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2024 NFL Scouting Combine: What We Learned during Thursday's activities in Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS -- Thursday marked the first day of on-field events and second day of prospect press conferences at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine. Defensive linemen and linebackers worked out, while defensive backs stepped up to the podiums. Here are the biggest things we learned from the day's events.

Tune in to NFL Network and NFL+ for live coverage of the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine beginning at 3 p.m. ET on Friday and 1 p.m. ET on Saturday and Sunday.


1) Rising DT puts on a show. Braden Fiske arrived in Indianapolis as a prospect with fans in the draft community, including NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah, who just added the Florida State product to his updated ranking of the top 50 players in this class, slotting the disruptive DT in at No. 45. After Thursday's display at Lucas Oil Stadium, though, Fiske could be moving on up.

Fiske ran the fastest 40-yard dash of Group 1, which primarily consists of defensive tackles, and he did so in style, blurting out “OH, YEAH!” like the Kool-Aid Man as he broke the finish line in 4.78 seconds.

And that was only one facet of an impressive all-around workout from Fiske. The 6-foot-4, 292-pounder also posted the highest vertical leap (33.5 inches), longest broad jump (9-foot-9) and quickest 20-yard shuttle (4.37 seconds) in the DT group. Not to mention, Fiske had Jeremiah and guest analyst Cam Jordan in awe of his footwork in the four-bag agility drill.

Fiske spent the first three seasons of his college career at Western Michigan before earning third-team All-American honors from the Associated Press during his lone campaign in Tallahassee. And now he could be headed for a premium draft slot in April.

"Fiske, I think this dude, he's a lock for the second round in my opinion," Jeremiah said on Thursday's NFL Network broadcast. "He might end up finding his way into the bottom of the first round."

-- Gennaro Filice

2) Chop flies. Chop Robinson sliced through the 40-yard dash competition among the defensive linemen on Friday.

Penn State's 6-2 7/8, 254-pound pass rusher recorded an official 40-yard dash time of 4.48 seconds, the best among the defensive line group. Robinson opted not to run a second 40.

The next-fastest time was from Colorado State edge rusher Mohamed Kamara at 4.57 seconds, followed by Florida State edge rusher Jared Verse at 4.58.

Robinson also turned in a respectable result in the vertical jump (34 1/2 inches) and a strong number in the broad jump -- 10-foot-8, which tied for the top DL number with Houston Christian edge rusher Jalyx Hunt.

Robinson's numbers actually fell short of his stated goals of an 11-foot broad jump and a vertical jump of 38 to 40 inches.

But you'd be hard-pressed to say it was a disappointing day for Chop. We knew he was an elite athlete, and he proved it, becoming the second player in the last 20 combines to run a sub-4.5 40 and post a broad jump of at least 10-foot-6 after weighing in at 250-plus pounds. The only other player to do so was former 49ers tight end Vernon Davis in 2006.

In a draft class that lacks a lot of clear-cut, blue-chip defensive prospects, Robinson's strong showing can only help his cause in April.

-- Eric Edholm

3) A true head-Turner. Edge rusher is a premium position in every draft, and this year's crop features a number of intriguing individuals with different shapes and play styles. While opinions across the draftosphere vary on the group's top dog,'s resident prospect rankers, Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks, both have the same name in the No. 1 spot: Dallas Turner. And the bandwagon could increase in capacity following the Alabama edge's athletic showing on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-2 3/4, 247-pounder blazed the 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds, bursting out of the gates with a 1.54 10-yard split. Add in the fact that he nearly jumped out of Lucas Oil Stadium with a 40.5-inch vertical leap and also soared in the broad jump (10-7), and Turner lived up to his billing as an explosive edge bender.

A five-star recruit out of Florida football factory St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale), Turner arrived at Alabama and racked up 8.5 sacks as a true freshman in 2021. His production dropped in 2022, but Turner finished his college career with a bang this past fall, earning consensus first-team All-American honors after pacing the Crimson Tide in sacks (10), QB hurries (13) and tackles for loss (14.5).

