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NFL Combine: Scouting the Defensive Line
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Ricky Henne’s Take: Each year it seems as though defensive line prospects get more athletic, and that trend continued Monday at the Combine. Although I’d have to go back and watch what these players put on tape to get a true sense of how they apply it in game action, I was impressed by the speed and athleticism many displayed. One guy who caught my eye immediately who I did not know much about was defensive end Margus Hunt from tiny Southern Methodist. Measuring in at 6-foot-8, 245-pounds, he showed tremendous power and speed by posting the most reps at the bench press (38) while clocking in the third fastest 40-yard dash time (4.60). Another player who posted impressive metrics was LSU’s Barkevious Mingo. He had the second quickest 40-yard dash time of 4.58, just 1/100th shy of the top mark. He also had the longest broad jump of any prospect (128) and the second highest vertical jump (37.0). My knock on Mingo would be that he looked slim and slender compared to the rest of his defensive end prospects, and he’ll need to put on weight in order to be a three-down defensive end. Otherwise he may be limited to being a pass rushing specialist. Still, I think his future looks very bright. Overall, the prospect who impressed me the most without a doubt was Oregon’s Dion Jordan. Set to undergo shoulder surgery next week which will sideline him for about four months, Jordan not only excelled during testing but was outstanding in the drills. His quick footwork and instincts combined with exceptional athleticism make him an elite prospect in my opinion. Many see him moving to an outside linebacker position, and I could very well see that. The kid has all the tools to be a disruptive force on each and every down.
Ryan Schuler’s Take: After two days of watching offensive prospects audition at the NFL Scouting Combine, it’s time to turn out attention to defense, specifically defensive linemen. While the defensive line prospects did not demonstrate the flashiness of the skill players, there was no shortness of explosion and athleticism off the line. Oregon defensive end Dion Jordan is by far the best athlete of the group in my opinion. He posted one of the best 40-yard dash times at 4.60 seconds and was the most fluid at changing direction and accelerating after a block. Jordan, who is listed as the No. 1 outside linebacker prospect by NFL Network Mike Mayock despite working out with the defensive linemen, did well in the coverage drill, but still struggles with catching the ball in some situations. He is on the lighter side, so he will need to add weight to be a true defensive end, but not so much weight that he can’t drop back into coverage. He is a projected top 15 pick, even going as high as No. 4 to the Philadelphia Eagles to reunite with former coach Chip Kelly. BYU defensive end Ezekiel Ansah is another one that jumps out to me based pure athletic ability. He is the No. 3 rated defensive end by Mayock. He is big and fluid, but very inexperienced when it comes to football knowledge and jargon. I thought he struggled mightily during the coverage drill. He is incredibly raw, but has amazing potential. Auburn’s Corey Lemonier is the surprise player who jumped out to me. His 4.60 40-yard dash caught my eye, so I made a mental note to look out for him. He continued to impress me during the shuffling drills. He is likely a second or third round selection. I wanted to see Utah’s Star Lotulelei work out, but because of a heart condition found at the Combine, he was forced to sit out Monday. Mayock’s No. 1 defensive end Bjoern Werner from Florida State University and Mayock’s No. 1 defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd from the University of Florida did nothing to stand out to me, but also did nothing to lower my opinion of them.
TOP FIVE PERFORMANCES
1. Trevardo Williams, Connecticut – 4.57
2. Barkevious Mingo, LSU – 4.58
T-3. Margus Hunt, SMU – 4.60
T-3. Dion Jordan, Oregon – 4.60
T-3. Corey Lemonier, Auburn – 4.60
T-1. Margus Hunt, SMU – 38
T-1. Brandon Williams, Missouri Southern St. - 38
3. Akeem Spence, Illinois - 37
4. Josh Boyd, Mississippi St. - 32
5. Eight Tied with 30
1. Trevardo Williams, Connecticut – 38.0
T-2. Barkevious Mingo, LSU – 37.0
T-2. Ty Powell, Harding – 37.0
4. Damontre Moore, Texas A&M – 35.5
T-5. Devin Taylor, South Carolina – 35.0
T-5. Nate Williams, Ohio State – 35.0
T-1. Barkevious Mingo, LSU – 128.0
T-1. Devin Taylor, South Carolina – 128.0
3. Trevardo Williams, Connecticut – 124.0
T-4. Dion Jordan, Oregon – 122.0
T-4. Damontre Moore, Texas A&M – 122.0
T-4. Ty Powell, Harding – 122.0 Read