NFL Combine 2013: Boom-or-Bust Defenders Teams Must Gamble On

Jesse ReedCorrespondent IFebruary 25, 2013

DALLAS, TX - SEPTEMBER 15:  Margus Hunt #92 of the Southern Methodist Mustangs at Gerald J. Ford Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Defensive end Margus Hunt is one of the biggest boom-or-bust prospects at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine. His upside is so great that teams would be smart to draft him early, despite the fact that he's as raw a prospect as there is in this draft.

Hunt isn't the only raw prospect with amazing upside, either. 

With great risk comes great reward, and though these defenders are surely risky picks, the potential gain makes them worth the gamble.


Margus Hunt, Defensive End, SMU

This Estonian-born giant of a man is a physical freak of the first order.

At 6'8" and 277 pounds, Hunt has intrigued scouts for the past few months with his blend of raw power and speed. He wasn't highly productive in college, though he did break through in his senior season with eight sacks and 11.5 tackles for a loss.

Hunt struggled in one-on-one drills during the Senior Bowl, and his stock has dropped since that time.

Until the combine, that is. 

Hunt's incredible athleticism, strength and raw speed is sure to have scouts scrambling to re-watch the film on this young man.

He posted a 4.60-second 40-yard dash—running almost as fast as Barkevious Mingo—and put up 38 reps on the 225-pound bench press, tying for the top mark in that category.

Everyone is looking for the next J.J. Watt, and Hunt looks the part. He'll likely be taken in the second round, though nobody should be shocked if a team risks a late first-round pick to land one of the biggest boom-or-bust prospects in this year's draft.


Barkevious Mingo, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, LSU

The combine didn't tell us anything we didn't already know about Mingo, who has been widely considered one of the biggest boom-or-bust prospects in the draft.

Mingo is an incredibly fast, nimble-footed player with a slight frame who projects as a 3-4 outside linebacker.

He posted the second-fastest 40-yard dash time of any defensive lineman, running it in 4.58 seconds. He also posted the third-best mark in the vertical jump—a 37-inch leap—and tied for the top mark in the broad jump. 

Both of the jump numbers clearly illustrate Mingo's explosiveness, and there's no doubt he has what it takes from an athletic standpoint to become a dominant pass-rusher in the NFL. 

The reason Mingo isn't considered a lock to realize his potential is that he isn't particularly strong and doesn't possess a repertoire of pass-rushing moves. He only produced 4.5 sacks in his junior season after an eight-sack sophomore campaign, and he was often run right out of the play by quick, agile offensive tackles.

Mingo's upside is tremendous, though, and with a bit of added strength and some top-notch coaching, he has the potential to become one of the NFL's most dangerous 3-4 outside linebackers.


Ezekiel Ansah, Defensive End, BYU

Raw doesn't even begin to cut it when talking about Ansah's game. 

This young man from Ghana didn't even make it onto a football field until 2010. He tried out for BYU's basketball team (twice) and its track team before finally falling into his current obsession, and now he's hooked.

Ansah barely played in 2010 and 2011 before finally emerging as a starter in 2012. In his senior season, he notched just 4.5 sacks and 13 tackles for a loss.

So why are scouts drooling over him?

He's an elite athlete who has the potential to become a major disruptive force as a pure 4-3 defensive end in the NFL. 

Ansah showed up well at the combine, running the 40-yard dash in 4.63 seconds (sixth-best time of any defensive lineman), posted a 34.5-inch vertical jump (seventh-highest total) and a 118-inch broad jump (10th-best mark).

This young man's raw numbers, combined with the fact that he proved to be coachable and improved every day at the Senior Bowl, have teams thinking about Ansah becoming a double-digit sack master in the NFL.

Ansah's lack of experience may end up becoming a strength rather than a weakness, since the team that drafts him will have a fresh piece of clay to mold. 


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