The 2019 NFL Combine is reaching the most important stretch of the week as we open March. Friday marks the first day of on-field workouts, with running backs, offensive linemen, and special teams players going through a host of drills in hopes of boosting their stock. It kicks off at 6 a.m. on NFL Network, and NFL.com will provide a live stream of the event.
For the 49ers, and other teams alike, there are a lot of things to look for during these combine assessments. Anything ranging from speed, agility (in multiple directions), strength, and so on. San Francisco finds themselves primed to make a jump into the playoff conversation in 2019 so this year’s draft could very well provide some of the final pieces that can make the Niners contenders.
Here is a rundown of the drills you’ll see if you choose to tune into the Combine at any point this weekend, followed by the TV schedule, and wrapping up with a couple prospects at each position to watch.
The marquee event of the combine is all about speed and explosion with the timed 40-yard interval measuring vertical speed over distance and acceleration from a static start. Prospects are also timed at 10 and 20 yard intervals (10-yard split and 20-yard split), where the 10-yard split measures initial quickness and burst, and the 20-yard split measures sustained quickness and burst.
The vertical jump is all about lower-body explosion, power, and leaping ability.
The broad jump is all about lower-body explosion and lower-body strength testing explosion and balance.
3 Cone Drill
The 3 cone drill is all about the prospect’s athletic ability to change direction at a high speed. The drill measures agility, flexibility, and change of direction skills (COD).
The short shuttle or 20-yard short shuttle (5-10-5) is all about testing a prospect’s lateral quickness, agility, burst, flexibility, balance, and explosion in short areas.
Although the bench press (225 pounds) is not part of the five on-field measurable drills performed today (bench press performed the day before), it is a crucial part of measurables testing upper-body strength (not functional strength) and endurance; moreover, it gives insight for NFL clubs on how often the prospect frequented his college weight room for the last 3-5 years.
2019 NFL Combine TV schedule
Location: Indianapolis, IN | Lucas Oil Stadium
Time: 6:00 a.m. PT (re-aired at 1:00 and 5:00 p.m.)
Channel: NFL Network
Live Stream: NFL.com
Day 1: Running Backs, Offensive Linemen, and Special Teams
Prospects to Watch
Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
Weight: 215 lbs
2018 stats: 120 rushes, 640 rushing yards (5.3 average), 11 rushing touchdowns
Damien Harris was the more productive player during his and Jacobs’ time in college but, if we’re being completely honest right now, it is Jacobs who possesses more talent overall; he is the most physical runner in this class. Watching Jacobs’ tape, there are a few instances in each game where he sheds would-be tacklers with such ease, pounding his way through, around and over them. Jacobs also fits the modern running back mold: he is a ferocious blocker and a smooth pass catcher. And he doesn’t just make plays in the flat—he lines up in the slot at times and is an effective downfield route runner.
Sleeper: Wes Hills, RB, Slippery Rock
Weight: 218 lbs
2018 stats: 246 rushes, 1,714 rushing yards, (6.9 average), 17 rushing touchdowns
The sleeper that needs to be talked about more, I hope Hills gets more attention. He doesn’t go down easily at all and with his active and nifty feet, good luck bringing him down with his lateral agility. His vision is just fantastic, and he works off his OL so well, that patience he shows just allows him to bounce runs for big plays. He honestly has enough burst to be a home run hitter too. I don’t know how good he is as a receiver due to his limited opportunities, but he has been solid when asked to do so. Hills is a sleeper that should go Early day 3, even though he is a day 2 talent easily. Also his alma mater is called Slippery Rock. Slippery. Rock. There’s a joke there somewhere.
Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma
Weight: 335 lbs
Boomer Sooner! This has nothing to do with the OU bias I contain within every inch of my heart (trust me) and everything to do with how darn talented Cody Ford really is. If you’re looking for a powerful, versatile, and high effort offensive lineman in the Draft, look no further. The young man plays with a huge chip on his shoulders and plays hard every play. When I’m watching an offensive lineman, the very first thing I look for is effort and whether they finish their blocks. Ford easily checks that box for me. If San Francisco ends up trading back from the second pick then I would not mind having a late 1st round or early 2nd spend on him - he could be the perfect replacement for Joe Staley when he eventually retires.
Sleeper: Elgton Jenkins, OL, Mississippi State
Weight: 310 lbs
When talking about offensive linemen, most people want to focus on the tackle spots since they are generally the most important of the five starters. In this year’s draft class, don’t be afraid to look inside at Mississippi State’s Elgton Jenkins.
Jenkins, a 6’4” and 310-pound versatile interior player, has the tools to be a first-rounder when late April gets here. He’s powerful, smart and has the agility to execute down blocks on defensive tackles or reach linebackers at the second level. A two-year starter at center, Jenkins has also played left tackle, left guard and right tackle while twice being named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll. That’s a makeup NFL scouts will fall in love with and, without a great left tackle prospect or top-tier guard like Quenton Nelson last year, Jenkins could rise to the top of many offensive line lists.