INDIANAPOLIS -- Saturday marked the third day of on-field events and fourth day of prospect press conferences at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine. Quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends worked out, while offensive linemen and running backs stepped up to the podiums. Here are the biggest things we learned from the day's events.
NOTE: Tune in to NFL Network and NFL+ for live coverage of the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine beginning at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 5. Bills OT Dion Dawkins and three-time Pro Bowler Taylor Lewan join NFL Network analysts Joe Thomas and Shaun O'Hara on the NFL+ Players Only Combine presented by NOBULL to provide real-time analysis of the 2023 class of offensive linemen. When the running backs take the field, former Packers teammates Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams join NFL Network's Michael Robinson to break down the next group of NFL rushers.
ON THE FIELD
1) A combine star is born. Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson took the combine by storm on Saturday. He made history in the vertical jump, posting a 40 1/2-inch leap, the best mark for a combine passer since at least 2003. Also, he tied the modern combine QB record with a 10-foot-9 broad jump. To top it all off, the former Gator ran 4.43 in the 40-yard dash, which is the fourth-best time for a combine QB since '03.
Richardson exceeded high expectations with his performance. The interest in his potential NFL landing spot is about to reach new heights.
-- Dan Parr
2) Stroud puts on a show. C.J. Stroud didn't take part in the athletic testing on Saturday, but that didn't stop the Ohio State quarterback from making a grand impression doing what he does best: slinging the football.
NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah waxed poetic about Stroud throughout his throwing session in Indianapolis, saying during the broadcast: "You couldn't script a better day for him throwing the football."
And DJ doubled down on Twitter:
Natural arm talent is Stroud's forte, as he routinely showcased during his two seasons as Ohio State's starting quarterback, completing nearly 70 percent of his throws for 8,123 yards and 85 touchdowns against just 12 interceptions. Leading the Buckeyes to a 22-4 record, Stroud was a back-to-back Heisman Trophy finalist and two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year.
Jeremiah, who came into the combine with Stroud ranked as his No. 2 quarterback and No. 8 overall player in this draft class, couldn't get enough of the passer's effortless precision to all areas of the field at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"Every throw he's had to make, he's made it -- and it's been unbelievably smooth and easy," Jeremiah said.
-- Gennaro Filice
3) Top QB prospect Young weighs in. Alabama QB Bryce Young officially measured in at 5-foot-10 1/8 and 204 pounds, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Saturday morning from the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine.
Widely expected to be one of the top quarterbacks selected, Young would be the lightest first-round passer since at least 2003, per NFL Research. Among Round 1 QBs in recent years, the closest size comps are Kyler Murray (5-10, 207 pounds), who was the first overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, and Johnny Manziel (6-0, 207 pounds), who was drafted 22nd overall in 2014.
On Friday, Young met with combine media and respectfully downplayed his lack of height and slighter build.
"I've been this size, respectfully, my whole life," Young said. "I know who I am. I know what I can do."
While Young isn't throwing at the combine, NFL Network reporter Stacey Dales says the QB plans to spin it at Alabama's first pro day on March 23.
-- Eric Edholm
4) Positive health update for QB Hooker. Hendon Hooker wasn't able to perform at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine, but that doesn't mean it hasn't been a productive week for the Tennessee quarterback.
Hooker received positive medical reports on his surgically repaired knee in Indianapolis and is expected to be healthy and ready to play by the start of the 2023 NFL season, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. Hooker suffered a torn left ACL in the Volunteers' loss to South Carolina, abruptly ending a season that had him vying for the Heisman Trophy. He attended the Reese's Senior Bowl in February, but only took part in meetings and interviews with NFL teams.
Hooker has a few notable hurdles to clear as a prospect: the injury, his age (he turned 25 in January) and questions about how Tennessee's offense translates to NFL schemes.
Asked this week about how he'll adjust to the NFL, coming from Josh Heupel's wide-open system, Hooker turned the question on its head by praising the Vols' terrific receivers.
"I can't help that defenders can't guard my receivers," Hooker said during his combine press conference on Friday. "My job is to get them the ball."
Hooker is NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah's No. 50 overall prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft. With continued progress on the health front, Hooker could be one of the first five quarterbacks drafted this April.
-- Eric Edholm
5) Early exit for two hyped wideouts. Without a clearly defined pecking order in the top tier of this year's wide receiver class, the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine looked to be a proving ground at the position. Unfortunately, Saturday's on-field workout ended early for two of the most ballyhooed WR prospects.
