2013 NFL Draft defense position rankings, post-combine
The 2013 NFL Draft scouting combine is in the books.
Next up for the NFL: Pro Days and free agency, before the draft opens on April 25. Earlier Tuesday, I offered a glimpse at my post-combine positional rankings on the offensive side of the ball. Now, it's time to hit the defense.
Each position includes a top-five ranking, plus one rising and one falling player from outside that upper-echelon group.
1. Sharrif Floyd, Florida
2. Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
3. Star Lotulelei, Utah
4. Sylvester Williams, North Carolina
5. Jesse Williams, Alabama
The big news here is that Lotulelei was unable to work out after an echocardiogram uncovered a heart condition that will require further tests. Floyd and Richardson, meanwhile, continue to impress scouts -- both could wind up in the top 10.
Rising: Akeem Spence, Illinois.
Spence measured in at just 6-foot-0, though he did hit 307 on the scale. More than those numbers, though, he hit 37 reps in the bench press and performed well during positional drills. He's probably a Day 2 pick at this point.
Falling: Jonathan Hankins, Ohio State.
In reality, Hankins' stock probably held mostly steady this weekend. But he did skip the bench press -- he'll do it at Ohio State's Pro Day in March -- and was near the bottom of the DT list in the 40-yard-dash, broad jump and vertical jump.
1. Dion Jordan, Oregon
2. Ziggy Ansah, BYU
3. Bjoern Werner, Florida State
4. Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
5. Datone Jones, UCLA
Things get a little tricky at the next few spots, because there are several guys that could be either DEs or outside linebackers, plus several more than could play multiple LB positions. So Jordan very well could wind up as a rush linebacker. Ansah continues to climb the charts. He did just about everything scouts could ask during drills Monday.
Rising: Margus Hunt, SMU.
Hunt is a towering 6-foot-8 ... and he did 38 reps on the bench press. That's astonishing. Hunt also said that he believes he can put on a good 20 pounds (he weighed in at 277), so the sky might be the limit there.
Falling: William Gholston, Michigan State.
Did Gholston do anything especially poorly? No. He also did not do anything particularly well, finishing 23rd among defensive linemen in the 40 (4.97 seconds) and landing in similar position on other drills. For a player who lives and dies on his athleticism, that's not good enough.
1. Jarvis Jones, Georgia
2. Barkevious Mingo, LSU
3. Chase Thomas, Stanford
4. Khaseem Greene, Rutgers
5. Sio Moore, UConn
Again, this is mix-and-match from a positional standpoint. Jones chose not to work out in Indy, while Mingo suited up with the defensive linemen. Keep an eye on Moore, who looked like a guy capable of doing some work in coverage, though his 7.49 three-cone time was underwhelming.
Rising: Cornelius Washington, Georgia.
A silly combination of marks for the 6-4, 265 Washington: 4.55 40, 36 bench-press reps and a 39-inch vertical. There's no doubt he is an athlete. The problem for Washington is that he sizes up as a bit of a tweener, stuck between being an end and an OLB. Southern Mississippi's Jamie Collins had a big weekend, too.
Falling: Keith Pough, Howard.
Pough put himself on the map by showing well at the Shrine Game. However, his 4.9 40 time was among the slowest for all of the combine's linebackers, and he did himself no favors with just 17 bench reps.
1. Alec Ogletree, Georgia
2. Arthur Brown, Kansas State
3. Kevin Minter, LSU
4. Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
5. Kiko Alonso, Oregon
Brown very well could wind up outside -- he's probably a better fit there than at this spot anyway. All eyes were on Te'o here, of course, and he mostly disappointed on the field, though he's always been better in action than as a true athlete. Minter barely edged him out in the 40.
Rising: Kevin Reddick, North Carolina.
Reddick's combine effort did not really jump off the page, except for one number: a 1.57 10-yard split in the 40-yard dash. Though a lot of focus falls on the 40 times, that split is critical for NFL scouts, because it shows off a player's explosiveness. Only Jamie Collins fared better there.
Falling: A.J. Klein, Iowa State.
Klein had the look of a mid-round linebacker, aided by a solid 4.66 40. All that changed when he tumbled during a drill, reportedly after suffering a serious knee injury.
1. Dee Milliner, Alabama
2. Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
3. Desmond Trufant, Washington
4. Jamar Taylor, Boise State
5. Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
Milliner's official 40 time landed at 4.37 (up from its original 4.31 spot). Either way, he likely convinced teams to erase "Does not have elite speed" from his negatives column. Trufant and Taylor both posted 4.39, while the latter really had a terrific Tuesday in drills. On the flip side, Banks' 4.61 is horribly disappointing for a potential first-round pick.
Rising: Darius Slay, Mississippi State.
Based on his position-best 4.37 40 alone, Slay will garner some extra attention in the film room in coming days. He is not in Milliner's class, for example, but he has the potential to be a very solid NFL starter. David Amerson, with a 4.44 time, helped his case, too.
Falling: Logan Ryan, Rutgers.
All in all, the cornerbacks appeared to fare well in their drills. Ryan's combine was far from disastrous, either, but his 4.56 40 and 32.5-inch vertical (one of the day's lowest) did not make him look like a top-five player at the position.
1. Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
2. Matt Elam, Florida
3. Eric Reid, LSU
4. Jonathan Cyprien, Florida International
5. D.J. Swearinger, South Carolina
The safety group is extremely deep, filled with guys like Cyprien who can play either free or strong safety. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see Cyprien at the combine, as he was dealing with a hamstring injury. Elam's 40 time (4.54) definitely stands as acceptable for a player trying to solidify his standing near the top of this class.
Rising: Shamarko Thomas, Syracuse.
Thomas' 4.42 40 was better than any other safety's time, and he topped the list on the bench press as well (28). He's a strong, athletic safety -- proving that at the combine could rocket him up boards.
Falling: Zeke Motta, Notre Dame. Similar to his teammate Manti Te'o, in that he'll play better than he tests, Motta more or less bombed the scored drills. He did the fewest bench-press reps of any safety (11), then turned in a staggeringly slow 40 time (4.83). He needs to find an exact right fit in the NFL or he could flop.