Earning an invitation to the NFL’s Scouting Combine in Indianapolis doesn’t guarantee a player will be drafted.

Or even taken in a later round.

But it certainly can’t hurt his chances.

The event, also known as the Underwear Olympics, is an opportunity to show off for representatives of all 32 NFL teams both on the field in individual drills and in interviews. This year’s Combine is scheduled for Feb. 28-March 6 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The draft will take place April 23-27 in Detroit.

Of the 321 players invited to participate at the Combine, 45 played the 2023 season at ACC schools. Two other high-profile invitees, quarterbacks Devin Leary and Sam Hartman, played most of their college careers in the conference.

While most of the ACC representatives were expected to be included, led by projected 1st rounders Drake
Maye of North Carolina and Jared Verse of Florida State, some of those earning invitations were a surprise.

Let’s take a look at 3 of those players … along with 3 who weren’t as lucky.


Isaac Guerendo, RB, Louisville

A transfer from Wisconsin, Guerendo spent most of his only season with the Cardinals playing 2nd fiddle to teammate Jawhar Jordan, who was 2nd in the ACC in rushing with more than 1,100 yards and was also invited to Indy.

But with Jordan nursing a sore hamstring against Virginia Tech on Nov. 4, he opened some eyes by running for 146 yards and scoring 3 touchdowns on only 11 carries. He opened even more at the Holiday Bowl by gaining 161 yards on the ground, catching 5 passes and scoring 3 more times against Southern Cal before putting together a standout week at the East-West Shrine Bowl. He finished the season with 810 yards, 11 touchdowns and a 6.1 yard per carry average.

Jordan has the size to be a power back at 6-1, 225 pounds. But he also has the speed to be a big-play threat, as he showed on a game-winning 73-yard burst in a come-from-behind win against Virginia.

Bub Means, WR, Pitt

Means is an example of how important postseason all-star games can be. He came on strong late in the season, amassing 650 of his 721 yards and 6 of his 11 touchdowns in the final 8 games, and finishing the year with 41 catches.

But while those numbers were good enough for him a spot in the East-West Shrine Bowl, he probably wouldn’t have been invited to the Combine without a strong performance during the week of practice in Frisco, Tex.

Although he skipped the game, Means showed that in addition to his speed, acceleration and hands that helped him average better than 16 yards per catch during his college career that began at Louisiana Tech, the early-entering junior also has the ability to be a precise route-runner.

Joe Shimko, LS, NC State

OK, so technically Shimko isn’t among the 321 prospects invited to the actual Combine. He will participate in the new Specialists Showcase that will be held in Indy in conjunction to the event. Regardless, it isn’t often that a long snapper gets this kind of opportunity to show off his skills to NFL talent evaluators.

Only 10 long snappers have been drafted since 2001, according to NFL.com. And none has gone higher than the 6th round.

The Patrick Mannelly Award winner as the best long snapper in the country in 2023, Shimko did not have a bad snap in over 600 attempts during his 5 seasons with the Wolfpack. He is 1 of 5 long snappers invited to the Specialists Showcase.


Jack Plummer, QB, Louisville

Granted this year’s quarterback class is top-heavy and deep. But after a regular season in which he ranked 2nd in the conference in passing yards (3,204), 2nd in completion percentage (.648) and 3rd in touchdowns (21), Plummer had a chance to earn a spot among the 2nd tier of this year’s passers at the East-West Shrine Bowl.

He didn’t take advantage of the opportunity.

If Means is an example of how much an impressive week of practice at a postseason all-star game can help improve a player’s draft stock, Plummer is Exhibit A of how a tepid performance can hurt. Although he showed a decent arm and leadership skills during the week of practice, he cost himself a trip to Indy by completing only 4 of 10 passes for just 40 yards.

Kyle Hergel, OG, Boston College

Hergel is a 6-2, 305-pound whose addition helped solidify an offensive line that was a key to the Eagles’ 4-win improvement last season. He’s a 5th-year transfer who played previously at North Dakota State and Texas State.

He was an honorable mention selection on the preseason “Freak List” compiled by The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman. He didn’t allow a sack all season and according to Pro Football Focus, was BC’s highest-rated offensive lineman in pass protection with a rating of 85.1. That’s saying something considering that he’s a teammate of highly-regarded prospect – and Combine invitee – Christian Mahogany.

But despite being a late addition to the East-West Shrine Bowl, it wasn’t enough to score him a trip to Indy.

AJ Woods, CB, Pitt

Woods was 1 of 2 Panthers corners at the East-West Shrine Bowl. But unlike teammate MJ Devonshire, he didn’t parlay the opportunity into a Combine invite. Woods compiled 102 tackles, 4 interceptions, 2 sacks and 25 pass breakups in 59 career games at Pitt. Twenty-two of those PBUs came as a junior in 2022.

One reason Woods was likely left out of the Combine is that his best work during Shrine Bowl practices came during special teams drills. That doesn’t bode well for his draft prospects. But it could be helpful in landing him a roster spot as an undrafted free agent.