Jordan Addison was dealing with a back strain entering the combine, per NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. While the USC product was able to perform the 40-yard dash (4.49 seconds), vertical leap (34 inches) and broad jump (10-foot-2), he didn't complete the entire on-field workout. Addison told NFL Network reporter Stacey Dales he'd be fine and is planning to finish drills at the Trojans' pro day on March 21.
Meanwhile, Jalin Hyatt felt tightness in his hamstring during position drills, according to Rapoport. The Tennessee wideout shut down activities as a precautionary move, but plans to be ready for the Volunteers' pro day on March 30. Before calling it a day, though, Hyatt put up some explosive testing numbers: 4.40 seconds in the 40-yard dash, 40 inches in the vertical leap and 11-foot-3 in the broad jump.
As the last two winners of the Biletnikoff Award, which is annually presented to the top wide receiver in college football, Addison and Hyatt offer different skill sets: The former is a smooth route runner with inside/outside ability, while the latter's a home-run hitter boasting electric deep speed. Despite their differences, both are squarely in the mix for Round 1 of April's draft. NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah has Addison as his top-rated receiver and No. 11 overall player, with Hyatt ranking No. 3 at receiver and No. 26 overall.
-- Gennaro Filice
6) A truly rare athlete. When Georgia's Darnell Washington told the media at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine that he was "the most unique tight end in the draft," it wasn't just idle boasting.
On Saturday, The 6-foot-7, 264-pounder turned in a strong athletic-testing performance. For Washington to run a 4.64-second 40-yard dash (including a blazing 10-yard split of 1.57 seconds) at that weight is pretty remarkable. His vertical jump (31 inches) is solid for such a large man, but Washington's 10-foot-2 broad jump and 4.08-second short shuttle are striking figures.
Washington looked smooth catching the ball and moving through the gauntlet drill. But as with a few other tight ends, he did seem to run out of gas a bit, dropping and double-catching multiple passes. For a guy with 11-inch hands, Washington was a bit inconsistent reeling in some passes. One of those drops came early in red-zone work, where the tight ends were asked to catch high-arcing fade passes. Positioned down on the sideline, NFL Media Draft Analyst Chad Reuter said one of the combine field coaches told Washington: "I know you're trying to do the drill (as it's coached). Don't jump if you don't have to. Go ahead and use one hand (to catch it)."
Washington took those words to heart. In one of the final reps of Saturday's workouts, he contorted his body in mid-air, adjusted to the back-shoulder pass and snagged it out of the air with only one of those giant hands, earning a roar from Washington's fellow tight ends.
At the end of the day, it was a highly productive showing from Washington -- who has been projected as a possible first-round pick -- but also a revealing one. Like Florida QB Anthony Richardson, Washington is an unusually gifted athlete with tremendous upside but also a few correctable flaws. Those players tend not to last long in the NFL draft.
-- Eric Edholm
OFF THE FIELD
1) Will combine 40 record fall? Michigan cornerback DJ Turner II currently sits on the throne as the 2023 combine's fastest prospect after posting a 4.26-second 40-yard dash on Friday.
He might not want to get too comfortable, though, with Texas A&M's Devon Achane -- one of the fastest players in Indianapolis for the event this week -- scheduled to run the 40 on Sunday with the running back group.
"Of course I expect to run the fastest time. I saw DJ Turner had a 4.26. That's very good. That's setting the standard high," Achane said during his press conference on Saturday. "I can't wait to go out there and show my speed on Sunday."
In fact, Achane has his sights set on an even better mark -- John Ross' combine record of 4.22 seconds.
"I don't know (if I'll set the record). We're going to see. Hopefully. That's something that's been a goal of mine," he said. "I've been working very hard this offseason to achieve that goal."
Achane was a first-team All-SEC selection on the football field in 2022, but he also starred in indoor and outdoor track for the Aggies, garnering first-team All-American honors in 2021.
-- Dan Parr
2) Studying Sanders. Maybe one day, 25 years after Texas' Bijan Robinson retires, young NFL hopefuls will be watching his highlights on YouTube. But for Robinson's generation, the old-school highlight running back of choice is nearly unanimous: Barry Sanders.
Sanders is arguably a singular talent, but it's inarguable that many have tried to emulate him and, let's be honest, copy his moves. Consider Robinson in that camp as well.
The former Longhorns back is expected to be the first runner selected in the 2023 NFL Draft, and he has a terrific style unto his own, flashing an alluring combination of quickness, vision and power. Robinson wasn't about to compare himself to Sanders but said they do share one commonality.
"I'm a knee bender when I run the ball," Robinson said, "and another guy that was a knee bender was Barry Sanders. Try to redirect and be as low to the ground as you can."
