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Bruce Feldman’s Freaks List revisited: Which NFL Draft prospects will be freaky at the Combine?
Bruce Feldman 3h agocomment-icon@2x.png 10 save-icon@2x.png

In the past, Freaks like Myles Garrett, DK Metcalf and Saquon Barkley have lived up to — and in many cases exceeded — the hype. Others from more off-the-radar programs, like Lenoir-Rhyne defensive back Kyle Dugger, have also blown up in Indianapolis at the NFL Scouting Combine. As we ramp up to the 2022 NFL Draft, it’s time to focus on the biggest freaks in this prospect class.

Revisit Bruce Feldman’s 2021 Freaks List here

1. Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan, DE: He was a dominant player for the Big Ten champions and really set the tempo for the Wolverines’ breakout season. Expect the 6-foot-6, 265-pound Hutchinson to keep wowing people in the draft process. He’s expected to vertical jump in the high 30s, run the 40 around 4.6 and put up one of the fastest shuttle times of anyone at any size, having clocked a 4.07 last offseason. We hear he’s run in the 3.9s in training. At the 2020 NFL Combine, Penn State defensive back John Reid had the fastest time of 3.97 seconds. The quickest time by a D-lineman was a 4.31 by 248-pound Alex Highsmith.

2. Tariq Woolen, UTSA, cornerback: His freakish athleticism was a well-kept secret last summer. Not anymore. Woolen measured 6 feet 3 1/2, 205 pounds with 33 1/2-inch arms at the Senior Bowl. He also has consistently hit over 23 MPH on the GPS. He told The Athletic this month that he’s looking to broad jump over 11 feet (he’s gone 11-5 in testing at UTSA), go over 40 inches in the vertical and run the 40 in 4.3 seconds. Those are eye-popping numbers, but they are even more remarkable given his size and length at corner.

3. Evan Neal, Alabama, offensive tackle: Neal has rare flexibility and athleticism given his enormous frame; he has played at 6 feet 7, 350-plus pounds, but told The Athletic he expects to be in the 335-340 pound range for the combine. Alabama director of sports science Matt Rhea calls Neal “the most impressive lower body power athlete we have ever seen. His jumping power is in the top 1 percent we have ever measured.” Neal routinely hits box jumps at 48 inches, benches almost 500 pounds and almost topped 19 MPH last summer on the GPS despite weighing 350 pounds.

4. Boye Mafe, Minnesota, edge rusher: He was just over 200 pounds when he arrived at Minnesota but measured in for the Senior Bowl at 6 feet 3 1/2, 255 pounds. He had a very good week in Mobile, Ala. He figures to do exceptionally well in the testing portion of the evaluation process. Mafe has vertical jumped 40 1/2 inches in training. He also has broad jumped 10-6 and run the 40 in 4.57 seconds. Recently in training he’s run a hand-timed 4.49 in the 40.

5. Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame, safety: As impressive as his workout numbers are, his film is even more impressive. He has uncanny range and the ability to make big plays from the deep middle, as evidenced by the ground he covered in picking off a pass in the season opener against FSU that still has scouts’ jaws on the ground. The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder clocks 21 MPH on the GPS, has vertical jumped almost 42 inches, and has a 10-8 broad jump.

6. Kalon “Boogie” Barnes, Baylor, defensive back: Barnes, a converted wide receiver, has legitimate big-time track credentials: The 5-foot-11, 183-pounder once clocked a 10.04 in the 100 meters and was a two-time Texas state 100- and 200-meter champ. Don’t be surprised if he clocks in the 4.2s at the combine. There’s a handful of folks in the training world who think he has a shot at breaking the combine 40 record of 4.22 seconds.

7. Tanner Conner, Idaho State, wide receiver: The former standout hurdler on the Idaho State track team has terrific size (6 feet 3, 230 pounds) and wheels. He averaged almost 19 yards per catch the past two seasons. He vertical jumped 40 1/2 inches this offseason, broad-jumped 11 feet and has run in the 4.3s. There has been some skepticism about his route-running ability, but folks close to him expect him to win over doubters in change-of-direction drills. They also say his shuttle times will be just as strong as everything else he does, with a 4.2 shuttle and 6.8 L-drill very possible.

8. Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan, offensive tackle: He started playing for the Vienna Vikings in Austria as a 14-year-old before coming to Michigan as part of a high school exchange program. At Central Michigan, he began his career as a tight end and caught 20 passes before moving to offensive line. Now, at 6 feet 6, 304 pounds, Raimann has retained that pass-catching athleticism, having run a 1.56 10-yard split and also vertical jumping 33 inches and broad jumping 9-7 1/2. His shuttle at Central Michigan was 4.60. He also should put up a lot of reps on the bench, having maxed out at 450 pounds.

9. Travon Walker, Georgia, edge rusher: At 6 feet 5, 275 pounds, Walker is quite the specimen with great length (his arms are expected to measure around 35 inches). Some scouts think he could possibly run the 40 in the high 4.5s. On the field, he had six sacks and a team-high 36 quarterback hurries for the national champions.

10. Leo Chenal, Wisconsin, linebacker: One of the big reasons behind the Badgers’ stout defense was Chenal, the explosive linebacker who is expected to weigh in at 250-plus pounds. He has a chance to run a sub-4.6 40 to go with a 36-inch vertical, but it’s his change of direction that may turn heads. He’s expected to be around 7.00 in the L-drill and 4.10 in his 5-10-5 shuttle. Oh, and he also might get 40 reps of 225 pounds on the bench.

11. Ikem “Ickey” Ekwonu, NC State, offensive lineman: The most physically dominant lineman in this class, Ekwonu’s film is one long masterpiece of offensive line brutality. He’s also much more nimble than many have given him credit for. Expect him to weigh in at 315 pounds and still run the 40 in the 4.9s. He also benches 225 pounds in the 30-rep range.

12. Tyquan Thornton, Baylor, wide receiver: Boogie Barnes isn’t the only Baylor player who has a decent shot of running the 40 in the 4.2s. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Thornton, a 10.50 100-meter guy in high school, has been sub-4.3 in training.

13. Jason Poe, Mercer, offensive lineman: He was a Division II All-American at Lenoir-Rhyne before transferring to Mercer. The 6-foot 1/2, 300-pound Poe lacks ideal height but has ridiculous athleticism and is incredibly light on his feet. Poe, who is expected to do his Pro Day at the University of Georgia, is expected to run the 40 in the 4.8s. He has vertical jumped 34 inches-plus. He’s also benched almost 500 pounds and power cleaned almost 400. His broad jump will be in the 10-foot range, and his shuttle in training has been 4.50.

14. Travis Jones, Connecticut, defensive tackle: The 6-foot-4 1/2, 326-pound powerhouse (7.5 TFLs, 4.5 sacks) has been the best thing UConn football has had going in a long time.  He was once around 360 pounds but really worked on his body and got down to 13 percent body fat. He should get in the mid-30s on the bench and close to 30 inches on his vertical jump. Don’t be shocked if he cracks 4.60 on his shuttle time. He did a 4.57 last offseason.

15. Daniel Faalele, Minnesota, offensive lineman: The biggest man in this draft — 6 feet 8, 387 pounds, 86-inch wingspan, 11-inch mitts — the huge Australian moves incredibly well for his size. He has vertical jumped 29 inches and broad jumped 8-7. Those are numbers he might even be able to top with additional time prepping for the combine.

16. Kyler Gordon, Washington, cornerback: He’s a solid 6 feet, 200 pounds with amazing body control and athleticism. A lot of that was honed with his background in dance, kung fu and ballet. Gordon’s combination of burst and change of direction is reflected in a 42.5-inch vertical jump as well as a blazing 3.87 shuttle time.

17. Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa, offensive tackle: The latest gem from the Missouri Valley Conference, Penning was a nasty force at the Senior Bowl, and he’s much more than just a mauler. At 6 feet 6 1/2 with almost an 84-inch wingspan, he’ll weigh around 325 pounds but may run the 40 in the 4.9s. He also has a good shot at running a sub-4.50 in the shuttle.

