The 2016 NFL Scouting Combine is in the books and some of the event’s biggest stars were players who made their names in the SEC: No player was faster than UGA running back Keith Marshall; Alabama’s Derrick Henry drew comparisons to the Super Bowl 50 MVP; and UGA defensive tackle Chris Mayes took down all defensive players in the bench press.
Looking ahead to potential big seasons from plenty of SEC players , the 2017 NFL Combine should have no shortage of dominant athletes from the conference as well.
Here are seven players on track to dominate in the pre-NFL Draft workouts next spring, assuming the 2016 season will be their last in the SEC:
Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M – If Garrett was allowed to enter the 2016 NFL Draft after his true sophomore season, he likely would be in the conversation for the first overall selection right now. Instead, opposing college offensive linemen have the unfortunate task of trying to stop him for one more season before he almost certainly declares for the 2017 NFL Draft.
Before the 2015 season, Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports listed Garrett as the No. 2 “freak” in all of college football and said the 262-pound pass rusher has a 39-inch vertical and a 40-yard dash time in the mid-4.4s. For comparison’s sake, Ohio State’s Darron Lee was the only 2016 NFL Combine participant to crack the 4.5 mark among linebackers and defensive linemen, and he checks in at 232 pounds.
Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia – Like many of the players on this list, Chubb isn’t entering his senior season. However, a season-ending knee injury as a sophomore should make Chubb even more inclined to enter the NFL and start cashing in on his big-play ability.
Before he emerged as a standout for UGA, Chubb was a two-sport athlete in high school and starred in track and field. He won a state title in shot put and excelled in the 100 and 200 meter dashes, so it should come as no surprise if he puts other running backs to shame at the NFL Combine.
— Radi Nabulsi (@RadiNabulsi) May 13, 2014
Da’Shawn Hand, DE, Alabama – With Jarran Reed, A’Shawn Robinson and D.J. Pettway all headed to the NFL, Alabama fans can expect to see a lot more of Da’Shawn Hand, who notched 4.5 tackles for loss and three sacks as a sophomore in 2015.
If he elects to go to the NFL after his junior season, Hand could be a candidate who wows scouts in the bench press after making ridiculous strides in the Alabama weight room. According to Matt Zenitz of AL.com, Hand did 42 reps of 225 pounds on the bench last March, and people in the locker room could hardly believe their eyes as he did it.
Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn – In a “Freak of the Week” segment on SEC Network that highlighted Lawson, former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow rattled off a list of stats about Lawson that certainly suggest he’s on track to excel in workouts. Tebow said the 6-foot-5, 265-pound pass rusher has just nine percent body fat, can squat 565 pounds and has a 36-inch vertical jump.
Injuries have derailed Lawson from reaching his full potential with the Tigers, but if he manages to stay healthy in 2016, he could put up big numbers and increase his stock into the offseason.
Jalen Hurd, RB, Tennessee – Hurd has added weight since arriving at Tennessee, but he carries it well and it hasn’t stopped him from racking up huge yardage for the Vols. He finished with 1,288 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns as a sophomore, but was outshined in the conference by the 2015 Heisman winner.
Like Derrick Henry, Hurd doesn’t carry his weight like a goal-line running back, but instead has the ability to stick his foot in the ground and cut like a player who is 30 pounds lighter. According to Feldman, Hurd squats more than 600 pounds and should test really well in agility events like the shuttle and 3-cone drills.
Dan Skipper, OT, Arkansas – Skipper will be the talk of the NFL Combine before he even begins testing. It isn’t every year — or any year — that a 6-foot-10 football player checks into the event. He isn’t just tall, either. He is built exactly like you’d want a left tackle to be, but at 331 pounds, and Skipper reportedly has a 30-inch vertical.
After earning Second-Team All-SEC honors as a junior, Skipper should be one of the top offensive linemen in the conference in 2016, and should have no problem impressing NFL scouts with his sheer size alone at the Combine before hitting the field for drills.
Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU – It wouldn’t be a proper list without the man who may be the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy in 2016. He was off to a great start toward earning the honor before a subpar November derailed his chances. Still, the powerful running back promises to get every opportunity to dominate as a junior.
Not only is he a bruising back who squats more than 500 pounds, Fournette reportedly could be one of the fastest players when he eventually travels to the NFL Combine.
"He's 6'1, 230 lbs & runs a 4.39." – @TimTebow
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) September 19, 2015