Few can the way Sanders could, but Robinson can't stop watching one of his favorite back's highlights, sometimes for hours at a time.
"I watch him probably every other day," Robinson said. "I'm always trying to mimic his moves. He was so good at doing the things that you couldn't do. He was just the guy where, every single time he touched the ball, you're just in awe.
"He was the most exciting player I've seen. If God blessed me to be at that caliber one day, that would be amazing."
-- Eric Edholm
3) Top OL prospect: Arm length isn't the end all be all. Ranked as NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah's top offensive lineman and No. 7 overall prospect entering the combine, Peter Skoronski is known as a refined technician on the field. Fittingly, the Northwestern product also displays polish at the podium.
The first-team All-American deftly served as Northwestern's starting left tackle for his entire three-year career in Evanston, but the pre-draft debate is whether Skoronski would be better as a guard in the NFL. Asked about a potential position switch during his combine podium session on Saturday, Skoronski shared the diplomatic interactions he's been having with NFL teams in Indianapolis.
"No one has really sat me down and been like, 'Oh, you can't play tackle for us.' Teams have just kind of asked me where I see myself," Skoronski explained. "I've said that I'm a tackle, I can play tackle, but more than willing to play anywhere. Teams have talked about versatility, for sure, too, so if I'm moving to guard, I'm happy to do that.
"No one has really boxed me in, which I'm pretty pleased about."
Why would anyone box in the 2022 Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year? While Northwestern lists Skoronski at 6-4 and 315 pounds, he lacks prototypical length in his frame. For his part, Skoronski respectfully disagrees with this being a disqualifying characteristic when it comes to NFL edge-blocking.
"The arm-length number doesn't really determine a great player, a great blocker," Skoronski said. "Some of my issues that have been chalked up to arm length are really just technical things that I can work on and try to fix, so I'm not really concerned about that. From what I can gather, a lot of teams aren't really, either.
"You win blocks with your feet, really -- that's always been my philosophy."
Described by Jeremiah as "a steady, reliable tackle prospect," Skoronski certainly has the pedigree for success on Sundays. His grandfather, Bob Skoronski, won five NFL championships and two Super Bowls as a Pro Bowl left tackle for Vince Lombardi's Packers.
"He's sort of been my football mentor, idol, you know, ever since I was born," Skoronski said, before later crediting his grandpa with one of his signature strengths: "My personal philosophy while playing is quickness out of my stance -- that's actually something I learned from my grandfather, a trait that he sort of passed on to me."
Skoronski's predecessor on the blind side at Northwestern, Rashawn Slater, faced similar questions prior to the 2021 draft about whether his lack of prototypical length would prevent him from excelling as an NFL bookend. Then, after being selected by the Los Angeles Chargers with the No. 13 overall pick, he went out and made the Pro Bowl as a rookie left tackle.
"I've always watched Rashawn Slater," Skoronski said. "I have such a close relationship with him, so I've learned so much from him personally that I'd like to say that I kind of comp to him a little bit."
-- Gennaro Filice
4) Origin story of the toothless tackle. North Dakota State tackle Cody Mauch has compiled enough excellent tape to project him for a bright NFL future, even if it comes at a position other than tackle. He seems open to adjusting however is needed, but one thing he likely won't change about him is his teeth -- specifically, his lack of front teeth.
Mauch told reporters Saturday at the NFL Scouting Combine that his trademark, toothless look came as a result of a hustle play in a middle school basketball game that cost him both incisors. After years of orthodontist visits and lost dental appliances, he decided to ditch them altogether and embrace an appearance that has certainly made him popular on the internet.
"Seventh grade, conference championship basketball tournament, I was diving for a loose ball and so was one of my buddies. I kind of dove right into his head," Mauch recalled. "My teeth were all kind of loose in there, so I had to get sent to the ER and they pulled them out that night. I went through the process of getting them fixed -- retainers, braces, these flippers with teeth on them, just all sorts of stuff -- and eventually I just kept breaking and losing my retainers all the time. Like, my mom was so mad at me all the time because I had to keep going back to the orthodontist to get new retainers and eventually, I just kind of stopped wearing it and kind of embraced the no two front teeth look.
"I say that I'm going to get them fixed after football, but I don't even know if I ever will. I don't really mind it at all; it's kind of just part of me, I guess."
The 6-foot-5, 305-pounder is seen as an excellent tackle at the Football Championship Subdivision level who might lack the physical traits of an NFL tackle, but should become a productive player somewhere along an offensive line. He's already left a lasting impression on scouts, and can make many more on the players he pancakes in the future solely by stopping to smile while standing over them.
