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Grading the gainers and the decliners at the NFL combine

The NFL scouting combine, otherwise known as football’s version of a beauty pageant, is finished.

Dozens of draft hopefuls ran, jumped and chatted with NFL coaches, executives and scouts. They waited in long lines at a local hospital to have doctors examine their bones and joints. They also took mental tests to make sure there was more going on in their brain than identifying a blitzing linebacker.

So it’s time to evaluate all the measureables of players from across the state and around the Big 12 to see who helped their cause and who lost ground with the draft fewer than eight weeks away.

The gainers:

  • Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M. It’s difficult to say Garrett really gained ground, only because he can’t get any higher. He already was considered the top prospect available. After his performance in Indy, Garrett solidified that status. Cleveland, you’re on the clock.

Garrett ran a 4.64-second time in the 40-yard dash. That’s blazing for a player who weighs 272 pounds. He also posted a vertical jump of 41 inches, an elite effort for a lineman. He showed his strength by doing 33 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press.

“Garrett has been my No. 1 prospect since the beginning of the season,” wrote ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper. “And he’s staying right where he has been after he posted ridiculous numbers.”

  • Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech. He’s possibly elevated himself into the first round, behind Clemson’s Deshaun Watson and North Carolina’s Mitch Tribusky and maybe even or ahead of Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer. It depends on which scout you ask.

“The former Red Raider signal-caller is more of a thrower than a pitcher who can pick his spots at this point, but his arm talent is undeniable,” Kiper said.

  • Jordan Willis, DE, Kansas State. The Big 12 defensive player of the year looks to be a solid second-rounder after his outing in Indy. Garrett sucked away the public spotlight among the ends, but Willis turned heads among the scouts.

He ran a 4.53 40, which was second fastest among the linemen, behind only Temple’s Haason Reddick, who was molded by new Baylor coach Matt Rhule. He posted a 39-inch vertical, which was the runner-up to Garrett’s. And his first 10 yards of the 40 — the stretch scouts use to measures a player’s burst off the line of scrimmage — was clocked at 1.54 seconds. That was tops among the linemen.

  • Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma. The Sooners’ all-time rushing leader weighed in at 233 pounds. And he ran a 4.65 in the 40 with a 33-inch vertical. That’s nice speed and agility for a big back. However, he wowed with his strength. Perine did 30 reps in the bench press, best among the running backs. It would’ve placed fifth among the offensive linemen, the strongest unit at the combine.
  • Trevor Knight, QB, Texas A&M. The Aggies’ former leader was the most athletic quarterback at the combine, showing off with a 4.54 time in the 40. That was the fastest time of any quarterback, although most at the position don’t focus a ton of their pre-combine training on the 40. Maybe his speed and agility will allow Knight to slip into the draft in the late rounds. Or maybe Knight will be more like Houston quarterback Greg Ward, who is attempting to make the NFL as a receiver.
  • KD Cannon, WR, Baylor. Cannon didn’t do much at the combine, but he did run a 4.41 time in the 40, which was the third fastest among the wideouts. That’s plenty of speed to satisfy scouts. He’ll work out more at Baylor’s pro day next month.
  • Aviante Collins, OL, TCU. He ran a 4.75 40, the fastest time by an offensive lineman at the combine in the past four years. Collins also showed strength with 34 reps in the bench press, which was second among the offensive lineman. Scouts think he’ll move from tackle to guard in the pros.
  • Speedy Noil, WR, Texas A&M. Noil’s vertical was 43.5 inches. That’s the second highest a receiver has jumped at the combine since 2006.

Players who failed to improve their stock:

  • D’Onta Foreman, RB, Texas. Foreman was on track for a nice combine. He weighed 233 pounds, which was a drop of 16 from last season, but doctors wouldn’t allow him to run after an X-ray revealed a small stress fracture in his foot. He should be able to work out by March 28, Texas’ pro day, but the other top tailback prospects wowed at the combine. Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara emerged as the top back after Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook and possibly Christian McCaffrey.
  • Rasul Douglas, CB, West Virginia. Douglas was a hot prospect coming out of the Senior Bowl, but he faded at the combine. His 40 time of 4.59 was slow for a player at a position in which speed is a must-have.
  • Ricky Seals-Jones, WR, Texas A&M. The one-time five-star recruiting prospect hasn’t caught fire with the NFL. He weighed 243 pounds, but ran only a 4.69 in the 40.

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