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Saturday open thread: Which defensive prospect was the biggest winner of the 2023 NFL Combine?

Which NFL Draft defensive prospect had the best performance at the 2023 NFL Combine?

NFL: Combine Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday night, the defensive prospects at the 2023 NFL Combine finished their on-field drills. The defensive backs closed out the night, and while there’s still work to do with that group (bench press on Saturday), the defenders in this year’s draft class are essentially done with the combine.

The Detroit Lions need plenty of work on this side of the ball. So while many will be tuning into the exciting skill position players take on the 40-yard dash over the weekend, the Lions may have already gotten most of the information they need through Friday night.

So which players helped themselves out of the weekend? Our Erik Schlitt has done a fine job highlighting the most notable performances from the defensive tackles, edge prospects, linebackers, cornerbacks, and safeties, but which one helped themselves the most?

Today’s Question of the Day is:

Which defensive prospect was the biggest winner of the NFL Combine?

My answer: Northwestern edge defender Adetomiwa Adebawore.

We tend to get distracted by the fastest times at the NFL Combine, but it’s always important to bring it back to the weight that these players are carrying around. Of course, the guys who are in the 240-260 range are amongst the fastest in the edge class. Look at the fastest 40 times from this year’s edge class and their corresponding weight:

  • Nolan Smith, Georgia — 4.39 (238 pounds)
  • Byron Young, Tennessee — 4.43 (250)
  • Robert Beal Jr., Georgia — 4.48 (247)
  • DJ Johnson, Oregon — 4.49 (260)

But Adebawore worked his way into the top five with a 4.49 on his own... and at 282 pounds. That is absolutely bonkers. But that was far from the only drill he dominated over the weekend:

Adebawore has steadily improved his draft stock throughout the entire offseason. He proved it on the field with a stellar Senior Bowl performance and backed it up with the numbers this week.

I can’t say for sure whether the Lions would be interested in a guy like Adebawore, as they’re pretty stacked at the edge position. If the Lions don’t re-sign John Cominsky or don’t view him as a long-term answer, though, Adebawore could be that perfect player that can both play the inside and outside and would be tremendous value late on Day 2... if he lasts that long.

Going into the weekend, Adebawore was commonly ranked in the 90-110 range on many big boards. But after this week’s performance, don’t be surprised to see him jump into early Round 3 or potentially even Round 2.

Your turn.

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