SEC football was well-represented at the 2017 NFL Combine, but the league’s cupboard is far from unstocked. In fact, there are several current players who would be first- or second-day picks were they eligible to enter this year’s draft.
A number of those players on that list play for Alabama — several returning starters expect to be first-round picks in 2018. A couple of other future pros earned spots on the All-SEC team in 2016.
Here are five SEC football players who will dominate the 2018 NFL Combine.
WR Christian Kirk, Texas A&M
2016 stats: 83 catches for 928 yards, 9 TDs
Kirk arguably has been the best wide receiver in the SEC for multiple years now. When he’s finally allowed to enter the NFL draft, he almost certainly will be a first-round pick. With relatively pedestrian height and weight measurements (5-11, 200), he will need to prove it on the field. No problem.
Kirk is expected to flirt with the 4.4 line in the 40-yard dash, which would put him in elite wide receiver company. He also boasts a 37-inch vertical jump. Kirk also will benefit from the wide receiver drills, considering his Velcro hands. He should pass the gauntlet with flying colors.
DL Da’Ron Payne, Alabama
2016 stats: 36 tackles, 3.5 TFLs, 1.5 sacks
Payne was rated one of the top defensive line prospects in the Class of 2015. The Birmingham, Ala., native played as a true freshman in 2015, and then made a big leap with 36 tackles for the Crimson Tide in 2016.
Many think Payne could leave after the 2017 season, and reported physicals prove he’s ready now. Before the year, AL.com reported Payne ran a 4.93 40-yard dash at about 320 pounds. He benched 500, squatted 600 and power cleaned 365 — until the Crimson Tide staff stopped him. He will dominate every strength drill.
LB Arden Key, LSU
2016 stats: 56 tackles, 14.5 TFLs, 12 sacks, 11 QB hurries, 3 forced fumbles
To start, this assumes the personal issue keeping Key away from football gets resolved. Whatever it is, we at SEC Country hope everything is alright. But if Key is able to even replicate his second season in Baton Rouge, he will be one of the top prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Despite being listed at 6-foot-6 and 238 pounds, Key moves shockingly fluidly while rushing quarterback. It’s no wonder he finished just behind Derek Barnett for the SEC lead in sacks. Key should test relatively well in the speed and agility tests at the combine.
RB Bo Scarbrough, Alabama
2016 stats: 125 carries for 812 yards, 11 TDs
Just take one look at Scarbrough and you’ll see why he has college football fans and NFL scouts alike salivating. He showed off the entire skill set to close the year, running for 364 yards and 6 touchdowns on 7.9 yards per attempt in games against Florida, Washington and Clemson. Had Scarbrough not broken his leg in the title game vs. the Tigers, Alabama still might be reigning national champions.
Last offseason, Scarbrough reportedly benched 405 pounds, squatted 515 pounds and boasted a 10-foot broad jump. There could be a readjustment process after the injury, but the physicals still will be ridiculous.
RB Nick Chubb, Georgia
2016 stats: 224 carries for 1,130 yards, 8 TDs
Chubb was well-known in high school for being a freakish athlete. In addition to running in the 100-meters and long jump at Cedartown High School in Georgia, Chubb also won the state title in shot put with a 16.76-meter throw.
Shot put is a great indicator of both strength and explosiveness. His highly-productive college football career also advertised his agility while at Georgia. In fact, most expected Chubb to depart for the NFL early, but he is returning for his senior season.
Plus, this picture of his explosiveness rightly set the internet ablaze while he was still in high school.
— Radi Nabulsi (@RadiNabulsi) May 13, 2014