The defensive linemen and linebackers were the third group of NFL draft prospects that went through the annual pre-draft NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis on Sunday attempting to improve their draft status. Hordes of NFL scouts, coaches and general managers were on hand to see college football's top defenders do agility drills and run the 40-yard dash.
Most of the top-ranked defensive linemen in the 2013 NFL Draft didn’t disappoint on Monday during the third day of on-field drills at the NFL scouting combine.
Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, who was projected to be a top 10 pick in April, did not do any on-field testing due to an abnormal heart condition that was detected with an echocardiogram at the combine. Purdue defensive tackle Kawaan Short, who is likely a high second-round pick, was also unable to run or do on-field drills due to a hamstring pull.
Perhaps the most disappointing first-round candidates was Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore, who checked in at 6-4, 250 pounds, but ran a surprisingly slow 4.87 time in the 40-yard dash with a 1.69 time in the first 10 yards before straining a hamstring on his second attempt. He also underwhelmed with just 12 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press test.
Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner, who measured 6-foot-3, 266 pounds, is viewed as a potential top 5 pick by some draft gurus, but he didn’t display elite athleticism with unofficial 40-yard dash times of 4.79 and 4.81. NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock called Werner, who repped 225 pounds 25 times, a “poor man’s Chris Long.”
Of the top performers, the star of the show was Oregon defensive end Dion Jordan, who at 6-foot-6, 248 pounds, is also being looked at as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. In fact, Jordan, who will undergo shoulder surgery after the combine, is Mayock’s top outside linebacker prospect this year.
Jordan ran an unofficial 4.53 in the 40-yard dash with a 1.57 10-yard split on his first attempt, and followed that up with a 4.63 and a 1.60 10-yard split on his second run. If he is still available at number 13 when the Buccaneers select, Tampa Bay may have to consider the athletic pass rusher, whose size and skill set reminds some of San Francisco 49ers pass-rushing linebacker Aldon Smith. Jordan’s 4.53 was tied for the fastest unofficial 40-yard dash time among defensive linemen with Auburn defensive end Corey Lemonier, who really helped himself with a great sprint and in the position drills where he showed off his athleticism.
Lemonier ran a 4.6 in his first 40-yard dash with a 1.58 10-yard split before running his 4.53 time to tie Jordan while covering the first 10 yards in 1.57 seconds. Jordan figures to be a top 15 and could possibly move into the top 10 due to his smooth, athletic performance. Lemonier, a junior entry, came into the draft with a fourth-round grade, but could move up into the third round thanks to his athletic display in Indianapolis. Once the official times came in, Jordan and Lemonier were tied for third with an official 40-time of 4.60 along with SMU’s massive Margus Hunt.
Hunt, who checked in at 6-foot-8, 277 pounds, and BYU’s Ezekiel Ansah, who measured 6-5, 271 pounds, also stood out. Both pass rushers have limited football experience coming from Ghana and Estonia, respectively, as track athletes who migrated towards football once in college.
Ansah is a quick-twitch athlete that ran a 4.63 and a 4.65 in the 40-yard dash with a remarkable 1.56 in the 10-yard split. Hunt, who impressed with a combine-best 38 reps of 225 pounds despite having long arms, ran a 4.65 on his first attempt and a 4.60 on his second run with a 1.62 time in the first 10 yards.
Ansah should remain a top 20 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, while Hunt may have moved from the second round into the bottom part of the first round with his excellent showing at the combine. The Buccaneers are likely considering Ansah in the first round and may target Hunt with their second-round pick if he lasts that long.
UCLA defensive end Datone Jones was hoping to move into the first round with a great 40-yard dash time after repping 225 pounds 29 times, but was only able to run a 4.84 with 1.63 10-yard split on both of his attempts at the 40-yard dash. The 6-foot-4 Jones checked in at a solid 283 pounds.
LSU defensive end-outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo checked in at 6-foot-4, 241 pounds, and had the second-best time with an official 4.58 time in the 40-yard dash, with a 1.55 10-yard split. His 37-inch vertical jump was the best among defensive linemen at the combine. Mingo is rated as a top 15 pick by some draft analysts, but is also believed to be more of an athlete than a football player.
