washington, Georgia

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Washington was primarily used as a blocker at Georgia and showed glimpses of his ability as a receiver. But he displayed the untapped potential to be a complete tight end at the next level, shining in the gauntlet drill. Additionally, Washington made the catch of the night with a one-handed grab. Oh, and at 6-foot-6 and 264 pounds, Washington ran a 4.65 40-yard dash. No big deal or anything.

WR Bryce Ford-Wheaton, West Virginia

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Talk about size and speed combo. At 6-foot-4 and 221 pounds, Ford-Wheaton ran the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds, the fourth-best among all participating wide receivers. He followed that up with an outstanding 41-inch vertical jump, which tied him with SMU’s Rashee Rice for the best vert by a receiver. Projected to be a Day 3 pick, his testing may have pushed him up many team’s draft boards.

TE Zach Kuntz, Old Dominion

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

In a loaded tight end class, Kuntz had been under the rug. However, his showing on Saturday put him on the map. At 6-foot-7 and 255 pounds, Kuntz jumped out of the gym, posting a 40-inch vertical and 10-foot-8 broad. In addition to that, Kuntz ran a blazing 4.57-second 40-yard dash.

OT Blake Freeland, BYU

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Freeland put up the best numbers in his group, finishing with a 37-inch vertical and 10-foot broad jump. Additionally, Freeland ran a 4.98-second 40-yard dash with a tremendous 1.68-second 10-yard split. Freeland’s measurements also surely caught the attention of teams, checking in at 6-foot-8 with arms nearly 34 inches long.

OT Broderick Jones, Georgia

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jones had first-round potential coming into the week but may have further solidified his spot with his testing. Jones ran the fastest 40-yard dash among offensive linemen (4.97) and was fluid in the on-field workouts. He also raised eyebrows with his measurements, standing north of 6-foot-5 with nearly 35-inch arms.

OL Jon Gaines, UCLA

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

All it takes is testing well at the combine to generate draft buzz, which was the case for Gaines, who went off on Sunday. Gaines tied for the fifth-fastest 40-yard dash at 5.01 seconds, then had the third-highest vertical and broad (32.5 inches and 9-foot-6). Then, he capped off a heck of a performance with the fastest three-cone at 7.31 seconds.

RB Bijan Robinson, Texas

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Robinson’s numbers were nothing to gloat about. But he did post a nice 4.46-second 40-yard dash. It was the on-field drills, however, where Robinson showed why he is a rare specimen at the running back position. He was flawless during the bag drills, exemplifying sensational footwork. During the pass-catching drills, Robinson showed strong hands to reel in everything thrown his way.

RB Chase Brown, Illinois

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Brown, on the other hand, made some money during the testing portion. Brown led all running backs with a 40-inch vertical and a 10-foot-7 broad jump, and his 4.43 40-yard dash was among the top-five performers at the position.

RB Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Gibbs is next in line to be one of the versatile rushing/receiving backs. He showed that skillset on the field. Gibbs was fluid as he glided through the drills. When it came to catching passes, he reeled in everything and displayed footwork to turn upfield quickly. Additionally, Gibbs placed second at the position with a 4.36 official time, behind Texas A&M’s Devon Achne (4.32).

Story originally appeared on Bills Wire