The 2019 NFL Scouting Combine is officially in the books, thus kicking the offseason and draft cycle into high gear.
Here are the winners and losers from the week-long event that wasn't exactly short on storylines.
Never has a single measurement captivated so many eyes. Murray's 5-foot-10, 207-pound weigh-in was an overwhelming success for the quarterback, as many questioned whether he would surpass 5-foot-9. Further helping his cause, rumors continue to swirl regarding the Arizona Cardinals' interest in selecting the Heisman Trophy winner at No. 1 overall. The talented passer's journey from MLB draft pick to potential top choice in the NFL is unlike anything we've seen before.
Amazingly, Murray didn't even need to participate in combine drills to be declared a winner. His top-tier counterparts - Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock, and Daniel Jones - failed to shine, perhaps securing the former Oklahoma pivot's spot as the first quarterback off the board.
Brown is about to get his wish, as a trade away from the Pittsburgh Steelers seems a near certainty, and he will likely be dealt before his $2.5-million bonus hits on March 17. But his efforts to force a move may have actually tanked his market.
Reports coming out of the combine suggest the group of teams in the mix for Brown (Raiders, Redskins, Titans, Broncos, Cardinals) is lacking a legitimate contender. If Brown doesn't care where he gets traded, fine. Mission accomplished. But it's fair to wonder whether he might have drawn interest from a Super Bowl contender had he not said some of the things he did, both about the Steelers and about not needing to play football. He's 31, so there's a risk of a looming decline, but he's also still, conservatively, one of the NFL's top five receivers. Teams looking to capitalize on a championship window will pay up for that kind of talent, but are less likely to do so when there are other risks to consider. Brown might have provided, or amplified, those concerns.
Perhaps the top story out of the combine was the aforementioned rumors that the Cardinals will make Murray the No. 1 pick in April. If that's the case, they would then likely trade 2018 first-rounder Josh Rosen to make room for their shiny new QB. Let's not get carried away just yet, though.
It's highly unlikely a decision has been made at this point in the process, but the Cardinals have managed to convince the rest of the league that they know exactly what they're going to do. Of course, they want those reports out there. Any other team hoping to draft Murray will now need to pay the Cardinals an exorbitant price to move up to No. 1. In 2016, the Titans received the Rams' first-round pick, two second-round selections, and a third-rounder, as well as their 2017 first- and third-round picks for the No. 1 selection in the 2016 draft. If the Cardinals are planning to move forward with Rosen, a similar return would surely help in the effort to build around him.
This running back class is deep but it lacks the star power we've seen in years prior. Josh Jacobs, who many view as the top ball carrier, couldn't participate in the combine due to a groin injury.
The next tier of rushers had a chance to separate from the pack, but none succeeded. Elijah Holyfield's disastrous 40-yard dash headlined his rough weekend, while intriguing prospects David Montgomery, Devin Singletary, and Damien Harris failed to show explosive athleticism. There were bright spots, but overall, it was an underwhelming combine for running back prospects.
The linebackers put on a show Sunday afternoon, displaying receiver-esque speed and athleticism. Five prospects ran their 40-yard dash in 4.50 seconds or faster, and many more displayed smooth change-of-direction ability during position drills.
With true sideline-to-sideline linebackers being a rarity in the NFL, this year's top draft hopefuls saw their stock soar at Lucas Oil Stadium. LSU's Devin White and Michigan's Devin Bush were the two standouts. The former solidified himself as one of the best overall prospects while the latter likely also secured a first-round selection. Gary Johnson, Blake Cashman, Ben Burr-Kirven, and David Long emerged from a solid second tier for teams that miss out on the first wave.
This year's crop of edge rushers may be the best we've ever seen, and that was only cemented with the athletic showcases they put on at the combine. Led by the likes of Nick Bosa, Josh Allen, Montez Sweat, and Brian Burns, there are at least nine players at the position who have a chance to hear their name called in the first round. And there's an impressive amount of depth beyond that.
But there's a potentially negative effect to consider here. In any other year, the number of edge defenders held off the market via the franchise tag (DeMarcus Lawrence, Jadeveon Clowney, Dee Ford) would prop up the second- and third-tier free agents at the position, creating a competition that yields larger contracts than those players could otherwise command. And while a few will certainly still cash in, it's possible the pass-rush talent available in this draft could influence teams to sit out the free-agent bidding wars if things get too wild.
There seemed to be a general sentiment heading into this year's combine that the wide receiver class was nothing to write home about. A few interesting names, as there always are, but not a whole lot to get excited about on Day 1 or Day 2 of the draft. That all changed after some athletic testing in Indianapolis.
D.K. Metcalf, of course, was the star of the show. A ridiculous 4.33 40-yard dash highlighted his weekend and may have inspired an ascension from the late first round to a potential top-10 pick. N'Keal Harry and Hakeem Butler, two other big-bodied targets, showed more than enough athleticism to solidify their first-round status, and Miles Boykin, Emanuel Hall, Terry McLaurin, Mecole Hardman, Andy Isabella, and Parris Campbell all made themselves some money with fantastic showings. Suddenly, this appears to be a receiver class that could be three rounds deep with impact players.
An explosive, dominant pass-rusher on tape, Polite may have fallen out of the first round in Indianapolis. The former Florida defender reportedly didn't perform well during interviews, even telling reporters that multiple teams "bashed him" during the process.
It only gets worse, as Polite admitted he's never watched film of himself, raising yet another red flag on his draft resume. The edge defender performed poorly in the vertical jump and 40-yard dash, and he sat out the rest of the event with an apparent hamstring injury that some scouts were skeptical about. A talented player, still, but Polite's combine was difficult to watch as it unfolded.