Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports


Stock Report from Day Six of the NFL Scouting Combine: DL and LB Testing and Drills

Mar 1, 2020 at 4:56 PM0


Draft season technically kicks off when the all-star games come around (or when your favorite team is eliminated from playoff contention), but it kicks into high gear with the start of the NFL Scouting Combine. As the week progresses, we will take a look at players who may have made positive or negative impressions on teams by the end of each day. On Saturday, Defensive Linemen and Linebackers did agility testing and on-field drills. Because of a scheduling change that has moved position drills to evenings, the daily stock reports will post one day after the actual events.

DEFENSIVE ENDS

STOCK UP:

Jabari Zuniga, from Florida, posted a 4.64 40-yard dash and performed well in both jumps, demonstrating both speed and explosiveness. His effort might have lifted him up draft boards in a bad class of edge defenders.

NC State's James Smith-Williams had a disappointing college career due to injury. Solid production in his one healthy season (2018) had him poised to be a priority signing as an undrafted free agent. His week at the Combine showed that he matches the physical and athletic profile for an edge defender in the NFL. Running a 4.6-second 40, along with a 32" vertical jump and a 10'3" broad jump at 6'4", 265 pounds might have moved him into consideration on Day 3, in spite of his injuries.

Chase Young, the top prospect in the draft, did not participate in any testing, but the poor showing by the rest of his position group only increased his value as a prospect.

STOCK DOWN:

A.J. Epenesa, from Iowa, was originally billed as an Arik Armstead-type of prospect, with better technique as an edge rusher. While he ran about the same as Armstead, Epenesa is shorter, lighter, and considerably weaker than Armstead. Even in a weak edge defender class, Epenesa may have pushed himself into Day 2.

Bradley Anae, from Utah, was already perceived as more of a technician than an athlete, but his 4.92-second 40 and 31-inch vertical were pedestrian enough to create doubt that he could be as productive in the NFL as he was in the PAC 12.

Miami's Trevon Hill revealed some below average athleticism of his own. His 4.89-second 40 wasn't great, but his 28-inch vertical and 9'5" broad jump suggest minimal explosiveness and a poor get off.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

STOCK UP:

Khalil Davis, from Nebraska, took some hits earlier in the week for his short arms, but he scorched the 40-yard dash in 4.75 seconds, displaying the explosive acceleration that should allow him to give Guards fits.

Auburn's Derrick Brown entered the week as the consensus top-ranked Defensive Tackle. He started yesterday's testing with a respectable 5.16-second 40, then posted a disappointing 27-inch vertical and a disastrous 8.22-second 3-cone. He salvaged the day in on-field drills, showing light active feet and fluid change of direction, as well as explosively violent hands.

TCU's Ross Blacklock ran a 4.9 40 at 290 pounds and showed enough agility and bend in drills to suggest that he could develop the versatility to flex to the edge for a few snaps per game.

STOCK DOWN:

Rashard Lawrence II, from LSU, ran a 5.07-second 40, which is pretty good at 308 pounds. Unfortunately, his terrible 8.03-second 3-cone was confirmed by his poor pad level, stiff hips, and sluggish change of direction in drills. Lawrence still has decent get off and great power, but he's not the total athletic package teams are looking for with an early pick.

LINEBACKERS

STOCK UP:

Isaiah Simmons. My goodness. The Clemson Linebacker dominated testing on Saturday, with a 4.39-second 40, 39-inch vertical, and an 11-foot broad jump, all at 6'4" and 238 pounds. He grabbed attention earlier in the week by saying he could cover George Kittle, and everything he put out there yesterday suggested he could be up to the task.

Willie Gay Jr, from Mississippi State, was another athletic Linebacker whose testing shows he's athletically capable of defending passes in the NFL. His 4.46 40 and impressive on-field drills have to be reassuring for teams looking to pull the trigger on an off-ball Linebacker early in the draft.

Temple's Shaun Bradley looked like a natural in his coverage drops yesterday. He was smooth and sudden with his change of direction, and he ate up ground in a hurry, as his 4.51-second 40 would suggest.

Patrick Queen, from LSU, only got to run the 40 before his hamstring gave out, but the 4.50 he posted on that test confirmed the tremendous sideline to sideline speed he put on film late in the 2019 season. He didn't play a lot in college, but he did a lot with the few games he got in 2019, and a team should be excited to develop him.

STOCK DOWN:

Missouri's Cale Garrett ran a terrible 40 (4.92 seconds) at only 234 pounds, confirming the lack of speed that his tape suggested. He might still attract a team's attention as a 2-down thumper, but he doesn't really have the bulk for that role. His best path to a roster spot may be special teams.

David Woodward, from Utah State, is another undersized Linebacker who needed to run well on Saturday. While his 4.79-second 40 wasn't terrible, it was much slower than the many terrific times posted by this tremendously athletic position group.

Those are my impressions from Saturday at the Combine. See you tomorrow for some quick analysis of agility tests and on-field drills for Defensive Backs!

Next: Day 7 - DB Drills
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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