Rejoice! The Patriots’ sixth Super Bowl win is now officially ancient history—you don’t have to think about it anymore. It’s now time to look forward: The 2019 NFL combine is here, and a rotating cast of Ringer staffers will provide you with a collection of five thoughts from each day in Indianapolis.
The 2019 combine is officially over, and we have only eight long weeks until the 2019 NFL draft. Most of the news from the combine came from the past few days—Kyler Murray is short but not short-short, D.K. Metcalf is the Hulk mixed with the Flash, and the pass rushers are the real stars of this year’s class—but Monday put a button on the NFL’s silliest event of the year.
1. Greedy Williams is still the best cornerback in the draft, probably.
Greedy Williams was the best cornerback prospect of the draft class entering the 2018 season, but questions about his tackling have knocked him to merely among the best defensive backs available. He started off with an excellent performance on Monday, running a 4.37 40-yard dash.
That’s a great time for someone who is about 6′2″ and 185 pounds, but shortly after he finished the run, he ended his workout early with two calf cramps. He tweeted that he’ll finish the on-field drills at his pro day on March 22, and he’ll likely focus on those rather than run another 40-yard dash where he could time slower than he did on Monday.
I’ll be back for field work March 22nd❗️ https://t.co/892RWiLrpt— Greedy Williams ™️ (@G_Will29) March 4, 2019
But more importantly, Williams shared a story on Sunday about the time LSU head coach Ed Orgeron smashed a Red Bull can on his own chest.
greedy williams just told me that ed orgeron smashed a red bull on his chest in a meeting pic.twitter.com/YldPCr8uNF— charles mcdonald (lakers 30-32) (@FourVerts) March 3, 2019
The measurables are nice, but the Red Bull story shows Greedy is coachable. That’s big in the eyes of the scouts. He’s still the best cornerback in the class.
2. Deandre Baker is Williams’s main competition.
Baker was an All-SEC cornerback this year along with Williams and is his main competition to be the first cornerback drafted in April, and the two had opposite performances on Monday. Baker’s first 40-yard-dash attempt went poorly—he clocked in with a 4.52—and he followed that up with an even slower 4.63 his second go-round. The 40 time is not a dealbreaker, but it’s also not helping his case to vault into the top 12. (USA Today’s Doug Farrar said that his performance in the drill might have been a preparation issue.)
After Baker’s run, Deion Sanders said on the NFL Network broadcast that he felt that some of the defensive backs were too uptight for the 40-yard dash and needed to relax a bit before the on-field portion of the drills. Baker must have taken Sanders’s advice, because he fared far better after the 40-yard dash.
DeAndre Baker’s got some hands pic.twitter.com/xjxVew9pS6— Cameron DaSilva (@camdasilva) March 4, 2019
Baker is a more physical player than Greedy, which might help him in the NFL, especially when it comes to tackling. Now as they head into their pro days, Baker might be prepping for another 40-yard dash to prove he’s faster than he looked on Monday. Even if he can’t, he still has an excellent shot at being a top-20 pick.
3. Juan Thornhill can yam.
Tony Bennett’s basketball team isn’t the only team that plays defense at UVA. Safety Juan Thornhill made a statement with a vertical leap that nearly broke the NFL combine record.
It’s tied for the third-best vertical figure at the combine since 2006, which makes sense considering this Thornhill dunk from high school.
In addition to his near-record leap, Thornhill had by far the longest broad jump (11 feet, 9 inches) and the second-most bench-press reps at 225 pounds (21) of all defensive backs, and his 4.42 dash ranked him fifth among the 15 safeties. He had been considered in the third-ish or fourth-ish round range, but he might go even higher after showing this athleticism. If he can line up at free safety and in the slot, he could be excellent. He met with the Cowboys on Sunday.
Virginia safety Juan Thornhill has a meeting scheduled with the Cowboys tonight. "Dallas wouldn't be upset if they drafted me." Why? "I'm a ballhawk. I had 13 career interceptions, 6 interceptions this year. With a guy like me, you'll definitely get the ball back to the offense."— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) March 3, 2019
Dallas loves absurdly athletic defensive backs. One of the few players with a higher vertical than Thornhill’s is Dallas corner Byron Jones.
4. Zedrick Woods runs a sub-4.30, which probably means nothing.
Ole Miss safety Zedrick Woods ran the fastest 40-yard dash of the entire 2019 NFL combine.
His 4.30 attempt, later corrected to a 4.29, made him just the ninth player to run a 40-yard dash in under 4.3 seconds since 2006, joining John Ross (4.22), Chris Johnson (4.24), Dri Archer (4.26), Marquise Goodwin (4.27), and Jacoby Ford, Jalen Myrick, J.J. Nelson, and DeMarcus Van Dyke (all tied at 4.28). If you haven’t heard of some of those players (DeMarcus Van Dyke?), perhaps it is evidence that maybe, just maybe, the 40-yard dash is overrated.
The time was a surprise for Woods, who hasn’t always played with the closing speed that would indicate he has such quick feet. Woods is projected as a late-round pick, but he might be considered by a team in the middle rounds if he can show that his speed translates onto the field. If not, he might be the latest player who runs a 4.2-something score and then fails to do much on an NFL field.
5. Rich Eisen is the best part of the NFL combine.
Watching the NFL combine would flat-out suck without Rich Eisen. What should be a completely unwatchable broadcast (young men running! and also other stuff!) is made palatable by Eisen’s silky voice, perfect five-o’clock shadow, and ruthless campaign to gaslight America into believing that the 40-yard dash matters. Eisen’s #RunRichRun campaign, where he comes down from the broadcast booth and runs the 40-yard dash while wearing a suit to raise awareness for cancer research, raised $1.1 million (!) for St. Jude Children’s Hospital this year. The only part of the combine that is unambiguously good is Eisen and the people on Twitter who have donated and sent in videos of their own combine drills.
And with two dogs in the mix too. Well done. pic.twitter.com/HazglMIaG6— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) March 4, 2019
Look at this hero.
On Sunday, Eisen got a visit from Bill Belichick in the broadcast booth, and Belichick handed him an apparently substantial check for cancer research.
On Monday, Eisen ran his 40-yard dash, but after two trials, he was still well above 6 seconds. On his third try and visibly out of breath, he reached six seconds flat.
He couldn’t beat his personal best 40 time of 5.94 from three years ago, but he was offered some help on Instagram.
If Eisen fully commits to the TB12 method next year, he’ll make the combine must-watch TV. There’s a first for everything.