Forget the 40: Jonathan Greenard Excelled at the NFL Combine

Zach Goodall

Don't fall in love with a prospect because of his numbers at the NFL Combine. Allow those numbers to validate what you see on tape. If you fall in love with a prospect on tape and their Combine results match or are even better than what's on film, then you might have yourself a legitimate player.

At least, that's what I tell myself ahead of scouting the NFL Draft.

One year ago, Jonathan Greenard was completely off of the NFL's radar. Seeing all but nine snaps during the 2018 season at Louisville from the bench, suffering a broken wrist in the season opener to begin his redshirt junior season. 

That, of course, led to Greenard's graduate transfer to Florida. After losing Jachai Polite to the NFL a year early, Florida needed, ironically and for a lack of a better term, a bandaid at the BUCK rush end position. And with one year of eligibility remaining and experience with defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, so long as he was healthy, Greenard was a perfect match.

10 sacks, 16 tackles for loss, 46 quarterback pressures (per PFF), four batted passes, and three forced fumbles later, Greenard is commanding the NFL's attention on tape.

And he only reiterated his worth by acing the NFL Combine.

The most important drills for edge rushers aren't the 40 yard dash or the bench press, though those are the drills that arguably get the most attention. What matters for edge rushers is their ability to bend and their explosiveness, which show up more in drills like the three-cone, shuttles, and jumps.

Arguably, the three-cone is the most important of them all, testing a pass rusher's explosion and bend within the same drill.

And from a size perspective, the average edge rusher at the NFL Combine (since 1999 and tracked through 2019) stood at 6-3.8", 266.5 lbs., with 33.6" arms. While rushers obviously need a frame big enough to hold up against NFL-caliber offensive linemen, length is what scouts look for most.

Jonathan Greenard checked these boxes.

On Wednesday at the Combine, Greenard stood at 6-3.4", 263 lbs., with 34.9" arms. While Greenard weighed in at just about average height and weight, he owns the 13th-longest arms among edge rushers at the NFL Combine since 1999.

Later on, when he got onto the field for athletic drills on Saturday, Greenard had himself a night. Greenard posted a 7.13-second three-cone and a 4.34-second 20 yard shuttle, good for second and third-best among defensive linemen at the Combine this year, respectively.

That three-cone time would rank in the 66th percentile among edge rushers as of last year’s Combine, and should rank even higher going forward considering Greenard’s was the second-best time. The same can be said about his 20 yard shuttle, which would place into the 75th percentile, per Mockdraftable's advanced search feature.

Greenard's broad jump was around average at 113", and while his 30.5" vertical isn't anything to brag about, it was still good for 15th-best among defensive linemen at the Combine this year. His 4.87 40 yard dash ranks 14th among his position group, as well. Greenard did not run the 60-yard long shuttle.

For comparison's sake, notable NFL pass rushers that finished between the 65th and 75th percentiles in at least one of the three-cone and 20-yard shuttle (at a similar size) include Chandler Jones of the Arizona Cardinals, Preston Smith of the Green Bay Packers, and Frank Clark of the Kansas City Chiefs. 

Those three edge rushers combined for 39 sacks in 2019, all of which posting at least eight sacks apiece.

Clark is, arguably, the closest comparison to Greenard of the three. At the Combine, Clark stood at 6-3, 271 lbs., 34.4" arms, with a 4.79 40 yard dash (1.7 10 yard split), 118" broad jump, and 7.08 three-cone. 

While Greenard posted a really good 20 yard shuttle, Clark's was one of the best ever at his position at 4.05 seconds, and his 38" vertical is in the 94th percentile. Though Clark gets the edge with dominant performances in those two drills, the rest of their test results are incredibly similar.

So, while Greenard didn't win the events that make the NFL Combine must-watch television, he did a fantastic job in the drills that carry weight as his position. Which is, obviously, far more important. 

With elite length and a great showing in the three-cone, following his 2019 campaign and among other positive results, it's hard to bet against Greenard as a continual draft riser at this point. 

Barring any further concerns over his previous injuries in college or an injury to pop up between now and April's NFL Draft, Greenard should be a second-round lock, at worst. And considering Greenard is a part of what is being considered a weaker edge class than some of the previous ones, he could get pushed even further up draft boards due to the importance of his position.

Forget about the 40 yard dash. Greenard excelled at the NFL Combine.

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