18. Jeffrey Gunter, Coastal Carolina, edge rusher: A former two-star recruit, Gunter was a disruptive force in the Sun Belt. He played in the mid-270s at 6 feet 4, but was down to 259 pounds for the Senior Bowl. His vertical jump stands out at 39 inches, as does a 4.37 shuttle. He’s broad-jumped 10-2 while weighing in the 270s, so that should be impressive.

19. Derek Stingley Jr., LSU, cornerback: He was sensational as a true freshman in the Tigers’ 2019 national title season but was hobbled by an assortment of injuries the past two years. The old Tigers staff doesn’t question his athleticism, but right now a lot of the expectations for his workouts are tied to his amazing showing at Nike’s 2018 Opening in Dallas. There,  the five-star cornerback measured 6 feet 1 and 193 pounds, clocked a 4.30-second 40 time and had a 42-inch vertical to go with a 4.28 shuttle. It will be interesting to see what he does during the draft process.

20. Devonte Wyatt, Georgia, defensive lineman: One of the many Freaks on the Bulldogs’ national title defense, the 6-foot-3, 305-pounder is expected to run in the 4.8s— he clocked a 4.87 last summer. The former high school shot-puller has vertical jumped 31 inches.

21. Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa, center: Whether it’s a record-setting performance at the annual Solon Beef Days in Iowa, where he heaved a 60-pound hay bale 14 feet high, or pinning former Freaks king Tristan Wirfs on the mat, or dominating almost every opponent the Hawkeyes faced, the 6-foot-1, 290-pounder is just an agile powerhouse. Expect him to shine in the process, just like he always does. At Iowa, we hear he’d run a 1.55 10-yard split and was timed at 4.22 in the shuttle, both numbers that would be good for a running back or defensive back.

22. Darrell Baker, Georgia Southern, cornerback: The 2016 Georgia high school long jump state champion has ideal size for corner at 6 feet 1/2, 198 pounds. He’s put up some fantastic testing numbers at Georgia Southern, vertical jumping 43 inches and doing 10-11 in the broad jump. He’s also run a 4.41 40.

23. Alec Pierce, Cincinnati, wide receiver: A 6-foot-3, 215-pounder who has a track and volleyball background also displays the toughness you’d expected from an athlete who also played linebacker at Cincinnati. Scouts love his ability to block. They’ll also love his wheels. This is a player who is expected to run the 40 in the low 4.4s, jump over 40 inches and get at least 11 feet in the broad jump. His shuttle times should stand out.

24. Malik Willis, Liberty, quarterback: Willis, who in person looks like a muscled-up linebacker, has one of the most powerful arms we’ve seen in a long time. At 6 feet, 225 pounds, Willis has tremendous wheels with great elusiveness to go with plenty of speed, having run a 4.50 40. His burst is evidenced by a 38.5-inch vertical.

25. Jaquan Brisker, Penn State, safety: A star in a very talented secondary, Brisker made second-team All-American honors in 2021 after making 64 tackles, 5.5 TFLs and two INTs. At 6-foot-1, 203 pounds, he has elite wheels and power. At Penn State, he timed a very fast 4.07 shuttle time and benched 360 pounds. Nittany Lions coaches expect him to run the 40 in the low 4.3s and possibly in the 4.2s, according to longtime Penn State strength coach Dwight Galt.

26. George Karlaftis, Purdue, edge rusher: The biggest recruit the Boilers have landed in a long time lived up to lofty expectations and should prove to be a very good, productive NFL player, based on his excellent athleticism and relentless work ethic. The 6-foot-4, 275-pounder once played on the U-16 Greek national water polo team as a 13-year-old and later became a two-time Indiana state champion in the shot put. He also started for three seasons on his high school basketball team. He’s run a sub-4.70 40 in college and vertical jumped 37 inches. He’s also broad-jumped 10-1.

27. Dominique Robinson, Miami (OH), edge rusher: The former high school quarterback spent three seasons playing wide receiver in the MAC before moving to the defensive line, where he’s blossomed with his 82 1/2-inch wingspan and terrific change of direction. The 6-foot-4 Robinson expects to weigh close to 260 pounds and run the 40 in the 4.65 range. At Miami, he ran a very impressive 4.31 agility time and also has vertical jumped 34 inches.

