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NFL scouts work hard all year long to evaluate players across the country both on the field, whether it's at practices or a game, and off-the-field, talking to coaches and teammates. But even after all that work, sometimes nine months of it, a player truly surprises and greatly exceeds expectations based on his athletic ability. 

Below are players at each position that, if not for a fantastic workout during the pro day circuit, may have been out of the draft pick conversation and even some barely in the NFL conversation at all.

But the NFL is always searching for elite athletes, and these 10 players certainly forced NFL scouts to go back and rewatch these prospects after the numbers they put up.

John Rhys Plumlee, QB, UCF

Well known as one of the better athletes in the quarterback class, John Rhys Plumlee was a dual-sport standout at Ole Miss and UCF, playing baseball at a high level, too. But Plumlee's 4.51-second 40-yard dash time, 36.5-inch vertical, 10-foot-4 broad jump and 4.27-second short shuttle all put him in elite historical company at quarterback.

And for a player who teams value as a still developing quarterback, but also as receiver/situational athlete, Plumlee testing well was a crucial part of his draft process. Per Relative Athletic Score, if he was considered a receiver, he'd still be in the 73rd percentile as a receiver athlete.

Blake Watson, RB, Memphis 

Talking to NFL area scouts during the year, Blake Watson, who's been highly productive as a runner and pass catcher, had one main lingering question: is he a good enough athlete as a sub-5-foot-10, sub 200-pound running back?

Watson, who's since added weight to be at 200 pounds, tested at an elite level at his pro day, answering that last final question for scouts. He ran a 4.4-second 40-yard dash, jumped 41.5 inches, and posted a 11-foot-3 broad jump -- all good for the 96th or better percentile at the position. He's gone from a prospect scouts like late or after the draft, to a slam dunk draft pick with top-four/five-round potential.

Mason Tipton, WR, Yale

Yale was a school area scouts were consistently traveling to before and during the season to see offensive lineman Kiran Amegadjie, but Mason Tipton's name didn't come up until after the season as a possible intriguing, productive free agent.

Tipton asserted himself as a realistic draft prospect after running a 4.33-second 40-yard dash, one of the fastest time for any receiver in the draft, along with a 37-inch vertical and 10-foot-5 broad jump. Tipton will still be in that late round and potentially priority free agent territory, but he's made every NFL team dive back into Yale film since his March pro day.

McCallan Castles, TE, Tennessee

A transfer from UC Davis, McCallan Castles made the jump to the SEC and slowly became a bigger part of the offense. But NFL scouts had known about Castles for a while, as he was a standout and highly impressive FCS tight end and a multi-All-conference player.

He posted a 37.5-inch vertical and 10-foot-6 broad jump, among the best in the 2024 draft class at the position, and showcased that he has the explosiveness to be a move tight end in the NFL.

Werner Manu, OT, British Columbia

Werner Manu's teammate, Theo Benedet, played in the East-West Shrine Bowl in 2023 and tested well in his own right. But Manu's elite workout as a 6-foot-7, 352-pound tackle has NFL teams viewing him as a potential Jordan Mailata project.

He'll need time developing at the NFL level, and he's likely a two-year practice squad project. But he (and Benedet) have forced teams to go back and watch British Columbia and Canadian college film.

Bayron Matos, IOL, Dominican Republic

Bayron Matos is an international prospect who's played football sparingly at any sort of high level. And as an international prospect, under the NFL's International Pathway Program, he won't count against a team's overall roster, a major benefit for a team looking to develop Matos over a few years.

He posted a 4.90-second 40-yard dash time, a 9-foot-5 broad jump and a 7.64-second short shuttle at 6-foot-7, 313 pounds, and many scouts project him to be a guard at the NFL level. After his workout and roster exempt status, it feels like he has a very good chance to be a draft pick.

Jamree Kromah, IDL, James Madison

A former Rutgers transfer, Jamree Kromah emerged as a standout versatile pass rusher on a highly productive James Madison team. But as a non-combine invitation and with the body type of a "tweener," NFL scouts weren't sure how he'd project at the NFL level.

After testing as an elite athlete as a lighter 3-technique or a well-built, long 5-technique, he's reemerged as a viable draft selection. Running a 1.60-second 10-yard split, a 7.34-second three cone and 10-foot broad jump all put him in the 92nd or better percentile among interior defensive linemen.

Grayson Murphy, EDGE, UCLA

Grayson's twin brother, Gabriel, was at the NFL combine and tested as an incredibly high-level athlete. But despite their (unsurprising) similarities as players and overall athletes, Grayson was not invited to the NFL combine.

Grayson finished in the 90th+ percentile in the 40-yard-dash, broad jump and vertical jump, along with a strong 7.10-second three-cone drill, an important metric for edge rushers. His brother Gabriel feels like a lock to be drafted, while Grayson seems to have potentially earned his draft spot after a great workout.

Bo Richter, LB, Air Force 

One of the true "out of nowhere" prospects from the draft process, Bo Richter has gone from mini-camp type prospect into a player who could sneak into the back-end of the NFL Draft.

Richter, who benefited from many scouts excited to see Jim Thorpe award winner Trey Taylor, ran a 4.56-second 40-yard dash, coupled with a 40-inch vertical jump at 248 pounds. With the new NFL kickoff rules, finding well-built, athletic linebackers is at more of a premium than ever.

A.J. Woods, CB, Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh has been consistently putting out NFL talent over the last few years, and this year, it had three NFL combine attendees. And while they invited his cornerback co-pilot in the Panthers secondary this year in M.J. Devonshire, A.J. Woods was notably omitted from the event.

But Woods made sure to make his case as to why he should've been in Indianapolis after posting a 4.39-second 40-yard dash time, a 1.48-second 10-yard split, a 4.00-second short shuttle and 6.70-second three-cone drill, all good for the 95th percentile among cornerbacks. Athleticism like that is undeniable for NFL teams, and he's seemingly earned a draft spot after that workout.

Mark Perry, S, TCU

One of the most surprising NFL combine omissions, Mark Perry proved to NFL clubs why he's one of the best athletes in the NFL Draft. At 6-foot and 211 pounds, he ran in the high 4.3s, low 4.4s at the Big 12 Pro Day, along with a 10-foot-11 broad jump.

His RAS score finished at nearly the 96th percentile among safeties all-time, and it matches on film. Perry, who's film says he can be an impact perimeter and deep safety along with an immediate special teams ace, was able to verify to teams why he won't be available for teams after the draft, as he'll be getting picked between the fifth and seventh rounds.

The 2024 NFL Draft will take place from April 25-27 in Detroit. More draft coverage can be found at, including the weekly updated draft ordermock drafts and a regularly available look at the eligible prospects