Skip to main content

2023 All-Combine Team, Offense: QB C.J. Stroud, TE Darnell Washington impress in Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS -- The 2023 NFL Scouting Combine is a wrap. After watching a parade of NFL hopefuls show their stuff in tests and drills in preparation for the 2023 NFL Draft, I'm highlighting some of the best performances by building out an offensive roster of combine all-stars.


C.J. Stroud
Ohio State

Best team fits: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Las Vegas Raiders, Carolina Panthers.

This was the toughest decision of the entire exercise. On the one hand, you have a testing freak in Anthony Richardson -- he ran a 4.43-second 40-yard dash and posted a 40 1/2-inch vertical leap -- who has elite natural ability, but showed some inconsistencies during throwing drills that were largely related to his footwork. On the other, you have Stroud, who put on a throwing clinic during on-field work, coming about as close to perfect as possible. The Ohio State QB produced dime after dime, no matter the distance or difficulty of the throw. Stroud touted his accuracy as one of his greatest strengths during Friday's media availability and backed it up with a fantastic performance, showing NFL teams exactly why they should seriously consider drafting him in April. Richardson has the higher ceiling, but Stroud is the surer choice as we depart Indianapolis.

HONORABLE MENTION: Anthony Richardson, Florida.


Best team fits: Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins.

Robinson's spot on this team is the most predictable result of the entire combine. The former Longhorn arrived in Indianapolis as the unquestioned top running back in the 2023 class and then went out and backed it up in every facet of the combine process. He was humble, but confident during his media availability. He tested very well, finishing with a Next Gen Stats athleticism score of 85 -- second-best in his position group. And finally, he took the field and thrived in every drill. He’ll be the first back off the board in April. The only question: How high will he go?

Jahmyr Gibbs

Best team fits: Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Carolina Panthers.


Sure, I’m going chalk, but for good reason. There are a number of talented and intriguing backs in this group (just look below for a handful of them), but Gibbs had the next-best blend of testing and on-field performance Sunday. Although he only participated in the 40-yard dash and vertical jump during testing, he posted the second-best 40 time of any RB in this year's class (4.36), backing up the explosiveness he showed on tape during his lone season at Alabama. He followed that up by displaying consistent hands during drill work, with just one drop on a deep ball thrown by an NFL personnel staffer (not a pro QB). Gibbs will be a dynamic playmaker for whichever team selects him.

HONORABLE MENTION: Devon Achane, Texas A&M; Tyjae Spears, Tulane; Deneric Prince, Tulsa; Chase Brown, Illinois; Deuce Vaughn, Kansas State.


Jaxon Smith-Njigba
Ohio State

Best team fits: Atlanta Falcons, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, Baltimore Ravens.

Smith-Njigba's excellent combine performance won't come as a surprise to anyone who followed his career at Ohio State: He was clean, controlled and smooth throughout all of the drills at Lucas Oil Stadium, running crisp routes and making many of his catches look routine. When he was paired with his former Buckeye teammate, C.J. Stroud, on a rep, the duo made things look elementary. More impressive, though: When the other quarterbacks threw to him, nothing changed. Smith-Njigba is quicker than fast -- he posted the best 20-yard shuttle time of any receiver since 2014 -- which will get him open plenty at the next level. He leaves Indianapolis just as he arrived -- as one of the top talents at the position.

Josh Downs
North Carolina

Best team fits: Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, New England Patriots, Atlanta Falcons.

Downs is a pro-ready receiver who's going to make one NFL team real happy in the near future. The North Carolina product was masterful in his drills Saturday, handling every route and catch with ease, as if this was his 100th combine. While Downs' speed might not melt a stopwatch (4.48 40), his natural skills and polished footwork should allow him to make an immediate impact in Year 1.

Tank Dell

Best team fits: Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, Los Angeles Chargers, Cleveland Browns.

Local favorite Charlie Jones impressed me a lot, but I'm going with Dell because of how noticeably different he looked from the other receivers during Saturday's drills. Although Dell's 40 time wasn't all that impressive considering his weight (4.49 at 165 pounds), his routes were outrageously crisp; no receiver in this group ran as sharply as Dell, who is a nightmare at the top of his stem because he can go in any direction without tipping off defenders. When he lined up to run a whip, he delivered just as expected: a precise route with zero wasted steps. Dell has water bug-like agility that should make him difficult to cover out of the slot in the NFL. The only disappointing part of Dell's appearance in Indy: He didn't participate in the agility drills, likely saving them for his pro day. But I've already seen enough to expect him to have a very productive pro career.

HONORABLE MENTION: Zay Flowers, Boston College; Charlie Jones, Purdue; Andrei Iosivas, Princeton; Jake Bobo, UCLA; Demario Douglas, Liberty; Ronnie Bell, Michigan; Quentin Johnston, TCU.


Best team fits:  Green Bay Packers, Los Angeles Chargers, Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins.

