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Scouting Combine Day 3: Defensive linemen, linebackers hit the field

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Your Sunday Combine open thread

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Sunday, everyone!

The offensive portion of the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine is in the books and those players are headed home. Now we turn to the defensive side of the ball and the front seven players take the field.

The New York Giants have an obvious and glaring need at linebacker, so those players will all be worth watching today. They could also have an interest in defensive linemen to fill out the depth behind their starters or find the speed rusher they currently (seem to) lack.

Defensive Line

Players To Watch

Kentavius Street (DL, NC State) - Street’s is one of the most anticipated workouts of the weekend. He shares a college strength and conditioning coach with Aaron Donald and the two are compared athletically. Street is in the shadow of defensive end Bradley Chubb, but could create a massive buzz for himself if he is able to duplicate Donald’s workout.

Harold Landry (EDGE, Boston College) - Landry has dealt with nagging injuries this year and couldn’t duplicate his monstrous 2016 campaign. He has tremendous burst and flexibility off the edge and he could push his stock back in to the first round with a great showing now that he is healthy.

Marcus Davenport (EDGE, UTSA) - Davenport is one of the most hyped prospects coming in to the draft. Those at the Senior Bowl report that his game wasn’t yet up to his physical ability. This will be his chance to restart the hype machine as he shows off his athleticism.

Vita Vea (DT, Washington) - Vea is one of the freaks of the draft. He is a huge prospect in the mold of Damon Harrison and Haloti Ngata, and is able to move like a defensive end or a linebacker. Hopefully he will show teams that he is much more than just the space-eating nose tackle he resembles.

Tim Settle (DT, Virginia Tech) - Settle has started generating a buzz as more people have started to watch Tremaine Edmunds. He is a stout nose tackle at 6’3”, 325, but moves far better than his frame would indicate.

*Maurice Hurst (DT, Michigan) - Hust was one of my players to watch today, and he still is, but for much more important reasons than just the draft. He was discovered to have a “heart condition” in the medical exams and he won’t be going through the workout. Obviously his health and well-being is more important than a simple workout, and he is going for further testing. This isn’t the first time a player has had a potentially serious medical issue discovered in the Combine’s intense screening.

Events That Matter

*Note: These are the ones that matter for the linebacker group as well.

10 Yard Split - The 40-yard dash doesn’t matter much, but the 10-yard split can be very informative for defensive linemen and linebackers. This puts a number to just how good the prospect’s first step is and what kind of upside they might have as a pass rusher.

3-cone - Pass rushers and run defenders alike need lateral agility and flexibility to do their jobs at a high level. The 3-cone drill shows off which players have that quickness, bend, and balance to get past blockers and into the backfield.

Vertical Leap - This measures lower-body explosiveness, plain and simple. The more power a prospect is able to generate with their lower body, the better they will be able to deal with offensive linemen and explode off the snap.

Drills To Watch

Pass Rush Drill L & R

1. DL start the drill in a 3-point stance outside the stand-up dummy.

2. On command, DL performs a rip technique pass rush to both stand-up dummies and sprint down the line towards the designated cones.

3. This drill will be performed to the left and right.

This is probably the most important drill for defensive linemen. It shows off their ability accelerate and change direction while performing actual pass rush moves (ie: “swim” and “rip” moves), and simulates rushing from both sides. Pass rushers are among the most valuable defenders and this gives prospects the chance to show off their skills.

Punch & Hand Shiver Drill

1. DL will start the drill in a 3-point stance and to the left of dummies.

2. On command, DL will two-hand punch hand shield 1st, then hand shiver the butt of the step-over dummy 2nd, then repeat the two-hand punch, hand shiver, and finally a two-hand punch while moving to the right.

3. DL will repeat this process to the left after the last two-hand punch to the right.

4. DL will finish the drill with a 10-yard sprint downfield past the cones.

This drill will show off how much power and violence a lineman can generate at the point of attack. It will also expose how well they are able to move laterally and navigate the “trash” around the line of scrimmage.

Linebackers

Players To Watch

Tremaine Edmunds (Virginia Tech) - Edmunds is a physical freak and just 19 years old. He is expected to put on a show and could be in the conversation for the Giants’ pick at No. 2 overall.

Roquan Smith (Georgia) - Smith is the other candidate for best linebacker in the draft. He is undersized but is very athletic and instinctive. He will want to show off just how well he moves and convince teams that his pedestrian size is not an issue.

Lorenzo Carter (Georgia) - Carter has drawn comparisons to former Georgia linebacker Leonard Floyd. Floyd had a terrific combine and became a Top 10 pick. Carter will want to have a similar showing and could raise his stock into the second round.

Leighton Vander Esch (Boise State) - Vander Esch is a one-year wonder, so teams will want to see just how athletic he is and how well he moves in on-field drills.

Shaquem Griffin (UCF) - Griffin is the “feel good” story of the draft, but he is also an excellent football player and a great athlete. He will want put an exclamation point on his tape. He is also going to be doing defensive back drills tomorrow.

Skai Moore (South Carolina) - Moore has been, at times, one of the best linebackers in the country, but had to overcome a neck injury to return to the field. He was voted a permanent captain in college and was one of the nation’s best coverage linebackers. This is his opportunity to remind everyone just how good he is.

Drills To Watch

Pass Rush Drill L & R

1. LB sets up in a 2-point stance outside stand-up dummy.

2. Stand up dummy should be 4-5 yards away from the football.

3. LB performs swim technique on stand-up dummy and proceeds with pass rush on the Right side.

4. LB performs rip Ttechnique on stand-up dummy and proceeds with pass rush on the Left side.

This is important for the same reason as for the defensive linemen.

Back Pedal and React

1. LB will back pedal on coaches signal

2. Player will then break and move in the direction of the coaches signal

3. Player will finish the drill by intercepting the pass and accelerating to finish

Linebackers have more to do than just play downhill and rush the passer. Depending on their role and the situation they will also be counted on to drop in coverage and defend the middle of the field. This drill will expose which linebackers can play in space and which are strictly down-hill players.