When the defenders take to the field for testing starting Sunday morning at the NFL Scouting Combine, there could be a number of eyebrows raised by the performances. From the time the defensive linemen step on the field until the defensive backs wrap things up on Monday, expect to see a few records broken.
1. Sunday could be all about defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche of Mississippi. I'm told he could run the 40-yard dash in under 4.7 seconds and a time in the low 4.6s is not out of the question. He has been as fast as the high 4.5s on occasion in training. Besides a very fast time in the 40, Nkemdiche's vertical jump will be 35 inches or better.
2. Virginia Tech's Dadi Nicholas will participate in both defensive line and linebacker drills and he's expected to be a top tester. His numbers should include a time in the 40-yard dash of somewhere near 4.55 seconds and a vertical jump near 40 inches.
3. Defensive end Jason Fanaika of Utah will tip the scales around 265 pounds then is expected to run the 40-yard dash in the high 4.6s.
4. Linebacker Travis Feeney of Washington is expected to run fast, in fact very fast. His 40 times will clock in the low 4.5s to high 4.4s. The bad news is medical red flags on shoulder issues which plagued Feeney throughout his college career are likely to be raised.
5. Mississippi State junior linebacker Beniquez Brown could be the big surprise on Sunday. He'll weigh just over 230 pounds, will time in the low 4.6s in the 40-yard dash and the low 7.0s in the 3-cone, marks significantly better than expected.
6. Miami cornerback Artie Burns could leave Indianapolis with the title of "Fastest Player at the Combine." I'm told at the worst his 40 times will be in the low 4.3-second range and it's very likely Burns breaks into the 4.2s.
7. Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves of Florida may not have the fastest 40 time (low 4.3s), but overall his testing marks will be off the charts and will include shuttle times that run sub 4.0-seconds and a 3-cone time under 7.0 seconds.
As the NFL Scouting Combine kicks off in Indianapolis, we have full coverage of the workouts here...
What They Said
"I think as a player if you don't believe that then there's kind of something wrong."- Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosaon whether he's the best player in the draft"It changed me a lot. I had to mature a lot earlier than some of my friends. At times, I had to take care of my younger brother. Trying to stay on him when he was having troubles in school. Just being able to do extra things that my dad used to do around the house that I had to pick up and do to help my mom out. She was working all day, all night. She was staying with my dad at the hospital when he was in a coma. All the little things I could have done to help my mom, really. It really helped me mature into the man I am today. My extended family was a lot of help to, helping me and my family in that devastating time."- Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckneron when his father, George, was in a coma for six months after a motorcycle accident"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion."- Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaveson Laquon Treadwell's comment that Hargreaves was not the best defensive back he faced in college"I see myself as a football player. I want the teams to decide for themselves. I feel like I can play any position. Me personally, I like being off the ball as a MIKE, WILL, SAM. I think I could play strong safety as kind of a Kam Chancellor-type of role. I feel like I could get the job done there."- UCLA do-it-all player Myles Jackon his role in the NFL"I feel linebackers are changing in the league, to be honest – a lot smaller. There aren't really too many bigger guys. The game is getting faster and you need guys to cover. You're starting to see that change a lot this year in the league."- Ohio State linebacker Darron Lee"I tell them the truth. It was a rash decision by me. Uncharacteristic. That's not who I am. That's not what I stand for. That's not what my family stands for. It was embarrassing for me and my whole family, the Ole Miss family. I tell them that's not the kind of player they're getting. They're getting a straight-forward player. I'm never going to return to that. I'm just moving forward and embracing this moment."- Ole Miss defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche on his off-field questions"We all have our demons, you know. It makes you the person that you are, the battles and trials that you go through. I wouldn't trade them for the world."- Baylor defensive end and Lansdowne, Pennsylvania native Shawn Oakman"It wasn't really an intimidation thing. I got into college and I was going bald. So it was time to shave. Growing a beard, people was ... I don't really smile too often so people were like, 'That dude looks old! He looks like he's about 40 years old!' So I just OK. I like it. So it's cool, looking old."- Alabama defensive lineman A'Shawn Robinson, who is 20 years old, on why he grew a beard"It's the NFL. There's a lot of knee injuries and guys come back and perform well. There's no doubt in my mind. It's just a matter of when I'll be healthy again."- Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith on his rehab from a knee injury suffered in the Fiesta Bowl