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Draft Risers And Sliders: DL And LB

Posted Feb 24, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS -- Monday marked the first appearance of the defenders on the field at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine as the linemen and linebackers worked out at Lucas Oil Stadium. It was one of the most anticipated days here in Indianapolis as three highly rated prospects displayed their skills for future employers.

STOCK ARROW POINTING UP

1. DL Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh: Donald continues to make a northern ascent up draft boards and once again exceeded the expectations placed on him. He started his Combine workout with 35 repetitions on the bench press then posted a superb 40-yard dash time of 4.67-seconds, including a swift 1.59-second 10-yard split. Donald was terrific during drills, which surprised no one. He effortlessly moved his 285-pound frame in every direction of the field and showed great power during bag drills.

2. LB C.J. Mosley, Alabama: Mosley did not run the 40-yard dash, but participated in position drills and showed why he's so highly rated. To say Mosley looked natural during all the drills is an understatement. As with all the linebackers who did well on Monday, Mosley looked terrific in coverage drills, effortlessly moving laterally and changing direction at a good pace.

3. DE/OLB Chris Smith, Arkansas: Smith's testing numbers were solid - 4.72 seconds in the 40-yard dash, 37 inches in the vertical jump, 10-foot-1 in the broad jump and 28 reps on the bench press. Linebacker drills were another area where he excelled. Even at 266 pounds, Smith was quick and fluid moving in reverse while showing a burst of straight line speed. Projected by most scouts as a 3-4 outside linebacker, Smith proved to have the goods.

4. LB Prince Shembo, Notre Dame: For most of his Notre Dame career Shembo lined up in a three-point stance. When used in space, it was primarily in the box or a small area. On Monday, he displayed the talent necessary to be a three-down defender. His 40-yard dash time of 4.71 seconds was better than expected and Shembo turned up the intensity during drills. He was quick footed over the bags, showed terrific punch with his hands and practiced with great balance. Shembo was one of the few linebackers to hold onto every pass thrown to him during coverage drills and surprised scouts with his overall talent.

5. LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, Boston College: Pierre-Louis quickly set the bar in the 40-yard dash with a time of 4.5 seconds, fastest of all the linebackers. He practiced to that speed during position drills displaying great quickness moving in every direction. Pierre-Louis really stood out in coverage drills, very important at 232 pounds he projects to weakside linebacker.

6. LB Avery Williamson, Kentucky: Williamson exceeded all expectations of him at the Combine. Stamped as a rookie free agent, two-down defender, he displayed surprising speed (4.65 seconds in the 40-yard dash), agility and looked natural in coverage drills. His ability to change direction quickly and easily caught scouts off-guard.

7. DE/OLB Howard Jones, Shepherd: Jones awed NFL decision makers with his physique, athleticism and future potential. The small-school prospect, who registered 35 career sacks in college, posted a 40-yard dash time right around 4.6 seconds, which included a solid 10-yard split of 1.68 seconds. He reached 40.5 inches in the vertical jump, the top mark from the defensive line class. Jones moved like a basketball player around the field during position drills and practiced to his 40-yard dash time. Though rough around the edges, he made scouts believe he has a great future at the next level.

8. DL Eathyn Manumaleuna, BYU: The wide-bodied (6-foot-2, 296 pounds) Manumaleuna proved the Combine is more than just 40-yard dash times and the vertical jump. He timed 5.16 seconds across the carpet of Lucas Oil Stadium and touched 28 inches in the vertical jump, but looked terrific in position drills, easily moving around the field and constantly receiving applause from coaches.

9. DL Zach Kerr, Delaware: Kerr, who looked terrific during Shrine week, tipped the scale at 325 pounds then posted a 40-yard dash time of 5.07 seconds with an admirable 10-yard split of 1.72 seconds. He moved well in position drills showing not just straight line speed, but lateral quickness and the ability to easily change direction.

10. DE/OLB Kasim Edebali, Boston College: Looking for a sleeper in the defensive front seven? Remember the German-born Edebali. The college defensive end showed incredible athleticism on the field, posting a 40-yard dash time under 4.7 seconds then performing well in position drills.

DRAFT STOCK SLIDING

1. DE/OLB IK Enemkpali, Louisiana Tech: The college defensive end weighed 261 pounds then ran slow in the 40-yard dash (5.00) and looked heavy-legged in the vertical jump (34 inches). Later in drills, Enemkpali looked tight, struggled changing direction and practiced with marginal quickness.

IT SHOULD BE NOTED

1. The top-rated linebackers in the 2014 NFL Draft, Anthony Barr of UCLA and Buffalo's Khalil Mack, both performed well. Mack was slightly better in testing, but Barr was incredibly smooth and balanced during drills. 

2. Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney posted some incredible testing marks including a 40-yard dash time of 4.53 seconds, a vertical jump of 37.5 inches and a 10-foot-4 broad jump. In between, however, Clowney decided to pick and choose which position drills to participate in. That left a bad taste in the mouths of NFL decision makers.

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