NFL Scouting Combine: Biggest takeaways from Indy


The Jeremiah takeaways. Three players who helped themselves at the Combine, per NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah:

  1. C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State, 6-3, 214: “Best pure passer in this draft, and he had what I’d call a graceful workout. I’ve been to workouts that are overpowering. Stroud was smooth and natural. He’s a born thrower.”
  2. Calijah Kancey, DT, Pitt, 6-1, 281: “Not often a player’s taller than advertised at this event, but Kancey was. Delivered on the explosiveness we thought we’d see. In a passing league, a disruptive player like this won’t get out of the first round.”
  3. Charlie Jones, WR, Purdue, 5-11, 175. “Not a great receiver year, and he ran fast (4.43 seconds) and had a phenomenal overall workout. Might have worked himself into the third round.”

Sean Payton’s busy. The two most interesting Denver Broncos factoids I learned at the combine:

    1. Sean Payton hired a few of his former New Orleans employees for his new staff in Denver. There were two who he did not hire. His former administrative assistant/offensive assistant, Kevin Petry, was a valued aide to Payton, and the coach requested Petry to follow him to Denver. But when he put in a request with the Saints for Petry to join the Denver staff, New Orleans GM Mickey Loomis nixed it. Turns out Petry was too valuable to the Saints, and because it was a lateral move from one staff to the other, Loomis was within his rights to decline Payton’s request to hire Petry. The other employee? “I wanted to bring the hair stylist also,” said Payton. “She is fantastic.” I think Payton was kidding. I’m pretty sure he was kidding.
    2. Payton told me he’s going to put an old car front and center in the parking lot so that all players and coaches will see it. He said he’ll have the rearview mirror plus the side mirrors removed from the car. As he said at the Combine, he wants his players and his new organization to look ahead, and not behind, at the nightmare that was the 2022 Broncos season. So if you see a stripped-down old jalopy alongside some very nice vehicles in the Broncos parking lot this season, you’ll know why.

Tush push. I asked a lot of NFL people about the rugby-scrum type of formation the Eagles perfected last season. They were 37-of-41 on QB sneaks, many of which featured the quarterback being pushed from behind on short yardage. Sean Payton and Pete Carroll have each said if it remains legal, they intend on making it part of their playbook next season. For this 18-year-old offensive wrinkle to be outlawed, three-quarters of the league’s owners would have to vote to change it. So the Eagles and only eight other teams would have to vote to keep it for it to survive. I think I’ve got a good feel of the thinking of the Competition Committee, and I believe the group is mostly against assisting the ball carrier. But how adamant will the committee be as the league meetings in Arizona, when rules proposals come up for a vote, get closer? That’s the big question we don’t know yet. If the committee believes it doesn’t have a good chance to get support from 24 teams, it’s likely not to put the measure to a vote. My feeling is getting 24 votes would be a stretch. Two things committee members don’t like: One, this isn’t a football play. Two, the potential for injury. It’s only a matter of time before a defender acting as a projectile flies over the scrum and contacts a QB helmet-to-helmet with force, or a QB getting pushed by 450 pounds of pushers meets similar resistance from defensive tackles and separates a shoulder.

Quote of the Combine on the issue. Chargers coach Brandon Staley doesn’t consider this a very big deal, but he’s not keen on the potential for injury. He told me: “It’s what the law of physics says. If there’s a force coming from the offense, there will be an equal or greater response from the defense. And that’s concerning.”

On Jalen Carter. Lots of authorities had the Georgia defensive tackle as the top prospect in the draft entering the Combine. But oddly and perhaps significantly, on the day Carter reported to the Combine, the Athens-Clarke County (Ga.) Police issued an arrest warrant for Carter for reckless driving and racing in connection with the car-accident deaths of a Georgia player and recruiting staffer. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Carter left the scene of the crime and then misled police about the case. Carter left the Combine, turned himself into authorities in Georgia, then returned to the Combine and participated in interviews with teams Thursday night. Why do I question the timing of it all? The accident happened on Jan. 15. Exactly 45 days later, on the day he reported to the signature pre-draft event, the police issued the arrest warrant; Carter’s reputation and draft stock took a major hit. The seriousness of the charge—which Carter denies—could derail Carter’s career if proven. Aside from the legalities, when this happened is just odd. If Carter was highly regarded by the program and the community, would the case have been handled like this, giving him a black eye on the day of his big job interviews instead of three days before or three days after? “You’re not the only one to think that,” one GM told me Friday. “I believe it was absolutely calculated.” This, of course, comes on the heels of ESPN’s Todd McShay saying there were character concerns about Carter. Carter’s history at Georgia will be a story to be followed between now and draft weekend.

Free-agency? Meh. Assuming Lamar Jackson and Daniel Jones are either franchised or signed by the start of free-agency next week, it’s going to be a lean year for the unrestricted players without contracts. Philadelphia defensive tackle Javon Hargrave and corner James Bradberry, tackles Orlando Brown (KC) and Mike McGlinchey (Niners) and DBs Jamel Dean (Bucs) and Jordan Poyer (Bills) will be some of the sought-after ones in the early hours of the market. As one GM told me, this could be a year when teams hold their cash till the market settles.

