Winners of the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine

We’re on our way to the 2024 NFL Draft, and one of the most exciting events for fans is the Scouting Combine. The workouts are often more for the media than for scouting purposes, but they can still create buzz for prospects who perform well. Behind the scenes, teams are doing the real tasks: learning players’ measurements, performing medical exams, and interviewing them. These visits do not count against teams’ top 30 visits, and they allow teams to learn about a ton of prospects at one place and time. Therefore, I thought I’d look at the players who really helped themselves at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine. This could be through their workout performances, testing, or interviews. Let’s go!

DT Braden Fiske, Florida State

Much has been made about Fiske’s success following his transfer from Western Michigan. He anchored a stout FSU defensive line and made me wonder if he was just an average athlete with smarts, thus his low recruitment level. The combine put that thought to bed. Fiske led all DTs with a 4.78-s 40, and he excelled in the jumping events as well. The drills confirmed what you see on tape: a relentless motor that hunts for the football. I don’t believe that Fiske is considered a first-round prospect, and his traditional DT spot isn’t as highly valued as an edge rusher. Still, he’s not escaping round 2 with this performance.

EDGE Dallas Turner, Alabama

Turner was grouped with the LBs at this combine, but he’s a pure edge rusher wherever he lines up. Widely viewed as the best pass rusher in the class, Turner did nothing to dispel those feelings. At 6’2″ and 247 lbs, he is unbelievably athletic. He ran a 4.47-s 40 and notched a 40.5 inch vertical jump before crushing the drills. He is considered a slightly worse prospect than his former teammate (Will Anderson), but I’m struggling to see why. Turner is slightly bigger, faster, and had equal sack production (10) to that of Anderson in their respective final seasons. Passing on Turner as a top-10 pick would be an error in judgment.

LB Payton Wilson, North Carolina State

When a guy wins the Dick Butkus award as the nation’s best linebacker, you know he’s a good college player. That honor does not, however, guarantee that he will project well to the NFL. The pre-draft process is designed to answer that question. It’s safe to say that Wilson’s is going well. He ran the fastest 40 among linebackers (4.43 s) and looked extremely natural in the drills. Wilson even made numerous hands catches. This workout solidified his floor at the end of the second round. It would be a surprise if he slid that far though; this is a 3-down LB with coverage skills. Those players are very much in demand.

CB Quinyon Mitchell, Toledo

You all know how big a fan I am of MACtion, and Mitchell is the type of player that validates my devotion. Already receiving plenty of first-round buzz, Mitchell made his case for being the best QB in this draft class. He ran a smooth 4.33 in the 40 and looked just as fluid in the drills. With Clemson’s Nate Wiggins leaving due to an injury, Mitchell could perform as the most athletic player on the field. Formerly a late first-round prospect, Mitchell is now a safe top-20 selection. I might slot him in just barely behind Alabama’s Terrion Arnold. The gap is minimal, and with his great postseason, Mitchell’s stock is on the rise.

CB Kool-Aid McKinstry, Alabama

How could a guy who was determined to have a broken foot possibly have helped himself? It’s a bit of inverse thinking, but hear me out. Had this injury gone undiscovered, he would’ve kept training and potentially done more damage to the foot. That would in turn have led to missed time with his new NFL team during training camp, the preseason, and maybe even the regular season. Instead, he can fully recover and be ready to go. This also shouldn’t hurt his draft stock, as his athleticism was not in question and he is no longer in danger of missing games. If you’re an optimist, this could be a blessing in disguise.

S Cole Bishop, Utah

Throughout his career at Utah, Bishop had been a solid, instinctive, and intelligent safety. However, I wasn’t sure he had the athleticism to keep up with NFL pass catchers. Imagine my surprise when I saw his 40 time, which came in at 4.45 seconds. That was unexpected speed for a 6’2″ DB, and it not only alleviates any concerns but also could make teams consider Bishop at CB. On top of that, he excelled throughout the drills, looking fluid and natural in his movements. By my estimation, he has jumped from a late 3rd-round prospect to a probably second-round selection in 1 day.

WR Xavier Legette, South Carolina

Longtime readers of this website will note that this isn’t the first time I’ve talked about Legette. Early in the 2023 college football season, I called him “deceptively fast” fast, but it appears that even I sold him a bit short. The 6’3″, 227-lb WR ran a blistering 4.39-s 40, demonstrating mismatch speed to go along with his mismatch size. Later on in the drills, he made some great catches, particularly when the QBs misfired. We have a very stacked receiver class, but I’ve seen enough to grab Legette late in round 1. Combining his production with his combine testing, there’s plenty of reason to view him as a WR1 in the NFL.

WR Xavier Worthy

Your slot on this list is reserved if you break a combine record, and boy did Worthy do that. He set the record for the fastest 40-yard dash time at 4.21 seconds, breaking John Ross’s 2017 mark by .01. This isn’t just about the fact that he broke the record; his run LOOKED different from everyone else’s. Worthy straddled the first-round bubble for a while but slipped recently. This run moves him back into round 1 consideration, especially since he cut his drop rate in half this season. He did nothing after running the 40, and honestly, who cares? Worthy did what he came to do and went out riding high.

QB Michael Penix Jr, Washington

The throwing session was not Penix’s top priority. Having torn his right ACL twice and injuring both his shoulders in college, Penix needed to ace the medical portion of the combine more than anything. The best news came a month prior, when noted surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache gave his knee “a thumbs up“. No additional concerns appear to have been found. Penix took no risks and did not run the 40 or do the jumps. He did throw though, and he looked better than most of the competition. If a team falls in love with him, he can sneak into round 1. I think he’s a likely day-2 pick, and he won’t last long in the second round.

QB Spencer Rattler, South Carolina

Sometimes the transfer portal can do wonders for a player, and Rattler is a good example of that. His development at South Carolina dwarfs what he could have done in the spread system at Oklahoma. Unlike just about every other quarterback, Rattler looked quite comfortable in his drop backs. His accuracy looked sharper than it has throughout his college career, particularly on out-breaking routes. Rattler is understandably a polarizing prospect due to his erratic decision making. I feel like he has improved in the regard though, and he makes for an intriguing developmental prospect in the 3rd or 4th round.

RB Ray Davis, Kentucky

I admit to overlooking Davis a little bit this year. He ran for over 1100 yards and 14 TDs in 2023, but he didn’t appear special to me. His combine performance has me re-watching his tape because it was stellar. He ran a 4.52-s 40, which is a good time for someone his size. Davis comes with a great compact build for an RB at 5’10” and 216 lbs. Most importantly, his drills were phenomenal. Frank Gore has said that he judges RBs by their feet. During the Duce Staley drill, Davis showed better feet than anyone, and he caught the ball well out of the backfield. He looks like a 3-down starting back for the next level.

G Cooper Beebe, Kansas State

Confession: I value mauling guard play more than the average onlooker. When I watched Beebe play this year, I saw a powerful blocker with a mean streak to finish through defenders. That continued through the combine. He started off by running a solid 1.76-s 10-yard split, which is right where you want to be. Beebe’s strength was evident, and he hit the pads during drills with ferocity. It’s just too bad that we didn’t get to see “Fred the Sled” during the offensive lineman drills like we did with the TEs. Regardless, Beebe looks like an extremely safe 2nd-round pick who will start at left guard for a dozen years or so.

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