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NFL Combine: Scouting the Defensive Linemen

Posted Feb 24, 2014

An in-depth analysis of the defensive linemen who worked out at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Ricky Henne’s Take:All eyes were on two players mainly – Jadeveon Clowney and Michael Sam.  Clowney opted not to perform in any of the football field drills, but his metric testing was outstanding.  His 40-yard dash time of 4.53 was higher than many running backs and wide receivers.  He also jumped a ridiculous 37.5 in the vertical jump and 124.0 in the broad jump.  There’s little doubt that Clowney will hear his name very early in May, and he has more than a legit chance to be the first player selected overall.  Meanwhile, Sam didn’t exactly set the world on fire but performed relatively as expected.  According to analysts chatting within the walls at Lucas Oil Stadium, his day seemingly confirmed that he is more of a straight-ahead pass rusher. He ran a 4.91, which just edged out his college teammate Kony Ealy, who is another big time player that ran a 4.92.  Some interior prospects that caught my eye included Aaron Donald, Ra’Shede Hageman, Timmy Jernigan and Louis Nix.  I’ve heard that this year’s draft is incredibly deep at defensive tackle, and these young men in particular proved it.  At 331 pounds, no one expected Nix to blow them away in the 40-yard sprint. But he had great burst at the beginning of the run, and he showed on the field why many feel he is the top defensive tackle available.  Of the four interior players I mentioned, I knew the least about Hageman.  He stood out to me as a broad shouldered 6-5, 310-pound athlete who could be disruptive. Unfortunately, pass-rusher Dee Ford was held out of participating due to a medical precaution regarding a lower back issue.  Still, he plans on performing all the drills at his pro day in early March.

Jordan Beane’s Take: After two days of the offense on the field it was finally the defense’s turn here at Lucas Oil Stadium. It was also finally South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney's turn to show the NFL world if all the hype surrounding him was worth it. With all eyes on the stud defensive lineman, all Clowney did was run a 4.53 official forty, the fifth-fastest time for a defensive lineman since 2006. That was faster than any quarterback ran the forty and faster than all but one tight end. Oh, and his unofficial time was 4.47, which would have been the sixth-fastest time among running backs. Let me repeat, sixth-fastest among RUNNING BACKS.  At 6-5, 266 pounds, Clowney’s physical gifts were clearly on display here at the Circle City. Even though he held out of agility drills, his showing in terms of straight line speed only further solidified his standing as one of the most intriguing defensive talents to enter the draft in years.

Another potential first rounder that showed off his jets was former Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Donald had impressed scouts at the Senior Bowl in Alabama and did so again here in Indy, where the big fella (he checks in at 6-feet, 304 pounds) showed off his athleticism with a 4.68 forty time. That combination of size and speed makes it easy to understand why teams are so high on him.




40-Yard Dash

1 Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina– 4.53
2. Larry Webster, Bloomsburg – 4.58
3. Howard Jones, Shepherd – 4.60
4. Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas – 4.63
T-5. Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh – 4.68
T-5. Marcus Smith, Louisville – 4.68

Bench Press

1. Kaleb Ramsey, Boston College – 36
2. Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh – 35
T-3. Ryan Carrethers, Arkansas State – 32
T-3. Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota – 32
T-3. Robert Thomas, Arkansas – 32

Vertical Jump

1. Howard Jones, Shephard – 40.5 inches
2. Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina – 37.5 inches
T-3. James Gayle, Virginia Tech – 37.0 inches
T-3. Chris Smith, Arkansas – 37.0 inches
5. Larry Webster, Bloomsburg – 36.5

Broad Jump

1. Kareem Martin, UNC – 129.0 inches
T-2. Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina  – 124.0 inches
T-2. Howard Jones, Shephard – 124.0 inches
T-4. Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas – 123.0 inches
T-4. Zach Moore, Concordia (MN) –123.0 inches
T-4. Larry Webster, Bloomsburg – 123.0 inches

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