28. Matt Henningsen, Wisconsin, defensive lineman: Henningsen was a Campbell Trophy semifinalist as one of the top scholar-athletes in college football. Don’t sleep on the 6-foot-3, 293-pound former walk-on’s athleticism. At Wisconsin, he hit 19.34 MPH on the GPS. In pre-draft training, he’s clocked a laser-timed 1.59 10-yard split and has also vertical jumped in the mid 30 inches. He might crack 10 feet in the broad jump.

29. Armani Rogers, Ohio, wide receiver/tight end: He’s a wild card in the draft process and an interesting prospect. He played quarterback at UNLV and Ohio and showed his speed last year by setting an NCAA record for quarterbacks with a 99-yard touchdown run vs. Buffalo. Word is, at 6 feet 5 and 230 pounds, Rogers has been turning heads now that he’s training as a receiver due to his size and speed. He’s vertical jumping in the high 30s. He has run the 40 in the low 4.4s and has been broad jumping around 11 feet. It’s probably a stretch to think that, even if he wows scouts at his pro day, a team drafts him, but he’ll likely earn a shot in someone’s camp.

30. Chris Olave, Ohio State, wide receiver: He’s torn up the Big Ten over the past three years, catching 33 touchdowns. Simply put, the 6-foot-1, 190-pounder is effortlessly fast. It probably wouldn’t shock anyone if he clocked a 4.30 40.

31. Dareke Young, Lenoir-Rhyne, wide receiver: The next Freak from Kyle Dugger’s old Division II school is very raw. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Young’s jumping numbers will stand out, though. In training, he’s vertical jumped 40 inches and done 11-2 in the broad jump. He has a 40 time of 4.45 to go with 20 reps on the bench.

32. Tycen Anderson, Toledo, safety: One of the best-kept secrets in the MAC, Anderson has excellent ball skills and range. At 6 feet 2, 204 pounds, he’s expected to run the 40 in the 4.4s and also should vertical jump around 40 inches.

33. Brandon Smith, Penn State, linebacker: The Nittany Lions have had more than their share of Freaks — and while the 6-foot-3, 240-pound former five-star recruit isn’t Micah Parsons as a player (who is?), he’s still very, very explosive. He’s expected to run the 40 in the 4.4s. He has broad jumped in 10-5 and vertical jumped 36 inches. He also timed 4.25 in the shuttle last offseason.

34. Zander Horvath, Purdue, running back: The No. 40 has produced a lot of standouts at Purdue, and Horvath follows in that tradition, having led the team with 746 all-purpose yards. Horvath is intriguing. He’s 6 feet 1 1/2, 232 pounds and runs the 40 in the 4.4s. He’s clocked a 2.53 20-yard split, timed 4.06 in the short shuttle and also bench pressed 225 pounds more than 30 times.

35. Nakobe Dean, Georgia, linebacker: The electrical engineering major is brilliant off the field and on. He was the leader of the Bulldogs defense. He doesn’t have great size — maybe he’s 5-11 1/2, 225 pounds — but he’s a blur on the field. Rival coaches think he’ll run the 40 in the 4.4s and should have really quick shuttle times.

36. David Ojabo, Michigan, edge rusher: The Nigerian native was emerging fast in Ann Arbor opposite Hutchinson. Ojabo is expected to run the 40 in the low 4.5s and vertical jump in the high 30s.

37.Quay Walker, Georgia, linebacker: Walker is about 6 feet 4 and 245 pounds and has an 80-plus inch wingspan. He flies laterally and has speed to close. He should run in the 4.5 range. Scouts are still a little split on how instinctive he is, but he sure gets there in a hurry.

38. Lucas Krull, Pittsburgh, tight end: The one-time San Francisco Giants draftee reportedly used to clock 98 MPH on the radar. He has grown into a 6-foot-6, 255-pound NFL prospect and emerged as a nice weapon for the Panthers last season, catching 38 passes for 451 yards and six touchdowns. Panther coaches think that, despite his big frame, he can still run the 40 in the 4.6s.