Washington (6-foot-7, 264 pounds) was not wrong when he described himself as "the most unique tight end in the draft." Per Next Gen Sats, he ran the fourth-fastest 40 time (4.64) and posted the second-longest broad jump (10-foot-2) by any tight end weighing 260-plus pounds since 2003 -- and then put on a show during drills. It is truly rare to see someone Washington's size run as fluidly and with as much control and burst. Using Washington's combine numbers, the fine folks over at NGS shared a pro comparison that's sure to turn heads: Rob Gronkowski. The former Bulldog is even more athletic than Gronk was coming out of Arizona, finishing his 2023 combine workout with a highlight reel-worthy one-handed snag in the goal-line fade drill. Consider me sold.

Best team fits: Carolina Panthers, Green Bay Packers, Los Angeles Chargers, Cincinnati Bengals.

Michael Mayer has a strong case to be in this spot, but I'm going with LaPorta because the former Hawkeye had a slightly cleaner workout. LaPorta was consistent and controlled, displaying the athleticism that his testing suggested. Speaking of testing, the 6-foot-3, 245-pound Laporta finished third among TEs in the 40-yard dash (4.59), sixth in the broad jump (10-3) and seventh in the vertical (35 inches). His polished on-field performance and impressive athleticism suggest he'll be quite productive at the next level. He certainly was this past weekend.

HONORABLE MENTION: Michael Mayer, Notre Dame; Zack Kuntz, Old Dominion; Will Mallory, Miami; Travis Vokolek, Nebraska; Brenton Strange, Penn State; Luke Musgrave, Oregon State.


Broderick Jones

Best team fits: Tennessee Titans, Chicago Bears, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers.


Jones might not quite look like a typical tackle, especially when watching him move, but, oddly enough, it’s what makes him so effective. Jones keeps a wide base, allowing him to maintain a stout frame, and brings agility, speed and strength that should make for an excellent left tackle in the NFL. He certainly looked the part Sunday, moving through every drill with quickness in his feet and power in his punches. Jones tested well, too, running the fastest 40 of any offensive lineman at the combine (4.97) and posting the second-best NGS athleticism score among tackle prospects. He’s going to be a dude in the NFL.

Cody Mauch
North Dakota State

Best team fits: New England Patriots, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cincinnati Bengals, Chicago Bears.

Mauch’s testing fell below the levels of some of his counterparts, but the margin wasn’t massive. Where he was noticeably better than most of the other tackle hopefuls, though, was on the field. Mauch moved with precision, pace and efficiency during drills, maintaining a high motor throughout Sunday's session. The 6-foot-5, 302-pounder looks like a plug-and-play starter, regardless of position. So while he's not an athletic freak, he should be a quality blocker in the NFL.

HONORABLE MENTION: Darnell Wright, Tennessee; Paris Johnson Jr., Ohio State; Peter Skoronski, Northwestern; Anton Harrison, Oklahoma; Blake Freeland, BYU; Earl Bostick Jr., Kansas.


Sidy Sow
Eastern Michigan

Best team fits: Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills, Las Vegas Raiders, Washington Commanders.

Sow arrived in Indianapolis with some anonymity, but he won’t leave that way. The redshirt senior out of Eastern Michigan was one of the best testers among all offensive linemen, posting a Next Gen Stats athleticism score of 86, thanks to strong marks in the 40-yard dash (5.07 seconds; 1.8-second 10-yard split), broad jump (9-foot-2) and vertical (32 inches). Those numbers surely put him on evaluators' radars, and his performance during on-field drills was equally as impressive. As expected from someone his size (6-5, 323), he produced plenty of power when punching bags during blitz-pickup drills. But his quickness was a bit of a surprise, as was his ability to build speed. He did get a little out of control when turning at top speed, but that seemed solely due to the momentum he generates in his frame -- and even still, it was only a slight issue. All in all, his show of athleticism on the field left a lasting impression.

Jordan McFadden

Best team fits: Los Angeles Rams, Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills, Arizona Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, Washington Commanders, Las Vegas Raiders.


Another excellent tester, McFadden was near the front of the line in the second group, serving as a quality barometer for judging the reps of every subsequent participant. McFadden was solid throughout the drills, displaying a fluidity that matched his testing results. Speaking of his numbers: McFadden posted the fastest 40 time (4.99 seconds, including a 1.74-second 10-yard split) among all guard prospects in Indy -- at 303 pounds. He was consistently good throughout the day and should see his stock rise after the week's work.


HONORABLE MENTION: Anthony Bradford, LSU; Matthew Bergeron, Syracuse; Jon Gaines II, UCLA; Steve Avila, TCU; Emil Ekiyor Jr., Alabama; McClendon Curtis, Tennessee-Chattanooga.


Luke Wypler
Ohio State

Best team fits: New York Giants, Houston Texans, New York Jets.


There were a number of promising centers on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday, but not any one true standout. Although most of Wypler's reps were of a high quality -- showing efficient footwork, if not a ton power -- it was his overall athleticism that earned him this spot. Among the group of centers I considered to be comparable in on-field performance, Wypler tested the best. He earned an NGS athleticism score of 81, due in large part to a 5.14-second 40 time (1.83-second 10-yard split) that translated into his movement during drills. Teams in need of a center will have plenty of options in this year's class, with Wypler among the top offerings.

HONORABLE MENTION: John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota; Olu Oluwatimi, Michigan; Juice Scruggs, Penn State.

Follow Nick Shook on Twitter.

Related Content