NFL Scouts and General Managers use the NFL Combine as a chance to either confirm or disprove what they’ve seen in person or on tape. Sometimes though, prospects can come out of nowhere to demonstrate athletic ability you didn’t think they had. These prospects below had surprisingly impressive 2018 NFL Combine results and all should expect their draft stock to rise as a consequence.
Brian O’Neill, offensive tackle, Pitt
Despite having a poor Senior Bowl, O’Neill’s outstanding combine performance could persuade a team to draft him in the second round. The former Pitt tackle ran 40-yard dash time of 4.82, which was a faster 40-time than some wide receivers. His 7.14 three cone drill, his 8’11” broad jump and his 29.5-inch vertical leap were all elite results as well.
Justin Jackson, running back, Northwestern
Considered a late round pick by many, Jackson surprised many with a well-rounded combine. He finished sixth or better in most of the events when most expected his numbers to be middling at-best. Combined with his well-known durability, Jackson’s draft stock is on the rise.
Equanimeous St. Brown, wide receiver, Notre Dame
On a day when most of the big receivers ran poorly, St. Brown’s performance was refreshing. His 4.48 40 was very impressive considering his size and he placed highly in most of the events he participated in. His hands were also on display in a variety of on-the-field drills. St. Brown is now firmly in the mix for being the draft’s second-best wide receiver.
Shaquem Griffin, linebacker, UCF
The best story of the draft, Griffin surprised everyone with an absolutely blazing 40-yard dash time of 4.38, the fastest time ever recorded for a linebacker. The 20 reps he put up on the bench press, despite his disability, prove he has above-average strength at the position. Purportedly interviewing very well, defensive coordinators are going to want this guy on their team.
Natrell Jamerson, safety, Wisconsin
Wisconsin players have reputations for being well-coached and that’s certainly true of Jamerson who was coached by former Bills safety Jim Leonard. But I don’t think many observers expected this somewhat small safety to test as well as he did. Jamerson ran the second-fastest 40-time for safeties with a 4.40 and had the highest bench press total. That athleticism has value for teams looking for their safeties to sport better coverage ability.