Evaluating the winners and losers at the NFL scouting combine can be a subjective process.
Were Ole Miss’ Laremy Tunsil and Laquon Treadwell or Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves winners because they helped solidify their spots among the top prospects at their positions? Was Ole Miss’ Robert Nkemdiche a winner after reminding everyone that, despite off-field questions, he is one of the most athletic defensive tackles to come along in years?
Of course. But what about the guys in Indianapolis who had more to gain over the past week?
Here are some SEC players whose combine workouts showed off NFL-level athleticism that could improve their draft stock:
RB Keith Marshall, Georgia: Marshall posted the third-fastest 40-yard dash time by a running back at the combine since 2006 (4.31 seconds). It was the fastest time for any player who ran in Indy this year. He also led all tailbacks with 25 reps on the bench press. Marshall’s draft position is a mystery because of the injuries that put a damper on his UGA career, but he certainly helped his cause at the combine.
CB Jonathan Jones, Auburn: The All-SEC performer ran the fastest 40 time among cornerbacks (4.33), tied for second with 19 reps on the bench and did fine in the vertical (36 inches) and broad jump (10 feet, 3 inches). At 5-foot-9 and 186 pounds, he’s a bit undersized, but he showed off promising athleticism at the combine.
RB Derrick Henry, Alabama: The Heisman Trophy winner is one of the most heavily debated prospects in this draft, but he helped himself in Indy. First of all, he’s huge (6-3, 247 pounds) and has the longest arms of all running back prospects (33 inches). He also participated in all of the drills, including a 4.54-second 40, 37-inch vertical, 22 reps on bench and 10-10 broad jump.
WR Ricardo Louis, Auburn: The guy on the receiving end of the “Prayer at Jordan-Hare” was one of the fastest wideouts, with a 4.43-second 40 time -- just ahead of Georgia’s Malcolm Mitchell (4.45) for fourth place. Louis also was the top receiver with an 11-foot broad jump, tied for third with 18 bench reps and took fifth with a 38-inch vertical.
TE Jerell Adams, South Carolina: The Senior Bowler posted the fastest 40 time among tight ends (4.64) and had the longest arms among the players at his position (34-3/8). At 6-foot-5 and 247 pounds, he has an NFL-style frame to go along with the speed and receiving skills he showed off with the Gamecocks.
QB Dak Prescott, Mississippi State: Fighting to scratch his way into the second tier of quarterbacks behind Cal’s Jared Goff and North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz, Prescott probably helped himself with his performance in the passing drills. He was among the better quarterbacks in the 40 (4.79), vertical (32.5) and broad jump (9-7) and tied USC’s Cody Kessler for the biggest hands among QBs (10-7/8). But it was his passing precision and footwork that probably helped Prescott the most.
OG Connor McGovern, Missouri: With an impressive showing in the measurable drills and workouts, McGovern proved the physical pieces are all there. He was second among offensive linemen with 33 reps on bench, posted the best vertical (33) and was among the better linemen in several other drills.
S Keanu Neal, Florida: Neal posted the best broad jump among safeties (11-0), tied for second with a 38-inch vertical and was in the top five in the position on bench (17 reps) and 60-yard shuttle (11.58 seconds).
LB Deion Jones, LSU: If the goal was to prove that he’s one of the fastest linebackers in this draft, mission accomplished. Jones posted the third-fastest 40 time among linebackers (4.59), trailing only Washington’s Travis Feeney (4.5) and Minnesota’s De’Vondre Campbell (4.58).
RB Kenyan Drake, Alabama: As with Jones, scouts wanted to see how quickly Drake would motor down the track in the 40, not how many reps he completed on the bench. The versatile Alabama back/return man did not disappoint, running the 40 in 4.45 seconds and placing third among running backs.
DE Alex McCalister, Florida: Scouts are concerned with McCalister’s raw skill set and character concerns after he was dismissed from the team late last season, but he certainly has tools that intrigue them. He is one of the tallest defensive linemen in this class (6-6) and has the longest arms (36), although he needs to add size to his 239-pound frame. He set a combine record in the short shuttle (4.0) and was fourth in the three-cone drill (7.01), so he possesses good quickness.
S Jalen Mills, LSU: He will want to improve upon his 40 time (4.61) at LSU’s pro day on March 14 -- particularly since some teams probably like him better as a cornerback -- but Mills fared well in several agility drills. He placed among the top three safeties in short shuttle (4.0), three-cone drill (6.86) and 60-yard shuttle (11.53), and took fifth with a 37-inch vertical.