National Football League
J.J. McCarthy, Jayden Daniels among RJ Young's NFL Combine winners, losers
National Football League

J.J. McCarthy, Jayden Daniels among RJ Young's NFL Combine winners, losers

Updated Mar. 7, 2024 6:55 p.m. ET

The 2024 NFL Scouting Combine went down in Indianapolis last week, and there were plenty of takeaways from the week of football festivities.

Which players helped — or hurt — their draft stock the most?

FOX Sports college football analyst RJ Young answered those questions on the latest edition of "The No. 1 College Football Show."

Winner: Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy


Young's thoughts: "J.J. McCarthy impressed the hell out of me on a number of occasions. He showed he can make that layered throw, which is one that we don't get to see a lot of quarterbacks make. He showed that he can be accurate and he showed arm strength. I went into this thinking Joe Milton [has] got the strongest arm of anybody playing college football last year — maybe Michael Penix Jr. gives him a bit of a run for his money — and then ‘Bazooka’ Joe threw a football 62 miles per hour. J.J. McCarthy followed up [by] throwing one [at] 61 miles per hour. That is tremendous arm speed. Now, sometimes he would rifle a pass during the season that he didn't need to rifle, but it is nice to know that you can throw a football as far as you need to throw a football given the opportunity.

"I think that he has done so much to help himself vault into that conversation of, 'Do we take that guy after Caleb Williams, and if we don't, when do we take that guy?' as opposed to, ‘If he falls to the second round, somebody’s gonna snatch him.' Now you gotta think about getting in there in the first 20, 15 picks if you're in the market absolutely for a quarterback."

Winner: Texas WR Xavier Worthy

Young's thoughts: "You broke the NFL combine record in the 40-yard dash … [a] 4.21 out of Xavier Worthy is the kind of stuff that wins you a world championship. … Now [he] gets to talk about himself as, ‘I'm the guy you want to take after you take Marvin Harrison Jr.; I'm the guy you want to take if Brock Bowers is not there.' You look at what Zay Flowers meant to the Baltimore Ravens and you look at what the small, fast dude means in the sport — Tyreek Hill at wide receiver, that's now Xavier Worthy. He is a better wide receiver from the jump than John Ross was, and he is one-one-hundredth of a second faster.

"I can't tell you how quickly I'm gonna go get that guy if I need a wide receiver, and he played in the College Football Playoff, and he helped lead Texas to a Big 12 championship. At times, when Quinn Ewers was not that dude, Xavier Worthy was."

Loser: LSU QB Jayden Daniels

Young's thoughts: "He didn't throw; I thought he should have. … I got four years of Jayden Daniels film and one year of absolutely ridiculous film. I don't know what Jayden Daniels is going to do in the NFL because I didn't know he was capable of doing what he did last year, which was putting together the best statistical season we have seen from a quarterback in quite some time. Show me that you can make these layered throws. Show me that you can be accurate. Michael Penix Jr. is out there throwing; you can be out there throwing. Also, you are throwing the football to two of the six, seven best wide receivers in college football last year [Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas Jr.]. … 

"It's more about what do you do when the play breaks down, or how quickly do you want to use your feet to fix a problem? There were times during the year last year [when] it felt like all Jayden Daniels needed to do was move around a little bit more, let Thomas or Nabers break free and go hit them. What he decided to do was pull the ball down and run. Now, that works in college where not everybody is as fast as you are, but in the NFL where you [have] got Myles Garrett coming off the edge — who is faster than you and bigger than you — that's not something you're going to be able to do. I think it's really can that guy make those passes over the middle of the field. Will he utilize the middle of the field? … I just thought that if he threw he could've helped himself and put away a lot of my concerns, the way that J.J. McCarthy did."

RJ Young shares his NFL Combine winners and losers

Winner: Washington QB Michael Penix Jr.

Young's thoughts: "[He] showed everybody just how good he is at throwing that ball downfield. That ball was tight coming out of his hand. He [was] out there with the purple durag, being himself. He got to show charisma. He got to show the kind of player that he has been since getting back to Washington and really answering the questions about his injury concerns. That's the other reason the NFL Combine is such a big deal. [If] you need more than what they got at Lucas Oil [Stadium], you can send him down the road [and] get another MRI.

"Didn't raise any red flags, given what kind of injuries he's had in the past, that's a win. If Michael Penix Jr. was available in the same draft as Kenny Pickett, I'm standing on the table telling everybody to draft Michael Penix Jr. before you draft Kenny Pickett, and that's a first-round draft pick."

Winner: Penn State DE Chop Robinson

Young's thoughts: "[He's] 254 pounds, 6-foot-3, ran sub-4.5 in the 40, broad jump 10-8. The freaks that come out of Penn State are many, notably my guy Micah Parsons, who Dallas kind of landed on. They weren't in the market for a Micah Parsons; he was the best available. Turns out that he's the best player in the NFL on defense for me. That dude can do anything he wants because he is a physical freak; he can line up anywhere he wants. Chopp Robinson has that same versatility. When he was healthy, he was going. He made that defense great. 

"Now, I understand they had [defensive coordinator] Manny Diaz calling plays, who was in his bag in 2023, and he had some help on the outside, but I really think that Chopp Robinson has worked himself into that top-32 conversation as far as being drafted on Day 1."

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