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March 1, 2010 @ 11:51 am
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Combine Coverage: Monday

Written by Jim
Flynn
Jim Flynn

Jim
Flynn

Former Editor-in-Chief E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Which players impressed at the NFL Scouting Combine on Monday with the defensive linemen and linebackers working out? Which players disappointed in workouts? Read PewterReport.com's analysis of the draft prospects in this article.
The annual NFL Scouting Combine is drawing closer to an end in Indianapolis, but Monday was a chance for the defensive linemen to participate in drills and work out in front of NFL head coaches, scout and front office executives. PewterReport.com highlights the impressive and disappointing performers. NFL Network provided the workout stats regarding the pro prospects.

WHO IMPRESSED

Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh (6-4, 307)
Suh has created quite a buzz this offseason and is considered the best player in the 2010 NFL Draft by many pundits and teams. He lived up to the hype at the NFL Combine on Monday. Suh showed impressive speed for a big guy, running a 4.98 in the 40-yard dash. He also put his strength on display, benching 225 pounds 32 times. During field drills, Suh showed good change of direction ability. The fact that Suh worked out at the combine was impressive in itself since he really had nothing to gain in terms of his draft stock. If Suh, who was a dominant player at Nebraska with 23 sacks, four interceptions and two touchdowns, somehow falls to the Bucs it will be because St. Louis and Detroit reached for needs, not because Suh isn't the best player in this year's draft.

Missouri LB Sean Weatherspoon (6-1, 239)
It was difficult to not notice Weatherspoon. Not only did he sport white tights and shoes on the field in Indy, Weatherspoon put on a clinic during workouts. It started with the bench press, where Weatherspoon displayed good upper-body strength by putting up 225 pounds a total of 34 times. That was second-best among the group of linebackers at the combine. With Alabama LB Rolando McClain (hamstring) and Florida LB Brandon Spikes not participating in the 40-yard dash, Weatherspoon opened a lot of eyes. He showed great speed by posting a 4.57 time in the 40-yard dash. Weatherspoon had over 100 tackles in each of his final three seasons at Missouri. He also had 12 sacks, four interceptions and two touchdowns. The high-motor player is a great leader and is coming off a great Senior Bowl and NFL Combine. Weatherspoon has likely worked his way into the first round of the draft.

TCU DE Jerry Hughes (6-1, 255)
Tampa Bay is in the market for a pass-rushing defensive end, and Hughes is a player the Bucs could give serious consideration to drafting if he's still available near the top of the second round. That's a big "if" after Hughes' performance at the combine on Monday. Hughes put his impressive athleticism on display, benching 225 pounds a total of 26 times and running a 4.69 time in the 40-yard dash. It was an impressive outing for a player that posted 28 sacks, two interceptions and one touchdown at TCU. While he's considered a "tweener," Hughes possesses a good motor, instincts and athleticism, which was apparent on Monday.

USF DE Jason Pierre Paul (6-5, 270)
Looks like Tarzan, but will he play like Jane? NFL scouts are in the process of determining whether Pierre-Paul is the real deal or if he just looks the part of a defensive end that could dominate at the next level. Pierre-Paul is a freakish athlete, so it was no surprise to see him excel in drills at the combine Monday. He put up 19 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press and ran a 4.64 time in the 40-yard dash. Scouts don't have a lot of tape to go off of because Pierre-Paul was a JUCO transfer and one-year starter at USF, where he posted six sacks in 2009. Pierre-Paul has room to add bulk to his frame and improve his fundamentals. He's been mentioned as a possible top five pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, and the athleticism Pierre-Paul put on display in Indy likely will tempt some 4-3 defensive teams that own top 10 picks to select him.

Georgia DT Geno Atkins (6-1, 293)
Atkins, who had 10 sacks at Georgia, is considered a nose tackle, but his size and speed suggests he might be a better fit as a under tackle in a defensive scheme like the one Bucs head coach Raheem Morris runs in Tampa Bay. Atkins' 40-yard dash time (4.75) was impressive, as were many of the defensive tackles participating in this particular drill Monday. So was his bench press, where he did 34 reps of 225 pounds.

