INDIANAPOLIS – Despite all the hype surrounding the quarterbacks and Kyler Murray of Oklahoma, it's the prospects from the defensive side of the ball who have NFL teams most excited. The defensive linemen and linebackers took to the field at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday and they did not disappoint. Here are the big winners from the day.
DE Montez Sweat, Mississippi State: During Saturday's Journey to the Draft podcast, I mentioned Sweat was expected to test through the roof and he did exactly that. Sweat's numbers were off the charts as he timed 4.41 seconds in the 40, touched 36 inches in the vertical jump, 125 inches in the broad jump and, timed an extraordinarily fast 7.0 seconds flat in the 3-cone drill. His 21 reps on the bench press was a good number considering his arms measured 35 3/4 inches long. Already graded as one of the top five pass rushers in this draft, Sweat has moved into the first half of Round 1.
DT Quinnen Williams, Alabama: Williams, whom I graded as the top prospect in this year's draft, proved he's not only a great football player, but a sensational athlete as well. The big defensive tackle weighed 303 pounds then timed 4.83 seconds in the 40 with a 10-yard split of 1.67 seconds, one of a handful of players at his position to get under 1.70 seconds. Williams looked quick and explosive during drills, though he struggled with his footing and did a bit of slipping. Regardless, Williams is a good player now with potential greatness for the future.
DE Nick Bosa, Ohio State: Three years ago people questioned Joey Bosa after some disappointing results at the Combine. That's not going to happen to his little brother, Nick, this year. The Ohio State junior timed 4.79 seconds in the 40, 4.14 seconds in the short shuttle, and 7.1 seconds during the 3-cone. His effort and results during position drills was top notch as Bosa went through the drills with great pad level and used his hands exceedingly well. Bosa is destined to be a top-three pick in April, which comes as no surprise.
LB Devon White, LSU: Considered a top-12 pick in the draft, White met the exceedingly high expectations placed on him at the Combine. He timed 4.42 seconds in the 40, faster than most of the receivers, and touched 39.5 inches in the vertical jump. He translated that athleticism onto the field in position drills. White is the best pure linebacker in this draft.
LB Devin Bush, Michigan: Bush was incredible during the testing phase of the Combine, timing 4.43 seconds in the 40, touching 40.5 inches in the vertical, and 124 inches in the broad jump. He looked equally effective during position drills, especially moving in reverse. That's incredibly important for Bush, who's known more as a downhill linebacker.
DT Trysten Hill, Central Florida: Hill's testing numbers were solid and included a 40 time of 5.04 seconds as well as 28 reps on the bench press. His position work was off the charts as Hill was smooth, fluid, and very quick in every exercise. He easily moved in reverse, quickly changed direction, and showed speed in both a straight line as well as laterally. Hill was mentioned as a possible second-day pick before the Combine and as he leaves Indianapolis it's safe to say he's cemented himself as a top-75 selection.
DL Rashan Gary, Michigan: Gary was the fastest defensive lineman not classified as an edge rusher, despite the fact he's a disruptive force up the field. He timed 4.58 seconds at 277 pounds after completing 26 reps on the bench press with arms that measured over 34 inches. Some question Gary's production last season despite the fact he struggled through the year with a shoulder injury. He has great potential and in time will be a terrific pro.
EDGE/OLB Justin Hollins, Oregon: Hollins, who took a back seat to Jalen Jelks despite outplaying him last season, once again bettered his teammate. He timed 4.51 seconds in the 40, touched 36.5 inches in the vertical jump, as well as 117 inches in the broad jump. Hollins looked equally athletic during position drills and has solidified himself as a middle-round draft pick.
Tony Pauline has covered the NFL Draft for over 20 years and is one of the preeminent draft insiders. His work can be found on _DraftAnalyst.com_ and _@TonyPauline_ on Twitter.