INDIANAPOLIS -- On Monday, it was the defensive linemen and linebackers' turn to take the field at the NFL Scouting Combine. The performances on the field ranged from outstanding to awful.
LaMarr Houston/DT/Texas: Houston continues to fly up draft boards with exceptional performances. He ran his 40 in 4.85 after weighing in at 305 pounds. During drills, he stood out by displaying terrific movement skills and playing to his timed speed. Houston was considered a free agent prospect entering the season, but has since changed the way scouts view him. He could be selected as early as Round 3.
Everson Griffen/DE/USC: Griffen was one of the most athletic defenders on the field all day. He measured 6-foot-3½, 273 pounds then completed 32 reps on the bench press. Stop-watches in the stadium clocked him in the 4.65 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.
Thadeus Gibson/DE-OLB/Ohio State: Gibson also completed 32 reps on the bench after tipping the scales at 243. His 40 times ranged in the low-to-mid 4.7 area. Gibson really showed his stuff during the practice session. He was terrific in all the defensive line drills and looked incredibly athletic. Then, like many of the players who worked out this morning, Gibson was put through a battery of linebacker drills and was brilliant. There's little doubt that the college defensive end has the talent to make the immediate transition to outside linebacker in the NFL.
Earl Mitchell/DT/Arizona: Mitchell looked amazingly athletic for a defensive tackle who weighed in at 296. He was fast in the 40, twice breaking 4.75 seconds on stop watches, then practiced to that speed during drills. Mitchell was quick moving to the sidelines, displayed a burst in a straight line and was constantly applauded by coaches throughout the morning.
Arthur Moats/DE-OLB/James Madison: Moats did what every small-school prospect at the combine must do -- make scouts take notice. His 40 times in the mid-to-low 4.6 range were some of the fastest of the day. Moats looked even faster in practice and was another college defensive end who stood out when put through linebacker drills.
Ricky Sapp/DE-OLB/Clemson: We mentioned last week that Sapp was finally running on healthy knees and his performance here proved as much. Sapp arguably had the best workout at Lucas Oil Stadium. He ran his 40 times in the low 4.6 area and then showed incredible athleticism as he moved his 6-4, 252-pound frame around the field during drills.
Navorro Bowman/OLB/Penn State: The junior was incredibly fluid and quick on Monday. He ran solid 40 times of 4.7 but seemed much faster in drills. When asked to display his ball skills in coverage, Bowman looked more like a defensive back than linebacker.
Pat Angerer/LB/Iowa: Angerer ran faster than scouts expected and performed much better in drills than anyone could have imagined. His 40 times were in the high 4.6-area and Angerer looked terrific in pass coverage drills, dispelling the myth he's just a two-down defender.
Daryl Washington/OLB/TCU: Washington, one of the real winners from the Senior Bowl last month, again impressed scouts here in Indianapolis. He was one of the fastest linebackers of the day, with hand timings in the low 4.6s. Washington displayed incredible quickness and footwork in all the drills. He has cemented himself as a second-round selection.
Sean Weatherspoon/OLB/Missouri: Weatherspoon was impressive from start to finish. He completed 34 reps on the bench -- a total few defensive linemen beat. Weatherspoon then looked terrific in drills, moving with speed in all directions of the field.
Terrence Cody/DT/Alabama: It seems to go from bad to worse for Cody. He started off on the right foot, tipping the scales at 354, 20 less than his weight at the Senior Bowl last month. Cody's performance after that was abysmal. His 40 times barely got under 5.8 and he was slow from start to finish. During drills, he showed little explosion or athleticism and seemed to quickly wear down. Cody chose not to lift on the bench during the combine, which won't sit well with scouts.
Brandon Lang/DE/Troy State: Lang was touted as one of the best speed rushers in the 2010 draft prior to the season. He was slow on the field Monday, struggling to get under 5.0 in the 40 and was only able to complete 20 reps on the bench.
Vince Oghobaase/DT/Duke: Oghobaase struggled with injuries last season and it seems to have sapped him of quickness and explosion. He was slow in the 40 and could not get under 5.4. Oghobaase looked marginally athletic during drills. He's a dominant lineman at the top of his game, but has not been able to perform at that level for some time.
Greg Hardy/DE/Mississippi: NFL scouts handed Hardy the highest pre-season grade of any senior who took the field last season. He was expected to be a top-10 choice. Hardy will be lucky to be drafted in Round 2. On Monday, his spiral down draft boards continued, as Hardy began the day barely breaking 4.95 in the 40, then looked more like a late-round pick during the drills.
• Of the 39 defensive ends invited to the combine, all but five were asked to participate in linebacker drills on Monday. 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.
• There were some other notable performances from today's defensive line group that must be mentioned. Rahim Alem of LSU and Sergio Kindle of Texas ran in the low 4.7-range, while both Jerry Hughes of TCU and Carlos Dunlap of Florida were almost one-tenth faster in the mid-4.6 range. For Dunlap, whose known to have motivational issues, it further drives home the belief he does not always play up to his level of ability.
• Scouts question the speed of the top two inside linebackers in April's draft, but neither Rolando McClain nor Brandon Spikes ran at the combine on Monday. Both will wait until their pro day to run the 40. It was not a good decision for either prospect, especially Spikes, who participated in drills but did not look particularly effective.