The NFL Combine closes out today with a critical day as it relates to the Chiefs. Multiple players on the Lucas Oil Stadium Field this morning will end up at training camp in St. Joseph. It’s a big day for many players’ draft stock, and what happens on the field today may affect the Chiefs significantly. Here are the players the AP Nerd Squad are looking forward to watching.
NFL Network coverage begins live at 8 a.m. Arrowhead Time (Complete re-air at 1 p.m. Arrowhead Time & 3-hour edition at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. Arrowhead Time)
Kent - Byron Murphy
Murphy’s performance will be a moment of truth for Chiefs fans hoping that his athletic profile may keep the demand on him low enough that Brett Veach can make a move to get him. If he nails the testing this week, optimism that he’ll be available in the early-20s for the Chiefs to reasonably trade up will be low.
There are varied perspectives about where Murphy ranks in this class. Some, like us at Arrowhead Pride, consider him a top-15 player. The NFL Advisory Committee gave him a round two grade. You’ll see him mocked anywhere from pick 10 to 35 these days. If he tests well this week, you won’t see his name past 20.
Craig - Joejuan Williams
While Deandre Baker’s 40 time might be the difference between pick 20 and pick 35, Joejuan Williams’ 40 time could be the difference between a round-one pick or a round-three pick. A HUGE cornerback with smooth hips and quick feet — atypical for a player of his stature — Williams’ biggest question is his long speed. Williams showed some occurrences of getting beat deep on tape. As a raw prospect that will need some coaching, he’ll need to have minimal holes in his game to go in the first round. Showing that he can run with faster receivers through a good 40-yard dash will go a long way toward cementing him in that conversation.
Matt - Justin Layne
Justin Layne has been making waves recently in the scouting world as more people dive deeper into his tape and start to fall for his upside. Layne’s a tall, long CB that has fantastic ball skills and whose highlights compare favorably to everyone else. The expectations is for Layne to be a quality athlete, especially in terms of his long speed and explosiveness. If Layne can come out and showcase above-average agility testing with his frame and length, he could boost his draft stock as people continue to fall for his upside. That’s just the tip of the iceberg for Layne, however, as the positional field drills are probably his most important. Showcasing fluid turns and cuts, which are inconsistent film, could help surge him into round-one discussion.
Kent - Jonathan Abram
The Mississippi State safety checked into the Combine at 205 pounds, 10 less than his playing weight in Starkville. Abram slimmed down to test at a high level, and his stock could certainly rise if he performs well. If the Chiefs need a box safety, Abram makes a lot of sense. He’s one of the most fun prospects to watch in this entire class. He’s a tone-setter for defense and isn’t scared of anyone. He’s an ascending player who answered questions about his tackling ability on his final year of college tape. If Abram shows fluidity in his hips and quick feet, you could see Abram sneak into the back end of the first round.
Craig - Amani Hooker
Hooker is a highly intelligent football player out of Iowa. His understanding of route distributions, zone awareness and quick play identification make him an easy day one starter on the mental side of things. However, he hasn’t shown himself to be a great athlete, and it shows up in coverage when asked to carry vertical routes. The AP Draft Team currently projects Hooker as a box safety, but he’s not quite the run defender a team would hope for at that level. If he tests well today, Hooker might enter the conversation as a potential deep safety option — and a very high IQ one at that.
Matt - Mike Bell
A bit more of a sleeper player, Mike Bell is a guy who caught my attention during the year, thanks to an ESPN top-10esque interception. His ball skills when playing deep are fantastic and he looks to have a natural feel on the back end. When playing up near the box, he shows aggression and flies up into contact with a good-sized frame. Bell shows the versatility to bounce around both safety positions but has stated he enjoys playing deep the most often because of his ability to see the ball and make big plays on it. The questions looming over Bell are: 1) How fast is he? 2) And can a long frame change direction quickly enough to stick as a deep safety in the NFL? The field drills are worth watching, but he’s a player that could make a splash in the athletic testing portion of the day.
KC Draft Guide
We are releasing the first ever edition of the KC Draft Guide on April 8.
We’ll have over 200 prospect write-ups, specifically about how prospects fit the Chiefs. There will be big boards, more than 300 grades on players, mock drafts, positional rankings and features all specific to the Chiefs. You can pre-order the guide for only $6.99 by clicking here.
Today, we launch pre-orders for the KC Draft Guide! Hundreds of write-ups about how prospects fit the Chiefs, player quotes, features, big boards, mock drafts and more. Here's a link to a special launch price of $6.99, less than the cost of a burrito: https://t.co/Gd5Brmhp5P pic.twitter.com/XtWmogQTMe— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) February 20, 2019