INDIANAPOLIS - The NFL Scouting Combine got nastier on Sunday as the defensive linemen and linebackers took the field at Lucas Oil Stadium. It was an impressive looking group of front seven defenders and there were a number of jaw-dropping performances.
LB Shaquem Griffin: Griffin was brilliant on Sunday, timing 4.39 seconds in the 40-yard dash. To put that in perspective only two players have run faster during three days of workouts and both of them were receivers. Griffin translated that speed into position drills and was fast laterally as well as up the field. For a guy who received a last-minute invitation to the combine, Griffin really made a statement.
DE Bradley Chubb: If Saquon Barkley proved he was the best player in the draft after Friday's workout, Chubb made the case he's right there with the running back. Chubb turned in an immense workout timing 4.65 seconds in the 40-yard dash after weighing 269 pounds as well as completing 24 reps on the bench with arms that measured 34 inches. Chubb looked explosive and powerful during defensive line drills and incredibly athletic during linebacker exercises. He put everyone on notice he's worth selecting at the top of the draft.
DT B.J. Hill: If there was a "wow" workout from the defensive tackle group, it belonged to Chubb's teammate B.J. Hill. He completed 35 reps on the bench press then timed under 5.0 seconds in the 40, with some watches reading 4.95 seconds. Hill easily moved his 311-pound frame about the field during position drills and looked very athletic. His upside is enormous and Hill has starting potential if he plays to his ability on an every-down basis.
DT Da'Ron Payne: Many fans are surprised that I rank Payne as the third-best player in this year's draft but after Sunday they may understand why. Payne completed 29 reps on the bench press then timed 4.95 seconds in the 40, which included a super-quick 10-yard split of 1.69. Payne looked incredibly athletic during drills showing a quick change of direction and a burst of speed. Payne is a natural 4-3 defensive tackle and does more than just occupy gaps. He can rush the passer or make plays on the ball.
DE/LB Marcus Davenport: Davenport continues to ascend up draft boards and his combine workout was another piece to the puzzle. The pass rusher timed 4.57 seconds in the 40, second best in the defensive line group, then looked incredibly athletic during position drills. Davenport showed a nice degree of power running through defensive line drills and was smooth in coverage drills when asked to drop as a linebacker.
LB Lorenzo Carter: Carter displayed impressive speed and was much faster than anyone expected. His 40 time of 4.46 seconds is more than a tenth of a second better than what scouts previously estimated. There was concern Carter may be a scheme-limited linebacker who would only be effective in a 3-4 alignment but his combine speed changes that narrative.
DE/LB Harold Landry: Landry entered the season graded far and away the top senior prospect in the nation. However, he dropped down boards after an uninspired, injury-laden campaign. Landry started righting the ship here at the combine, timing 4.64 seconds at 252 pounds after he had completed 24 reps on the bench press. Landry later looked very good in both defensive line and linebacker drills.
DT Vita Vea: Vea put on a clinic in testing before tweaking a hamstring and sitting out position drills. After weighing in at 347 pounds, he put up 41 reps on the bench press then ran 5.11 seconds in the 40, including a solid 10-yard split of 1.74 seconds.
LB Marquis Haynes: Haynes, one of the more underrated linebackers in the draft who shined during the Senior Bowl, turned in a terrific combine workout. He completed 23 reps on the bench press then timed 4.63 seconds in the 40. Haynes looked athletic during position drills and displayed the ability to rush the passer or play in space at Mississippi.
- Tony Pauline
- When we talk about numbers it's tough to not start with Griffin, whose inspirational story has touched everyone across the NFL landscape. His workout this weekend was exceptional. For some historical significance, let's start with his 40-yard dash. An unofficial 40-yard dash time (hand-timed) has only been run by two linebackers drafted in the last 10 years - Ryan Shazier and Deion Jones. Jones ran his at 222 pounds, five lighter than Griffin, while Shazier ran his at 237 and ended up going in the first round. Griffin's laser-timed "official" 40-yard dash run of 4.38 seconds was the highest of any linebacker taken during that span.
- A lot of attention has been paid toward Griffin and his 40-time, and for good reason, but let's not forget some of the other impressive numbers. Namely, Leon Jacobs' (4.49 seconds at 246 pounds), Tremaine Edmunds' (4.55 at 253 pounds), Roquan Smith's (4.52 at 236 pounds), Malik Jefferson's (4.53 at 236 pounds), and Jerome Baker's (4.53 at 229 pounds). If you looked at all of those times through the prism of ESPN's Speed Score, they would rank in the 90th percentile or above of all linebackers drafted since 2007.
- Many analysts will point to the 3-cone drill as the premier test for projecting success in edge rushers, and the prospects who posted the most impressive numbers at that position were Sam Hubbard (6.84 seconds at 270 pounds), Kylie Fitts (6.88 at 263 pounds), Harold Landry (6.88 at 252 pounds). Those are all great numbers for guys at their size off the edge.
- Fran Duffy