The offensive players are done and it’s all defense the rest of the way. Considering the Bears needs, this is the most important part of the combine. Here is what went down:
- Athletic measurements (40 yard dash, vertical leap, broad jump) for defensive linemen & linebackers
- Position drills for defensive linemen & linebackers
- Bench press for defensive backs
Check below for a breakdown of winners & losers by position:
Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh (6’1, 285) - I predicted that Donald was going to put up a great 10-yard split (1.59 unofficial), but I didn’t expect him to put up a 4.68 40-time. To put that in perspective, the average time for DEs last year was 4.77 and Donald is a 285 pound DT. Impressive. Donald has been just as dominant at the combine as he was at the Senior Bowl and during his 2013 season (28.5 TFls, 11 sacks). Can the Bears afford to pass on this guy at 14?
Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina (6’5, 266) - Everyone expected Clowney to run a great 40 and he did (4.53). That time at his size is pretty amazing. He’s a physical marvel. The fact that he skipped most of the drills bugs me, he’s got a reputation for laziness and skipping drills doesn’t make me feel any better about his work ethic.
Larry Webster , Bloomberg (6’6, 252) - I’ve written about Webster a couple of times this off-season. He’s got ideal length for a DE and put up monster stats at DII Bloomberg (26 sacks, 31 TFLs last 2 seasons), but he’s built like a beanpole. Webster is going to need a year or two in an NFL strength program, but he showed better than expected speed today (4.58) and finished in the top 5 of the vertical leap and broad jump drills. Webster proved that he has elite speed and NFL athleticism and his stock moved up a round or two.
James Gayle (VT), Jackson Jeffcoat (TEX), Chris Smith (ARK), & Marcus Smith (LOU) – This group of speed rushers all showed they have enough speed to make a living as undersized pass rushers.
Kareem Martin, UNC (6’6, 272) - I’ve been tough on Martin all off-season because I’m not impressed with his tape, but he looked like the total package today. Martin showed good speed (4.72), had the best broad jump (5″ more than Clowney), a 35.5″ vertical leap and good enough strength (22 reps) for a guy with 35″ arms. He’s got all the physical traits you look for in a DE. I’m going to go back and reevaluate Martin’s tape.
Kony Ealy, Missouri (6’4, 273) – His 40-time and bench press were pedestrian and I was ready to put him in the losers column until Ealy did the 3-cone drill. Ealy ran a 6.83 in the 3-cone drill which was .14 faster than any other DL and only .01 slower than all-pro RB LeSean McCoy (6.82) ran a few years ago. McCoy is (5’11, 208) and Ealy is (6’4, 273). That is awesome quickness and agility for a man that size.
Michael Sam, Missouri (6’1, 262) – Another disappointing day for Sam. He ran a 4.92 40 which is well below average for a DE (especially a small DE), had the 5th lowest vertical leap, and his broad jump and cone times were in the bottom half. Combine those numbers with his weak bench performance and Sam’s stock definitely dropped this weekend.
Anthony Johnson, LSU (6’2, 308) – Johnson wasn’t very productive on the field last season (3 sacks, 9 TFLs), but scouts raved about his strength and athleticism. I was expecting to see evidence of that this weekend but Johnson disappointed in just about every drill he did. He ran a slow 40 (5.24), had the 3rd lowest vertical, 6th lowest broad jump and 3rd slowest cone drill. Maybe putting him in the early 5th round of my mock draft wasn’t a mistake after all.
Ethan Westbrooks, West Texas A&M (6’3, 267) – One of the best tapes I watched was Westbrooks destroying DII quarterbacks (26.5 sacks, 47.5 TFLs in last 2 seasons). After he preformed well at the Shrine game (2 sacks) I expected a little more from him at the combine. Instead he ran a mediocre 4.9 and looked very stiff in the drills. Westbrooks is still getting drafted, but he had a shot to move up a round or two this weekend with a strong performance and he didn’t take advantage of it. Westbrooks looks like strictly a 3rd down pass rusher and special teams guy.