Georgia DT Jeff Owens (6-1, 304)
It was a big day for Georgia as both of their defensive tackles fared well in Indy. Owens' 40-yard dash time was 5.00, but what really opened some eyes was his bench press. He led all defensive tackles with 44 reps of 225 pounds. Owens had a good senior season after missing all but one game as a junior due to a knee injury. He had just four sacks, but possesses a good motor and leadership skills.

Michigan DE Brandon Graham (6-1, 268)
It's difficult to label a player as "impressive" after they don't complete all of the drills at the combine. However, Graham is worth a mention here since the two drills he did participate in were ones where he really opened some eyes. Graham, who had 29.5 sacks and 56 tackles for a loss at Michigan, did 31 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. His most impressive moment came in the 40-yard dash, where he ran a 4.69, but it cost him as he tweaked his hamstring, which kept him out of the rest of drills, including linebacker workouts, where some teams feel Graham is a good fit in the NFL. Some would dispute that notion, though, and point to Graham's production at the college level and at Senior Bowl, where he earned MVP honors. The Bucs would love to have a shot at drafting Graham near the top of the second round, but Michigan's all-time sack leader won't be there - he's solidified his status as a first-round draft pick.

Texas DT Lamarr Houston (6-3, 305)
Houston is an intriguing candidate that the Bucs could take a hard look at if he falls to the third round. That could happen since the defensive tackle position in this year's draft is so deep. However, Houston, who had 13 sacks in four seasons at Texas, is hoping to be drafted earlier after running the 40-yard dash in 4.85 and posting 30 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. Houston has good power, and although he's not considered a pass rush specialist, he could help improve Tampa Bay's run defense, which ranked 32nd last season.

WHO DISAPPOINTED

Oklahoma DT Gerald McCoy (6-4, 295)
The players performing in workouts at the combine actually fared quite well overall on Monday, but some did better than others. For instance, Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh was better than McCoy in drills today. McCoy, who had 14 sacks and one interception at Oklahoma, ran a 4.96 time in the 40-yard dash. That's not bad. His best moment came when he posted a nine-foot, six-inch broad jump. But there were two major red flags that might give some NFL teams pause before they invest a high first-round pick in McCoy. The first was McCoy's bench press, which was just 23 reps of 225 pounds. That suggests McCoy may lack the upper body strength necessary to dominate in the trenches at the next level. The other issue came in the 3-cone drill, where McCoy bombed in his first attempt to run it. His second time running the drill was much better. He posted a 7.32 time in the 3-cone drill, but didn't look very fluid moving through it. There was some debate as to whether Suh or McCoy would be the first defensive tackle taken in the draft, but after watching both players work out in Indy on Monday, it is pretty clear that Suh will be the first to go off the board. Should the Bucs have the opportunity to draft McCoy in April, the team better have done its homework on him and address these concerns.

USF DE George Selvie (6-3, 252)
Selvie is considered an undersized defensive end that could play linebacker at the next level. His stock in the 2010 NFL Draft might have dropped after his performance in Indy on Monday. Selvie, who notched 27 sacks at USF, posted a 4.91 time in the 40-yard dash in his first attempt. That's a terrible time for a 252-pound defensive end that's considered a good athlete. To his credit, Selvie improved that time the second time around, running a 4.77. He also bench pressed 225 pounds a total of 24 times. But Selvie didn't fare that well in field drills, which could cause him to fall into the fourth or fifth round in the draft. If the Bucs draft Selvie, he likely would be used as a situational pass-rushing defensive end with the hope that he could add the bulk necessary to become a full-time player.

Kentucky LB Micah Johnson (6-1, 258)
Johnson was a productive player at Kentucky, notching three sacks, two interceptions and one touchdown. Unfortunately, he suffered a major knee injury that hindered his efforts as a collegiate player. There were questions regarding whether Johnson would play outside or inside linebacker at the next level. The answer to that question is pretty clear after watching Johnson run a 4.99 time in the 40-yard dash. That was the slowest time of any of the linebackers that ran this drill Monday. While he may have trouble dropping back into coverage as a middle linebacker, Johnson did display impressive upper body strength, benching 225 pounds 31 times, which was third-best of the linebacker group. Johnson is a physical football player, which Bucs head coach Raheem Morris is looking for on defense. Tampa Bay's defense is known for speed, but Johnson could be a player the Bucs consider drafting in the fifth round or beyond, which is where he likely will be drafted after his shaky performance in Indy.


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