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2014 NFL Combine Recap: Day 3 DL and LB

Steve Shoup

Defensive Linemen:

Jadeveon Clowney:

-Clowney wow’d everyone with his 40 time which was just over 4.5 at 266 lbs. Clowney also jumped very well both vertically and in the broad jump, showing off his crazy athletic ability. Clowney didn’t do any of the positional drills and had a low bench press which is unfortunate, but it really isn’t going to hurt him. Questions will remain about his work ethic, but that shouldn’t ding him too much. The potential and athletic ability are off the charts and he didn’t do anything that should keep him from being a top 5 pick.

Aaron Donald:

-Donald easily had the best day of any defensive lineman and is in the consideration for best Combine performance at any position. He’s just under 6’1″ and weighed in at 285, and will be dinged by some teams, but Donald is the type of prospect that will make teams regret knocking him down. Donald had a top 5 DL 40 time at 4.68, and that is in a group filled with DE’s and guys who will project to LB that are 20-40 lbs lighter than him. Donald was 2nd with 35 bench press reps among DL, and 4th in the 3 cone drill. In terms of the vertical and long jump Donald had some of the best numbers among all the defensive tackle and 5 technique prospects. In the positional drills Donald continued to perform well and showed this burst and quickness.

Kony Ealy:

-Ealy came in as the number two defensive end prospect and that probably isn’t going to change, but he didn’t have the best day. While he’s a bigger DE, he still didn’t run well or look explosive overall. Also with him being bigger you would like to see more strength as well. Ealy is still probably a top 20 prospect, but it could make it tough for him to crack the top 15 or top 10.

Timmy Jernigan:

-Jernigan is a bit undersized as a power tackle and he didn’t have the best workout numbers, but he looked better in the field drills. Teams aren’t going to care too much about his workout drills given just how great of a year that he had and the fact that he’s got the technical aspect down is a major plus.

Ra’Shede Hageman:

-Hageman is one of the most intriguing players in this draft. He’s got incredible physical gifts and the potential is off the charts, but his play was up and down. Hageman couldn’t answer the play questions on the field at the Combine (though likely a major topic in the meeting rooms), but he did show that he has all the physical tools you could hope for. He could play inside in a 4-3, but is probably best suited at a 5 tech who could even play a little NT in some systems. He’s probably a late first rounder, and this day really helped him.

Michael Sam:

-It was not a good day for Sam who was one of the most scrutinized players during the Combine. Sam was a highly productive pass rusher this year in the SEC, but the question was how versatile was he. He’s on the smaller side so the hope was he could add versatility as a 3-4 rush linebacker, but after his day of drills that looks very unlikely at this point. He’s still going to find a role given his motor and and pass rush skills, but he’s likely limited early in his career as a sub package player and a 4th-6th rounder.

Chris Smith:

-Smith was a 2nd tier DE prospect who really helped himself, he isn’t the most natural fit for 3-4 teams, but he could probably hold his own there. What he does bring to the table is top notch pass rushing skills and good quickness and athleticism which he displayed at the Combine.

Linebackers:

Anthony Barr:

-Barr is a guy who burst on the scene two years ago when he transitioned from RB to a rush linebacker. Barr has been highly productive in college, but there are some questions with his technique (not unexpected given the position switch). Barr couldn’t answer all those questions at the Combine but he looked good in all the drills and showed that he’s got the athletic ability to play outside in the NFL and the speed and quickness to get after the quarterback.

Chris Borland:

-Borland is an undersized guy and some teams will drop him because of that, but he’s got instincts and leadership off the charts. Borland didn’t run well which some people will harp on, but he covers so much of the field that it probably won’t matter too much. In the positional drills he looked excellent and that will go a long way to help him out.

Max Bullough:

-Bullough has the size and in fact maybe had too much of it after weighing in at 265 last month at the East-West Shrine Game. Bullough played well at that weight but the thought was he’d need to drop some. He did just that weighing-in at 249 for the Combine and he showed some additional quickness that always wasn’t seen on tape. Bullough did well throughout the day and helped himself quite a bit by eliminating some of the big questions surrounding him.

Khalil Mack:

-Mack is the top LB in this draft and coming from a smaller school the Combine was bigger for him than some other guys. Mack had a huge day in the workouts and looked pretty good in the positional drills. Mack proved that he has the ability to dominate at the next level, with his athletic ability and natural skill set. For teams drafting in the top 10 they will feel even more confident taking Mack that high now that they’s seen him compared to the rest of the LB class.

Jordan Tripp:

-Tripp is a small school linebacker, who had some upside and potential. Questions remained though how legit he was, and Tripp answered a lot of those questions with a just great all-around Combine. He did pretty well in all the workout drills (top 5 in the 3 cone and 20 yard shuttle), and really looked great in the positional drills. He’s just got great instincts and technique and that was on display throughout the drills.



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