After an excellent start to the 2020 NFL Combine, Day Two saw the offensive lineman, running backs, and specialists hit the field. With such a strong offensive tackle class, and a highly-touted running back group to boot, there was plenty of excitement and expectations for how the players would test and perform. Like the previous day, the players did not disappoint and we saw several players outperform expectations and have the type of day that will keep them firmly on the radar of NFL teams and push them up when it comes to draft day. So let’s jump right in once again!
Previously: Day One
Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State
When Tony Pauline first brought up Ezra Cleveland as a day one sleeper, plenty of people were skeptical. Those skeptics were silenced the moment Cleveland hit the field for drills, posting the best RAS of the class, running a blazing 4.93 in the 40-yard dash with an unofficial 1.74 split, and posting elite numbers in the bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, short shuttle, and 3-cone (you may notice that’s every drill). Cleveland also hit the vaunted “4.4 shuttle” threshold for offensive lineman, which Rotoworld’s Josh Norris notes as being a huge indicator for success at the NFL level regardless of draft round.
Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
Tristan Wirfs is a OT prospect in the 2020 draft class out of Iowa.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) February 29, 2020
He posted an elite #RAS with okay size, elite speed, elite explosiveness, good agility at the OT position.https://t.co/SODPLqYvki pic.twitter.com/B5rOMgnr1i
Already considered one of the best offensive lineman in the class, Wirfs only really had to hit some benchmarks and not tank any parts of the Combine to keep his draft stock high. Exhibiting elite athletic traits on tape, nobody who watched him was questioning if he had the tools to hold up at the next level. Many predicted a very high RAS, but even his biggest fans probably didn’t predict Wirfs would post the best explosion numbers of all time for an offensive lineman at the Combine, to pair with a 4.85 in the 40-yard dash and a crazy fast for an OL 1.69 split. Wirfs would also dominate the drills portion of the event, drawing praise from nearly everyone who watched him.
Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
While Thomas did very well in the measurements, culminating in an elite RAS at the event, the more important part of his Combine was the drills. To say Thomas crushed the drills seems like an understatement for just how well he played as he was making it look easy no matter what he was asked to do. In such a strong tackle class, it can be hard to stand out positively since the expectations are so high for everyone, but Thomas certainly looked like a franchise left tackle during every single moment he was on the field Friday.
Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
It’s a bit unfortunate that we weren’t able to see Mekhi Becton during the on-field drills portion of the Combine as he felt some hamstring tightness during his second (superfluous) 40-yard dash and wisely decided to play it safe. Still, you’re probably going to see his 40-yard dash replayed a dozen times between now and the Combine as it’s rare you see a fit, toned 6-foot-7 3/8” guy weighing 364 pounds with only 17 percent body fat running an elite 5.10 flat 40-yard dash. A true athletic marvel, Becton is contending with some strong opposition to become the top tackle selected and could be a bargaining chip to convince a tackle needy team to trade up in the early first round.
Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
It says a lot about this class that with four positions to choose from (Well, seven if we include specialists), half of the best performers were offensive tackles projected to go in the first round. Jedrick Wills also finished with an elite RAS, making this the first class in what seems like forever that the top five tackle prospects have no athletic question marks. Wills is powerfully built with an intensely powerful lower body that makes him nearly impossible to walk back to the quarterback. Coming from an NFL factory in Alabama with nothing but great tape and a strong athletic profile, this tackle class is going to be uniquely interesting to follow on draft night.
Cesar Ruiz, OC, Michigan
Cesar Ruiz is a OC prospect in the 2020 draft class out of Michigan.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) February 29, 2020
He posted a great #RAS with good size, great speed, elite explosiveness, okay agility at the OC position.https://t.co/745VzCYzLH pic.twitter.com/UWDZZLdt1I
I had hoped to watch Cesar Ruiz and LSU’s Lloyd Cushenberry battling it out all day, but unfortunately Cushenberry went down with injury during his 40-yard dash and didn’t return. Ruiz would go on to post elite numbers in speed and explosiveness, culminating in the fourth highest RAS for an interior OL. Those watching the broadcast and paying close attention may have heard former NFL all star Shaun O’Hara just beaming about Ruiz, who put on a nearly flawless performance during the on-field drills portion of the Combine. Ruiz is probably going to go early day two, so he’s one to watch for the Lions if they address defense with their first pick but still want to bolster their blocking unit early.
Cam Akers, RB, Florida State
Akers is a bit of a curiosity. Opinions seemed split on him coming into the season with equal parts believers and doubters, but as the season progressed he was largely ignored. It’s a shame as he put up 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns for the Seminoles, finishing up a productive overall career at a top program. He had some athleticism concerns coming into the week, but after running a 4.47 40-yard dash and crushing his explosiveness drills those issues were put firmly to rest and Akers is putting himself right back into that day two discussion.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Louisiana State
Clyde Edwards-Helaire is a RB prospect in the 2020 draft class out of Louisiana State.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) February 29, 2020
He posted a good #RAS with poor size, okay speed, elite explosiveness, at the RB position.https://t.co/CrW5btO9FZ pic.twitter.com/ATDFlWcJ85
“But Mathbomb,” I hear you say, “this guy only had a 5.56 RAS, how could you be saying he killed the Combine!”
This is more a case of a player doing exactly what he had to do and people hilariously misinterpreting things that don’t matter. CEH has never been a fast player, but what he has always been on the field is explosive. So when he showed up and just obliterated the explosion drills while measuring in like a bowling ball, all he had to really do was hit a benchmark in the 40-yard dash. He hit it. His Combine was done. Sure, numbers guys like me are going to have an average-ish score to look at, but some guys are simply who they are. And if they win on the football field with it, what’s the problem?
Eno Benjamin, RB, Arizona State
The most elusive running back in the draft class, I’ve talked about Benjamin before as a guy I really liked on tape, but didn’t expect to do well in drills. Yet here we are, a day after he participated in the 2020 NFL Combine, and Eno Benjamin measured ...just fine. I didn’t expect just fine, though, I expected him to post poor numbers in every timed drill, and he put up okay numbers in all of the timed drills. That’s fantastic! Did he get an elite RAS? No. But when you’re expected to post a poor score and you get a good one, that’s a great day. Benjamin needed to be just okay to secure a spot on day two, but with a “just fine” showing he’s probably moving up draft boards with how excellent his tape is.
AJ Dillon, RB, Boston College
Like Eno Benjamin, I’ve spoken about AJ Dillon before. Unlike Benjamin, my talk about Dillon was about how he was set to light up the Combine. Playing at over 250 pounds for a program known for producing slow, plodding backs, few expected Dillon to test well when he weighed in close to playing weight at 247 pounds. After a 41” vertical and coming just one inch shy of an 11 foot broad, people quickly took notice. Dillon posted one of the best RAS at the Combine and along with some promising tape should be seeing himself shooting up draft boards very soon.
Yes! Like Day One, Day Two saw a ton of players putting their training to work for them and while there were a few poor performances of note it was largely a big win for most players. Trey Adams of Washington suffered various injuries in college, so his poor showing was probably very disappointing. Losing Mekhi Becton before we got to see him in drills as well as losing Lloyd Cushenberry to injury were both unfortunate developments. Still, performances by Jonathan Taylor and D’Andre Swift, both top rushers in the class, along with strong performances by lesser known players like Raymond Calais out of Louisiana, OG Danny Pinter out of Ball State, and Matt Peart out of UConn could see their names taking a larger stage on the national markets.