2018 NFL COmbine DL

2018 NFL Combine Preview: Defensive Front 7

The 2018 NFL Scouting Combine gets underway in full on Friday, March 2nd. Overall, each timed or on-field drill means something for each position. However, some drills mean more and some mean less.

Today we are going to break down the edge rushers, defensive linemen, and linebackers. We will look at the drills that relate to their positions at the Scouting Combine.

WHAT ARE WE LOOKING FOR AT THESE POSITIONS?

The athletic testing drills are a very important part for rating these defensive players.

What drills am I focusing on?

40-YARD DASH– Obviously looking for straight-line speed here. Is the receiver a deep threat or more of a possession-type? Also, check out the 10-yard split on the 40’s.

VERTICAL LEAP & BROAD JUMP – I lump these two together because they both test a player’s lower body explosiveness.

THREE-CONE DRILL – It is also known as the “L” drill. It tests a player’s lateral agility.

BENCH PRESS – Players do reps of 225 pounds. It measures functional strength. It doesn’t necessarily equate to being able to get off blockers, but it can show who at least puts in an effort.

I really enjoy watching the players run through the bag drills. It is a good indication of footwork and whether a player has acceptable feet or not. For the players that are undersized and are having to make the transition to standing up, the conversion drills are must-see TV.

For the players not fortunate enough to play in an All-Star game (mostly underclassmen), official measurements are key. Whether we as fans or analysts like it or not, each of the 32 NFL teams has certain criteria that a player must meet or they will not draft them. Whether it is a height threshold, a weight threshold, or a certain hand size, NFL teams will cross guys off if they don’t meet their numbers.

WHO IS PARTICIPATING THIS YEAR?

What do I consider an edge rusher? An edge rusher can be a 43 defensive end or a 34 outside linebacker. It can be anyone whose primary goal is to rush the quarterback.

N.C. St. DE Bradley Chubb

EDGE RUSHERS

Bradley Chubb, NC State

Arden Key, LSU

Harold Landry, Boston College

Sam Hubbard, Ohio State

Marcus Davenport, UTSA

Jeff Holland, Auburn

Kemoko Turay, Rutgers

Lorenzo Carter, Georgia

Hercules Mata’afa, Washington State

Tyquan Lewis, Ohio State

Josh Sweat, Florida State

Ogbannia Okoronkwo, Oklahoma

Uchenna Nwosu, Southern Cal

Duke Ejiofor, Wake Forest

Davin Bellamy, Georgia

Marquis Haynes, Mississippi

Dorance Armstrong, Jr, Kansas

Chad Thomas, Miami (FL)

Garret Dooley, Wisconsin

Kylie Fitts, Utah

Anthony Winbush, Ball State

Ja’Von Rolland-Jones, Arkansas State

Jacob Pugh, Florida State

Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, Toledo

Ade Aruna, Tulane

Darius Jackson, Jacksonville State

Peter Kalambayi, Stanford

James Hearns, Louisville

John Franklin-Myers, Stephen F. Austin

While I don’t think he is in the same class athletically with Jadeveon Clowney and Myles Garrett, Bradley Chubb is the class of this position group. Josh Sweat is the player with a lot of buzz. The rumor mill swirls with tales of him blowing the combine away. The weigh-in will be key for a guy like Anthony Winbush.

Two of the most talented edge rushers are Harold Landry and Arden Key. Landry has to prove he is healthy and Key has to prove his health both physically and mentally. Duke Ejiofor and Davin Bellamy both missed the Senior Bowl with injuries.

What do I consider a “defensive lineman”? This could be 4-3 defensive ends that don’t necessarily rush the passer. A 3-4 defensive end, a nose tackle, and a 4-3 defensive tackle would all fit this bill.

Washington NT Vita Vea

DEFENSIVE LINE

Vita Vea, Washington

DaRon Payne, Alabama

Derrick Nnadi, Florida State

Taven Bryan, Florida

Maurice Hurst, Michigan

Andrew Brown, Virginia

Tim Settle, Virginia Tech

Nathan Shepherd, Fort Hays State

Lowell Lotulelei, Utah

Harrison Phillips, Stanford

DaShawn Hand, Alabama

Kentavius Street, NC State

Rasheem Green, Southern Cal

Breeland Speaks, Mississippi

Deadrin Senat, South Florida

Trenton Thompson, Georgia

B.J. Hill, NC State

Justin Jones, NC State

Jalyn Holmes, Ohio State

John Atkins, Georgia

Bilal Nichols, Delaware

Taylor Stallworth, South Carolina

James Looney, Cal

R.J. McIntosh, Miami (FL)

Kendrick Norton, Miami (FL)

Folorunso Fatukasi, Uconn

Kahlil McKenzie, Tennessee

Bunmi Rotimi, Old Dominion

JoJo Wicker, Arizona State

Zaycoven Henderson, Texas A&M

Joshua Frazier, Alabama

Eddy Wilson, Purdue

Matt Dickerson, UCLA

Vita Vea should test very well. The player who will likely steal the show from this position is Kentavius Street. His freak show-esque workouts are legendary. The name that started to gain momentum at the Senior Bowl was Nathan Shepherd. Shepherd dominated in the two days he was in Mobile. I expect the Shepherd train to keep chugging along after Sunday.

Lowell Lotulelei has had his effort questioned by a few anonymous scout. So he has some damage control to do.

What do I consider a “linebacker”? Basically, this would include any linebacker that does not rush the passer on every down basis. The traditional MIKE would fit this bill. A weakside backer would also qualify.

Georgia LB Roquan Smith

LINEBACKERS

Roquan Smith, Georgia

Rashaan Evans, Alabama

Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech

Jerome Baker, Ohio State

Skai Moore, South Carolina

Malik Jefferson, Texas

Darius Leonard, South Carolina State

Tegray Scales, Indiana

Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State

Josey Jewell, Iowa

Micah Kiser, Virginia

Shaquem Griffin, UCF

Azeem Victor, Washington

Fred Warner, BYU

Dorian O’Daniel, Clemson

Oren Burks, Vanderbilt

Jack Cichy, Wisconsin

Genard Avery, Memphis

Nick DeLuca, North Dakota State

Shaun Dion Hamilton, Alabama

Mike McCray, Michigan

Jason Cabinda, Penn State

Kenny Young, UCLA

Matthew Thomas, Florida State

Christian Sam, Arizona State

Andre Smith, North Carolina

Joel Iyiegbuniwe, Western Kentucky

Chris Worley, Ohio State

Keishawn Bierria, Washington

Trevon Young, Louisville

Chris Covington, Indiana

Leon Jacobs, Wisconsin

How tall will Roquan Smith be? This may be the biggest question that is answered. Tremaine Edmunds and Malik Jefferson should test very well. I am very curious to see the testing numbers for guys like Leighton Vander Esch, Jerome Baker, and Fred Warner.

The medical check on Skai Moore will be crucial to see if there are any lingering effects from his neck injury that sidelined him in 2016. This will be another chance for Shaquem Griffin to prove doubters wrong.

Which of the players mentioned are you most looking forward to seeing take the field at Lucas Oil Stadium? Let us know in the comments below!

A reminder: The NFL Combine and Pro Days are only a small percentage of the evaluation. In fact, game tape is always the number one factor in prospect evaluation.

Next time we will preview the Combine Defensive Backs!

COMBINE QB PREVIEW

COMBINE RB PREVIEW

COMBINE WR/TE PREVIEW

COMBINE OL PREVIEW

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