Posted by Matt Olson

2023 NFL Combine Preview

February 28, 2023

I glance at my calendar, and I see that the month of March is approaching. Quickly. Not only does that mean spring time is around the corner, but it also means the NFL Combine is here. And this week, all of the NFL and those that cover the sport, will gather once again in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium to watch this crop of 2023 draft prospects perform in their most important job interview yet. First, they will meet with teams and complete all of the required administrative tasks, before stepping on the field for measurements and on-field drills which begins Thursday(March 2nd) that kicks off with DL and LBs and concludes with OL and RBs.

Here is the entire breakdown of this year’s schedule

A total of 319 prospects have been invited to participate at the Combine this year. So, let’s walk through each day of on-field drills for each group(s) – with a few names and storylines you should follow.

Day 1: DL & LBs

Defensive Lineman

  • Adetomiwa Adebawore, Northwestern
  • Keeanu Benton, Wisconsin
  • Zach Harrison, Ohio State
  • Calijah Kancey, Pittsburgh
  • Will McDonald IV, Iowa State
  • Lukas Van Ness, Iowa

Jalen Carter and Bryan Bresee are the two biggest names that will compete at the combine as 3-technique DL, but it’s the group after the two headliners that will be a storyline to follow. Calijah Kancey has built some major steam as the DT3(some even have him as DT2) in this class, but I would not bypass the trio of Van Ness, Adebawore and Benton for that argument. All three have size, power, and length over Kancey and it would not shock me if they impress, both in testing and on-field drills. Van Ness has also gained buzz as a top-10 pick in current mock drafts and will most likely solidify that after he performs in Indianapolis. Despite the freakish power profile of Van Ness, he is still very green and will need to be coached up. As for McDonald and Harrison, they are both intriguing edge rushers that can put themselves in the early-round conversation after this week. McDonald has a good shot to sneak into the round one discussion.


  • Daiyun Henley, Washington State
  • Isaiah Land, Florida A&M
  • Trenton Simpson, Clemson
  • Lonnie Phelps, Kansas

Henley was the best LB in Mobile for the Senior Bowl. Can he carry that momentum over to the combine? He will compete on Day 1 with the other top LBs in this class – including Trenton Simpson – whose shine has appeared to have worn off a bit as a legitimate first-round prospect(based on some national media mock drafts). However, I do not agree with that sentiment, as I believe Simpson will test off the charts and really impress in on-field drills on Thursday afternoon. I think he will be right back in the day one conversation after he leaves Indianapolis. All three of Henley, Land, and Phelps stood out in Mobile, so I will want to see if that translates – this time, in front of NFL higher-ups.

Day 2: Defensive Backs

  • Deonte Banks, Maryland
  • Julius Brents, Kansas State
  • Kei’Trel Clark, Louisville
  • Nic Jones, Ball State
  • Cameron Mitchell, Northwestern
  • Clark Phillips, Utah

Day two could be the most exciting day to follow at the combine if you don’t have all that much time to pay attention(or are a draft junkie like me!). The 2023 CB class is arguably the deepest position and is the strongest it’s been in years. There are potential starting options to be found nearly each day for CB-needy teams that do not want, nor are in a position, to spend big money on the free-agent CB market. Out of this group above, Phillips is the biggest name to keep an eye on. He is flying under the radar as a potential day one prospect who has been forgotten about – consensus All-American. Led the Pac-12 in INTs(6) and Interception Return Touchdowns(2). He needs to be discussed as one of the top CBs in the draft.

Day 3: QBs, WRs, TEs


  • Anthony Richardson, Florida
  • Bryce Young, Alabama
  • CJ Stroud, Ohio State
  • Will Levis, Kentucky

This is a fascinating storyline to follow on Day three. For me, it’s all about how do these four QBs – all of whom are expected to go in the 1st round – shake out after Indianapolis? Do they all do enough to solidify top 10 selections? Does one struggle in on-field drills and more homework needs to be done? The most realistic outcome is that they all perform how expected and each hear their name called very early in April. Levis and Richardson are the two most polarizing of this group, because of their sheer arm talent alone. Both have traits that organizations highly covet, but are from finished projects. Young can do it all for a QB, but his size is a serious red flag for teams. Stroud is the safest of the top 4, but the questions of athleticism and his ability to create out of structure will keep teams wondering how high his ceiling will be. We will know more after this week. It was also confirmed that Bryce Young will not throw and will wait until his Alabama pro-day. Bummer.