UConn defensive end Trevardo Williams, who measured 6-foot-1, and weighed 240 pounds, ran a 4.57 official time in the 40-yard dash, which certainly helped his draft stock, which is currently rated as the third round for the probable 3-4 outside linebacker. The same could be said for Harding undersized defensive end Ty Powell, who measured 6-foot-2, 249 pounds and aided his cause with a quick, 4.64 time in the 40-yard dash with a 1.59 10-yard split. Powell, who could be a 3-4 outside linebacker, is viewed as a sixth-rounder.
South Carolina defensive end Devin Taylor, who is a rangy defender at 6-foot-7, 261 pounds, ran a 4.72 in the 40-yard dash and helped his draft stock, which is currently in the third or fourth round.
Illinois defensive end Michael Buchanan, who could also transition to an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, ran a 4.78 in the 40-yard dash with a 1.59 10-yard split. Buchanan, who interviewed with the Buccaneers at the Senior Bowl, was regarded as a fourth or fifth round pick coming into the combine, but now may move up a round given his athleticism and confirmed speed.
Among the defensive tackles, Florida’s Shariff Floyd, who is considered to be a top 15 pick, was able to show off his athletic ability with a 4.93 and a 4.87 40-yard dash time. The 6-foot-3, 297-pound Floyd ran a 1.68 in the first 10 yards and excelled in on-field drills.
Two other first-round defensive tackles, Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson and North Carolina’s Sylvester Williams, performed well in the 40-yard dash with Richardson running a 5.0 and Williams running a 4.93.
The slowest time among the defensive linemen was Georgia’s Kwame Geathers, who ran a 5.4 after measuring 6-foot-5, and weighing 342 pounds.LINEBACKERS
The 2013 class of linebackers is not the deepest or the most talented, but there were some standout performances at the NFL scouting combine on Monday.
Linebacker Jamie Collins, who was 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, from Southern Miss had an insane broad jump of 11’ 7”, which was eight inches superior to that of Missouri’s Zaviar Gooden, who had a broad jump of 10’11.” In 2012, the average broad jump for linebackers was 9’8.” Collins ran a 4.64 in the 40-yard dash.
Gooden, who measured 6-foot-1, 234 pounds, ran an official 4.47 in the 40-yard dash, which was actually faster than his unofficial time of 4.50.
Like Gooden and Collins, Georgia linebacker Cornelius Washington also turned in a stellar all-around performance, blazing a 4.55 in the 40-yard dash, had a broad jump of 10’8” and did 36 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. That was the second-highest bench press total of any position at this year’s combine and may have upped Washington’s draft stock, which was believed to be in the sixth or seventh round.
UConn outside linebacker Sio Moore, who measures just under 6-foot-1, and weighs 245, ran a 4.65 in the 40-yard dash and put up 29 reps of 225 pounds for an impressive showing at the combine.
Top-rated middle linebacker Alec Olgetree from Georgia, who is 6-foot-2, 242 pounds ran an unofficial time of 4.62 that was later changed to an official time of 4.70. At just under 6-foot, 246 pounds, LSU middle linebacker Kevin Minter, who is regarded as the second-best middle linebacker behind Olgetree, ran a 4.81 in the 40-yard dash.
Both Olgetree and Minter are regarded as first-round picks, as is Notre Dame middle linebacker Manti Te’o, who figures to be drafted in the latter part of the first round. Te’o, who measured 6-foot-1, 241 pounds, ran a rather pedestrian 4.82 in the 40-yard dash and had a less than average broad jump of 9’5”.
Jon Bostic, a middle linebacker from Florida ran an unofficial time of 4.50 in the 40-yard dash that was later changed to a 4.61. Bostic is regarded as a second- or third-round pick.
Rutgers outside linebacker Khaseem Greene, who was just under 6-foot-1, 241 pounds, ran a 4.71 in the 40-yard dash, while Iowa State outside linebacker A.J. Klein impressed with a 40-time of 4.66.
Athletic Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown, who is regarded as a second-round pick, was not able to run and do on-field drills because of a shoulder injury that kept him out of the Senior Bowl.
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