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NFL Combine

NFL Combine: 5 prospects who need good performances

The NFL Combine is a great opportunity for prospects to show off their ability in a controlled environment. Some are unable to take advantage, and their draft stock drops because of it. But others are able to leverage the Combine to its full advantage, and rocket themselves up draft boards. Here are five prospects who could really use a good performance this week.

5. Trey Adams, OT, Washington

At this time two years ago, Adams was on his way to becoming a top-five pick. Listed at 6’8″ 314lbs, Adams had elite size, good athleticism, and solid technique. But as a junior in 2017, Adams tore his ACL. Then, after returning for his senior year, Adams suffered a serious back injury four days before the season opener, which caused him to miss enough time to earn a medical redshirt. Adams did manage to stay healthy in 2019, but it was clear his injuries had taken away much of his athletic ability. That isn’t to say he is now a poor athlete, just not the freak he used to be. Whether that is truly a result of his injuries, or just a matter of him not being 100% recovered remains to be seen. Adams is currently projected to be a mid-round pick, as in spite of his injury risk, his tape is still very good. He has a chance to prove he has regained some of his lost quickness at the Combine. On-field performance isn’t the only thing teams will be looking for with Adams; back injuries are no joke, especially for a lineman who is already at a leverage disadvantage. If Adams can’t generate power through his spine, he won’t last long in the NFL.

4. Malik Harrison, LB, Ohio State

Harrison finished his college career on a high note, logging 75 total tackles and 16.5 tackles for loss. He has good size at a listed 6’3″ 246lbs, and plays with great physicality. He can struggle in man coverage but is solid in zone. On tape, he does appear to have athletic limitations, which will hamper his stock. Two-down linebackers do have their place in the NFL, but it is a small one, and usually if scouts project a LB as a two-down player, they also won’t spend a Day 2 pick on him. In 2019, Mack Wilson was seen as a prospect whose coverage ability would translate to the next level, but he needed a lot of work in the run game. The draft community viewed him as a second-rounder, but he lasted until the middle of the fifth round. Today’s NFL linebacker must be able to cover, but he also has to stop the run. Harrison can do the latter, and if he can perform better than expected at the Combine, and prove he has the physical talent to get better at the former, he could end up as a third-rounder in a relatively weak LB class.

3. Terrell Lewis, EDGE, Alabama

Lewis is long and lean and has good burst off the line of scrimmage. He flashed lots of potential at Alabama, but was hampered by injuries over his entire career. Even with the injuries he’s dealt with, Lewis is considered a fantastic athlete, and will have the chance to prove that this week. Bend is perhaps his biggest area of weakness, which is where the new drill for defensive lineman will come into play.

Following a good Senior Bowl week, Lewis was getting first-round buzz. EDGE players are always in high demand, especially when they’re premier athletes. Lewis’s medical checks in Indianapolis will also be telling. If teams are going to sink a second, or even first-round pick into Lewis, they’ll need to be comfortable with his long-term health.

2. Curtis Weaver, EDGE, Boise State

In three seasons for the Broncos, Weaver collected an impressive 34.0 sacks, including 13.5 as a junior. In each of the past two seasons, Pro Football Focus has graded him above 91.0 overall, a remarkable number. He is also the only collegiate player in PFF’s history to earn two seasons of pass-rush grades over 92.0. But much like Jaylon Ferguson last year, Weaver’s athleticism is nothing special. He isn’t twitchy or fast, and doesn’t provide much coverage ability. He also isn’t much of a run stopper, which really hurts his projection the the NFL; he’ll have to improve significantly in either coverage or run defense if he’s going to be anything more than a situational pass rusher. The Combine will give him the chance to show he is more athletic than he looks on tape, and if he accomplishes that goal, Weaver could end up as a second-round selection.

1. Jordan Love, QB, Utah State

The definition of boom-or-bust, Love could end up being the next Patrick Mahomes, or the next JaMarcus Russell. He is tall, mobile, and has an extremely strong arm. But consistency, field vision, decision-making, and mechanics are all big negatives with him. He took a major step back in 2019 which is a major concern. In what amounts to a simple game of catch for QBs at the Combine, Love has to show improved accuracy and footwork. He’ll do well in the athletic testing; it’s the throwing that teams will be interested to see. Love isn’t going to be able to improve his stock by a significant amount this week, but he could do quite a bit to devalue it. If a QB can’t be consistently accurate in a dome throwing to a receiver with no pressure or coverage, how can he do it on Sundays? Some team will take a chance on Love. The question is how early can he go?