Pewter Report offers up analysis of the 2009 NFL Scouting Combine workouts of the defensive ends, defensive tackles and linebackers on Monday. The following combine workout numbers were provided by the NFL Network.
DEFENSIVE TACKLES ANALYSIS B.J. Raji (6-1, 333), Boston College – The top defensive tackle in the 2009 NFL Draft didn't do anything to hurt his draft status on Monday. It also helped that Ole Miss DT Peria Jerry, who is considered the second-best DT in this draft, chose not to work out at the combine. Raji showed a strong upper body by benching 225 pounds 33 times. Although his 40-yard dash time (5.13) was a little slower than he anticipated, Raji was a productive player in college, especially in his senior season, where he notched seven of his nine career sacks. Raji likely will be a top 10 draft pick, which means the Bucs won't have a chance to select him.
Ron Brace (6-3, 330), Boston College – Tampa Bay will have the opportunity to select a Boston College defensive tackle in April, but not Raji. His partner in crime, Brace, is projected to be a second or third-round draft pick. It could be the latter after watching Brace run the 40-yard dash in 5.47 seconds, which was extremely slow, but not necessarily a surprise. No one accused Brace of being a great athlete. He is considered a big, physical body that will stuff the run on a consistent basis. Brace will have trouble getting after the quarterback. He had just four sacks in college. He benched pressed 225 times 32 times at the combine. New Bucs defensive coordinator Jim Bates likes bigger defensive tackles that can help free up the defensive ends to get after the quarterback. If the Bucs fail to land Albert Haynesworth in free agency the team could target Brace in April, especially after the team gets some inside information on Brace from new Bucs offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski, who served as Boston College's head coach the last two seasons.
Evander "Ziggy" Hood (6-3, 300), Missouri – Coming into the combine, Hood wasn't considered a great athlete, but he actually showed well, which bodes well for him since he had a strong Senior Bowl. Hood posted a 4.89 time in the 40-yard dash and had 34 reps of 225 pounds, which shows his tremendous upper body strength. Hood, who had 13 sacks as a collegiate player, is a high motor and high effort player. If the Bucs want Hood they'll have to hope he falls to them in the bottom half of the second round.
Terrence Taylor (6-0, 306), Michigan – Taylor opened some eyes by bench pressing 225 pounds 37 times, which was more than any other defensive lineman at the combine. He had five career sacks at Michigan, and his production slipped as a senior, which is a red flag to some NFL teams. Still, Taylor is projected to be a player that gets drafted anywhere between the second and fourth round.
Myron Pryor (6-0, 319), Kentucky – If the Bucs don't select a defensive tackle early, they could still get a talented player late in the draft in Pryor, who has good size and ran the 40-yard dash in 5.01 seconds. Pryor performed well in agility cone drills, but struggled in bag drills. Pryor, who needs to play better against the run, is an experienced starter that produced 11.5 career sacks, including 4.5 as a senior after a sackless junior season. Pryor is a player the Bucs could draft anywhere between the fifth and seventh round.
DEFENSIVE ENDS COMBINE ANALYSIS Everett Brown (6-2, 256), Florida State – Brown was considered the top defensive end prospect by many pundits heading into the combine. Brown posted decent numbers by running a 4.73 time in the 40-yard dash and bench-pressing 225 pounds 26 times. He posted 23 sacks at Florida State and was third in the nation in sacks recorded in 2008. Like Texas' Brian Orakopo, Brown will be long gone by the time Tampa Bay picks at No. 19 overall in the draft.
Michael Johnson (6-7, 266), Georgia Tech – Johnson was inconsistent in college, recording 20 sacks. However, his athleticism showed up at the combine on Monday. Johnson posted a 4.66 time in the 40-yard dash and was second in the defensive line group with a 38.5-inch vertical. Johnson also excelled in bag drills. The Bucs could have the opportunity to draft Johnson at No. 19, but Johnson's numbers at the combine may move him up some teams' draft boards.
Larry English (6-2, 257), Northern Illinois – English was a sack machine in college. He recorded 31.5 quarterback takedowns and eight forced fumbles at Northern Illinois. While he bench pressed 225 pounds 24 times, English did not help his draft stock when he ran below a 4.87 time in the 40-yard dash. Scouts were expecting the undersized English to run much faster than that. English did put his athleticism on display by posting a 36-inch vertical, which was the sixth best of the defensive linemen. The good news is English, who could play on the line in a 4-3 or linebacker in a 3-4, plays much faster on film, and his disappointing 40-yard dash time could actually make him available to the Bucs at 19 in the first round.
Robert Ayers (6-3, 272), Tennessee – Ayers is projected to be a first-round defensive end, but he was inconsistent at Tennessee and isn't the pass rusher the Bucs are in need of. He registered just nine sacks at Tennessee. However, Ayers helped himself by running a 4.80 time in the 40-yard dash time.
Connor Barwin (6-4, 256), Cincinnati – If the Bucs miss out on a defensive end early in the draft they could target an intriguing prospect later in the draft with Barwin, who played defensive line and tight end at Cincinnati, and could play linebacker at the next level. Barwin showed off his impressive athleticism at the combine by posting the second-fastest 40-yard dash time (4.66) and the best vertical jump (41.5-inch) of any of the defensive linemen. Barwin also bench pressed 225 pounds 21 times and had a 10'8" in the broad jump. Connor is intelligent and plays with a high motor. Teams could see value in Barwin's ability to play tight end (had six touchdowns) and defensive line. In fact, Barwin recorded more sacks (10) in one season along the defensive line than Robert Ayers had in his entire collegiate career at Tennessee. If they want him, the Bucs will have a shot to draft Barwin anywhere between the fourth and sixth round.
LINEBACKERS COMBINE ANALYSIS Rey Mauluga, USC – Entered the combine with a first-round grade. His stock may have taken a hit with an unofficial 40-yard dash time of 4.83 seconds, and then as he slowed down and seemed to pull a hamstring. Mauluga (6-2, 249) did not participate in the rest of the drills. He probably will be selected high, but the extent of his injury is unclear right now, and that could change where Mauluga lands in the draft. Tampa Bay interviewed Mauluga at the Senior Bowl, but that appears to be more of due diligence rather then genuine interest.
Clint Sintim, Virginia – The Virginia product interviewed with Tampa Bay, and is a good blitzer. In the Bucs' new defensive system they will blitz the linebackers more so Sintim (6-3, 256) could be a good fit there. However, the Buccaneers aren't expected to select a linebacker as high as Sintim will probably get drafted. Sintim ran a 4.78 unofficial 40-yard dash,
Marcus Freeman, Ohio State – Freeman had a slower than expected 40-yard dash official time at 4.74. After a strong Senior Bowl (6-0, 239) Freeman hurt his stock with that slow time. Freeman is a mid-round prospect at this time and could be an option for the Buccaneers as competition to Geno Hayes and Adam Hayward. Some scouts see Freeman as a 4-3 linebacker that is naturally an outside linebacker but does have the ability to play inside as well.