The first step for the next NFL stars is the NFL Combine. This intense setting of interviews, drills, and athletic testing is where scouts and NFL teams move players up and down their draft board. They also get to know the players with personal interviews. I am going to give a recap of the top players in each position group. Below you will find who helped their stock, as well as who hurt themselves at the combine.
This defensive end class is truly special. There are multiple prospects in this class that could be considered at not only the number one pick but also in the top 5 picks. Quinnen Williams vaulted himself from a top 5 pick to potentially the number one pick. He showed insane athleticism for a guy his size and should dominate in the NFL with power and quickness. Ed Oliver showed his great twitch and quickness, he also measured in taller and stronger than most thought, so he should rise into the top 10 picks. Call me crazy but I wasn’t super impressed with Nick Bosa and his workout. I’m not crazy, I know this guy is a great prospect and is going to be a top 3 pick. However, with so many guys breaking records and showing out at the combine, and with all the talk of Kyler Murray going number one, I thought that Bosa would go and prove a point and show out in the drills. He had a decent day and basically held serve in my opinion, I just wanted to see that extra something that makes everyone say, “yeah that guy needs to go number one.” Rashan Garyis one of my favorite players in this class, he has the raw tools to be the best pass rusher in this draft when it is all said and done. He showed scouts his power and athleticism with a 4.61 in the 40 and a 38 inch vertical at 277 pounds. Lastly, Montez Sweatwas an obvious winner this weekend. Breaking the 40 yard dash record by a defensive lineman at 4.42u. We are talking about a 260 pound man running faster than Odell Beckham Jr. Having that kind of speed is something that will vault you up draft boards real quick.
This linebacker group is a perfect model of the new NFL. These guys are sideline to sideline fast and big enough to be a force on the edge. Devin White showed why he is the best linebacker in the class and locked himself into the top 12 picks. He ran an insane 4.42 in the 40 and registered a 39 inch vertical. Yeah imagine that kind of athleticism in the middle of your defense. Devin Bush also showed scouts why he is a top tier talent. If it wasn’t for Devin White, Devin Bush would have had the best day out of these linebackers. He is a bit shorter and stockier than White, but he is quick and athletic LB that shows on tape he isn’t afraid to fill in holes and lower his head. Someone who could drop completely out of the first round due to his performance is Jachai Polite. He reportedly had a tough time with interviews and rubbed some coaches the wrong way. He also ran a sub-par 4.84 in the 40 and pulled out of the combine with a hamstring injury, which some scouts believe was a fake injury. Lastly, Josh Allen held serve at the combine and remains firmly in the top 5 picks. He was obviously longer and stronger than any of the other linebackers, and he showed enough athleticism that scouts can check him off as top tier prospect.
Cornerbacks and Safeties
The defensive back class is overshadowed this year, but there are at least 4 first rounders in this class. Greedy Williams showed some great straight line speed with a 4.38 in the 40. Williams did not take part of the field drills due to an injury, but scouts found out he is a great athlete, he should be the first corner off the board. Byron Murphy didn’t have the best athletic testing, but man this guy is smooth. He showed the best footwork and movement in the field drills, and made some impressive catches. He also impressed coaches and scouts with his interviews and could challenge as the second best corner in the draft. Deandre Baker fell down the board a bit for me. Instead of challenging Greedy Williams as the best corner, he is now competing with Murphyas the second best corner. Baker is a big physical corner but scouts wanted to see some more athletic testing. He didn’t help himself with a 4.52 in the 40 and some decent footwork. When it comes to safeties, Johnathan Abram blew everyone out of the water. He registered 16 bench press reps and then ran a 4.45 in the 40. He was bigger and faster than every other safety out there. He has great game tape and his interviews showed his leadership and football IQ. He should be the first safety off the board in the back end of the first round.
Well that is the defensive class in a nutshell. Like I said before, this is one of the most impressive group of athletes that scouts have ever seen. With the combine now over, teams will reassess their draft boards and look forward to the pro days for these prospects. Make no mistake, this draft is going to be dominated by defensive talent.