The quarterbacks. Alabama’s Bryce Young, the leader in the clubhouse to be the first QB picked, didn’t work out here. C.J. Stroud (Ohio State), Anthony Richardson (Florida) and Will Levis (Kentucky) did. Stroud had a great throwing workout and Richardson had one of the most athletic workouts a quarterback at the Combine has ever had. Young is the most polished of the class, but he’s 5-10 1/8, and that surely will give some teams pause. Kyler Murray was the same height, exactly, four years ago, but still went one overall. The difference is Young doesn’t have the speed Murray has. “Young is the most pro-ready, we think,” said one GM whose team has a quarterback need. “But he doesn’t have one premier trait. He’s very good at a lot of things, but obviously he’s small.” Young, to me, on his size: “I definitely didn’t shrink any time recently. I’m comfortable with myself. I’m confident in my abilities. There’s a lot of people who have paved the way for smaller quarterbacks. A lot of people have done it at a really high level. Drew Brees, Russell Wilson are guys that definitely inspired me a lot growing up. It’s a good source of inspiration for me.”

Dot dot dot. The Derek Carr market is lukewarm. At best. “If there was a lot of love for him, he’d have been signed by now,” one GM said … A guy you’ve never heard of, a guy who probably won’t be drafted in round one, had one of the intriguing Combines. A 282-pound Northwestern defensive lineman, Adetomiwa Adebawore, ran the fastest time ever for a player weighing more than 275 pounds, 4.49 seconds in the 40-yard dash. His production didn’t match his starry Combine, so teams will go to work on him now—but he likely will be a hot player in the next seven weeks Three undergrads from the University of Toronto won the $20,000 first prize in the NFL’s Big Data Bowl at the Combine. Eight groups were flown to Indianapolis to compete for the prize, asked to come up with new metrics using Next Gen Stats data to improve a specific part of game study. Hassaan Inayatali, Aaron White and Daniel Hocevar presented on quantifying pocket pressure and how it affects the quarterback In a nine-day span beginning March 22 in Columbus, the four top quarterbacks will hold Pro Days. Then the hay will be in the barn for, in order, Stroud, Young, Levis and Richardson.

Read more in Peter King’s full Football Morning in America column

Chris Simms’ 2023 NFL Draft CB Rankings: Devon Witherspoon highlights loaded draft class


The 2023 NFL Draft is growing nearer, with just weeks remaining until teams make selections that could alter the future of their franchise forever.

A solid secondary is crucial to any team’s defensive prowess, and for the teams looking to tighten up in coverage, this year’s draft is the one to do so.

The 2023 NFL Draft cornerback class is an incredibly deep one, but which corner will be first off the board? Chris Simms unveiled his 2023 NFL Draft Cornerback rankings this week on the Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast, posting Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon at the top of his list of corners in this year’s crop.

But trailing Witherspoon very closely are four other potential NFL superstars, with Simms ranking Michigan’s DJ Turner at No. 2, Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez at No. 3, Maryland’s Deonte Banks at No. 4 and Georgia’s Kelee Ringo at No. 5.

The 2023 NFL Draft will begin on Thursday, April 27, and end on Saturday, April 29. The first round will take place on Thursday with rounds two and three airing on Friday and rounds four through seven on Saturday. Click here for Simms’ quarterback rankings,and here for his list of top wide receivers.

RELATED: When is the 2023 NFL Draft? Date, start time, location, Round 1 order

Simms’ Top Five CB prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft

Tier One

1. Devon Witherspoon, Illinois

2. DJ Turner, Michigan

3. Christian Gonzalez, Oregon

Tier Two

4. Deonte Banks, Maryland

Tier Three

5. Kelee Ringo, Georgia

RELATED: 2023 NFL Draft order: Complete list of every pick from Round 1 through Round 7

Simms Breaks Down 2023 Draft CB Rankings

The following are highlights from Simms’ CB draft rankings. For Simms’ in-depth analysis, read below for a breakdown on each prospect and be sure to subscribe to Chris Simms Unbuttoned for an unfiltered look at the NFL, featuring player access, unabashed opinion, X&O film breakdown, and stories from a life in and around football.

No. 1: Devon Witherspoon, Illinois

What Simms said: “This guy is must-see TV. He’s up there with one of the most twitchy, sudden people I’ve ever seen in my life to the point where when he takes off, you’re like, ‘Wait, is that real? Did he really get to full speed in half a step?’ … Bump or off, both are phenomenol —  it’s rare to have that. He’s got very good play strength for a guy that’s 5’11” and a half at 181 lbs. He doesn’t know that, he thinks he’s 220 … It’s efficient and easy. He’s sudden and can see the ability to accelerate whether it’s downhill or sticking the foot in the ground and changing direction. As compared to my No. 2 and No. 3 guy, he might be a hair tighter in his hips, but his twitchiness and explosion and acceleration … you just start to go, ‘What does this guy not have, besides the fact that he’s not 6’2” or over 200 lbs.’ He’s phenomenol.”

