The NFL combine may be mocked (in this very article) for its value on the league’s calendar. In truth, it can make or break prospects, with truly bad or truly incredible performances. It’s rare, but there will be some prospects whose 40-yard dash times will ensure they get drafted — or ensure they do not. The same will be true for a handful of the measurements and exercises that take place over the weekend.
What’s most interesting, however, is when a player moves up nine spots in first round of the NFL draft, like Kyler Murray could begin to do this weekend. He would increase his earnings from $18.9 million at No. 10 overall with the Denver Broncos to $34.9 million at No. 1 overall with the Arizona Cardinals. That’s quite the raise.
That’s why this list favors some of the most talented prospects in this draft class. They may not gain as much ground as a player jumping from undrafted territory into the third round. In a fiscal sense, however, they have the most to gain. A strong combine performance could boost their draft stock ever so slightly, which could result in an exponentially higher salary.
1. Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
You knew this one was coming, right?
Murray’s combine performance will matter for a few reasons. First, he has supposedly bulked up to 200 pounds. That’s only mildly interesting, because if he throws, he’ll throw against air. So scouts won’t get a significant look at how he carries that weight. But it’s a first look, if nothing else. Second, he’ll likely get his height measured. He’s listed at 5-foot-10, but is expected to come in a little short of that. Third, he’ll have to answer questions about his commitment to football over baseball. The MLB wants him to come back. How he handles those team interviews will be a key factor.
If all goes well, he’ll be in the discussion to be the top pick.
2. D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
He’s an athletic freak with all sorts of injury issues, namely to his neck and back. If his medicals look good, he’ll go a long way in shooting himself up the draft board. What’s more, he has the chance to establish himself as the most physically gifted receiver in the draft class. Good medicals and good measurements could put him into the top five selections.