NFL combine 2020: Eno Benjamin, Willie Gay among eight sleepers who had impressive combine workouts


Well-known draft prospects Isaiah Simmons, Tristan Wirfs, and Henry Ruggs erupted at the 2020 NFL combine, and they’re all bound to be picked in the top half of the first round of the NFL Draft. 

But a collection of relatively unheralded prospects had fine showings in Indianapolis and won’t be unheralded anymore. Here’s a look at eight sleepers who had impressive combine workouts.

Eno Benjamin, RB, Arizona State

4.57 (14th of 28)

39″ (5th of 28)

122″ (T14 of 27)

6.97 (2nd of 11)

What a combine for Benjamin. He rocketed up to pass the 200-pound threshold most teams have for running backs, and he’s solidly built at just under 5-foot-9 and 207. While his 4.57 won’t turn any heads, no one was expecting the Arizona State bell cow to be a burner. That’s not how he thrives. 

Benjamin is a bouncy, multiple-cut runner with dazzling feet and plus contact balance along with excellent vision to knife through traffic between the tackles. His vertical and three cone indicate he’s a high-level athlete for the position by NFL standards. He averaged 5.0 yards per carry on 576 totes in college, and maybe most importantly, caught 77 passes over the past two years. Benjamin has the makings of being the best value pick at running back in this draft.

The NFL combine is over, so who were the biggest winners and losers? Ryan Wilson joins Will Brinson to break it all down, size up the first post-combine mock draft and more. Listen below and be sure to subscribe for daily NFL goodness.

Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State

4.93 (3rd of 40)

30″ (11th of 36)

111″ (10th of 34)

7.26 (1st of 25)

Cleveland’s technique in pass-protection is as good as any offensive tackle prospect in this class, and the only real concern with his game on film is a relative lack of strength when trying to move people in the run game or anchoring on occasion. 

He did have 30 reps on the bench, which will ease that concern slightly, and at 6-6 and 311 pounds with 33 3/8-inch arms, Cleveland proved to be one of the most athletically gifted offensive linemen in this class. His three-cone of 7.26 was absurd. 

While only a redshirt junior, Cleveland has 40 collegiate starts on his resume. There’s a chance he sneaks into the back portion of the first round and will not make it to Round 3.

Derrek Tuszka, DL/EDGE, North Dakota State

4.79 (7th of 38)

33.5″ (5th of 32)

120″ (6th of 29)

6.87 (1st of 27)

The FCS pass rusher cruised through the combine, and definitely took advantage of participating with the defensive line group instead of the linebackers. 

On film, Tuszka looks like he needs to get stronger, but the bend evidenced by his awesome three-cone time pops, as does flashes of impressive burst off the snap. 

Tuszka had 28.5 sacks and 40 tackles for loss in his last three years at North Dakota State. He will get some Day 2 buzz, and has likely cemented himself into the fourth or fifth round after his combine performance.

Willie Gay, LB, Mississippi State

4.46 (2nd of 30)

39.5″ (2nd of 31)

136″ (1st of 31)

7.08 (T9th of 17)

Gay is a missile on the field, a rangy linebacker who at times lays the lumber, but mostly his athleticism is accentuated in coverage. The latter fact is a huge plus to his game, of course. Outside of Isaiah Simmons, Gay is the most athletically stunning second-level defender in the class. Additionally, he’s rocked up at 6-1 and 243 pounds. Goodness.

He was suspended at Mississippi State, so we didn’t see him much in 2019, yet he did have a pass breakup, 3.5 tackles for loss, and a pick-six in the five games he played. Gay tested almost identically to last year’s No. 5 overall pick Devin White, and he had a much better broad jump.

A.J. Dillon, RB, Boston College

4.53 (9th of 28)

41″ (1st of 28)

131″ (1st of 28)

7.19 (9th of 11)

Dillon is the most devastatingly powerful back in the 2020 class, and now we know he’s the most explosive. To run 4.53 as a boulder at 6-0 and 247 pounds is ridiculous, and his jumps were out of this world at his size. 

The Boston College superstar has a touch of wiggle to make one defender miss and wins mostly with an uncanny ability to have defenders glance off him and keep his legs churning through contact. His explosiveness pops on film too when he first gets the football and hits the hole with authority. Dillon carried the ball 852 times in college at a 5.2 yards-per-carry clip with 38 touchdowns. 

Essang Bassey, CB, Wake Forest

4.46 (T9th of 29)

39.5″ (2nd of 28)

128″ (T6th of 23)

6.95 (T6th of 15)

While the one-on-one nature of Senior Bowl practices wasn’t kind to Bassey, the zone-specialist with insane ball production — 42 pass breakups over the past three seasons at Wake Forest — reminded everyone he’s a twitchy athlete with high-end speed at the combine. 

His change-of-direction abilities are outstanding, as evidenced by his three-cone time. At 5-9 and 191 pounds, Bassey may have to play slot in the NFL, but he mostly aligned on the outside and has certainly held his own there in the ACC since 2017. 

Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois

4.45 (T3 of 20)

41″ (T2 of 20)

138″ (1st of 19)

DNP

Safety/linebacker hybrid Kyle Dugger was talk of the combine from a small-school perspective, but Chinn had himself quite a dazzling workout too, and he measured in bigger than Dugger at 6-3 and 221 pounds. 

While Dugger was deployed mostly as a free safety at Lenoir-Rhyne — likely because of his supreme athlete traits — Chinn played the box/robber safety role at Southern Illinois, so he has more specific experience carrying out the duties he’ll likely have in the NFL. He had 13 interceptions and 31 pass breakups in four years as a full-time contributor for the Salukis. 

Michael Ojemudia, CB, Iowa

4.45 (9th of 29)

36″ (T10 of 24)

122″ (T18 of 23)

6.87 (2nd of 15)

Ojemudia measured in as one of the tallest and longest corners — nearly 6-1 with 32 1/4-inch arms — then tested awesomely, especially in the 40 and three-cone drill. Nice combination. 

At Iowa, he excelled in zone coverage but also showed the ability to mirror in off man down the field and routinely found the football when it was arriving. In his last two years as a full-time starter on the perimeter, Ojemudia had six interceptions and 15 pass breakups. After a solid Senior Bowl and this combine performance, he’s locked himself inside the first three rounds of the draft. 





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