The NFL Combine was a wonderful experience, full of new faces and many lessons learned. With countless front office members, coaches, scouts, and agents in attendance, rumors swirled at a breakneck pace. Here is a rundown of some things I heard in passing and a few other standout moments from the week. How will these impact the 2023 NFL Draft?
1. Joey Porter Jr. Is The Real Deal; Multiple Scouts Praise NFL Combine Interview
Joey Porter Jr. is the son of a former NFL star, and this fact shows up in interviews. Porter Jr. was calculated, well-spoken, and poised when answering an onslaught of questions from the media.
Similar to his play on the field, JPJ never looked overwhelmed and handled the segment with grace. However, when it was time for Porter Jr. to talk about his standing in the 2023 cornerback class, he was not shy.
The former Nittany Lion said, “I feel like I am the best one here. I’m just here to show my talents.” Porter Jr. went on to say Richard Sherman and Patrick Peterson were his idols growing up, even crediting Jalen Ramsey for the “double-sleeved up” look.
Porter Jr. solidified his draft status during workouts, posting a 4.4 40-yard dash and looking the part of a CB1 in the NFL. As two scouts put it, “It will be an easy transition to the NFL [for Porter Jr.].”
2. Anthony Richardson Looks Like He Is From Another Planet
If Anthony Richardson were to walk up to you on the street, there are three assumptions you would probably make:
1. This is an alien. Are we being invaded??
2. This is who they based the movie “Avatar” on, isn’t it?
3. Okay, *if* he plays football, he has to be an edge rusher, right?
From a pure optics standpoint, it is easier to believe that Richardson is an alien than it is to believe he is *technically* the same species as me. He stands tall at 6-foot-4 and looks every bit of the 244 pounds he weighed in at.
In the on-field workouts, the ball zipped out of his hand. During the deep throw portion, Richardson flicked the ball 60 yards with ease, and on the sideline, I saw him throw one from end zone to end zone… through the air!
At the 40-yard dash, Richardson sent shockwaves through the entire crowd. When the 4.44 popped up, it was a combination of cheering and astonishment. Everyone who watched Richardson’s tape knew he was a freaky athlete, but it is even clearer seeing him in person.
3. Bijan Robinson Is Going Earlier In The 2023 NFL Draft Than You Think
Bijan Robinson spoke eloquently at the NFL Combine, breaking down his game and what he would bring to any team willing to draft him. Never once coming off as arrogant, Robinson explained how his ability to catch passes would make him an every down back in the league.
Following his impressive interview, Robinson took the field and continued building his case to be the first running back taken in the 2023 NFL Draft. With 4.4 speed and gravity-defying agility, the Longhorn superstar is set to take over a backfield as a rookie.
Robinson’s draft stock is entirely dependent upon who you ask. Some refuse to draft a running back early, while others are more willing to deviate from that path when generational talent is at play. For me? I align with the latter. And I think more than a few NFL teams will too.
The Atlanta Falcons at No. 8 is squarely in play for Robinson. The Panthers (No. 9) and Eagles (No. 10) make plenty of sense, as well. Perhaps a team even trades up to secure Robinson’s talents?
Regardless of how it happens, Bijan Robinson will go earlier than you expect in the 2023 NFL Draft.
4. The Interviews Matter WAY More Than The Workouts — For Most
Watching these prospects on tape is different from seeing them up close and personal. The on-field workouts serve as a means to reinforce what was watched on tape -or- call into question what was watched on tape. In the latter scenario, it is important to go back to film and watch with fresh eyes.
One thing that is harder to hammer down into the scouting report is a player’s personality and character. No matter how much info is scrounged up on a prospect, it is hard to get a good feel for who they are outside of football.
That is why many I talked with at the NFL Combine told me the media/interview portion is infinitely more important to their process. And after spending a week there, I would have to say I agree with the assessment.
Even if only for a 15-minute segment, getting to know the player on a more human level reminds me at the end of the day, these are kids chasing a lifelong dream. It is awesome to see them soak in the moment at the podium.