Wide Receivers

  • Jordan Addison, USC
  • Kayshon Boutte, LSU
  • Josh Downs, North Carolina
  • Zay Flowers, Boston College
  • Jaylin Hyatt, Tennessee
  • Quentin Johnston, TCU
  • Jaxson Smith-Njigba, Ohio State
  • Cedric Tillman, Tennessee
  • Parker Washington, Penn State

Amongst this group here, what I am interested to find out is – who will truly emerge as the top-ranked WR? This position group has been very volatile thus far. There is no unanimous, clear-cut WR1 like past years with wideouts. It appears it has juggled between Smith-Njigba and Quentin Johnston, but both have questions left unanswered. Recently, Zay Flowers has built momentum as the potential first WR off the board. So, the storyline to keep an eye on is – can someone else, other than Smith-Njigba, Johnston, emerge as the WR1? Is it Jordan Addison? Can Josh Downs sneak there?Does Flowers impress with a ga-ga workout that gets the draft community talking? It will be interesting to watch. As for Tillman and Parker Washington, both can solidify a top 100 ranking if they #crushthecombine.

Tight Ends

  • Michael Mayer, Notre Dame
  • Tucker Kraft, South Dakota State
  • Zack Kuntz, Old Dominion
  • Sam LaPorta, Iowa

The biggest question to answer from the TE group is this – why aren’t people, or why do they not believe, that Michael Mayer is the TE1 of this class. Unlike the WR class, Mayer is a unanimous choice when it comes to this debate. I will pound the table on this until my fist turns blue – it’s Mayer TE1, and then fill in the rest. I am not sure where this talk of Dalton Kincaid and Luke Musgrave TE1 has evolved, but it needs to be taken down a notch. It’s probably the draft hype machine doing what it always does. If you just turn on the tape, and watch both side by side, you will see one guy(Mayer) who dominates opponents play after play; and another guy(Musgrave) who only played in two games in 2022 before succumbing to a season-ending injury. Mayer is the most complete TE in this draft, and no one is even close. There’s been comparisons to Gronk, and it’s not far off. He will have to prove himself, but Mayer can step in day one and play right away. Musgrave is a good player, but there will be an adjustment period for him. Don’t forget about Tucker Kraft, either. He is good. And he will show it this week.

Day 4: OL & RBs

Offensive Lineman

  • Steve Avila, TCU
  • Alex Forsyth, Oregon
  • Olusegun Oluwatimi, Michigan
  • John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota
  • Ricky Stromberg, Arkansas
  • Joe Tippman, Wisconsin
  • Luke Wypler, Ohio State
  • Nick Saldiveri, Old Dominion

The final day of the combine will showcase big boys up front and their running mates. The one storyline of interest to me is, who can emerge as the C2 in this class? No matter what he does, I think John Michael Schmitz of Minnesota has cemented himself as the C1, and now we will have to find out who fills in the rest. Steve Avila has gained a lot of momentum after his impressive Senior Bowl performance, but which first started with his CFP National Title game against Georgia. Can he springboard into C2 behind JSM after Indy? We shall see. Joe Tippmann will certainly make a strong case for that, as well. Lastly, Nick Saldiveri continues to build momentum himself. He feels more of a borderline early day two prospect right now. Can he do enough to solidify that positioning?

Running Backs

  • Israel Abanikanda, Pittsburgh
  • Devon Achane, Texas A&M
  • Tank Bigsby, Auburn
  • Zach Charbonnet, UCLA
  • Roschon Johnson, Texas
  • Tyjae Spears, Tulane
  • Sean Tucker, Syracuse
  • Deuce Vaughn, Kansas State

Day 4 concludes with the running backs, and the deepest position of talent we’ve seen in quite some time. It will be led by Bijan Robinson – the consensus RB1, and top 10 overall player in this class – who confirmed he will do it all at the combine. Good for him. He is going to crush it, we know that. But I am curious to find out who will emerge as the RB3 after this week? I do believe Robinson and Jahmyr Gibbs are the RB1 and RB2, respectively, but RB3-10 appears to be very mixed. I think this will all play out after next Sunday, where we can semi-agree that one, maybe two of these prospects out of this group, can be ranked within the top 5. I am most excited to see how Abanikanda, Bigsby, and Spears do. I think all of them are intriguing prospects that have an RB1 profile and can step in on day one and help. Roschon Johnson, the forgotten man in the Longhorns’ backfield, is another name to keep an eye on. He was the best RB in Mobile before he went down with an injury. Not competing in on-field drills Sunday from the RB group: Zach Evans and Dewayne McBride.

So there you have it! The names and accompanying storylines I will follow this week from the combine. There will be plenty more as the week goes on, but these are just some I have identified before the competition begins. Follow along if you wish, or just stick to what you know.

Either way, I hope you enjoyed this exercise.

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