It turns out that when a team has two bad seasons in a row, not many of their players get invites to the NFL Combine. It’s weird how that works.
Florida State is the latest victim of this abnormality, with just three players from the 2018 team invited to this year’s event. That group consists of defensive end Brian Burns, defensive tackle Demarcus Christmas, and wide receiver Nyqwan Murray.
Thankfully that makes this article much easier to write. All FSU participants finished up by the Monday drill session, giving us ample time to analyze the results. Who helped their draft stock? Who hurt their draft stock? Where do we think each player will get selected (if at all)?
Brian Burns: Stock UP
Burns went a long way into answering some of the questions about his NFL potential and whether or not he is more of a finesse-type player. Some concerns still exist with his power, but Burns showed that he can put on weight and still have the same explosiveness that made him a productive college player.
Burns’ playing weight in college was closer to 220, but he measured in at 249 pounds at the combine. None of it was bad weight however. His testing numbers were impressive considering his weight, with a 4.53 40-yard dash (third among all defensive linemen), 129-inch broad jump (second among all defensive linemen), and top-10 placements in vertical jump and 3-cone drill. That is exactly what some NFL teams needed to see from Burns. It was essential that he showed he can maintain elite pass rush ability with added weight.
A good combine will not override every concern, of course. Burns’ reliability as an every-down defensive end in the NFL is still somewhat complicated to answer. He disappeared in some games and looked just OK in helping stop the run.
Thanks to his combine performance, those concerns are not as pressing. Going into the weekend, Burns was viewed as a first round prospect with a lot of variability in his draft position. Anywhere from top-10 to the final couple of picks was in play. After the weekend, he is nearly a lock for the top-20 and more likely to go top 15.
Demarcus Christmas: Stock DOWN
Christmas followed up a disappointing 2018 season with a disappointing combine. Despite having prototypical build and frame for an NFL defensive tackle (6-foot-3 and 294 pounds), Christmas posted poor numbers in just about every drill he participated in. His 22 bench press reps and 101-inch broad jump were both tied for third worst among all defensive linemen. His 3-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle were dead last in the same group.
To be fair to Christmas, he had the unfortunate luck to be in a draft class with at least three physical freaks at defensive tackle. Nobody expected him to put up the same numbers as someone like Rashan Gary, Ed Oliver, or Dexter Lawrence. But if you’re a defensive tackle who utilizes strength more than anything, you need to put up more than 22 reps on the bench. That number is not totally indicative of his playing strength, but it is still a pretty bad sign on top of everything else.
Christmas did himself no favors with a lackluster season. He entered 2018 as a projected second- or third-round pick. He left 2018 closer to a fourth- or fifth-round pick. Now, it seems he’s heading towards undrafted territory.
Nyqwan Murray: Stock DOWN
If your best projection is a fast slot receiver, but you show up slow and undersized, you will not get good reviews. Seems self explanatory, right?
Murray recorded the third slowest 40-yard dash of any receiver and the shortest broad jump. He was unimpressive in other tests like the 3-cone drill, vertical jump, and 20-yard shuttle. Granted, his physical limitations were well known before the weekend. What he records in the bench press or vertical jump is not all that important when considering his likely role in the NFL.
Yet, smaller guys like him need something to compensate for their lack of size. Usually that means shiftiness or speed. Murray did not show either at the combine.
We’re not willing to say he lacks redeeming traits, of course. His tape shows a receiver with a knack for explosive plays and very solid hands. Whatever you think of his attitude, when he was focused on the game, he was a valuable asset to the receiving corps.
Yet, that is a hard pill to swallow for any NFL team trying to maximize their draft picks. Murray had an uphill battle before his combine performance, and that hill has just gotten steeper after this weekend. It would be pretty surprising to see Murray get drafted at all.