The defensive linemen and linebackers were on display Monday at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis and several stood out, while a few didn't perform as well as they would have liked. See who helped raised their draft status with their efforts on Monday.
The defensive linemen and linebackers were the third group of NFL prospects who went through the annual pre-draft NFL Combine in Indianapolis on Monday, hoping to improve their status for the NFL draft in May. Inside Lucas Oil Stadium, NFL coaches, scouts and pro player personnel had their eyes glued to the two units in hopes of solidifying their opinions of the prospects or maybe even finding a draft-day steal.Defensive Lineman
Jadaveon Clowney didn’t participate in the on-field portion of the Combine workouts, but wowed those in attendance and watching the broadcast on the NFL Network with a blazing unofficial 40-time of 4.47 (4.53 officially). Clowney is a freakish athlete who, when his mind is right, has the ability to dominate and take over a football game, The question for teams drafting in the top five is, which Clowney will show up to Day 1 of training game? The sophomore who set South Carolina records with 13 sacks or the Clowney who finished the 2013 season with just three quarterback takedowns? Certainly teams were keying on stopping Clowney all year but there are still some question marks about Clowney’s motor and attitude, including Mike Mayock who has raised some questions about his inconsistencies off the field and his work ethic while in college.
During last month’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. Aaron Donald was one of, if not the most impressive player from either team. Donald whipped almost every lineman put in front of him last month, and backed up his college credentials and game film with a tremendous week of practice. On Monday, Donald continued his rise towards the middle, to possibly the top of the first round in May’s NFL Draft with an outstanding workout in Indianapolis. Donald, at 295-pounds, ran an incredible 4.68. Donald also post a 32-inch vertical and was also second in the bench press among defensive lineman. The only thing holding Donald back from being a sure-fire top 10 draft pick is his 6-1 height. And even that may not keep him out of the top 10 after scouts and front office personnel review his Combine performance.
FSU’s Timmy Jernigan (6-2, 299) had a solid day on Tuesday showing off his skills in front of the 32 NFL teams and millions watching on the NFL Network. Jernigan didn’t blow any one individual aspect (5.06 40-time) of the Combine away, but as a whole, most would say they came away impressed. Quite possibly where Jernigan helped himself was during the bag drill portion of the morning where his violent slap and thump echoed throughout Lucas Oil Stadium. Jernigan played angry for the Seminoles and transferred that intensity to the pads on Monday.
Minnesota Ra'Shede Hageman had an impressive day on Monday in front of
the NFL executives. Mayock pointed out some prior off the field issues
dating back to high school but the 6-foot-6, 310-pounder ran an official
5.02 which as excellent for his size. He also did well in the bench
press (32 reps).Linebackers
Khalil Mack did nothing to hurt his projected top-10 draft stock and while he didn’t make many scouts jump from their comfortable perches looking down on the turf at Lucas Oil Stadium, he had a solid day. Mack ran a 40 time of 4.65 and a 10-yard split of 1.56, which was second overall among linebackers, but didn’t overly impress on the field. He didn’t raise any red flags either, and his top 15 status is still intact.
Anthony Barr, another player who is projected to go in the first half of the first round in the NFL draft in May, had a solid Combine performance on Monday. Barr is another player who at times can take over games, then also disappears for spurts. Even at 6-5, 255-pounds, Barr burned up the track in the 40-yard run posting a 4.66. Barr only managed 15 reps on the on the bench press, something that will need to improve, especially if Barr is converted to a defensive end at the next level.
Of all the linebackers on Monday Florida State’s Telvin Smith maybe made the biggest impression showing a combination of speed, agility and overall athletic ability. Mayock raved about Smith saying he will be a starting weakside linebacker in the NFL. Smith told PewterReport.com at the Senior Bowl last month that he feels NFL-ready after playing all three linebacker positions in college. Smith most likely solidified himself as a 2-3 round draft pick later this spring.
Boston College's Kevin Pierre-Louis. Pierre-Louis (6-0, 232) stood out on Monday posting a 40 time of 4.51. The commentators raved about his fluidity and smooth movement during the on the field drills. Prior to the Combine Pierre-Louis was viewed as a third-day selection but may have pushed himself into Day 2.
Other linebackers that had good days and most likely helped themselves with their efforts on Monday were Montana’s Jordan Tripp, Notre Dame’s Prince Shembo and South Dakota’s Tyler Starr.
Stanford’s Tyler Murphy was somewhat disappointing running the regimented drills on Monday. Murphy has been described as a lunch pail, high-motor guy, but didn’t test overly well while on display, posting just a 4.86 forty time and not overly impressive during the on the field drills.
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