After a weekend of watching offensive prospects at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, the defensive stars have a chance to take the field on Monday.
The field will be chasing down Dri Archer (RB, Kent State), who ran a near-record 4.26-second 40-yard dash time on Sunday afternoon.
Actually, check that; the players on Monday will be more concerned with chasing down the elite crop of passers, as the defensive linemen and linebackers will look to increase their stock by showing they can do just that.
It's an offensive league, but the Seattle Seahawks showed us by winning a definitive Super Bowl over quarterback Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos that defense still has a place in winning not only games, but more importantly, championships.
While the offensive talent in Indianapolis was phenomenal over the weekend, the defensive linemen and pass-rushing linebackers could steal the show, starting with Jadeveon Clowney (DE, South Carolina), who may not be the fastest prospect at the combine but may be the most tantalizing player, pound-for-pound.
Follow along Monday—as you undoubtedly have every day—with Bleacher Report as we keep you abreast of what's ahead and what transpires each day. Matt Miller, Mike Freeman and Matt Bowen will all be covering the event and are great follows on Twitter.
For More Combine Preview Reading:
- Position-by-Position Combine Primer (Michael Schottey)
- Official Invite List (National Scouting)
- All-Time Combine Records (Jesse Reed)
- How Important is the Combine? (Greg Gabriel)
Day 4 Highlights
Day 5 Schedule
Psychological Testing/Bench Press: Group 10 (defensive backs); Group 11 (defensive backs)
On-Field Workout, Departure: Group 7 (defensive linemen); Group 8 (defensive linemen); Group 9 (linebackers)
Day 5 Preview
As noted earlier, all eyes should be on Clowney as he runs his 40-yard dash, agility testing and positional drills on Monday. There's not much question that he was a little disappointing in his final season in South Carolina, and some have questioned his drive and on-the-field motor. Others have simply pointed out that he was the focal point of blocking schemes and that the hype was too much for him to live up to.
The shroud has to come off on Monday, however, as Clowney will look to prove that he's got as much upside as any defensive player this side of former New York Giants great Lawrence Taylor.
Clowney has some competition, however, as Dee Ford (DE/OLB, Auburn) has already made headlines by stating in Sunday's media session that he's better than Clowney. One look at Ford's speed off the edge, and it's easy to see why he (and maybe some others) might believe that.
Michael Sam (DE/OLB, Missouri) will likely be a big draw as well, as he continues his quest to be the first openly gay player in the pros. The big knock on him is that he lacks elite speed, lateral agility and won't be able to hack it at the next level. A good day of testing would shut a lot of those critics up.
If any position is challenging outside pass-rushers (athletes on the seven-eleven techniques) for the most prized positions in the NFL, it may be interior pass-rushers. Not only are teams hoping to create pressure around the edge, they hope to break down pockets as well.
It makes sense—the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, and prospects like Aaron Donald (DT, Pittsburgh), Will Sutton (DT, Arizona State), Stephon Tuitt (DT/DE, Notre Dame) and Caraun Reid (DT, Princeton) should tantalize plenty of teams with their ability to shoot the gap.
At linebacker, the aforementioned players may be the stars, but sideline-to-sideline backers are needed as well—especially against mobile quarterbacks. Shayne Skov (LB, Stanford) and Chris Borland (LB, Wisconsin) are the two biggest names, but Max Bullough (LB, Michigan State) is trying to rehab his own image after being suspended for the Rose Bowl and showing up heavy to the Shrine Game.
With only a few hours of combine coverage left, make sure you stay tuned to Bleacher Report for the best in NFL draft coverage.
Michael Schottey is an NFL National Lead Writer for Bleacher Report and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Find more of his stuff on his archive page and follow him on Twitter. All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.