The third day of the NFL Scouting Combine is in the books, and we saw some impressive workouts from the defensive linemen and linebackers.
The story of the day was Myles Garrett’s spectacular workout, which likely made him a lock to be the first pick of the draft. But this deep class of defenders had plenty more to offer.
Let’s see which prospects might have put themselves on the New York Giants’ radar.
Biggest Winner - Haason Reddick (EDGE, Temple)
Haason Reddick might be the single biggest winner of the entire draft process. From the final whistle of the regular season until today all he has done is force his draft stock higher. He started at the Senior Bowl with the curious (at the time) decision to play inside linebacker. He justified that decision by wowing scouts with his ability to drop into coverage as well as rush off the edge. At the combine he laid down an all-time workout that actually rivaled Myles Garrett’s.
Over the last three months Reddick has managed to elevate his stock from a mid (3rd to 5th) round pick to a first round lock. Nobody has done more for themselves.
- Solomon Thomas (DE, Stanford) - Who will be the second defensive lineman drafted after (presumably) Myles Garrett? Thomas is making the case that it should be him. His build might have scouts confused as to where he should play, but he was force off the edge or inside. He backed that up today with a terrific workout, and looked remarkably natural in linebacker drills.
- Jordan Willis (DE, Kansas State) - Willis is currently a mid-round pick, but he might have boosted his stock with a good forty, featuring a spectacular 1.54 10-yard split. Add that to ridiculous 39” vertical, and you have a player with an explosive first step. He also looked more fluid in drills than on tape, suggesting more edge rushing upside than scouts may have thought.
- Trey Hendrickson (EDGE, FAU) - An unknown prospect from a small school, Hendrickson was the player of the week at the East-West Shrine Game. He carried that momentum through to today with a great workout. He looked easy and natural in drills and good as both a defensive end and a linebacker.
- Charles Harris (EDGE, Missouri) - Harris has issues as a run defender, but he is a terrific athlete with an explosive first step and a nasty spin move. He backed that up on the field and looked like a good fit as a “hybrid” edge rusher who could play as a rush linebacker or as a defensive end.
- Derek Rivers (EDGE, Youngstown State) - Like Hendrickson, Rivers is a small school prospect who made a name for himself in a post-season all-star game. Rivers is a twitchy athlete with a good frame to play defensive end or outside linebacker, and like Hendrickson looked good in linebacker drills.
- DJ Jones (DT, Ole Miss) - It’s tough for a nose tackle to show up in situations like this, but Jones had a good day. He moved surprisingly well in drills and showed solid feet for a big tackle. He also had a terrific 40 time for his size and position with a 5.04 second run.
- Larry Ogunjobi (DT, Charlotte) - Small school prospects showing up is a theme for this combine, and Charlotte’s Ogunjobi did just that. He is an imposing defensive tackle with a great frame and movement skills. He is a natural 3-technique who should excel attacking gaps at the next level.
- Tim Williams (EDGE, Alabama) - Williams needed a good workout to dispel the cloud from the off-field red flags. And while he didn’t have a bad one, he showed up leaner than anticipated and didn’t run as fast as anticipated. For a player known for his speed off the edge, Williams 4.7 second 40 is eye-raising, but not for the right reasons.
- Takkarist McKinley (EDGE, UCLA) - In Ed’s parlance, this would really be more of a “Kwillie”. However, McKinley fell well short of his promise to deliver a 4.4 second 40, and his repeated mistakes taking direction in drills is jarring as well. He had drills where he performed well, and looked powerful in the pass rush drills.
- Ejuan Price (EDGE, Pittsburgh) - Price was a disruptive defender for Pittsburgh, and that should take precedence. However, he is too small to run as slow as he did. He needed to show speed off the edge, and he had a below-average time. Combined with is injury history, Price had a rough day. He could still be a mid or late-round steal for some team.
Big Winner - Jabrill Peppers (Michigan)
It was revealed during the Combine broadcast that Peppers believed that he would be working out as a safety, but was told he had to do the linebacker drills with about a week’s notice. Instead of trying to force the issue, Peppers is doing two workouts, one of which involves drills he has never done before. It’s not fair to compare a defensive back to a group of linebackers, but Peppers has performed very well for never practicing them before. It’s also a credit to the young man that he is competing twice.
He was considered a lock for the top-10 before the season, but after a season of playing out of position to help his team, there are many who don’t consider Peppers a first rounder. Peppers work, and attitude, today and tomorrow will definitely give teams more to think about.
- Alex Anzalone (Florida) - Anzalone needed to have a good workout to give teams something to think of to distract from the fact that he has only played 18 games in four years at Florida. He did that, putting up good numbers in the measurable events, and looked good in the positional drills. He is still a risk, but he’s given some teams reason to take the risk.
- T.J. Watt (Wisconsin) - Watt has a big name to live up to, and he did so today. While he couldn’t quite match his brother’s insane athleticism (for his size), he had a great workout. He looked surprisingly smooth in space and ran well for his size.
- Zach Cunningham (Vanderbilt) - Long and lean, Cunningham was easy in space and athletic in the measurable events. Cunningham will need to be protected by a defensive line going forward, but he showed plenty of athleticism to make plays at the next level.
- Raekwan McMillan (Ohio State) - McMillan was being shoehorned as a 2-down 3-4 linebacker prior to the Combine. He showed better than anticipated athleticism in his workout and good fluidity in positional drills.
- Tyus Bowser (Houston) - A third small-school prospect like Hendrickson and Rivers, Bowser looked remarkably fluid in drills and should be able to be an edge rusher or a more pure linebacker at the next level.
- Anthony Walker (Northwestern) - Walker needed to prove his athleticism today, and he did that. It was believed that playing heavier this year slowed him down and negatively impacted his play. He showed much better speed than anticipated and looked fluid in space in the positional drills.
- Ben Boulware (Clemson) - Like most of the rest of Clemson’s prospects, Boulware skipped the 40 yard dash. We all knew that he wasn’t going to put down a blazing time, and Boulware’s evaluation should be based entirely on the tape.
- Jarrad Davis (Florida) - Davis was at the combine, but only for meetings and his medical evaluation. He skipped the on-field portion of the combine after having surgery to repair a high ankle sprain. He will compete at Florida’s Pro Day later this month, but not being able to go lets other players get a leg up on him.