With a pterodactyl-grade wingspan (83 inches), Turner offers an alluring mix of length and speed off the edge. 'Bama boasted the top edge rusher off the board in last year's draft, with Will Anderson Jr. going to the Houston Texans at No. 3 overall (and ultimately earning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors). Will Turner follow in the footsteps of his former QB-hunting partner in Tuscaloosa?

-- Gennaro Filice

4) 40 yards to remember. Payton Wilson ran the fastest 40-yard dash during Thursday's defensive line/linebacker workouts at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine, recording a smoking time of 4.43 seconds.

This isn't completely shocking news, as the North Carolina State linebacker proved himself to be a terrific athlete in college. The 6-3 7/8, 233-pound linebacker has a lot going for him as an NFL prospect coming off a 2023 season that saw him win the Chuck Bednarik Award (top defensive player in college football) and Butkus Award (top linebacker), in addition to being named ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Wilson stuffed the stat sheet with 138 tackles (17.5 for losses), six sacks, three INTs (one pick-six), two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in 12 games last season for the Wolfpack. 

The difficult part of Wilson's eval: A lengthy injury history that dates back to high school, with knee and shoulder issues costing him significant time over multiple seasons at N.C. State. He also measured in with some of the shortest arms (30 1/2 inches) among the LB prospects at this year's combine.

Still, Wilson -- the brother of Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Bryse Wilson -- now can back up his strong tape with the kind of potent speed that puts him in terrific company, having logged one of the top linebacker 40s in combine history.

-- Eric Edholm


1) Early combine star emerging. It doesn't take long to recognize Alabama CB Terrion Arnold is oozing with confidence.

It's not all that surprising, considering he comes from the best college football program of the last 15 years or so. He also spent the past couple seasons lined up alongside fellow projected first-round CB Kool-Aid McKinstry. Iron has indeed sharpened iron.

"Kool-Aid and I, man, we're very close-knit, very tight," Arnold said. "If he's on the right side, and he just made a play, I'm like, OK, man, if they throw this ball my way, I gotta make a play. So it's friendly competition, we challenge each other, we make each other better, and that's why we're both here."

Considering how quickly Arnold is taking this combine by storm with his personality, it wouldn't be shocking if he ran for office (and won) in 15 or so years. He's still relatively new to the cornerback position after transitioning from being a high school safety -- where his team ran a defense they called "funnel the ball to Terrion," according to Arnold.

It helped that he managed to keep up with All-American receiver Jameson Williams in practice as a freshman, but Arnold's grandfather also played a key role in the former Crimson Tide star's development.

"My granddad was a roofer," Arnold explained. "I like to correlate roofing to football. My granddad always told me, 'On the roof, TA, no one's coming to save you.' So when I'm on that roof and I'm on that 8x12, 10x12 and it's a high pitch walking up there, you're slipping on the fiberglass, you kind of get a little rocky, a little shaky, you know that if you lose confidence in yourself, you're gonna slip and fall.

"It's the same way with playing corner and being a human being. If you don't have that confidence to come in and take over a room and have that presence, nobody else is going to have that confidence in you. So that's where I get it from."

He didn't slip much in his college career, and as analyst Bucky Brooks' top corner in the 2024 class, he likely won't fall this spring, either.

-- Nick Shook

2) Bowers looking to add bulk. Georgia's Brock Bowers is considered the top tight end in the 2024 NFL Draft and he could go early in Round 1.

The two-time John Mackey Award winner impacted games the past three seasons as both a receiver (2,538 yards, 26 TDs in 40 college contests) and runner (19 rushes, 193 yards, five TDs), leading the Bulldogs to two national titles.

But Bowers said he's been trying to bulk up after playing last season at around 235 pounds.

"Maybe a little bit more some weeks," Bowers said on Thursday. "It kind of fluctuated between 235 and a little higher. I've just been trying to gradually build up my weight and play higher."

Listed in college at 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds, Bowers won't officially weigh in until Friday. He's expected to measure, size-wise, similarly to the Jaguars' Evan Engram and Titans' Chigoziem Okonkwo, so there are some very respectable comps.

