Several players made a case to move up in April's NFL drat while a few did just the opposite. See who did what in this PewterReport.com NFL Combine analysis.
Day three of the NFL Combine workouts brought out some of the top defensive linemen and linebackers in the country eager to prove their worth and increase their paychecks come late April.
With scouts and pro player personnel from all 32 NFL teams in attendance, along with representatives from other professional football leagues around North America, the defensive linemen and linebackers took to the turf at Lucas Oil Stadium in what some have described as the “Underwear Olympics.”Defensive Linemen
Regardless of what is called, the Combine does present an opportunity for lesser-known players to drastically move up in the draft. Monday was no different with Memphis defensive Tackle Dontari Poe running an amazing 4.98. While plenty of others ran similar 40-times, none weighed in at 346 pounds as Poe did. Poe certainly improved his draft status, as some are saying as many as seven defensive linemen could be taken in the first round.
Another defensive linemen that solidified his first round status with a great Monday was South Carolina Gamecock Melvin Ingram. With a 4.66 in his 40 time, and great game tape from his Carolina career, Ingram most likely will be a top 20 selection on the first night of the draft.
An intriguing player who continues to rise, Michigan’s Mike Martin, did nothing but improve his draft stock on Monday. While probably never a perennial Pro Bowler, the on-switch and high motor Martin brings will keep him the NFL for years, according to several scouts and analysts. Martin stood out while we were in Mobile, and while not the most physically gifted athlete in the world it is highly doubtful anyone will ever outwork him. Martin is only 6-foot-1 and just over 300 pounds but plays every play like it is his last.
Other linemen who improved their draft stock with solid performances Monday were Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus, West Virginia’s Bruce Irvin, and Southern Cal’s Nick Perry who is now projected to be among on several Day 1 draft boards.
A position that the Buccaneers must address via free agency and/or through the draft is at linebacker. With Mason Foster struggling, more than we even saw through the film according to some former coaches, and the almost certain parting of ways with free agent Geno Hayes, plus the underwhelming play of Quincy Black, means the linebacker prospects at the Combine are being heavily scrutinized by the Buccaneers contingent in Indianapolis.
Like the defensive linemen there were several who could be called “risers” and “fallers.” One who many thought couldn’t rise anymore was Boston College’s Luke Kuechly. Already projected as a mid-first rounder, Kuechly is creating quite the dilemma for many general mangers in the first 15 picks. While defensive linemen are always at a premium Kuechly combination of speed (4.5 in his 40 time) and strength (27 bench press reps) probably made several mock draft dry erase boards get wiped clean. And while measurable are always impressive, Kuechly was a basically a one man wrecking crew on a generally considered poor Boston College defense this past season, leading the nation with 191 tackles.
The title of the biggest “faller” of the day went to Arizona State’s Vontaze Burfict who ran poorly in the 40-yard dash posting just a 4.93. Burfict also had some issue during his senior season, and now with his poor showing Monday, basically took himself out of first round consideration, and maybe out of the first two days of the draft.
Reportedly Burfict had terrible interviews with teams on Sunday then choose not to participate in the bench press test. Once considered a first-round lock, Burfict may not hear his name called until late Saturday.
Other standouts in Mondays drill at the linebacker position:
North Carolina linebacker Zach Brown was as expected Monday – very fast. Brown chose not to participate in the bench press – which left some scratching their heads – but still may have pushed himself into first round contention with his blazing 4.4 40-yard dash time.
Tank Carder helped improve his draft stock after a so-so outing in the East-West Shrine game back in January. Carder's ran a 4.56 40, measured 10-foot-1 in the broad jump to go along with 34.5-inch vertical leap.
Mychal Kendricks, who was the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year this past season at middle linebacker for Cal, startled many by running the fastest 40 for a linebacker in the last 12 years. Kendricks most certainly improved his position with the best measurables of the day, finishing first in the 40-yard dash (4.47), broad jump (10-foot-7) and vertical (39.5). Kendricks also was solid during on the field drills an may be a steal for a team in the second round.
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