NFL Draft News & Analysis

2023 NFL Draft: Highlighting the outliers from the NFL scouting combine

Indianapolis, IN, USA; Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson (QB11) participates in the 40-yard dash at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

  • Anthony Richardson breaks records: Richardson recorded all-time jumps for the vertical and the broad.
  • Julius Brents shows out: Brents measured in and tested like an elite NFL defensive back.
  • Dawand Jones is a giant among giants: Jones measures in at numbers few players have ever come close to.
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

As one of our final “looks back” at what happened in Indianapolis at the 2023 NFL scouting combine, we wanted to highlight some players who were major outliers in the best way. Whether it was their measurables, jumps, agility, speed or strength, these were the prospects who saw their name at the top of the list for this year and, for some, all time.

DL Calijah Kancey, Pittsburgh

  • Best Drill: 40-yard dash
  • Result: 4.67 seconds
  • Percentile: 99th

Kancey is a unique player – his tape shows that. He’s smaller in size (measured in at 6-foot ⅝, 281 pounds) but with that compact frame, he’s incredibly fast and explosive. Those who were big fans of the athletic strengths in his game wanted to see those boxes checked at the combine, and they were in a major way, as Kancey recorded the fastest 40-yard dash ever for an interior defensive lineman at 4.67 seconds. Kancey is an outlier in his size, which can be seen as a negative, but he is also an outlier in his speed, which is a useful asset. 

CB D.J Turner, Michigan

  • Best Drill: 40-yard dash
  • Result: 4.26 seconds
  • Percentile: 99th

We were already aware of Turner’s top-tier athleticism because of Bruce Feldman’s Freak List from before the college football season. Nonetheless, we can’t let that desensitize us to truly top-tier athleticism when we see it – which is exactly what we saw from Turner. His 4.26-second 40-yard dash was the fastest at the event this year and was tied for the sixth fastest time in combine history. The cornerback position demands elite athleticism at the NFL level, and Turner checks those boxes. 

QB Anthony Richardson, Florida

  • Best Drills: Vertical, Broad
  • Results: 40.5-inch vertical, 10-foot-9 broad
  • Percentile: 99th and 99th 

Richardson being athletic was expected – you can turn on any game from this past season and see evidence of that — but Richardson being the most athletic quarterback we’ve ever seen at the combine was a different story. Richardson’s vertical and broad jumps were the all-time best scores among quarterbacks. Plus, his 40-yard dash finished third all-time at the event. Richardson is the posterchild for an article like this, as he was an outlier in multiple categories in the best way. 

DB Jartavius Martin, Illinois

  • Best Drill: Vertical
  • Result: 44 inches
  • Percentile: 98th

While Martin’s teammates Sydney Brown and Devon Witherspoon have received more hype this draft season, Martin showed his athleticism deserves to be talked about as well. His 44-inch vertical was the best at the event and was tied for the 11th-highest jump since 1999. That explosive ability also showed up in his 1.47-second 10-yard split and his 11-foot-1 broad jump — both of which ranked above the 95th percentile. 

CB Julius Brents, Kansas State

  • Best Drill: Broad
  • Results: 11-foot-6
  • Percentile: 99th

Brents stood out in almost every way at the combine. He measured 6-foot-2 with an 82 ⅝-inch wingspan and 34-inch arms. All three of those numbers ranked above the 96th percentile, and his wingspan was the longest for a cornerback at the combine. Then, he went out onto the field and showed he’s an excellent athlete at a bigger size. His 11-foot-6 broad jump ranked in the 99th percentile, but his 41 ½-inch vertical and 6.63-second three-cone also ranked above the 90th percentile. Brents checked about every box a prospect could in Indy.

WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State

  • Best Drills: Three-cone, short shuttle
  • Results: 6.57-second three-cone, 3.93-second short shuttle
  • Percentile: 96th and 96th  

Smith-Njigba looking like one of the best wide receivers at the combine wasn’t really a surprise, but it’s still worth noting due to his outstanding performance in the agility drills. His three-cone and short shuttle times both ranked above the 96th percentile for receivers and were both the fastest for anyone in attendance. He also brought that agility to the field when running routes. He was definitely a winner and an outlier due to just how smooth he made everything look.

OG Andrew Vorhees, USC

  • Best Drill: Bench
  • Result: 38 reps
  • Percentile: 98th

Vorhees had to make this list. On the surface level, his 38 reps on the bench press show off some big-time upper body strength that ranked in the 98th percentile for interior offensive linemen. Then, you factor in that he tore his ACL the day before doing on-field drills at the combine and still not only opted to bench but he registered more reps than any player in the draft class, and you have an outlier in the best way.

OT Dawand Jones, Ohio State

  • Best Measurement: Wingspan
  • Result: 87 ⅞ inches
  • Percentile: 98th

Jones’s wingspan was an outlier because there’s only been one player in Combine history with longer vines. He’s the biggest player in this draft class by a considerable margin, and he brings that coveted power profile at offensive tackle. He was an outlier in the ways we expected, but when you see a giant in the flesh, you’re still impressed. 

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