In a stacked defensive class, these defensive linemen, LBs boosted their stock at combine
- Myles Garrett showed everyone how good he is during his combine workout, but then again, we already knew that. Here's a look at some of the more under-the-radar defensive linemen and linebackers who helped themselves at the NFL combine.
INDIANAPOLIS — Myles Garrett may not be of this world. The Texas A&M superstar promised during his Saturday press conference that he would dominate the combine, and he delivered less than 24 hours later.
The numbers: A 4.64 40-yard dash (with a 1.63 10-yard split), a 41” vertical and a 10’ 8” broad jump, all at 272 lbs. He also notched 33 reps on the bench press, a number topped among the combine’s defensive lineman only by Auburn’s Carl Lawson (35).
Garrett should be the draft’s No. 1 pick.
But we have heard—and will continue to hear—an awful lot about him, as well as about guys like Jonathan Allen, Solomon Thomas and a handful of others expected to land in the top 20. There is a lot more to this defensive draft class than the big names at the top.
Here are 11 more players, currently expected to land in the middle of Round 1 or beyond, who helped themselves during Sunday’s combine workouts.
Charles Harris, Missouri: This is what a hybrid edge defender looks like. Harris (6’ 2”, 253) wasn’t as fast as, say Garrett, but his 4.84 and 4.82 40 times came with 1.65 and 1.66 10-yard splits, respectively. For players who mostly will be operating as pass rushers, split time is critical, because it helps measure an initial burst.
Where Harris was better than Garrett—and just about everyone else—on Sunday was during linebacker drills. He was extremely smooth dropping, changing directions and even catching the football. Teams with 3–4 defenses should have Harris locked in as one of their better edge options.
Trey Hendrickson, Florida Atlantic: Another hybrid DE/OLB prospect, Hendrickson continues to ride the wave he created with an impressive Shrine Game week. He was sub-4.7 in both of his 40-yard dash attempts (4.68 and 4.65)—on the second, he got out of the blocks with a blazing 1.59 10-yard split.
The former FAU Owl didn’t display quite the quickness of Harris in those coverage drills, but he didn’t look out of place in them, either. This was a very good showing for a prospect with Day 2 potential.
Carl Lawson, Auburn: This is such a loaded draft on the defensive side that worthy prospects are going to fall out of Round 1 simply because there’s not room for all of them. It’s growing difficult, though, to imagine the first day ending without Lawson’s name being called.
Strength? Check. As mentioned above, Lawson topped all defensive linemen and linebackers with 35 bench-press reps. (He’ll probably finish ahead of all the DBs, too, but they had not lifted as of Sunday morning.) Burst? Yep. He ran his second 40 in 4.68 seconds, with a 1.60 10-yard split.
Haason Reddick, Temple: Reddick played defensive end at Temple, so he worked out with the defensive linemen on Sunday. However, he’s an NFL linebacker—a versatile one that can provide some pass rush, but a linebacker nonetheless. In drills, he looked like an LB working out amongst D-linemen. His 4.52 40 time (with a 1.59 split) blew away most of the field, and he dropped an 11’ 1” broad jump and 36.5 vertical.
Jordan Willis, Kansas State: What a day for Willis, among the most surprising performances of the 2017 combine. Give him obvious plus marks for his 40 time (4.53, with a 1.58 split), his vertical (39”) and, most importantly, his change-of-direction abilities. His 6.85-second three-cone time was tops among defensive linemen and his 4.28-second short shuttle ranked third. That quickness showed up in the positional drills.
It was not always evident during Willis’s Kansas State career, so he stands to take one of the most meaningful leaps up on NFL draft boards.
He was a little clunky in the back pedal, but that won’t be where he survives in the NFL. The 10-yard split proves again how he can explode out of the chute.
Tarell Basham, Ohio: The Senior Bowl propelled Basham’s stock upward, and he maintained that momentum this week. Again, we’re talking about that 10-yard split—it was 1.61 seconds for the Ohio product, en route to a 4.70-second 40. That’s at 6’ 3” and almost 269 lbs. He carries that weight well, no matter which direction he’s headed. If there was a disappointing number this week, it was his bench press: 15, second-lowest of all defensive linemen to participate in that drill.
Duke Riley, LSU: A little overdue love on this site for Riley, who was another of the standouts during the Senior Bowl. Sunday, he posted the second-fastest linebacker 40 time, at 4.58, trailing only Jabrill Peppers’s 4.46—and Peppers is a safety who just happened to be working out with the linebackers. Riley added to that with a 10’ 2” broad jump and a 34.5” vertical. Those are all better marks than Riley’s former LSU teammate, Falcons rookie sensation Deion Jones, posted at the 2016 combine.
A couple of small negatives: Jones stumbled to the turf crossing over during the four-bag ability drill, then dropped an ”interception” coming forward at the end of his backpedal drill.
Larry Ogunjobi, Charlotte: Ogunjobi has not yet drawn the attention that other defensive linemen in this class have, but he has the look of a long-term productive NFL player. He is an athletic interior defender—how’s a sub-5.0 40 at 6’ 3”, 305 lbs. sound? The Charlotte product showed off more of his quick footwork during the bag drill (the same one on which Riley tripped himself up), navigating the obstacles with ease. Ogunjobi probably will be a late Day 2 or Day 3 pick that winds up earning playing time early in his career.
Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State: If an Ohio State linebacker that averaged 110.5 tackles the past two years can be overlooked a little, McMillan is that prospect. He has not carried the buzz of Reuben Foster, Zach Cunningham or even Reddick in recent weeks, through no fault of his own.
That all should change after Indianapolis. McMillan ran a 4.61 40, with a 33” vertical and a 10’ 1” vertical. Those numbers combined with his work in the positional drills should help alleviate concerns about how he’ll hold up in pass coverage. He deserved more credit than he had been getting in that regard anyway.
Tyus Bowser, Houston: Is this another name to remember for Round 1? Perhaps. Bare minimum, Bowser is a rock solid Day 2 prospect. The 6’ 3”, 247-pounder cranked out a 4.65-second 40, plus a 37.5” vertical and a 10’ 7” broad jump. Those linebacker footwork/coverage drills allowed him to show off a bit, too, because he just appeared so dang comfortable performing in them. He can drop and take on tight ends, which only adds to his value as an edge defender.