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NFL Draft

Prospects Who Impressed on Day 1 of the NFL Combine



Clemson defensive lineman Ruke Orhorhoro runs the 40-yard dash at the NFL football scouting combine, Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, in Indianapolis. Orhorhoro saw his NFL Draft stock rise at the combine. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

On Thursday, the first batch of players went through drills on Day 1 of the NFL Scouting Combine. They were divided into three groups: defensive linemen, edge defenders, and linebackers. Even within the subgroups, it was occasionally like comparing apples and oranges. The size differences in prospects were considerable. Some of this was due to prospects slimming down to run faster. Players sometimes did not seem to be with the proper group. But at the end of the day, some of those NFL Draft prospects stood out and improved their draft stock.

A look at some of Thursday’s top performers.

Defensive Tackles

Braden Fiske, Florida State

Fiske saw his stock rise with an impressive performance at the Senior Bowl. After yesterday’s performance, Braden Fiske might find himself on the cusp of Round 1 in the NFL Draft. He finished first among defensive tackles in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, broad jump, and 20-yard shuttle. He looked both smooth and powerful. His arm length (31″) was about the only test Fiske did not ace yesterday.

Ruke Orhorhoro, Clemson

Ruke Orhorhoro forced a lot of people to go back a rewatch his game film to see why he’s not ranked higher. He looks like a prototype NFL defensive lineman. He was consistently at the top of his group while measuring in at 6-foor-4 and 294 pounds. Orhorhoro moved like a much smaller man and had a good bend. He stood out positively with every rep he had in drills.

Byron Murphy II, Texas

Murphy’s Longhorns teammate T’Vondre Sweat also impressed Thursday, showing good movement despite weighing in at 366 pounds. Murphy tipped the scales at 297 looking compact and powerful. He ran well, with a 4.87 in the 40. He showed a good blend of power and speed. Murphy also carried himself with confidence, which made a positive impression as well.

Mekhi Wingo, LSU

The LSU Tigert finished second to Fiske in the 40 but had the fastest 10-yard split of the group. He looked fluid and agile. Wingo is slightly undersized for the interior (he weighed in at 284) but he also showed enough bend to potentially bump out to the outside occasionally.

Edge Defenders

The Big Three

Dallas Turner (Alabama), Jared Verse (Florida State), and Laiatu Latu (UCLA) were the top three edge defenders heading into the combine. All three solidified their standing at the top of the group. Turner’s 4.46 in the 40 was the best time of the entire group. He also finished first in the vertical. He is an impressive athlete. Verse was also impressive, looking powerful and fluid. Latu did not test as well as the other two, but he looked incredibly smooth in every drill he ran. All of these players would be top-ten picks in an NFL Draft that did not have so many offensive-needy teams near the top.

Chop Robinson, Penn State

It almost looked unfair for Robinson to be running drills in this group because he looks like a durable running back. It was surprising to have him measure in at 6-foor-3 and 254 pounds. Robinson’s 40 time of 4.48 was second to only Dallas Turner, and he tied Turner for the fastest 10-yard split. He also tied for the longest broad jump and finished second in the 20-yard shuttle. Robinson is an elite with an excellent chance of going Round 1.

Marshawn Kneeland, Western Michigan

Kneeland was one of only four prospects to participate in every drill, so he gets bonus points for effort and competitiveness. His 40 time was not great (4.75) but respectable. Kneeland impressed on the other drills, including the best time in both the three-cone drill and the 20-yard shuttle. He was one of the larger edge players at 267 pounds and is likely to add more weight before the start of the NFL season. Kneeland solidified himself as a Day 2 pick.

Myles Cole, Texas Tech

Like Orhorhoro in the defensive tackle group, Cole just looked good doing everything he participated in. He looked like he belonged, something not every prospect could say. He did not dominate any of the drills but was consistently near the top of his group. He was graded by most as a Day 3 selection, with a possibility of going undrafted. After yesterday’s performance, Myles Cole will most certainly have his name called on draft day.

Jalyx Hunt, Houston Christian

Jalyx Hunt has seemingly come from nowhere to get on everyone’s radar. He was a reserve safety for Cornell who couldn’t get on the field. Now he’s looking like one of the most athletic edge defenders in the NFL Draft. Hunt measured in at 6-foot-4, 252 pounds. He is probably better suited for standing up on the outside without the benefit of adding more weight. He ran a 4.64 40-yard dash, with a 10-yard split nearly equal or better to everyone other than Turner and Robinson. Cole had the fourth-best vertical and tied Chop Robinson for best in the broad jump. Pre-combine Hunt wasn’t even a draft option in PFF’s Mock Draft Simulator.


Payton Wilson, N.C. State

The Wolfpack linebacker put up the day’s best 40 time (4.43). Wilson showed some good competitiveness as well. While some prospects chose not to run, or only run once after posting a solid score, Wilson tried to beat his own time despite being the last player of the group to go again and already owning the best time. His vertical and broad jumps were both average for the group, but he showed great speed and showcased good instincts in the drills.

Edgerrin Cooper, Texas A&M

Cooper might be battling Wilson to be the first linebacker off the board in the 2024 NFL Draft. He had a very similar day, finishing with the third-best 40-yard dash time in the group, by tying for the fastest 10-yard split. He was also solid if not spectacular in the jumping drills. But in the drills that translated more directly to playing football (footwork, change of direction) he excelled.

Trevin Wallace, Kentucky

If there was a gold medal for the “all around” in the testing events it may have gone to Trevin Wallace. He tied for the third-fastest 40, tied for the fastest 10-yard split, and finished second in both the vertical and broad jumps. Wallace is 6-foot-1 and 237 pounds. His production was solid at Kentucky but with his athleticism now turning heads, his draft stock could be soaring leading up to April.