-- Nick Shook
5) Pass-catching RB optimistic about potential usage at next level: Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs most frequently hears folks compare him to NFL stars Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara.
Such comparisons leave his draft range somewhere between the first and third rounds. He's currently the 28th-best prospect on Daniel Jeremiah's top 50 list and the No. 2 running back in Bucky Brooks' position rankings, but the Kamara comparison, while prevalent, also diminishes his ceiling a bit, relegating Gibbs to a projection of a spark-providing second running back in most NFL offenses.
Add in the gradual devaluation of running backs in the draft, and it's tough to project where Gibbs might land. He was asked about this trend at his position Saturday at the NFL Scouting Combine and explained that he surprisingly sees a bright future for running backs because of how their roles have changed in NFL offenses.
"I think a lot of reasons why running backs didn't have a long span in the NFL is because of how the offenses were ran back in the day," Gibbs said. "A lot of Power I stuff, a lot of power stuff, just really in between the tackles. Offense has changed and it's going to keep changing. Us being evolved in more of the passing game is going to allow us to have a longer span over the course of our career."
Gibbs has proven he can be a weapon in the passing game, finishing third in receiving yards at Alabama in 2022 with 444 on 44 receptions. He also led the Crimson Tide in rushing, averaging 6.1 yards per carry on 151 attempts, making for an all-purpose star who should be an ideal third-down back in the NFL.
That type of player typically isn't a first-round pick, meaning a team might find value in Gibbs in later rounds -- just as the Saints did with Kamara in the third round of the 2017 draft. Perhaps he becomes a running back who thrives in a fashion similar to Dallas' Tony Pollard, who saw his role increase in 2022 alongside Ezekiel Elliott.
If anything, Gibbs proved he's a competitor to the Cowboys, who had him throw darts during his interview with the team.
"Darts, that was my first time playing, and I beat who I was playing," Gibbs said, displaying pride in his debut performance. "And he usually plays a lot."
We'll see where Gibbs lands in April. Despite lacking the between-the-tackles rushing ability of players like Kamara and McCaffrey, if his prediction about the future of the NFL offenses comes true, he could also end up playing a lot.
-- Nick Shook
6) Buckeye tackle credits diverse sporting background for his athleticism. Left tackle is the glory position on the offensive line if there is one, and Ohio State's Paris Johnson Jr. rates as one of the best prospects at that position in the 2023 NFL Draft class. But he also started at right guard during the 2021 season and has been asked about both positions this week at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine during team meetings.
The 6-6, 310-pound Johnson said feels like "a natural left tackle" but also would be willing to play wherever an NFL team wants him to. Still, NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah rates Johnson as his No. 16 overall prospect, projects him to the left side and credits Johnson's "quick feet" out of his stance. So what makes him a natural left tackle?
"I would say No. 1 is my athleticism," Johnson said. "I feel like it's unmatched in the country. ... My feet can cover anybody."
Johnson credits his diverse sporting background -- as well as a higher power -- for his gifted athleticism, especially for being such a large man.
As a child, he started out in hockey and gymnastics. Then it was tee ball and soccer. He never played basketball -- "I couldn't dribble," he said -- but eventually got into football. Once he did, Johnson didn't start out as a lineman.
"I started out as a safety, and then I was a quarterback, believe it or not," Johnson said of his youth experience. "Then I was a receiver and a tight end and a defensive end. So I played those just as long as I was an offensive lineman."
But the hidden, non-sport experience that helped most?
"I grew up going to church a lot," Johnson said with a smile. "A lot of dancing and whatnot there."
-- Eric Edholm
7) Big man, sweet feet. In a offensive tackle class without a clearly defined OT1, Broderick Jones' argument for top billing revolves around his rare athleticism for the position. Though the starting left tackle in Georgia's latest national championship run describes his strong suit with a bit more pizzazz.
"Just being able to have these sweet feet. I think it puts my game on the next level," Jones said with a smile Saturday in Indianapolis.
Listed by Georgia at 6-4 and 310 pounds, Jones credits his fancy footwork to a background in basketball, which he played in high school. What was his game like on the hardwood?
"I tried to play physical, you know, just dominate," Jones said. "I had a little shot -- you know, I still got it a little bit, but them days behind me now."
Ranked as the No. 3 offensive tackle in this class by NFL Network draft analysts Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah, Jones has plenty of experience against pro-caliber edge rushers, having spent three years at the NFL factory that is Georgia.
"Just going up against guys like Nolan (Smith), Travon Walker, Azeez Ojulari, Jermaine Johnson, it really ups your game," Jones said. "Practice was always harder than the games for me."
-- Gennaro Filice