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NFL Scouting Combine 2017: 3 winners and 3 losers

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A pair of pass-rushers boosted their stock with great showings at the Combine, while one Bengals target was probably better off not showing up.

NCAA Football: Texas at Kansas State Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

With the NFL Scouting Combine having wrapped up, it’s time for a look at which players boosted their stock the most with a good showing in Indianapolis, and which guys did mostly harm in this critical pre-draft event.

WINNERS

Haason Reddick

There may have not been a bigger winner at the combine than Temple linebacker Haason Reddick. This past season, Reddick finished third in the nation with 22.5 tackles for loss while leading the Owls with 10.5 sacks. However, playing for a team in the AAC helped lead to Reddick flying under the radar coming into the combine, but that’s no longer the case.

Reddick had the fastest 40-yard dash time of every defensive lineman at the Combine this season with a 4.52, which was also the second fastest time for all linemen and linebackers. He had the sixth-best vertical jump of all linebackers and defensive linemen at 36.5 inches. He recorded the top broad jump at 11’1”, a record for defensive linemen at the combine.

There’s some thought he can bulk up and play defensive end in the NFL, though he’ll likely stick to linebacker. Either way, Reddick assured himself of being at worst a Day 2 pick and he may even sneak into the end of Round 1.

Jordan Willis

In a draft deep with pass-rushers, Kansas State’s Jordan Willis got very little attention leading up to the combine. Then he went out and had as good of a workout as anyone in Indy.

In the 40-yard dash, Willis posted the second-best time among all defensive linemen at 4.53 seconds, while his 1.54 10-yard split was the best among linemen. In the three-cone drill, Willis recorded a 6.85, the best among all linemen. He also tied for third in the 20-yard shuffle at 4.28 seconds.

Willis was being projected as Round 3 prospect, but this may be enough to propel him into the late Round 1 discussion. He also could be someone to watch for the Bengals early in the second round.

John Ross

No pass-catcher helped himself more at the combine than John Ross. The Washington receiver was clocked at 4.22 seconds in the 40-yard dash on Saturday, breaking Chris Johnson's previous record of 4.24.

That alone now has Ross drawing top-10 buzz, possibly as high as No. 9 to the Bengals. I don’t think he goes that high, but his 40-time certainly locks in his first-round status heading into April’s draft. He needed it with news he’ll undergo shoulder surgery later this month.

It’s always risky business spending a first-round pick on a guy coming off surgery, but Ross’ record-breaking run ended any doubt he’ll hear his name called on Day 1 of this year’s draft.

LOSERS

Reuben Foster

There may have not been a bigger loser at the combine than Reuben Foster. The All-American linebacker, who is widely expected to be a top-10 pick, was sent home from the combine after an incident with medical personnel.

This is a terrible look for Foster, who was only able to do medical checks at the combine as he recovers from shoulder surgery, which prevented him from doing any on-field testing and drills. Most (if not all) of his interviews were canceled after the altercation, preventing teams from getting a more in-depth interview from a guy they may spend a first-round pick on. Foster plans to explain his situation and talk to teams at his Pro Day on March 8. And, if teams want to get to know him more, they can use one of their 30 stadium visits on him.

Foster is widely considered the best middle linebacker in this year’s draft and a strong target for the Bengals at No. 9. He was already on the bubble for being selected in the top 10, and this incident may have burst it.

Dalvin Cook

If foster wasn’t the biggest loser, Florida State running back Dalvin Cook may have been. A bad workout not only kept Cook from overtaking LSU’s Leonard Fournette as this year’s top back, but he likely killed any hope of being drafted in the top 10.

His 20-yard shuttle (4.53 seconds) and three-cone drill (7.27 seconds) were both among the three lowest performances in the combine. A poor SPARQ score didn’t help Cook’s case either, and it doesn’t bode well for his NFL outlook.

You can pretty much take Cook off the board for Cincinnati at No. 9. The Bengals may want a running back, but Cook isn’t worth that pick.

Caleb Brantley

One of the best defensive tackle prospects in this year’s draft, Florida’s Caleb Brantley had a bad showing at the combine both on-the-field and in interviews. According to Yahoo Sports, Brantley “came off as “full of [expletive]” when teams asked about his work ethic and taking plays off, which they saw on tape.“

The quickest way to fall down a draft board is to interview poorly, which it sounds like Brantley did and then some at the Combine.

If you watch Brantley’s best highlights, he looks like a top-10 pick in this draft, but as this report alluded to, he took way too many plays off and became a ghost far too often. He’s been compared to Rams All-Pro Aaron Donald, but the work ethic issues will likely keep him from being a top-15 pick like Donald was. Heck, Brantley may be lucky to even go in Round 1 at this point.