SportsPulse: Our draft guru Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz tells you the five guys you need to know ahead of April's draft that shined at the combine and could become instant stars in the NFL. USA TODAY
The stopwatches and measuring tape now can be stored away.
With the NFL scouting combine wrapping up on Monday, more than 300 draft prospects have completed their biggest audition for all 32 teams throughout the league. And for better or worse, all of them left Indianapolis having shaped the opinion of scouts, coaches and general managers in one way or another.
To what extent these players' performances elevated or sank their draft stock is unclear, as teams place different values on various attributes. Furthermore, the team interviews and medical checks are two of the most important stages of the combine yet are conducted behind closed doors. And whatever athleticism a prospect shows in workouts won't do much good if he hasn't also demonstrated an ability to integrate it into his actual play.
But there were several players who unquestionably made an impression in testing and drills. Here are the biggest winners and losers from this year's combine:
1. D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss: Before running a drill or catching a single pass, Metcalf already built a buzz in Indianapolis when he told the media he has 1.9 percent body fat. That statistic ended up just one facet of a remarkable performance. In recording a 4.33-second 40-yard dash, 27 bench press reps and 40 1/2-inch vertical leap at 6-3, 228 pounds, Metcalf put himself in rarefied air as one of the best straight-line athletes in recent combine history. Poor times in the three-cone drill (7.38) and short shuttle (4.50) underscore his need to find flexibility with a bulky frame, but he made a strong case to be the first receiver selected.
2. Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State: One month after a strong week of Senior Bowl practices, the 6-6, 260-pound Sweat did even more to raise his profile over the weekend. A 4.41 40 that set the modern (since 2003) record for defensive linemen was his marquee number, but his sterling runs in the three-cone drill (7.00) and short shuttle (4.29) helped counter claims about his elasticity as a rusher. Sweat still has to put all of those translate those numbers to his approach as a rusher, but his top-10 appeal is growing.
3. Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma: Yes, Murray didn't do much more than measure in and answer questions in Indianapolis. But by coming in at 5-10 and 207 pounds while impressing in team interviews, according to USA TODAY Sports' Mike Jones, the Heisman Trophy winner cleared several hurdles in his pursuit of becoming the No. 1 pick. Expect him to show off his athleticism and passing prowess on his March 13 pro day, even if he drops some weight before doing so.
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4. Noah Fant, TE, Iowa: The Mackey Award for college football's best tight end belongs to his Hawkeyes teammate T.J. Hockenson, but there was no question which player at the position had the premier outing in Indianapolis. In perhaps the most well-rounded performance among all participants in the combine, the 6-4, 249-pounder led tight ends in the 40 (4.5), vertical (39 1/2), three-cone drill (6.89) and broad jump (10-7) before catching passes with no trouble in drills. Fant now should be in the discussion to be a top-20 pick.
5. Brian Burns, DE, Florida State: Another player who won at weigh-ins, Burns added more than 20 pounds to his frame by coming in at 249. He carried it well, placing second among defensive linemen in the 40 (4.53) and gliding around throughout his workout. Operating at his best when he's pairing his pass-rush savvy with his well-rounded athleticism (as shown by a 7.01 three-cone drill, 36-inch vertical and 10-9 broad jump), Burns can be a consistently disruptive threat off the edge.
6. Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama: Even in a forum that seldom affords the spotlight to interior defensive linemen, the Outland Trophy winner managed to shine. His 4.83-second 40 was the fourth-fastest since 2003 for any lineman weighing over 300 pounds, and he stood above all others in his position group when he took the field. Already a virtual lock to be taken in the top five picks, Williams affirmed his standing in this class' first tier of prospects.
7. Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan: Looking to entrench himself alongside the likes of Williams, Nick Bosa and Josh Allen as one of the draft's elite defensive talents, Gary put on a show. At 6-4 and 277 pounds, he ripped off a 4.58 40 and 38-inch vertical. Turning the corner on NFL offensive tackles could be tricky for Gary given he managed just 9 1/2 sacks in three years at Michigan, but several teams at the top of the first round likely will take the long-term bet on his potential.
8. Devin White, LB, LSU: The combine wasn't likely to knock White from his pedestal as the pre-eminent linebacker available, and he instead used the platform to reaffirm his standing. Before a smooth on-field display, he paced his position with a 4.42 40 and added a 39 1/2-inch vertical. Though off-ball linebackers often aren't prized as highly as other positions, White deserves to be considered one of the premier defensive players in this draft class.
9. Speedy receivers: Seven receivers clocked under 4.4 seconds in the 40 this year, while 18 had sub-4.5 marks. Ohio State's Parris Campbell and Massachusetts' Andy Isabella led the way at 4.31, but Missouri's Emanuel Hall, Notre Dame's Myles Boykin, and Iowa State's Hakeem Butler all helped themselves as well.
10. N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State: The 6-2, 228-pound target wasn't one of the fastest pass catchers on hand in Indianapolis, but his 4.53 40 time was a clear win as he looked to show sufficient speed to separate. He also put up 27 bench reps and a 38 1/2-inch vertical. Despite some miscues while catching passes during drills, Harry is trending upward and could crack the first round.
