5 Winners from Day 1 of the NFL Combine

Dec 2, 2023; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Dallas Turner (15) celebrates after a sack in the second quarter against the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday, the on-field portion of the NFL Scouting Combine officially got underway.

Throughout the afternoon, defensive tackles, defensive ends, and linebackers all took the field to show off their skills for the NFL and all 32 franchises. Here is a look at five players who may have done a lot to raise their draft stock as April continues to get closer. All measurements were found via NFL.com.

Winners from Day 1 of the NFL Combine

Winners NFL Combine
Texas Longhorns defensive lineman Byron Murphy II (90) celebrates sacking Iowa State quarterback Rocco Becht (3) during the game at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2023 in Ames, Iowa.

DT Byron Murphy, Texas

Byron Murphy has already been on many folks’ radar as a potential first-round selection at the defensive tackle position. That status was ensured with his performance on Thursday. He put together a 40-yard dash of 4.87 seconds, which ranked third among all defensive tackles despite also measuring in at 297 pounds.

Murphy was an elite pass rushing presence for the Texas Longhorns throughout his collegiate career despite serving largely as the nose tackle of that defensive line. His 45 QB pressures ranked fifth among all defensive tackles this past season, per PFF. His explosiveness and smooth execution of all the on-field drills on Thursday should ensure that he lands in the first round on April 25th.

DT Braden Fiske, Florida State

Braden Fiske was always known as a superb athlete throughout his career at Florida State, but his showing at the combine only reaffirmed that and perhaps even increased the NFL’s confidence that he can contribute at the next level.

Not only did Fiske run the fastest 40-yard dash among all defensive tackles (clocking in at a blistering 4.78 seconds), but he showcased some elite explosiveness with a 10-yard split of 1.68 seconds while also pacing the group in the vertical jump (33.5″) and 20-yard shuttle (4.37 seconds).

Dec 2, 2023; Charlotte, NC, USA; Florida State Seminoles defensive lineman Braden Fiske (55) gestures to his ring finger after sacking Louisville Cardinals quarterback Jack Plummer (not pictured) in the fourth quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Fiske proved to be an elite pass rushing threat during his only season at Florida State (previously spent four seasons at Western Michigan) with six sacks this past season. If he wasn’t already in consideration to be a top 50 draft pick, he should be now.

EDGE Dallas Turner, Alabama

When talking about freakish athletes in this year’s draft class, Dallas Turner’s name has to come up near the top of the list. The Alabama pass rusher put on a show at Lucas Oil Stadium, running a 4.46 40-yard dash, including a 10-yard split of 1.54 seconds.

This explosive speed off the edge is a very enticing trait for any NFL team looking to solidify their pass rushing group in 2024, and it is only bolstered by the fact that he just turned 21 years old in February. To boot, Turner measured in with an 83-inch wingspan, confirming that he will be able to use his length to win with leverage off the edge.

EDGE Chop Robinson, Penn State

It seemed impossible that a prospect would be able to match Turner’s explosive athleticism at the combine, but Chop Robinson came pretty dang close. The Penn State pass rusher not only ran a 40-yard dash of 4.48 seconds while matching Turner’s 10-yard split of 1.54 seconds, but he did so while weighing in at 254 pounds compared to Turner’s 247.

Robinson didn’t have overwhelming counting stats during his collegiate career, maxing out at 5.5 sacks during the 2022 season, but his explosive burst off the edge should make him a viable defender at the NFL level.

LB Payton Wilson, NC State

Payton Wilson has been in consideration for becoming the first linebacker off the board in April, and he continued to make a very strong case for it with his performance on Thursday. He paced the entire group with a 40-yard dash of 4.43 seconds while weighing in at 233 pounds.

Nov 11, 2023; Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack linebacker Payton Wilson (11) during the first half at Allegacy Federal Credit Union Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Wilson has been one of the better coverage linebackers in college (recorded three interceptions in 2023), and this explosive speed suggests that he will have no trouble covering players at the NFL level, either. A solid 34.5″ vertical and 9’11” broad jump suggests that there is plenty of twitch in him as well.

Editor’s Note: Statistics for this article were found via Pro Football Focus and Sports Reference CFB.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.