2022 NFL Draft: 5 biggest winners from the Combine

Georgia defensive lineman Jordan Davis. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Georgia defensive lineman Jordan Davis. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The NFL Combine includes some spectacular performances. Here are the five biggest winners in Indianapolis leading up to the 2022 NFL Draft. 

The 2022 NFL Draft class hasn’t exactly been talked about as one of the better classes in recent years. In fact, many draft experts would argue this opposite. This has a lot to do with the lack of elite players at the top of the draft.

However, nobody should be saying that this isn’t at least a very athletic draft class — certainly not after watching the 2022 NFL Combine. In terms of sub 4.4 40-yard dash times, this was the fastest group of players we ever saw in Indianapolis.

While there were many thoroughly impressive performances from a numbers standpoint, these five stood above the rest. Here are the five biggest winners from the NFL Combine:

Georgia DL Jordan Davis

If the NFL Combine taught us one thing about Jordan Davis, it’s that we should put to rest the stereotype that he’s going to be just a two-down run-stuffer in the NFL. Typically, when you look at a defensive tackle who is 6’6” and 341 pounds, this is all you can think of.

Davis, however, is a remarkable breed of player who comes around just once in a generation. He got the crowd on their feet with a blazing 4.78 40-yard dash and displayed unreal exposition for a player his size. I think Davis went from a late-first round pick to a lock top-15 pick with his impressive showing at the Combine.

North Dakota State WR Christian Watson

This was a remarkably fast wide receiver group at the combine this year, and North Dakota State wide receiver, Christian Watson raised eyebrows as much as anyone. Despite his small-school status, Watson tested as one of the most athletic wide receivers we have seen in years.

He earned an official 4.36 40-yard dash in addition to a 38.5” vertical and an 11’4” broad jump. Watson solidified himself as an early day-two pick.

Georgia EDGE Travon Walker

Call him an edge defender or a defensive lineman — it doesn’t matter to me. Just don’t call him a bad athlete. While scouts have had concerns about Travon Walker’s lack of production at Georgia, this could be chalked up to a heavy DL rotation.

At the NFL Combine, Walker looked like he was chiseled out of stone, and he showcased remarkable movement skills for a player his size. As Kayvon Thibodeaux might have hurt his stock a bit after bailing out of everything other than the 40-yard dash and bench press, Walker increased his draft stock as much as any player this year at the Combine.

UTSA CB Tariq Woolen

Tariq Woolen was a name that was widely unknown entering NFL Combine week. The UTSA cornerback put together some solid tape with his freakish size, length, and traits, but he really put himself on the map in Indianapolis.

You just don’t see many 6’4” cornerbacks with 33 5/8” arms who can run 4.26 and still have pretty good lateral movement skills. Woolen is certainly a work in progress, but his fantastic Combine numbers are going to make him a very early second-round pick if I had to guess.

Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder

You can tell watching a Cincinnati game that Desmond Ridder is a quality athlete, but I don’t know if anyone expected him to test as well as he did. Ridder blazed with a 4.52 official 40-yard dash while displaying impressive explosion numbers at the quarterback position with a 36” vertical and 10’7” broad jump.

Add in the fact that Ridder came in at 6’3” with long arms (32 3/4”) and big hands (10”), and you are looking at a quarterback that checks all the boxes most teams look for. In a tight QB race this year, he really helped his stock.

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There were plenty of other impressive showings at the Combine, but these five 2022 NFL Draft prospects were the biggest winners in Indianapolis. I’ll be interested to see how much it affects their draft stock in April.