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2023 NFL Draft: 7 biggest Combine snubs

WCG’s Lead Draft Analyst takes a look at some of the biggest snubs from the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 01 Reese’s Senior Bowl Practice Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 319 players invited to the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine were announced on Wednesday.

For the most part, the NFL does a very good job of inviting collegiate prospects who end up either getting drafted or signing with an NFL team as an undrafted free agent. The general belief is that the league invites players they believe have the strongest chance of getting drafted.

However, that doesn’t mean there usually aren’t any notable omissions from the Combine list, and this year is no exception. Several players who didn’t go to the Combine ended up getting drafted, as Dane Brugler of The Athletic pointed out:

It’s tough to narrow this list down to just 7, and there are over 100 prospects on my board who didn’t get invited to the Combine. In fact, there were 11 players who earned Combine invitations whom I had not watched at all, which is something I’m already in the process of correcting. Though an invitation is usually a good sign for your NFL career, it’s no guarantee invitees will be drafted, nor is it a guarantee that snubs won’t be drafted.

That said, here are 7 prospects who should have been invited to the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine.

Karl Brooks, DL, Bowling Green

Brooks is probably the biggest Combine snub from this year. Why he didn’t get an invitation is genuinely confusing to me.

A standout defender who had 17.5 sacks and 30.5 tackles for a loss in his last two seasons at Bowling Green, Brooks is an athletic defender with inside-outside versatility, a strong upper body and a fantastic first step for someone who’s past the 300-pound mark. He looked good at the Senior Bowl against Power 5 competition, and he has the skill set that indicates he’d test quite well at the Combine. I currently have a third-round grade on him, so for him to not even get invited stunned me.

Aubrey Miller Jr., LB, Jackson State

The leading tackler of the American team in the Senior Bowl, Miller’s omission from the Combine seems a bit surprising.

I wouldn’t have expected him to test incredibly well judging by his tape, but he’s a rock-solid linebacker who positions himself well and is a very consistent tackler. He plays with high effort and is smart enough to know how to take precise angles to the ball and limit soft spots against him in zone coverage. For as much as he may lack in flash, he’s a reliable defender who should get drafted off of his potential on special teams and his ability to rack up tackles.

Marte Mapu, LB/S, Sacramento State

A standout at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl who earned an invitation to the Senior Bowl, Mapu is an intriguing specimen who could have really helped his stock out even further with a Combine appearance.

Mapu is a versatile defender who can take reps in the box and in two-high shells and look comfortable in both. He has solid straight-line speed with a 6-foot-3, 217-pound frame that allows him to gain significant momentum when he crashes into ball-carriers. A hard-hitting tweener who plays with a high motor and excels against the run, he’s an intriguing small-school prospect who could’ve benefitted greatly from a Combine invite.

Trevor Reid, OT, Louisville

From a pure testing perspective, it’s a missed opportunity to not have Reid at the Combine this year.

Reid has been timed in the 4.9s in his 40-yard dash and had a 95th-percentile 33-inch vertical jump as an offensive tackle at 305 pounds. He went viral for doing a back handspring during a workout in 2020, and on tape, his lateral quickness and acceleration to the second level are very good. Though he’s still raw as a technician, Reid has shown development over the course of his time at Louisville, and he has plenty of athletic upside. He deserves late-round consideration off of his pure physical tools.

B.J. Thompson, EDGE, Stephen F. Austin

Thompson is one of the more intriguing small-school edge rushers in the class, and his omission from the Combine is a bit disappointing.

A former Baylor player who excelled at Stephen F. Austin, Thompson reportedly impressed at the Shrine Bowl and measured at 6-foot-5 with 10-inch hands and over 34-inch arms. He’s lanky and doesn’t play the run super well, but he has very good first-step burst with loose hips, great speed out in the open field and quick hands at the point of attack. Even if he doesn’t get drafted, he seems like a guarantee to test well and should end up with an NFL team in one form or another.

Carlton Martial, LB, Troy

I get the concerns about Martial, who’s only 5-foot-7 with short arms and a lighter frame for a linebacker. That said, he finished his career as the FBS all-time leading tackler for a reason.

On film, you see Martial as an explosive dynamo with very good athleticism and a red-hot motor. This helps him tremendously when he’s chasing down ball-carriers in space, and it allows him to make tackles many other linebackers can’t, even with his size deficiencies. As a Senior Bowl invitee whose collegiate production speaks for itself, Martial could’ve tested quite well at the Combine and maybe taken some training reps as a defensive back.

Robert Soderholm, LS, VMI

Only one long snapper got invited to the Combine: UCF’s Alex Ward. There are multiple prospects I feel deserved invitations, including Matt Hembrough from Oklahoma State and Chris Stoll from Penn State.

However, I’m especially surprised Soderholm didn’t end up getting the call. A Senior Bowl invitee whose tape is full of tenacity as a blocker and both accuracy and velocity behind his snaps, he used his time at Mobile he can snap at an NFL caliber and make the jump blocking Power 5-caliber talent with the same power and ferocity. Specialists going to the Combine are an interesting case since only a handful get drafted, but Soderholm deserves to be among those drafted.