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Ohio State’s Denzel Ward among combine’s biggest winners

Posted Mar 12, 2018

The cornerback rose in NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah’s top 50 rankings

Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward shined at the NFL’s annual scouting combine last week, showing off explosive athleticism to go along with a strong final season with the Buckeyes. As a result, he’s one of several players whose draft stock is up in NFL Network Daniel Jeremiah's second edition on the top 50 prospects​. Here are, according to Jeremiah, the biggest winners from this year’s combine. 

4. Ward, Ohio State (previous, No. 8)

Widely considered the best cornerback in this year’s draft class, he validated his Ohio State tape with good numbers — including a 4.38-second 40 and impressive vertical jump — at the combine. He could be in the mix for the cornerback-needy Browns at No. 4.

11. LB Roquan Smith, Georgia (previous, No. 19)

The Georgia linebacker and captain was already projected as a top-15 pick but a solid combine (including a 4.51-second 40) helped reaffirm Smith’s status as one of this year’s most athletic players.

15.  DL Da’Ron Payne, Alabama (previous, No. 24)

At 6-foot-2, 311 pounds, Payne was a wrecking ball at Alabama and dominated in the 2018 national title game against Georgia. At the combine, he showed he can move, too, running a 4.9-second 40.

16. CB Jaire Alexander, Louisville (previous, No. 23)

With a 4.32-second 40, Alexander has the elite speed teams covet at the next level. Though injured most of last season, he’s proven he can be a cover corner with good ball skills. 

19. LB Rashaan Evans, Alabama (previous, No. 27)

Evans was a force at linebacker last season, amassing 74 tackles (including 13 for loss), six sacks, three pass breakups and a forced fumble.

25. OL Will Hernandez, UTEP (previous, not rated)

Hernandez looks as if he were made in a factory specializing in NFL guards. He put up a ridiculous 37 reps on the bench press at the combine.

30. DB Jessie Bates, Wake Forest (previous, not rated)

A good showing at the combine helped Bates remind folks he posted five interceptions and six pass breakups in 2016.

32. LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State (previous, No. 40)

The versatile linebacker showed he can play both inside and outside at the next level.

42. DL B.J. Hill, N.C. State (previous, not rated)

Hill showed quickness and power (36 bench press reps) at the combine to go along with 183 tackles in four seasons at N.C. State.

46. WR D.J. Moore, Maryland, (previous, not rated)

Moore caught 80 passes for 1,033 yards and eight touchdowns last season. He helped himself with a 4.42-second 40 at the combine. 

47. RB Rashaad Penny, San Diego State (previous, not rated)

Instinctual, tough, productive runner who should be a Day 2 or Day 3 pick. 

48. OL Austin Corbett, Nevada (previous, not rated)

Corbett could be Nevada’s best offensive line prospect since Joel Bitonio, the Browns’ second-round pick in 2014.

50. DT Nathan Shepherd, Fort Hays State (previous, not rated)

Shepherd was a Division II second-team All-American who also turned some heads at the Senior Bowl in January.

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