By Melissa Triebwasser
Frogs Today staff writer
The NFL Combine, colloquially known as the “Underwear Olympics”.
Over the years, the event in Indianapolis has become less about talent evaluation and more about networking and politicking, as teams can access pretty much any information they want or need well before they arrive at Lucas Oil Stadium and top players are opting out of competing in innocuous drills with far more regularity.
You might start to believe that the NFL Brass is there for more for the spicy shrimp cocktail at St. Elmo’s as opposed to the main event.
But for guys on the fringes of their position or with something to prove can still make waves over the long weekend, and we certainly saw that for several TCU players.
The Horned Frogs’ most decorated athlete is certainly quarterback Max Duggan, but the Heisman runner-up and Davey O’Brien award winner is far from a surefire NFL prospect. Though most expected Duggan to get drafted heading into Indy, he did himself a ton of favors in running a 4.52 40, the second-best quarterback time of the weekend. He added a 30.5″ vertical and 9’8″ broad jump, with his NFL Next Gen Stats score reaching 75, just outside of the top ten for draft-eligible QBs.
But it’s not just Duggan looking to overcome obstacles, perceived or otherwise. Derius Davis made a big impression, running the second fastest 40 of any wide receiver in the 2023, clocking in at 4.36 (DJ Turner’s 4.26 was the fastest time at any position).
Speaking of guys with something to prove, few have felt as slighted as the reigning Thorpe Award winner, Tre’vius Hodges-Tomlinson, who was rejected by the Senior Bowl because of his (lack of) height despite four years worth of tape full of productive play.
Hodges-Tomlinson came to Indy with a chip, and it showed.
The cornerback ran a 4.41 40, a top ten time in his position group, threw up a solid 12 reps on the bench press, and was among the leaders with an 11′ broad jump. His 39″ vertical should help answer some of the questions about whether he will be able to compete with bigger receivers at his size.
For Hodges-Tomlinson, getting the opportunity to meet with coaches and get in the room with decision-makers is likely more valuable than anything he could do on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium; if he could impress in the interviews as much as he impresses on film, he’s likely to still find his way into a draft pick regardless of the Senior Bowl’s assessment.
Dee Winter’s clocked in at 4.49, faster than most expected. He’s another guy with great tape that is likely to have been impressive in the interviews and breakdown portions of the Combine.
Steve Avila had a great weekend as well, running a 5.21 and wowing across the board with his athleticism and production, scoring out at a 79 via Next Gen stats, the second-highest rating of any offensive lineman in Indianapolis. GMs seem to love the former TCU captain, and he has likely moved his way into a day two pick next month. Former line mate Alan Ali was more athletic than anticipated but has some work to do to hear his name called, but is likely to get a camp invite as an undrafted free agent at worst.
Though Kendre Miller elected not to run the 40 in Indianapolis, “Draft Twitter” has discovered the running back and quickly fallen in love with his skillset and toughness. Miller could be a second or third round pick with a good showing at TCU’s Pro Day and looks more and more the part of a pro running back to those breaking down the film.
There was one former Frog with little to prove over the weekend; likely first round draft pick Quentin Johnston.
Though he measured in a little under expectations at 6-foot-2.5, Johnston did nothing over the weekend to dissuade teams from making him the first wide receiver off the board in April, and in fact may have benefited from his top competition struggling a bit. Jordan Addison of USC via Pitt ran a slower than expected 4.49 after his first attempt was clocked at 4.55.
His 40.5″ vertical and 11’2″ broad jump won’t hurt his case, nor will the way he flew through the gauntlet drill. His decision not to run is a bit curious, though likely related to his ability to properly prepare after dealing with ankle injuries all season. I would expect him to run at TCU’s Pro Day next month.
TCU has always happily owned the Under Frog label, and many of the potential pro prospects will need to wear it once again. But after a season that was all about overcoming doubts, there’s no reason not to believe they can’t do that once again.
Melissa Triebwasser, firstname.lastname@example.org