Thoughts and Observations From Day 3 of the Combine: DL and LB’s

2015 Combine NFL Draft

Edge Rushers:

The depth of this edge rusher class is simply outstanding. One of the top edge guys Shane Ray wasn’t working out, but the rest of the top guys were all working out and for the most part they really impressed. Dante Fowler Jr., Vic Beasley and Alvin Dupree all showed exceptionally well in the drills. You saw speed, explosion and the quickness you want to see on the edge. All three guys should go in the top 15 picks of the draft, and have the ability to be right side edge rushers who can battle with the best LT’s in the game. Just behind these three in terms of their workouts were Randy Gregory and Eli Harold. Gregory came in arguably the best edge prospect and from an upside stand point may still hold that mantle. He had impressive workout numbers, but one concern was him coming in underweight. He’s still another top 15 player, but he may slide behind guys like Beasley and Fowler Jr. (maybe Ray and Durpree as well). Eli Harold is a borderline 1st round prospect and he helped his case coming in at a solid weight and performing well in the drills.

What’s great about this class is despite mentioning six guys already there are still a number of mid-and-late round intriguing options. Guys like Anthony Chickillo, Kyle Emmanuel, Owamagbe Odighizuwa, Zack Hodges, Danielle Hunter, Preston Smith, and Ryan Russell opened some eyes as well with their workout numbers. Odighizuwa and Smith are probably top 50 picks (who could sneak into the first round), but the rest will probably be value picks later on. In addition there are some other rushers like Nate Orchard, Markus Golden, Trey Flowers and Za’Darius Smith who have some promise to their game as well despite not testing as strong.

Overall this is a strong draft of edge guys and the athleticism with this group as a whole will help them at the next level and a number of these guys already have the pass rush natural ability to go with it.

Interior DL and 5 Techs:

Another area where this draft is strong is the Defensive tackle and 3-4 DE talent in this class. The defensive tackle group was a little disappointing from an athletic standpoint, but with big physical tackles like Danny Shelton, Jordan Phillips, Malcom Brown and Carl Davis you knew their athletic ability would be limited. One concern with Shelton and Phillips is can they be 3 down players. These drills didn’t fully answer those questions, and may have increased the concern slightly. In the end though these guys are all good players who will go early in the draft.

Some interior guys who did perform well were top DT Leonard Williams, DT Xavier Cooper and 5 Tech’s Arik Armstead and Henry Anderson. Williams and Cooper showed quickness and enough athletic ability that makes you believe they can be active penetrators at the next level. Williams looks locked into a top 10 spot (likely top 3), and helped his case with a good solid workout. Cooper’s projection is a bit more up in the air, but he’s been building a buzz and this clearly helps him. Armstead and Anderson are different guys since they project best as 5 tech’s who will excel in 3-4 defenses. Both played very well and have a lot of upside. Armstead is a physical specimen and will probably find himself taken in the top 40 picks. Anderson may crack that area, but he could slide a bit as well.


Overall this group wasn’t as strong as many expected. Shaq Thompson and Eric Kendricks appear to be the top two linebackers and they both had good days. Neither was exceptional, but I think they helped separate themselves from the next group of linebackers, Bendarick McKinney, Paul Dawson and Denzel Perryman who didn’t have as strong a Combine. While I wouldn’t completely knock any of these three backers, they are all likely going to have a few issues at the next level and may max out as just good solid starters (which is still valuable), but not elite top end guys.

Some later round linebackers who really looked good in drills were Bryce Hager, Jake Ryan and Stephone Anthony. All are guys who could go in the 4th-5th round and add value to the team, both on special teams and eventually as potential starters.



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