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Elijah Holyfield
AP
Evaluations

Prognosis Negative: Combine Flatliners

by Mark Lindquist

In this space, we’ll be running through the players whose combine performances give most cause for pause. SPARQ scores courtesy of Three Sigma Athlete, with athletic comparisons courtesy of Mockdraftable.

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Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins -- It’s not that Haskins did anything wrong. He was fine in throwing drills and presumably rocked his interviews. Yet Haskins had a real chance to step out and prove that he was the clear-cut QB1 in this class. Instead, the weekend ended up dominated by talk about the guy who did literally nothing more than weigh-in. Kyler Murray owned the weekend without even stepping onto the field, from the first rounds of team press appearances in which GM Steve Keim offered the infamous “for now” comment on Josh Rosen all the way to Sunday, when Draft Analyst’s Tony Pauline reported that former Texas Tech HC Kliff Kingsbury was telling people that Arizona would use the No. 1 pick on Murray.

All of this brings us back to Haskins. He needed to wow evaluators in throwing drills. He had an opportunity to push back on all of the hype surrounding Murray. He did not take advantage of that opportunity.

Prognosis: Top-10 pick, but Murray may well have leapfrogged him writ large. A steady pulse, still.

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Penn State QB Trace McSorley -- It might be piling on a little to call McSorley’s time in Indianapolis an abject failure -- he did show out nicely in putting forth the best 40-yard dash of a quarterback in Indianapolis and held his own in agility drills -- but for a prospect scraping for a Day 3 selection, he did himself no favors in throwing drills. McSorley tended to be late with his throws and did not show the requisite arm strength. The cherry on top of this ill-tasting sundae -- one team asked McSorley to test with the defensive backs. The Penn State signal-caller is very much on the edge of Day 3 at this point, if not on his way to undrafted free agency.

Prognosis: We can’t find a heartbeat.

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Georgia RB Elijah Holyfield -- Holyfield was something of a minor draft darling heading into proceedings in Indy due to his big boy strength and ability to bulldoze through contact inside. Son of Evander measured into the combine at 5-foot-10, 217 pounds and rocked 26 reps on the bench press to open his weekend. That mark was good for third-best among running backs. The good times would halt abruptly on Saturday, when Holyfield lumbered through the 40-yard dash in 4.78 seconds and opted not to take part in either the 20-yard shuttle or three-cone drill. On-field workouts went no smoother, with Holyfield looking relatively unequipped as a pass-catcher. While we don’t have a full slate of results for Holyfield, he tested in just the 4.5-percentile of NFL running backs, with Mockdraftable’s closest comparison (again with limited testing results) being Packers RB Lavon Coleman (an 82.3-percent match), who went undrafted coming out of Washington last spring.

Prognosis: Charge the pads, doc! A sharp pro day is a must if Holyfield is to regain his draft life.

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FAU RB Devin Singletary -- Start to finish, just a horrendous combine for Singletary. He measured tiny at 5-foot-7, 203 pounds (we expected short -- that’s really short), but we knew he was small. The hope was that those size concerns would be augmented by nice further testing results. Singletary didn’t even have to destroy the record book. He just had to test within an expected reason. That failed to occur in the slightest. Instead, Motor slugged his way to a 4.66-second 40-yard dash. He could have rebounded off that slower time with sharp agility work, but instead compounded matters with just-plain-horrendous efforts in the three-cone drill (7.32 seconds; sixth-worst among RBs) and 20-yard shuttle (4.40 seconds; fourth-worst among running backs). Singletary ended up testing at just the 20th percentile of NFL running backs.

The FAU back could have locked in a second-round selection or even pushed toward the back end of the first run if he had dominated testing. Instead, a slide out of Day 2 has to now be considered a realistic possibility.

Prognosis: We’re starting to lose the pulse on Day 2.

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NC State WR Kelvin Harmon -- Joel Filani, Maurice Brown, Stephen Burton, Laquon Treadwell. Just a few of the athletic comparisons which Mockdraftable pairs with Harmon as better than 84% matches. That’s worrisome. Only Treadwell was drafted before the seventh round in that quartet, and Treadwell’s career has been as busty as they come in its own right. Harmon’s composite athletic score placed him in just the 35th percentile of NFL wideouts, thanks to subpar 40-yard dash (4.60 seconds), three-cone drill (7.15 seconds) and 20-yard shuttle (4.32 seconds) times.

The read on the 6-foot-2, 221-pounder’s results is at least a little murky. Despite the outwardly poor marks, we weren’t expecting Harmon to rip it up in the 40-yard dash to begin with. And while those agility marks are less than shiny, they aren’t, say, D.K. Metcalf dull.

Prognosis: Day 2 heartbeat remains steady.

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Georgia WR Riley Ridley -- We’ve heard all kinds of trash talk from the evaluating universe on Georgia’s offense during draft season, how it wasted multiple athletic talents. Kirby Smart deserves a fruit basket and an apology card, because no team’s talents more glaringly failed to step up during the combine weekend. Holyfield face-planted, likewise both Ridley -- himself something of an internet draft darling -- and TE Isaac Nauta. In Ridley’s case, a meh 4.58-second run through the 40-yard dash was augmented to the negative by an uninspiring vertical jump (30.5 inches), lackluster three-cone drill (7.22 seconds) and average 20-yard shuttle (4.28 seconds). When the dust had settled, the 6-foot-1, 199-pound Ridley had tested within the 26.9th percentile of NFL wide receivers. Reading it plainly, just one out of four wideouts with his profile have ended up sticking in the pros.

