2015 NFL Combine Recap – Defense

The NFL Combine has now come and gone and it is time to start recapping it. We already started here at Over The Grill by analyzing the offensive positions and how the prospects helped or hurt their stock. The past two days has seen the defensive players perform at the Combine and some truly remarkable performances happened. After the jump we will breakdown the defensive line, linebackers, and secondary prospects that stood out. If you would like to see how this has effected mock drafts, check out our Mock Draft Page. Also, check out our Scouting Reports Page to find out what we think about certain prospects.

Defensive Line: 

We might as well begin with this year’s top prospect on the defensive line, Leonard Williams out of USC. Williams came into the Combine as a projected top five pick and his performance both athletically and in the field drills confirmed that is what will happen in April. Danny Shelton out of Washington displayed impressive strength and great footwork and technique in the field drills and could be a top ten pick now in the draft. As long as he can stay in shape, he will be a dominant force in the NFL. One prospect who disappointed was Utah defensive end Nate Orchard. He showed that he does not have the athletic ability to play outside linebacker in the NFL and I believe that his lack of versatility will hurt his stock. He is likely to go on the second day of the NFL Draft due to this lack of versatility and overall athleticism. Finally, one other defensive linemen who blew me away was Kentucky’s Alvin Dupree. His combination of size, strength, speed, and athleticism means he can play either 4-3 defensive end or 3-4 outside linebacker at a high level and he is likely going to be a top fifteen pick come April. I believe he is a Lamaar Woodley clone and that if placed in a 3-4, he will thrive as he learns the position.

Linebackers: 

Vic Beasley showed up at Indianapolis with tons of questions about whether or not he was strong enough to play in the NFL. Well, he put all of those to rest when he weighed in at 246 pounds and showed that the added weight did not effect his athleticism, by running a 4.53 40 and dominating in the field drills. Beasley is a perfect 3-4 outside linebacker candidate and he will come in and be able to play right away. He is cemented as a first round pick and could go as high as the top 15 if the board falls out right. Likewise, uber athletic defensive end/outside linebacker prospects Dante Fowler Jr out of Florida and Randy Gregory out of Nebraska also had impressive Combine performances, but neither of those were unexpected. Both will likely go in the top ten come April due to their elite athleticism and explosive first steps. In terms of non pass rushing linebackers, Eric Kendricks out of UCLA was the top performer in my opinion and he did a lot to close the gap between himself and Miami’s Denzel Perryman for who should be the first non rush linebacker off the board. Kendricks showed great athleticism and was very good in the field drills. On the other hand, Denzel Perryman himself did not have a good day at the Combine, although that was expected as he is not touted as a great athlete. It will certainly be interesting to see who goes first between the two, although I see them both going in the first round.

Defensive Backs:

We are going to begin this with the star of the Combine, Byron Jones out of Connecticut. Jones broke the world record on the broad jump when he put up 12 feet 3 inches. He also had a 44.5 inch vertical and did enough in the field drills to cement himself as a second or third round pick. Consensus top corner Trae Waynes had a good Combine, showing blazing speed and athleticism, although his lack of lower body strength continues to be a concern of mine. An under the radar corner who impressed me was Ronald Darby out of Florida State. He performed as expected in the 40, running a 4.38 but really impressed me with his technique in the field drills. He is in the discussion for second corner in the class now and could go in the first round if he fits that description. However, his teammate P.J. Williams disappointed, showing less than expected athleticism and sloppiness in the field drills. He likely won’t be picked until the second or third round now. Finally, Jalen Collins out of LSU did enough to cement himself as a first round pick, as scouts love his combination of length and athleticism combined with his work ethic.

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