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Monday open thread: Who will be the star of the 2022 NFL Combine?

Which player will shine brightest?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 04 Big Ten Championship Game - Michigan v Iowa Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Athleticism has a strong correlation with success in the NFL. If you’re in the market for game-changing players, look no further than the NFL Combine.

After months of film review, the Combine allows us to assign numbers to a player’s athletic traits. Across every position, there are players poised to put up great numbers. At quarterback, Malik Willis could bolster his claim for QB1—if he chooses to run. The Detroit Lions will certainly have their eyes on pass rushers Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux, both of whom are expected to test exceedingly well. Meanwhile, Kyle Hamilton is regarded as a unicorn prospect, an athletic game-changer that could emerge as a rare top-five safety prospect.

We have seen prospects elevate their draft stock with a strong Combine. Inversely, stocks have plummeted after disappointing performances. The 2022 NFL Draft has no shortage of great athletes, but which player will steal the spotlight?

Today’s Question of the Day is:

Who will be the star of the 2022 NFL Combine?

My answer: Michigan’s David Ojabo.

Between Aidan Hutchinson, Daxton Hill, and David Ojabo, the Michigan defense had no shortage of athletic players. However, I think Ojabo will light up the combine, a performance that could vault him into the draft’s top ten.

The 40-yard dash is the highlight of the combine for many fans, and I think Ojabo will test well. He won’t be the fastest player at the combine—keep an eye on receiver Calvin Austin III—but Ojabo’s speed should land him in the 4.50 to 4.70-second range, elite for defensive ends.

Ojabo truly shines with agility and explosiveness. Those traits pop on film, and it will be interesting to see how his numbers stack up. Coupled with his size (6-foot-5, 250 pounds), Ojabo has sky-high potential. Ojabo is in a similar mold to 2021 Combine standout Odafe Oweh, although there’s no shame in falling short of those numbers—Oweh was an athletic monster.

Much like Oweh, Ojabo is viewed as a raw prospect, which may limit how early he is drafted. In college, Ojabo usually beat linemen with his athleticism, but his pass rush moves need refinement for the NFL. Keep an eye on Ojabo’s position drills, as these could be a significant boost for his draft stock.

I think Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton could put on an incredible showing in the Combine, but I doubt it would raise his stock much further. Hamilton is already regarded as a top-five pick. The question surrounding him is positional value, not athleticism. Even if he posts Isaiah Simmons-like numbers, it may not be enough to solidify him as the second- or third-overall pick.

As for Ojabo, athletic pass rushers are a premium, and if Hutchinson and Thibodeaux are off the board, a team could certainly gamble on Ojabo’s athleticism. I expect him to be a riser following the Combine.

Your turn.