The 2023 NFL Combine has come and gone, and it’s certainly been an eventful week for Pitt Football.
I would say it was actually a very, very successful week for Pitt Football in Indianapolis. Pitt earned two of the fastest places, and that was without Israel Abanikanda.
Of course, there’s still a long way to go before the 2023 NFL Draft in April, but the overall experience — and certainly the performances — at Indy make me more confident about Pitt’s prospects now than I was a week ago.
So let’s take a look at how Pitt’s former stars have fared.
Kancey rightly couldn’t have done better in the Combine.
He came in, met with many NFL teams, measured well in every area – except his arm length, which is also not supposed to be a strength – and then ran a 4.67 40-yard dash.
He turned it off after running on Thursday 40th, but that was all he had to do. He’s officially 6-foot-1, 281 pounds and ran the fastest 40 times for a defender in the last two decades. For reference, one millisecond faster than Aaron Donald.
If Kancey wasn’t locked into the first round last week, he is now. All that remains now is what he will do at Pitt’s Pro Day.
It’s been a really solid week for Pitt’s defensemen. Baldonado didn’t make headlines by breaking a record set by Aaron Donald, but he’s been really, really solid all week.
We spoke to him for almost 15 minutes on Wednesday. Engaging and light-hearted, he joked with reporters and detailed his journey to this point. He really is one of the most interesting prospects in this year’s draft class.
But when it comes to actual results on the pitch, he was dialed in. His 4.78 40 wasn’t particularly impressive, but his explosiveness was on full display. A 35-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot long jump were excellent measurements.
And a 7.11 second 3-cone and 4.44 second shuttle underlined its above-average agility and change of direction. If anything, his lateral movements and quickness are slept in.
Baldonado is a legitimate NFL draft pick.
Yes, Kancey probably secured a first-round pick, but I still don’t think there was a Pitt player who did more to increase his draft stock than Hill.
It wasn’t a certainty — and still isn’t — that Hill would hear his name during the 2023 NFL Draft, but his performance last week certainly didn’t hurt. His performance is enough to have the potential for an early Day 3 pick – if not higher.
He was the fastest safety in Indy, running a 4.43-40 yard dash with an excellent 1.50-10 yard split, and that’s no surprise at all considering his Pitt career. He was always a top athlete.
A 35.5-inch vertical, 10-foot-3-inch long jump and 15 reps on the bench rounded out a strong overall performance. He’s an athlete who has a future as an NFL safety.
Sir Vocea Dennis
Unfortunately, a lingering foot injury from the Senior Bowl kept Dennis off the field at Lucas Oil last week.
Dennis is likely to attend Pitts March Pro Day later this month and it will be interesting to see how he fares. But if anything stood out during his time at Indy when he was kept off the field, it was his versatility.
He’s capable of playing multiple positions on NFL defense, particularly as a special teamer, and his in-game intelligence and IQ should only complement that.
Dennis is perhaps Pitt’s smartest player, and he reads the game like few others. I like his chances of finding an NFL roster spot, but a strong Pro Day will only complement that.
Warren also couldn’t compete in Indy last week, but it was a decision he made ahead of the event.
While recovering from a torn meniscus sustained during the 2022 season, he has made sure to attend Pitts Pro Day 100%. He’s looking forward to another chance to show off his skills for NFL scouts.
I like Warren’s chances, especially with a solid Pro Day, to cement himself as a Day 2 or Day 3 draft pick.
Abanikanda was a surprise non-participant in Indy last week, with a minor hamstring injury during practice that kept him off the field at Lucas Oil.
He still had a very productive week, conducting formal interviews with the New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens in addition to numerous informal interviews, but many were hoping for his 40th time.
He promised he would be fast – very fast – at Pitt’s Pro Day later this month. He’ll walk through the gauntlet at Pitt’s Pro Day and there’s a good chance he’ll test very well. I’m definitely intrigued by the potential of his overall performance on the Pro Day.
But even without it, I think Abanikanda has established itself as a mid-round draft pick.