As we look into the rearview mirror that was the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine, a few under-the-radar prospects more than made a name for themselves after a strenuous, exhausting few days of medical testing, interviews, and on-field workouts. While most of the headliners within each position group lived up to their billing—testing well, impressing during podium sessions, and, in turn, solidifying their status as day-one players—here are a few of the lesser-known prospects that turned heads and lifted their drafted stock in Indianapolis.
TROY ANDERSEN, LB, MONTANA STATE
An All-American on the offensive side of the football during his time as a Bobcat, Troy Andersen turned heads, to say the least. A 4.41 40-yard dash for a prospect with the ability to work all over the second level of a defense, teams in need of an immediate impact linebacker on day two should be pounding the table for him come late April.
One of the most positional-versatile athletes in the entire class, where some teams believe he could serve a role on the offensive side of the ball in due time, Andersen blew talent evaluators away with his burst and premier change of direction skills. The Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Year this past fall, Andersen more than etched his name in as a name to watch early on day two.
PIERRE STRONG JR., RB, SOUTH DAKOTA STATE
A physical, downhill back, the attention centered toward Pierre Strong Jr. after running a 4.37 in the 40—tops among all RBs—is long, LONG overdue. A smooth runner both inside and outside the tackles, while game speed is much different than lining up for the 40, Strong’s burst translates on film and could be this year’s version of Elijah Mitchell as a day-three selection with day-one impact.
JELANI WOODS, TE, VIRGINIA
A massive athlete at 6-foot-7, the movement ability from Jelani Woods was as fluid as any tight end in the class. A vertically imposing talent, Woods showcased sure hands, clean footwork, power in blocking drills, and, most importantly, a 4.61 in the 40 (second among TEs). With his stature and playmaking ability, he’s a massive riser in a deep pool of in-line talent.
CHRISTIAN WATSON, WR, NORTH DAKOTA STATE
What else can you say? A do-it-all talent, after hearing comparisons for Christian Watson in the form of Randy Moss this winter, while he has a long way to go before reaching the level of one of the all-time greats, Watson put together one of the most electric performances at the wide receiver position that the NFL Combine has seen in its 40-year history. Producer of just the second 10.0 RAS (relative athletic score) ever recorded (Calvin Johnson), Watson made himself a ton of money Thursday night, and it won’t surprise me to hear his name come off the board on night one as an elite perimeter pass-catcher. At 6-foot-4, Watson posted a 4.36 in the 40, a 38.5-inch vertical, and an 11-foot-4 broad jump (tops among all participants). He was unbelievable.
TARIQ WOOLEN, CB, UTSA
We knew he’d test well, but my goodness was Tariq Woolen impressive. One of, if not, the most athletically gifted players in the class, Woolen’s blend of size (6-foot-4) and speed (4.26!!!) will be tough for teams to turn down. If it were my guess, don’t be surprised if he sneaks into the backend of round one. The NFL loves traits, and Woolen is dripping with All-Pro potential.
CAM JURGENS, IOL, NEBRASKA
While the 40, broad, and vertical are made to showcase the skill players, Cam Jurgens’ athletic profile is extremely enticing considering the way in which he’ll make his money on Sundays. Compared to Iowa’s Tyler Linderbaum due to his quick feet, explosive hands, and athletic ability in space, organizations in need of an athlete on the interior will have Jurgens high on their board.
CHANNING TINDALL, LB, GEORGIA
While Jordan Davis stole the show for all the former Bulldogs in attendance, Channing Tindall had one of the most impressive workouts of any player in Indianapolis. A true sideline-to-sideline defender, Tindall is everything defensive coordinators look for to counter the speed of NFL offenses at the second level. He’s a fit within any defensive scheme, and his athletic profile presents teams with a chess piece to use at their disposal in man, zone, or as a wide-nine blitzer.
CALVIN AUSTIN III, WR, MEMPHIS
One of the standouts in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, everywhere Calvin Austin III goes, success follows. A showtime athlete whose quickness and knack for finding open grass was constantly evident on film this fall, after proving uncoverable in Mobile, he lit up the 40 (4.32) and was expectedly clean in positional drills. Teams may have outlying concerns considering his size (5-foot-8), but ignoring the electric factory that is Austin III could have teams wishing they had him higher on their priority list in a few years’ time.
LEWIS CINE, S, GEORGIA
Often overlooked as the nail that held together a historic Georgia defense this fall, Lewis Cine’s 4.36 speed will have teams drooling over the potential of him aligned at the apex of their defense. One of the most physical, downhill defenders in the class, Cine plays the game at 100 mph and will let you know about it, too. The former Georgia standout needed a standout performance to close the gap between him and fellow safeties Daxton Hill, Jaquan Brisker, and Jalen Pitre, and he more than did so.
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