Engram ran a 4.42-second 40-yard dash at his combine workout. Okonkwo ran a 4.52. Bowers is believed to have speed in that same range, as well. But he appeared unsure whether he'll run or test athletically in Indianapolis.

"We'll see," Bowers said. "If not (Friday), then definitely at pro day."

Bowers underwent midseason tightrope ankle surgery last year, causing him to miss four games before returning. But he said he's fully healthy and that his decision won't be medically based.

"Just a personal decision," he said. "We'll see how I am feeling tomorrow."

-- Eric Edholm

3) Top DB eyeing April for highly anticipated workout. Iowa's Cooper DeJean was considered a leading contender to put on an epic show of athleticism at the NFL Scouting Combine, but he confirmed Thursday he will not work out in Indianapolis. DeJean is working his way back from a broken fibula he suffered during practice in November -- an injury he described as a "freak incident." The former Hawkeyes star said he started running full speed last week and is targeting early April to work out for teams ahead of the draft.

In addition to DeJean's health, there's intrigue around which position he'll play in the NFL. He spent the vast majority of his time at cornerback during his college career, but also has experience playing safety. He told reporters on Thursday that he's open to playing anywhere in the defensive backfield and on special teams, as well. He was the Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year and Return Specialist of the Year in 2023.

"I think being able to play multiple positions definitely helps me become a better football player in general," DeJean said. "I feel like Iowa has prepared me for that, being able to play multiple different positions and just kind of understand the ins and outs of the defense."

-- Dan Parr

4) Sweat answers weighty question. Texas defensive tackle T’Vondre Sweat measured in at 6-foot-4 1/2 and 366 pounds on Thursday, which makes him one of the heavier prospects in recent combine history.

Sweat had attended the Senior Bowl and flashed some dominant reps in practices there, although he declined to weigh in at the event.

But for all the hand-wringing over Sweat's weight, the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year wasn't too concerned when he discussed the topic on Wednesday.

"This is me, as y'all see," he said. "I'm a big guy. Big frame. That's just how it is. I just grew into my body, man."

Sweat said he played at 365 pounds last season for the Longhorns.

"That's what I feel comfortable at," Sweat said.

So comfortable, in fact, that Sweat believes he'll blow people away with his athleticism on Thursday. Two years ago, Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis put on a show, running a 4.78-second 40-yard dash at 341 pounds, helping vault him into the No. 13 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Sweat said we need to be prepared for how fast he's going to run -- at 25 pounds heavier than Davis.

"I feel like a lot of y'all (are) gonna be like," Sweat said, making a shocked face, "when I run this 40. I'm gonna shock a lot of y'all."

-- Eric Edholm

EDITOR'S UPDATE: Sweat posted an official time of 5.27 seconds in his one 40-yard dash.

5) DB slides into DMs. Draft season is comp season in the NFL. It's high time for prospect-pro resemblance. And in this year's secondary crop, one of the most common comparisons you'll see is: Michigan DB Mike Sainristil = Bengals nickel Mike Hilton.

After spending his first three seasons in Ann Arbor as a part-time starter at wide receiver, Sainristil shifted to defensive back before the 2022 campaign and swiftly became the heartbeat of Michigan's defense as a playmaking nickel. With a game built on athleticism, toughness, twitch and extraordinary awareness, the former Wolverine reminds many of Hilton, one of the league's preeminent slot defenders.

Sainristil doesn't just embrace the comp -- he's actively working to confirm it.

"I did a lot of Mike Hilton study tape this past offseason," the 23-year-old native of Haiti said Thursday in Indianapolis.

But the relentless learner didn't stop at tape-munching; he hit Instagram, seeking advice from the man himself.

"I had a few conversations with him," Sainristil said. "I asked him, what does he do that helps him disguise his blitzes and allows him to get there? And his timing and everything. And he gave me a few tips on that."

A couple minutes later at his podium session, Sainristil was asked about how he transitioned so smoothly to the defensive side of the ball. His response was fitting:

"I've been a sponge, I've been very open to learning."

Indeed he has.

-- Gennaro Filice

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