Live from the NFL combine: News, updates, 40 times, rumors, more from Indianapolis

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John Ross runs fastest 40-yard dash ever at NFL Combine

Myles Garrett said on Saturday that he believes he's the best player in the 2017 NFL draft, and that he'd prove that this weekend. He is a man of his word, as he ran a faster 40 than some of the top quarterbacks in this year's draft class, and put up a vertical of 41. His performance was one of the standouts from Sunday's combine action, which includes DL/LB workouts and DB media sessions. Check back here throughout the day for the latest happenings. 

In a stacked defensive class, these defensive linemen, LBs boosted their stock at combine

Sunday March 5th, 2017

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.

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Watch: Myles Garrett posting monster numbers at the NFL combine with his 40 and vertical

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.

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Live from the NFL combine: News, updates, 40 times, rumors, more from Indianapolis

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.

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His combine process is jumbled, but it's clear to Jabrill Peppers what position he should play

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.

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2017 NFL draft rankings: Top prospects by position

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.

Watch: Myles Garrett posting monster numbers at the NFL combine with his 40 and vertical

Sunday March 5th, 2017

Texas A&M pass rusher Myles Garrett is wowing scouts at the NFL Combine.

Garrett clocked a 4.64 for the 40-yard dash unofficially on Sunday morning. If the time is confirmed, Garrett ran faster than the top quarterbacks in this year's draft class.

Garrett also put up a vertical of 41, which puts him in the 97th percentile among edge rushers since 1999, according to Ethan Young, a Pro Scout for Bleacher Report. The vertical also matches that of 2016 sack leader Vic Beasley.

His vertical is the best by a defensive lineman since 2006. 

Watch his vertical jump below:

Garrett also recorded 33 reps on the 225-pound bench press.

His combine process is jumbled, but it's clear to Jabrill Peppers what position he should play

Sunday March 5th, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS — ”I don’t have a lot of tape at safety,” Jabrill Peppers said Saturday, ”but I’m a pretty damn good safety.”

The NFL, for the most part, will have to take his word for it.

Peppers played linebacker for Michigan last season, after splitting the 2015 season between safety and a nickel-corner role. A permanent move to safety is the anticipated transition coming for Peppers once he hits the next level.

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Combine weigh-in takeaways: Jabrill Peppers's NFL role becomes a little clearer

As Peppers said, though, there is limited recent evidence that he can play that position. So, people have spent this week—and many more weeks in the run-up to the combine—talking about Peppers like he’s an alien visitor from another planet. ”What is he? What can he do? Can he learn?”

He will try to clear up a few things at the combine, although even that process has been a little jumbled. Peppers is listed as a linebacker here (wearing the No. 24, by the way, in case you’re buying into any of those Peppers-Charles Woodson comparisons). He will run with the linebackers Sunday, but work out with the defensive backs Monday.

”Well I was informed that since I was listed as a linebacker in college, that I had to only work out with the linebackers, so they were just gonna make me do linebacker stuff,” Pepper said. ”So I asked if there was somehow, some way I could do the DB work, because that’s what I was doing all off-season and leading up to the combine.

”And I told my agents that and they made it happen, and they said the only way I can do it is if I do both. I was like, that’s easy. That’s no problem at all.”

(A note: This is a bit of a strange and arbitrary stance for the NFL to take. Greg Ward Jr., for example, was listed as a wide receiver at the combine despite playing quarterback throughout his college career.)

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WR John Ross dazzles with an electrifying, record-breaking display at NFL combine

Michigan had depth in the secondary last season: potential first-round pick Jourdan Lewis and Channing Stribling at cornerback, Dymonte Thomas and Delano Hill at safety—all four could be drafted in April, with Lewis a potential top-50 pick. The Wolverines were less well off at linebacker, so Peppers shifted to a SAM linebacker spot in defensive coordinator Don Brown’s scheme.

”You don’t have to substitute,” Brown told USA Today in October of one advantage of Peppers in that role. ”You can play with your regular personnel, and he can play multiple positions. … If he hadn’t been here, we’d have to play a big guy and a nickel. He’s all wrapped up into one, he can do all of those things.”

The position switch allowed Michigan to maximize the defensive talent it had on the field. It didn’t do many favors for Peppers’s NFL projection.

”I tell [NFL teams] my natural position is definitely in the defensive backfield,” Peppers said. ”I had to fill a void this year because it was best for the team, and if I had to do it all over again, I would. ... My mindset was whatever I had to do, I’m gonna do it to the best of my ability and try to make plays when I can. I think that’s what I did and that’s what I’m gonna continue to do.”

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Reuben Foster's Alabama teammates react to the LB's dismissal from NFL combine

On that playmaking: Peppers finished last season with 66 tackles, including 13 for loss and 3.0 sacks, but he picked off just one career pass—it came in his final game, at Ohio State. (Peppers sat out Michigan’s Orange Bowl loss with a hamstring injury.)

Which is another topic of conversation. Some of Peppers’s most impressive splash plays last season came on offense and as a return man. Were the lack of momentum-shifting moments on defense Peppers’s fault, or was he simply not put in position to make a ton? Zero interceptions as a DB in 2014 and ’15 is a letdown; one in 2016 as a SAM linebacker isn’t unusual.

”I’m very fast, I’m stronger than the typical DB, tougher than the typical DB, since I played linebacker in the Big 10 at 200 pounds,” said Peppers, who checked in this week at 5’ 10 7/8”, 215 lbs. ”So that’s anywhere from nickel ... I can play some corner still. We’ll see. It’s gonna be a fun process.”

Fun. And maybe a little confusing. If nothing else, Peppers’s goal in Indianapolis is to give NFL teams a clearer idea of where he belongs.

”What do I look like?” Peppers responded when asked Saturday about his position. ”I’m a safety. I’m a safety. Yes, I’m a safety.”

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