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Who stood out on day one of the 2023 NFL Combine

NFL Combine Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

If you follow along with The Original Draft Breakdown Podcast, the big performers on Thursday would not surprise you.

If you do not, what are you waiting for?

Here are three names that impressed on day one and where they could fit in with the Arizona Cardinals.

Nolan Smith, Edge - Georgia

The lost defender for Georgia since he missed the College Football Playoff’s, Smith was a known dude coming in.

He was a certified freak coming out of high school, then got into a premier program as one of the best recruits in the country.

However, even if you knew he was a freak, you did not expect: 4.39 forty, 1.52 10-yard split, 41.5” vertical and a 10’8” broad jump.

Smith’s floor is Haason Reddick, and the 6-2 238lbs Bulldog could be a complete alpha. If you don’t listen to the show, I recommend listening to the 48:00 minute mark where we discuss Smith and talk a little bit about what makes Smith great.

Lukas Van Ness, Edge - Iowa

There is a buzz we will discuss later about who the Arizona Cardinals could be interested in at the top of the first round, and it is a height/weight/speed athlete in Tyree Wilson.

Well, what if they are looking at the wrong freak?

Van Ness is younger, came in at 6-5 and 272lbs, and was one of the biggest freaks of the day athletically.

If you are looking to add a long/strong/athletic defensive end, why not move down and look at Van Ness in the 8-12 range instead of Wilson at three?

Van Ness went 4.58 in the forty, with a 4.32 short shuttle and a 7.02 three-cone.

Calijah Kancey, DL - Pitt

Few blew up the combine the way the 6-1 280lbs Kancey did with a 4.67 forty and a 1.64 10-yard split.

The Aaron Donald comps are inevitable, but let’s move past those towards something more realistic. Could Kancey get to the level of Darnell Dockett? He is smaller, but plays in a similar way and if the Cardinals want to go edge early, could they get a Kancey to play interior in Gannon and Rallis’ new defense?