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NFL Combine: FCS Players Show Up and Show Off

Several of the FCS players invited to the Combine made a very, very good impression.

NFL: Scouting Combine Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Pierre Strong Jr. Ranks Among the Fastest RBs

Strong ended his collegiate career on a high note with a record-breaking season for South Dakota State. That success has spilled over to the Combine where, on Friday last week, he impressed scouts with his speed. Strong clocked an unofficial 4.39 40-yard dash time which, at the time, the fastest of the running backs in Indianapolis. His official adjusted time ended up being 4.37 tying him with Rutgers’ Isaiah Pacheco for the fastest of the group. He received an overall prospect grade of 5.99 (out of 8.00) per the NFL’s official website.

Trevor Penning Showcases Big-Guy Athleticism

Penning came into the Combine from UNI as one of the most promising lineman in the nation and his performance shows us why. Outside of running an 4.89 40 (not bad for a 325-pound kid) he impressed with nimble footwork and agility in both the three-cone drill and 20-yard shuffle. Penning’s blazing 7.25-second three-cone time was the best among lineman. With a 6.40 prospect grade, he is expected to be a possible Top 20 pick in next month’s draft. One unnamed NFL team executive said of Penning, “Don’t overthink it when you write him up. He’s got size, length, toughness, he’s smart, he works his tail off, and loves to play football. That is what you look for in a starting tackle.”

Christian Watson Raises Eyebrows in Deep WR Class

Trae Lance and Carson Wentz have already put North Dakota State on the grid as far as NFL recruiting is concerned but Watson is the next in line and, if his performance at the Combine is any indication, he’ll follow suit nicely. Watson’s 4.36 40 was the sixth fastest of all the players in Indy (all those in front of him were fellow receivers). He also registered a vertical jump of a 38 inches but really turned heads with his performance in the hand drills. He landed a 6.15 prospect grade.

Cole Strange Impresses on the Bench

Strange is one of the more promising OL prospects in this year’s class. While the aforementioned Penning was busy stealing the show in the on-field workouts, Chattanooga’s big man lit it up in the weight room. Strange put up 31 reps of 225 lbs on the bench press (second best among offensive lineman). With a final prospect grade of 6.15, Strange is pegged to be an eventual starter in the league and could be a third to fifth round pick.

Troy Andersen Continues to Awe

One of the most intriguing prospects this offseason has been Andersen who was a multi-position player at Montana State. With just one full year as a linebacker under his belt, some questions loomed about his lack of experience at the position. Andersen, though, seemingly put those questions to rest on Saturday. His 4.42 40 time ranked as the best among the entire linebacker class and his 10’8’’ broad jump was fifth best of the group. That 40 time is also the fourth fastest by a linebacker in the Combine dating all the way back to 2006. Many draft experts think that Andersen improved his already rising stock mightily with his performance in Indianapolis, with some even predicting him to be a second round selection when all is said and done.

Zyon McCollum Shines Amongst DBs

NFL scouts undoubtedly took notice of Sam Houston’s standout cornerback well before he arrived in Indianapolis last week. Standing at an impressive 6-2, McCullom is exactly what pro teams want in a defensive back: big and tall. McCullom, though, made scouts take even more notice of him at the Combine on Sunday. He ran the 40 in 4.33 seconds which was third best among all corners. On top of that he notched a 39.5 inch vertical which was the best jump of all the CBs. He also finished with the top overall times in the three-cone drill and 20-yard shuffle. With a prospect grade of 6.00, McCullom showed that size does not necessarily come at the sacrifice of speed and athleticism. Several think that he will now be a Day 2 selection.