The Combine took a decidedly defensive tone Monday morning as defensive tackles, defensive end and linebackers took to the field here at Lucas Oil Stadium for their job interviews in front of NFL decision makers. For the most part, the performance of the linemen was very good but there was also some that were very ugly.
Here's a look at Monday's workout from inside the Combine.
The Combine workout of Terrence Cody will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. He started off on the right foot, tipping the scales at 354-pounds, 20 less then his weight at the Senior Bowl last month. Things then got downright ugly. His 40 times barely got under 5.8-seconds and during the drills he showed little athleticism. Once considered a first round pick, Cody will be lucky to be chosen before the 45th selection of the draft.
Cody aside, there were several players who really helped themselves.
LaMarr Houston of Texas was considered a free agent prospect entering the season but has since changed that opinion. Houston has been flying up draft boards since September and further helped his cause on Monday. Stopwatches read 4.85 seconds after both 40-yard sprints and Houston looked very athletic during his Combine workout. Prior to the season, scouts listed Houston as just over 280 pounds. Here, he tipped the scales at 305 pounds. Houston could be selected in the late part of round two.
Another big man moving up boards is Cam Thomas of North Carolina.
Thomas weighed in at 331 pounds but moved about the field during drills as someone 25 pounds lighter. He did admirable in the strength test as Thomas completed 31 reps on the bench. He's another that defensive tackle headed for round two.
Earl Mitchell looked amazingly athletic for a defensive tackle who weighed in at 296 pounds. He was fast in the 40, twice breaking 4.75 seconds on stop watches, then practiced to that speed during drills. More of a conventional, one-gap lineman, Mitchell is likely to be a surprise pick in round three.
Several defensive ends also stood out on Monday including Everson Griffen, who was one of the most athletic defenders on the field all day. He measured 6-3.5 and 273 pounds then completed 32 reps on the bench press. Stopwatches in the stadium clocked him in the 4.65-second range both times he ran the 40. During the position drills Griffen looked incredibly smooth and explosive. From an athletic point of view, he grades out as a top-45 pick in the draft.
Carlos Dunlap of Florida was another who turned heads today.
Dunlap was fast, clocking as low as 4.65-seconds in the 40 on a number of watches. Considering he measured 6-5.5 and 277 pounds on Sunday, his 40-time was pretty amazing. Dunlap later looked terrific in drills and was very athletic moving about the field. He has all the makings of a being an impact defensive player yet is missing one important ingredient - motivation.
Dunlap is known to play down to his level of competition and has a motor he turns on and off with regularity. Too bad as this potential top-10 pick, already labeled an underachiever, will fall into the late part of round one.
Of the 39 defensive ends invited to the combine all but five were asked to participate in linebacker drills today. This is indicative of not only the changing defenses around the league which has been employing more zone blitzes besides 3-4 alignments, but also of the talent in this year's group of ends. Most of the prospects are undersized college pass rushers likely to stand up over tackle in the NFL.
Several smaller one-gap type of linebackers stood out on Monday including Daryl Washington of TCU and Missouri's Sean Weathersppon. Both ran their 40's in the 4.6-area and looked terrific in drills.
Check out my big board over at Sports Illustrated and get even more Combine insights at DraftInsider.net.
-- Posted by Tony Pauline, 6:51 a.m., March 2