A few young men might be moving toward a higher draft selection come late April.
Last week, 319 prospects were invited to the annual NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Combine has been a great opportunity for teams to use workouts, drills and interviews to supplement the scouting done to find ideal fits. In General Manager Dave Ziegler and Head Coach Josh McDaniels' first season with the Raiders, five of their six draft selections participated in the 2022 Combine.
Read through for a recap of some of the top showings in this year's event, with the full list of combine results here.
Anthony Richardson, quarterback, Florida
Not trying to exaggerate, but Anthony Richardson had a combine showing for the ages last week.
Measuring at 6-foot-4, 244 pounds, the Florida quarterback tapped into the desires and imagination of many NFL teams. Heralded as the one of the most athletic quarterbacks in this draft class coming into the Combine, he flipped the script and proved he's one of the most athletic players pound for pound in this draft class. He participated in four events, breaking Combine quarterback records in the broad jump (a 10-foot-9 jump) and the vertical jump (40.50 inches). He also ran the fastest 40-yard dash time of all the participants at his position with a 4.43. This was the fourth fastest time for a quarterback ever.
These feats are even more impressive when you calculate his size, capping off his Combine performance with a celebratory backflip. Richardson has a knack for getting into the end zone one way or another, with 17 passing touchdowns and nine rushing touchdowns in 2022.
Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
It had been awhile since we've seen Nolan Smith on a football field, but it was a sight to see in Indianapolis.
The Georgia team captain has been sidelined since suffering a pectoral injury against Florida season. This caused him to miss the Bulldogs' 65-7 routing over TCU in the National Championship game. Smith reminded teams why he was considered one of the top edge rushers before his injury, running a 4.39 in the 40-yard dash, 1.52 10-yard split and a 41.50-inch vertical jump. All of these were the best of all edge rushers at the event.
Before his injury last season, Smith racked up 18 tackles, seven tackles for loss, three sacks and 16 QB hits in eight games.
Chase Brown, running back, Illinois
The Illinois running back came to the Scouting Combine after winning National Team Practice Player of the Week at the Senior Bowl, and averaging nearly five yards a carry in the showcase. Inside Lucas Oil Stadium, he put together one of the better showings for running backs in this draft class, with the best vertical jump (40.00 inches) and broad jump (10-foot-7) at his position. His 4.43 40-yard dash was the fifth-fastest among RBs.
Brown was second in carries (328) and fourth in rushing yards (1,643) in the nation in 2022.
Blake Freeland, offensive tackle, BYU
With a 6-foot-8, 302-pound frame and arms nearly 34 inches long, Blake Freeland has measurables teams drool over at the tackle position.
He gave evaluators even more to be impressed over with his Combine showing, recording the best 10-yard split (1.68), vertical jump (37.00 inches) and broad jump (10-foot-0) of all offensive linemen and tied for the second-fastest 40-yard dash (4.98) in the position group. His 37-inch vertical jump was the highest of any offensive lineman in Combine history.
As a four-year starter at BYU, he blocked for 2021 first-rounder Zack Wilson and potential 2023 draft pick Jaren Hall. Last season, Freeland was named Third Team AP All-American (2022), Phil Steele All-Independent First Team and College Football Network Independent Offensive Lineman of the Year. Additionally, he's hails from Herriman, Utah, the same hometown of Raiders center Andre James.
View photos of draft prospects at the 2023 NFL Combine whom top analysts are predicting the Raiders may pick at No. 7.