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Walkthroughs: Which NFL Draft prospects impressed the most at the 2018 Combine?

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APC’s writers share the names of prospects whose workouts or interviews were the most impressive.

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

With some busy goings-on around the NFL on Wednesday afternoon and throughout this week for the APC staff, we’re a day late on our weekly Walkthroughs, but we’re still here for another roundtable on this first week post-NFL Combine.

With that in mind, this week’s prompt is timely: which player (or players) most impressed each of our writers with their performances in Indianapolis? Here are a few names to keep in mind for the Green Bay Packers moving forward.

Evan “Tex” Western: WR Courtland Sutton, SMU & EDGE Harold Landry, BC

Sutton was an impressive player to me even before he stepped on the field on Saturday. He gave one of the most compelling and entertaining interviews of any player in Indianapolis, going back and talking about everything from his work on his family farm (fencing 100 acres the summer before high school) to breaking down how he separates from different types of coverage. He’s as clean as a whistle and clearly has a tremendous work ethic. Then he went out and ran a very solid 40 (4.54 seconds) and blew away the agility drills. Get him to Green Bay, Brian Gutekunst.

The other player who really impressed me was Landry. Last year, much was made about how Vince Biegel had an eerily similar workout to Clay Matthews’ 2009 Combine. This year, it’s Landry who was right in step with Matthews on pretty much every drill, and his tape from his junior year is just insane. Check out this workout comparison:

  • 40 time: Matthews 4.62, Landry 4.64
  • Vertical: Matthews 35.5”, Landry 36”
  • Broad: Matthews 121”, Landry 119”
  • 3-cone: Matthews 6.90, Landry 6.88
  • 20-yard shuttle: Matthews 4.18, Landry 4.19
  • Bench: Matthews 23, Landry 24

Landry did that as a denser player than Matthews, too, measuring in 12 pounds heavier at a half-inch shorter than Clay. If the Packers can land a Matthews clone with ridiculous production in a power conference -- and one whose best skills are his get-off and bend around the edge -- they should do it.

Paul Noonan: EDGEs Josh Sweat (Florida State) and Lorenzo Carter (Georgia)

I have a long list I could pull from, but let’s discuss some edge guys who impressed in every category. Josh Sweat, aside from having a great name, knocked it out of the park, dominating every drill he attempted. The Florida State standout ranked in the 90th percentile in the 40 and the jumping drills, and 80th in the 20-yard shuttle, putting him the the same category as guys like Brian Robison, Kam Wimbley, and Jadeveon Clowney in terms of physical comparables. He hits the trifecta of college production, combine excellence, and projectability, and I’d love to see him on my team.

However, his closest comparable just happens to be Carter, who put up almost identical numbers in the combine, and is, in terms of height, weight, and build, extremely similar. Carter is currently projected to go something like a round ahead of Sweat, and I won’t pretend to be enough of a scout to tell you why that is, but in terms of production, there’s a good case to be made that Sweat was actually the better player of the two. While you could not go wrong with either guy, Sweat looks like he may end up as a bargain come draft time.

https://www.mockdraftable.com/player/josh-sweat

https://www.mockdraftable.com/player/lorenzo-carter

Peter Bukowski: Courtland Sutton and FSU safety Derwin James

If everybody else gets two, I’m taking two, especially given Tex took my pick. Let’s start with Sutton because the questions coming into the combine were much louder and more pressing for the SMU standout. At 6’3 and around 220, could he run fast enough? Given the inconsistency separating on tape, is he athletic enough overall?

Yes, and yes. I expected him to run sub-4.6 and he did with a 4.54. That would have been plenty fast. Brandon Marshall ran 4.54 at roughly the same weight distribution though two inches taller. What couldn’t have been predicted was he’d put up one of the best 3-cones of the entire the receiver class at that size. In fact, he tested in the 95th percentile overall for receivers in that critical agility measure. Just for good measure, Sutton threw up a 76th percentile short shuttle and 91st percentile long shuttle. He’s not just a big receiver, he’s a big receiver with elite athletic tools.

His SPARQ score, which accounts for size, puts Sutton in the 86th percentile overall of receiver athletes. That’s third-best in the class and an excellent number to quell any concerns about his upside in the NFL

I want to shout out Derwin James here as well. At a shade under 6’2 and 215 pounds, he ran 4.47, jumped 40 inches, broad jumped 11 feet, and put up 21 reps of 225. His jumps at top 10 and top 5 percent athlete numbers and his physical profile ends up being similar to freaks like Eric Berry and a name you’ll recognize: Josh Jones.

Jordan Smith: D.J. Moore and Denzel Ward

D.J. Moore out of Maryland was a receiver that stuck out to me based on his combine performance. The six-foot receiver ran a 4.42 40-yard dash, good for fifth among receivers. He also out-leaped all wide outs in the broad jump with a crazy 11-foot bound. A little undersized at 210 pounds, but I think he has all the physical gifts to be a productive NFL starter and has punt returner ability. His SPARQ score puts him in the 97th percentile. NFL.com has his player comparison as Stefon Diggs, and while both are Maryland products, Moore tested much better and that’s saying something.

Moore might have showed out enough to put himself towards the back of the first-round, but if the Packers get a chance in the second round, I hope they give him some consideration.

I must have a soft spot for the little guys, because another undersized player to really put on a show of athletic ability was Denzel Ward out of Ohio State. He measured in at 5’10-7/8” and 183 pounds so he might have trouble against bigger bodies at the NFL level, but his SPARQ score was highest among cornerbacks (97.9).

Among corners, he tied for the fastest 40 (4.32 seconds), tied for second in the vertical (39 inches), and was first in the broad jump (11’4”). So while he’s a little on the shorter side, he has physical gifts that can and do help him make up for his shortcomings. (Sorry for that pun, I had to.) He likely won’t last until 14, but the Packers already have a big body in Kevin King to cover the Julio Jones’ and A.J. Green’s of the league. A smaller Ward can still match up with Odell Beckham Jr. and Antonio Brown who are 5’11” and 5’10,” respectively.