Prognosis: We don’t know if he’s going to have the strength to walk (on the Round 2 stage) this spring.

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Toledo WR Diontae Johnson -- Lil’Jordan Humphrey also could have landed on our all-flatliners team, but as much as we love some aspects of Humphrey’s game -- particularly his ability to make difficult catches seem easy -- it surprised us none when Humphrey managed just a 4.75-second 40-yard dash. We didn’t expect him to go off on that front, anyway (though dead-last is pretty tough for LJH). But Johnson, we had some hope for Johnson to perform well, especially in the 40. And to be fair, the 5-foot-10, 183-pounder didn’t trip over himself, running the sprint in 4.53 seconds. That’s just fine. N’Keal Harry ran that fast and that was a huge success for him. But Johnson was thought to have another gear that he could access. That he did not show that comes as something of a concern given that he’s already lighter on size. Johnson’s composite athletic score puts him in just the 22nd percentile of NFL wideouts.

Prognosis: Barely clinging to Day 3 life

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Ole Miss T Greg Little -- In an alternate universe, Little would be in conversation with Jawaan Taylor and friends as the top tackle in this class. We don’t live in that universe. Little’s stock has taken a hard fall since the summer -- one NFC scout told Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller that “this guy is just bad” earlier this winter -- and Friday’s workout did nothing but confirm the pervading gloom surrounding Little as an NFL prospect. The 6-foot-5, 310-pounder lumbered his way through the 40-yard dash in 5.33 seconds, second-worst only to Stanford’s Nate Herbig, who took home the title of slowest man in Indianapolis (non-Rich Eisen division) with a yikes time of 5.41 seconds. Little’s composite testing score on Three Sigma Athlete has him testing in just the 30th percentile of NFL offensive linemen. Multiple evaluators took to Twitter during on-field drills to blast Little’s footwork.

Prognosis: Any slim chance Little had of breaking into the first round have gone belly up.

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Florida EDGE Jachai Polite -- Jachai Polite? More like Jachai Rude. The jokes just write themselves. Every draft season offers us a runaway trainwreck during interviews or two. Polite fit the bill and then some, harping repeatedly on the fact that teams were “bashing” him in interviews. The Rams were nice to him, at least! He name-checked the recently deposed Super Bowl team as the lone team interview which he actually enjoyed. The Rams, of course, showed proof of concept this past season in being able to tame personalities when they took on Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters and Ndamukong Suh with nary an issue.

The Rams, drafting in the penultimate slot of the first round, are unlikely to be in range for Polite -- NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah ranks him as his No. 21 overall prospect in the class -- but his performance in interviews this weekend begs the question of just what his draft position might actually end up being. That’s not even getting into the fact that Polite came down with what he called hamstring injury in workouts which immediately drew suspicion. So no workout slate for Polite, and an apparently horrible interview. We’ve always empathized with players who struggle in interviews -- it’s a weird, exhausting process -- but Polite is going to have to absolutely ace the rest of his process if he’s to regain his former stature.

Prognosis: His Day 1 prospects require antibiotics, but this is not a lost cause yet.

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Fresno State S Mike Bell -- This one stings. We liked Bell as a Day 3 sleeper, but the question now might be whether we put his draft future to sleep altogether. Want some context? Bell ran even slower than Elijah Holyfield in the 40-yard dash. That’s how slow he ran. Just 4.83 seconds. That was just the tip of the almost-completely-melted iceberg. SPARQ’s composite athletic score put him in just the -- brace yourself now -- 0.3th percentile of NFL safeties. That’s such a low percentage that we don’t even know how to properly write it. Prior to the combine, Draft Analyst’s Tony Pauline had Bell graded as a fourth- or fifth-rounder for April. That feels insanely optimistic, now.

Prognosis: We need bandages -- lots of bandages -- to keep Bell from slipping from Day 3 to UDFA heaven.

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Georgia TE Isaac Nauta -- We earlier touched on both Holyfield and Ridley as internet darlings from UGA who failed to show out to any serious degree in Indianapolis. Nauta fits that bill likewise. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.91 seconds and with a vertical jump of 28 inches, he barely hit the lowest point on the cool measuring thingie. He was predictably the worst scoring tight end in terms of composite SPARQ scores, with just 1.5-percent of NFL tight ends possessing that athletic profile. And yet still, there has been some talk that Nauta’s ability to block will keep him in the mix for the end of Day 3. To which we ask, why? In a deep, deep tight end class, there’s little incentive to take a chance on Naauta.

Prognosis: Draft flatlining occurred after a 4.91-second jog.

Mark Lindquist
Mark Lindquist holds a master's degree from the University of Iowa and writes baseball and college football for Rotoworld.com. He's currently working on a memoir about life, death, rock 'n' roll and his year teaching at a Chinese university. You can reach him on Twitter @markrlindquist.