The 2022 NFL Scouting Combine is in the books.
The weeklong event in Indianapolis wrapped up Sunday with on-field drills by defensive backs and specialists, the fourth and final day on workouts from Lucas Oil Stadium.
Chad Reuter, a draft analyst for NFL.com, recapped the final day of the combine by highlighting the prospects that stood out to him.
One of them was Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad 'Sauce' Gardner, who has been projected to Minnesota in recent mock drafts.
Every offensive coordinator in college football knew to stay away from Sauce. Now, NFL teams know he has the athleticism to add flavor to their defense. His 4.41 40-yard dash checked the long speed box. Gardner's hips and agility were just fine during drills, moving laterally and backpedaling with speed despite measuring over 6-foot-3 with an excellent 79 3/8-inch wingspan. Some teams may not like his lean 190-pound frame, but his length and competitive nature will likely entice someone to pick him early in the first round.
Gardner did not allow a single touchdown catch in his college career.
Reuter also spotlighted Maryland safety Nick Cross.
This former Terrapin took advantage of his opportunity at the combine after declaring for the draft as an underclassman. His 4.34 40-yard time (1st among safeties), 37-inch vertical (4th) and 10-foot-10 broad jump (3rd) all belied his thick 6-foot-1, 212-pound frame. It was tough not to notice his combination of strength and agility throughout the on-field drills. Cross was fluid and fast in his pedal and transition in the "W" drill, and caught nearly everything. There's a tough competition brewing to be among the top four safeties in this year's draft, and Cross made a strong case he's deserving of that honor.
Reuter's full list of Day 4 combine standouts can be found here.
2023 Combine location up in the air
Attention has already turned to the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine.
Namely, where will it be held?
Lindsay Jones of The Athletic capped off her combine notebook by looking at that question, as Indianapolis, Dallas and Los Angeles are among the interested cities for a year from now.
The league will decide soon, potentially by later this month, whether the 2023 combine will be held for the first time in either Dallas or Los Angeles or return to its longtime home of Indianapolis. The latter seemed unlikely even as recently as a few weeks ago, but a league source informed of the discussions told The Athletic there was growing momentum over the past week to remain in Indianapolis, at least for 2023.
Staying in Indianapolis would be welcome news for football people, particularly the coaches, personnel staffs and medical teams who conduct far more business at the combine than just timing 40-yard dashes and watching position drills. After the 2021 combine was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, the 2022 event served as a reminder of how efficient it is to have all of the medical exams, player interviews and formal league meetings in the same downtown space, with interconnected hotels and a massive convention center.
Moving the combine to Los Angeles would allow the league to feature SoFi Stadium and its new NFL Media headquarters but would scatter other events across a massive metropolitan area. It's still unclear whether Dallas' bid will center the combine in Arlington, Texas, home of AT&T Stadium, or at the Cowboys' training center complex in Frisco. The Dallas-Fort Worth area would open the combine to a rabid college football and NFL fan base but, like Los Angeles, could have a host of logistical challenges.
The league's annual prospect showcase has been held in Indianapolis since 1987, save for 2021 when there wasn't a full-blown combine due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There was a medical-only combine a year ago, but the league returned to its normal format last week.