11. Ben Banogu, DE, TCU: A 11-2 broad jump, setting the record for defensive linemen, was a harbinger of Banogu's day to come. While pro comparisons are often unfair, it's hard to overlook that his 1.47-second 10-yard split in the 40 was a tenth of a second faster than that of Von Miller, among others. Also claiming a 40-inch vertical, Banogu flashed substantial athletic prowess that could pay off for a team patient enough to bring him along.
COMBINE SLEEPERS: Ben Banogu among pass rushers who stood out
12. Devin Bush, LB, Michigan: Going nearly step for step with White reinforced that the 5-11, 234-pound Bush is built for the modern, pass-happy NFL. No other linebacker had a higher vertical (40 1/2), and only White claimed a faster 40 than Bush's 4.43. He should settle into the back half of the first round.
13. Jamel Dean, CB, Auburn: Three knee injuries in high school and college didn't prevent Dean from a second-place finish in the 40 at 4.30 seconds, which was behind only Ole Miss safety Zedrick Woods' 4.29 time. At 6-1 and 206 pounds with tantalizing physical tools (having also logged a 41-inch vertical and 10-10 broad jump), he could surge up draft boards so long as teams were comfortable with his medical outlook.
14. Justice Hill, RB, Oklahoma State: So much for the questions about his explosive ability. Leading all running backs with a 4.40-second 40, 10-10 broad jump and 40-inch vertical leap, Hill had the most dynamic showing in an otherwise uninspiring class of ball-carriers. The workout could help him separate from a pack of mid-to-late-round running backs come April.
15. Miles Sanders, RB, Penn State: No one will put his performance on the same level as that of former Nittany Lions teammate and reigning NFL offensive rookie of the year Saquon Barkley, but Sanders still stood out. Capping a strong set of testing marks with perhaps the best on-field session of any player at his position, he excelled with his change of direction and notched a 6.89 three-cone time that led all backs. Sanders should be in the conversation to be one of the first five ball-carriers taken in the draft.
16. Garrett Bradbury, C, North Carolina State: The former tight end's display of nimble footwork and 4.93-second 40-yard dash came as little surprise. His 34 bench press reps, however, were second among all offensive linemen and served as evidence he has the strength to be more than a finesse blocker. The first round looks well within reach.
17. Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State: While other top linemen face questions about whether they have all the tools to play left tackle in the NFL, Dillard leaves Indianapolis carrying no such concerns. He demonstrated footwork rivaling that of Bradbury and also led his position group in the broad jump (9-10) and short shuttle (4.40). Even if the performance didn't shift any opinions of his value relative to the likes of Jonah Williams and Jawaan Taylor, Dillard should have a solid chance to go in the top half of the first round.
1. Jachai Polite, OLB/DE, Florida: By any measure, it was a strange week for an edge rusher who should have fared well on this stage. Polite pulled out of combine drills early with a hamstring injury after running a 4.84 40, a mark teams will want to see him substantially improve upon at his pro day. He also took an odd tone in interviews, telling the media that the 49ers and Packers were "bashing" him during meetings. After several of his peers showed off, Polite needs to make a better impression on teams.
2. Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss: Standing in stark contrast to college teammate Metcalf and high school teammate Murray, Little didn't capitalize on his opportunity. Beyond his struggles in the 40 (5.33) and vertical (25 inches), the former five-star recruit looked awkward and choppy in his movements on the field. His tools will still entice teams, but he's undoubtedly a project at this point.
3. Dre'Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State: At just 286 pounds and prone to getting pushed around in the run game, Jones needed to show explosive traits to emphasize his potential as a pass rusher. Instead, he underwhelmed almost across the board. His potential team fits are likely limited to those with a one-gap scheme allowing interior rushers to get upfield.
4. Devin Singletary, RB, Florida Atlantic: After measuring in at 5-7 and 203 pounds, Singletary said of playing at his size, “If Barry Sanders can do it, I feel I can do it." Any comparison to the Hall of Famer, however, seems even more dubious after he was among the worst at his position in both the three-cone drill (7.32 seconds) and short shuttle (4.40 seconds), befuddling times for a player who left defenders grasping for air with his cuts in college. Once seen as potentially the second or third back off the board, Singletary might now face closer scrutiny from teams.
5. Elijah Holyfield, RB, Georgia: The son of Evander Holyfield moved a bit too much like a heavyweight on Friday, recording a 4.78-second 40 and 29 1/2-inch vertical, which both ranked second-to-last among backs. At his pro day, showing some of the acceleration he put to use last season should be Holyfield's foremost priority.
6. Lil'Jordan Humphrey, WR, Texas: Succeeding despite a 4.75 40 is difficult for even the most big-bodied (6-4, 210) of receivers. Any chance Humphrey had of becoming more than a late-round pick now looks to be fading.
7. Jalen Jelks, DE, Oregon: Amid lingering uncertainty about whether he's best suited as a 4-3 defensive end or 3-4 outside linebacker, Jelks did little to convince teams he can fully handle either role. Poor marks in the 40 (4.92), short shuttle (4.59) and bench press (19 reps) might leave him in a no-man's land for scouts and general managers.
8. Slow TEs: Clocking in at 4.9 seconds or worse in the 40 isn't disqualifying for a tight end's NFL success, but Michigan's Zach Gentry (4.90), Georgia's Isaac Nauta (4.91) and Stanford's Kaden Smith (4.92) all came up short elsewhere and left significant questions about their overall athleticism.
Follow Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz on Twitter @MikeMSchwartz.