Review of the 2022 NFL Combine

Ryan Stuzin, Staff Writer

If you live and breathe NFL football as I do, you are already itching for next season even though the Super Bowl was only a few weeks ago. The 8-month hiatus until the season opener is always a killer. But the NFL Combine can be a good way to lift a fan’s spirits in a period of such profound football dormancy. This year, the Combine was even more exciting than usual.

Let’s start with the most popular Combine event: the 40-yard dash. There were some exceptional showings this year. Tyquan Thornton, a wide receiver out of Baylor, ran a 4.28. He had everyone even more excited at first, though, when his unofficial time was clocked as a 4.21, which would have been a Combine record. 

He was one of eight receivers who clocked in at under 4.4 seconds. Thornton may have boosted himself into the second round of the draft from the fourth, especially with a lot of teams in need of wide receiver (WR) help — including talented teams like the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts and Las Vegas Raiders.

Then Virginia Tech defensive end Amaré Barno broke the Combine 40-yard record time for defensive ends and linebackers with a 4.36, with an even more astounding 10-yard split time of 1.54 seconds, which is absolutely ridiculous for a defensive player. Even with three of the top four picks projected to be edge rushers, a lot of teams will undoubtedly find Barno an attractive addition to their pass rush. 

Another astounding performance in the 40 came from Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis. At six foot six and 341 pounds, he ran a whopping 4.78. And just for fun, Davis broke the Combine record for players over 300 pounds in the broad jump, with a distance of 10 feet 3 inches. He is proving himself to be a freaky-athletic D-lineman, another potential impact player up front who should have general managers salivating.

In terms of other big names who showed out, there are some other wide receivers who deserve some recognition for their performance. Ohio State University (OSU) WR Garrett Wilson, a stellar slot receiver throughout his whole college career, ran a 4.38 in the 40, which is great for his draft position, as he has potentially put himself within the top ten picks. 

Another OSU wide receiver, Chris Olave, also put on a show with a time of 4.39. Olave will be a great option on the outside, and his speed is something to get anyone excited. Look for Olave to go in the first round. 

However, there were also some unfavorable showings in the Combine. University of Arkansas WR Treylon Burks ran a somewhat disappointing 4.55. Many NFL fans and analysts have compared Burks to San Francisco 49ers do-it-all receiver/running back Deebo Samuel – a player who can run and catch the ball equally well. But his somewhat slow 40 time (it is perhaps a little crazy to call 4.55 “slow”) could have implications for his draft position. With that being said, the Philadelphia Eagles, with three mid-first round picks, could still be interested in him. 

And with so many speedy wide-outs on the draft board, plenty of teams should be looking hard in the middle rounds at Kalon Barnes of Baylor University, who broke the Combine record for defensive backs with a 4.23 in the 40. If teams are looking to have a player on the defensive side who can keep up with elite speed on the outside, Barnes is that guy.

The bench press was also a spectacle. Edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux out of Oregon was the big name of this event. Thibodeaux, who is expected to go within the first five picks of the draft (potentially even first overall, though CBS has him falling to my beloved Jets at 4), easily pumped out 27 reps with 225 pounds on the bar, two more reps than any other defensive end or edge rusher. Pairing Thibodeaux’s agility with this impressive indication of strength projects a very successful NFL career.

With the NFL Combine now complete, we look forward to the beginning of free agency, which starts on March 16, and the NFL Draft, which starts on April 28. Even without any actual football, there is still plenty to look forward to.