39. Zion Johnson, Boston College, offensive lineman: An All-ACC lineman, the 6-3, 310-pound Johnson had an impressive week at the Senior Bowl, showing off the good athleticism and intelligence that makes him a versatile option. Johnson, who has vertical jumped 34.5 inches at BC and completed 32 reps on the bench, is a very underrated athlete. He’s also a single-digit handicapper who played high school golf despite his big frame.

40. DaMarcus Mitchell, Purdue, edge rusher: He transferred to Purdue from junior college and flashed some potential, but his athleticism will get him some long looks. The 6-3, 260-pounder, who has only 7 percent body fat, runs the 40 in the 4.6s, has broad jumped 10-5 and vertical jumps in the high 30s.

Just missed the cut: Michael Griffin Jr., South Dakota State, S; Trent McDuffie, Washington, CB; DeAngelo Malone, Western Kentucky, edge rusher; Treylon Burks, Arkansas, WR; Nik Bonitto, Oklahoma, edge rusher; Logan Hall, Houston, DL; Damone Clark, LSU, LB; Isaiah Weston, Northern Iowa, WR; Calvin Austin III, Memphis, WR; Otito Ogbonnia, UCLA, DT; Carson Wells, Colorado, OLB; Dameon Pierce, Florida, RB; ZeVeyon Furcron, Southern Illinois, OG; Chase Lucas, ASU, CB; Will Adams, Virginia State, CB; Jequez Ezzard, Sam Houston, WR; Malcolm Rodriguez, Oklahoma State, LB; EJ Perry, Brown, QB; Dallis Flowers, Pittsburg State, CB

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4 hours ago, hmhertz said:

8. Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan, offensive tackle: He started playing for the Vienna Vikings in Austria as a 14-year-old before coming to Michigan as part of a high school exchange program. At Central Michigan, he began his career as a tight end and caught 20 passes before moving to offensive line. Now, at 6 feet 6, 304 pounds, Raimann has retained that pass-catching athleticism, having run a 1.56 10-yard split and also vertical jumping 33 inches and broad jumping 9-7 1/2. His shuttle at Central Michigan was 4.60. He also should put up a lot of reps on the bench, having maxed out at 450 pounds.

Really interesting guy if he’s available at #35 and the Jets haven’t hit OL in the 1st Round.

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53 minutes ago, 20andOut said:

You are quoting an article that says Saquan Barkley "has lived up to, or exceeded the (pedraft) hype". really???

I thought that too but after a 2nd read I believe the hype he is talking about is combine hype.

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6 hours ago, jetstream23 said:

Really interesting guy if he’s available at #35 and the Jets haven’t hit OL in the 1st Round.

His age is a concern to me. Over-aged linemen have a major advantage in college, which is often negated in the NFL.

At 25 years old during his rookie year, he's probably about as physically mature as he is ever going to be. He's also much more limited in football experience - particularly on the Oline - compared to other guys coming out in the draft.

Impressive player on video, but I do wonder how much room for growth there is once he turns pro. He can improve his technique with pro coaching, but he's probably fully developed physically given his age.

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5 hours ago, 65 Toss Power Trap said:

Please translate your thread title.

The OP posits that, rather than investing significant cap dollars in veteran free agents, our GM - who the OP believes is losing his hair and could afford to lose a few pounds - should, instead, focus on securing athletically gifted young players via the NFL.draft.

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10 hours ago, jetstream23 said:

Really interesting guy if he’s available at #35 and the Jets haven’t hit OL in the 1st Round.

Assuming no o-line at 4 or 10, Raimann or Penning are my big wants for our 2nd round. 

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16 hours ago, mrcoops said:

His age is a concern to me. Over-aged linemen have a major advantage in college, which is often negated in the NFL.

At 25 years old during his rookie year, he's probably about as physically mature as he is ever going to be. He's also much more limited in football experience - particularly on the Oline - compared to other guys coming out in the draft.

Impressive player on video, but I do wonder how much room for growth there is once he turns pro. He can improve his technique with pro coaching, but he's probably fully developed physically given his age.

I hadn’t considered it that way. In fact, if there’s a position where you might be OK drafting an older player I would think it could be offensive line since some of those guys play very well into their mid/late 30s. But your point is a good one. His upside could be very limited at this point.

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