No. 2: DJ Turner, Michigan

What Simms said: “To me, (DJ Turner is) the most technically sound corner in the draft. There’s nobody better at technique. Like Witherspoon, the ability to mirror receivers at the line of scrimmage, the quick feet, it’s phenomenol. His hips are better than Witherspoon … His ability to flip those hips, turn and break on the ball, it’s right up there. It’s actually more smooth hip-wise than it is for Devon Witherspoon … What more can you say about the guy? Start-stop ability, amazing. Make-up speed, amazing. Other than Witherspoon, I think he’s put in the second-most tough spots out of anybody I’ve watched in this. He plays man-to-man, in your face a ton against big-time receivers. He’s awesome defending double moves. He could be the best nickel or outside guy, and he’s also the fastest guy in the draft. He’s got it all.”

No. 3: Christian Gonzalez, Oregon

What Simms said: “There’s not much to pick apart here … He’s got a little more size and meat on his bones. The Tee Higgins of the world, the bigger receivers of the world, they’re gonna have a harder time pushing him around and doing that stuff. He’s got incredible ball skills … He looks prototype. He looks Darrelle Revis, Champ Bailey-ish in his uniform …  He just wasn’t as edgy as the other guys … He’s gonna match up better with DeAndre Hopkins than the other two. But I don’t know if he’ll match up better with Jaylen Waddle or Ja’Marr Chase than the other two … But his technique is real. He’s a top-20 pick. You talk size, technique and straight speed, of course this guy is one of the top corners in the draft.” 

No. 4: Deonte Banks, Maryland

What Simms said: “He has more measurables like Gonzalez. 6 foot, 197 lbs., there’s a thickness to him and a power and strength element that certainly jumps out. Let alone, speed is Real Deal Holyfield … man-to-man, great legs, runs easy … He’s comfortable in his speed. He’s never panicked. He’s comfortable in going, ‘You have a step on me? That’s fine, I’m good,’ … But he’s also incredible, like Witherspoon and Turner, at getting on top of people when they try to run a go-route. No one can ever really get around him for the most part … He’s sticky as hell, he’s got very good feet, but he doesn’t know how to use his hands at all yet. So he’s not really that great at jamming people at the line of scrimmage, but he’s never not there … I thought his ability to play the ball and create PBUs in those 50/50 situations where the quarterback tries to throw the ball back shoulder and all that, he’s got a great feel and vision to be able to cover and see the throw at the same time that I was very impressed with.”

No. 5: Kelee Ringo, Georgia

What Simms said: “When you turn on the film, you go, ‘What? This guy’s a corner, he’s not a safety?’ Because he has a prototype safety vibe … Against the bigger, straight-liner guys, nobody’s gonna push this dude around. That’s certainly not going to be an issue, that along with the straight speed. Hey, the change of direction stuff is not beautiful. He’s a little heavy-footed because he’s a bigger guy … but it’s not bad … When he opens up, he can really go; obviously with a 4.36 second 40 time … He’s very smooth as far as an athlete overall.” 

For more preview content of the 2023 NFL Draft, stay tuned to Chris Simms UnbuttonedProFootballTalk and NBC Sports EDGE for all the latest updates, player analysis and mock drafts.

Chris Simms’ 2023 NFL Draft Position Rankings: The top QBs, WRs, RBs, and more ahead of draft weekend


The 2023 NFL Draft takes place on Thursday, April 27 through Saturday, April 29 in Kansas City, Missouri. Click here for the full first-round draft order to find out when your team is picking.

Ahead of this year’s draft, Chris Simms has already started analyzing the top prospects by position on the Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast. So far, Simms has revealed his highly anticipated list of the top 5 quarterback prospects and wide receivers. See below to find out who made the top 5 names for each position and be sure to check back for updates!

Be sure to subscribe to Chris Simms Unbuttoned for more on the 2023 NFL Draft as well as an unfiltered look at the NFL, featuring player access, unabashed opinion, X&O film breakdown, and stories from a life in and around football.

RELATED: When is the 2023 NFL Draft? Date, start time, location, Round 1 order

Chris Simms’ 2023 NFL Draft Position Rankings:

Chris Simms’ 2023 NFL Draft QB Rankings:

  1. C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
  2. Bryce Young, Alabama
  3. Hendon Hooker, Tennessee
  4. Anthony Richardson, Florida
  5. Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA and Will Levis, Kentucky

Chris Simms’ 2023 NFL Draft WR Rankings:

  1. Zay Flowers, Boston College
  2. Jaxon Smith-Njibga, Ohio State
  3. Quentin Jonston, TCU
  4. Michael Wilson, Stanford
  5. Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee

Chris Simms 2023 NFL Draft Cornerback Rankings

  1. Devon Witherspoon, Illinois
  2. DJ Turner, Michigan
  3. Christian Gonzalez, Oregon
  4. Deonte Banks, Maryland
  5. Kelee Ringo, Georgia

How can I watch the 2023 NFL Draft live?

ESPN, ABC, and NFL Network will air all seven rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft.

What time does the NFL Draft start?

The first round of the 2023 NFL Draft will get underway on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET. Rounds two and three will commence Friday at 7 p.m. ET, with Saturday’s final rounds at 12 p.m.

Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2023 NFL Season and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!