A day after the biggest names on the offensive side of the ball took the field, it was the defensive linemen's and linebackers' turns in Indianapolis at the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine.
Suffice it to say, the game hasn't stopped getting bigger or faster.
Charles Tapper, Emmanuel Ogbah and Darron Lee were the stars of the show Sunday, putting together an impressive display of athleticism that will send them moving up draft boards.
Tapper, an Oklahoma product who measured at 6'2" and 276 pounds, led all defensive linemen with an official 40 time of 4.59 seconds. Sooners Blog highlighted how Tapper compared to running backs and wide receivers:
270+ pounder Okla DE Charles Tapper out ran six running backs' 40 times at the combine. Add that to the 12 WRs he out ran in the 40, too.— Sooners Blog (@uoklasports) February 28, 2016
Tapper also took to social media to show off his cleats:
Adding a 119-inch broad jump and a 34-inch vertical leap, Tapper may have put himself clearly in the second day of the draft. CBS Sports currently has him listed as a third- or fourth-round selection.
Equally impressive was Ogbah, who clocked in with a 4.63-second time in his 40. The Oklahoma State product tied for the second-highest vertical among defensive linemen (35.5") and tied for third in the broad jump (121"). While putting up only 20 reps on the bench press will give some pause, Ogbah, at the very least, will give teams something to think about at the end of Round 1.
"Whoever takes him will get an excellent player," a scout told Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "He can play any position except nose. He does what they tell him to do. He plays the defense."
Joey Bosa was a first-round lock before he arrived in Indianapolis. After his combine performance, he may wind up in position to go No. 1 overall. Bosa ran a solid 40 time of 4.86 seconds and added a 120-inch broad jump and a 32-inch vertical. At 6'6" and 275 pounds, Bosa at the least offered some credence to his claim that he's the best player in this draft.
"I do believe I'm the best player in the draft," Bosa said Friday, per Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com. "There's, of course, a lot of amazing players in the draft, and it's going to be up to Tennessee to make that decision. But I think as a top player, if you don't believe that, then there is something wrong. I think I bring the best pass-rusher, the best defensive lineman in the country."
The single most impressive leaps of the day belonged to Virginia Tech's Dadi Nicolas and Florida's Alex McCalister. Nicolas had a vertical 5.5 inches better than any other defensive lineman at 41 inches. NFL Network put that number in context:
McCalister, meanwhile, set the bar with a 128-inch broad jump. That was five full inches better than any other defensive lineman. Gil Brandt of NFL.com was impressed, but still has concerns about McCalister's transition to the next level:
I'll have to go back and take another look at McAllister. 6-6 but on light frame (239). Productive on limited snaps. Some issues there.— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) February 28, 2016
Among the players drawing the most eyeballs, former Ole Miss star Robert Nkemdiche reminded scouts that he's a physical marvel. Nkemdiche posted a 4.87-second time in the 40-yard dash, did 28 reps on the bench press and impressed with a 35-inch vertical and a 116-inch broad jump. His impressive on-field work came after a session with the media in which he was candid about an incident where he fell out of a hotel window.
"I told them the truth: It was a rash decision by me. It was uncharacteristic and that's not who I am. That's not what I stand for, that's not what my family stands for," Nkemdiche said, per Kuharsky. "It was embarrassing for me and my whole family and the whole Ole Miss family.
"I told [teams] that's not the kind of player they're getting—they're getting a straightforward player, and I'm never going to return to that. I'm just moving forward and embracing this moment."
Albert Breer of NFL Network is nonetheless concerned Nkemdiche's issues will send him down on draft day:
No way ... I think there's a good chance Nkemdiche slides right out of the first round. https://t.co/7pd3SVWaB0— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) February 28, 2016
Among linebackers, top prospect Myles Jack was physically unable to work out, so the focus went down the draft board. Lee did not disappoint. His 4.47-second time in the 40 was the best of anyone who participated Sunday. He added a 133-inch broad jump, causing Bleacher Report's Matt Miller to go all-in:
This afternoon is the Darron Lee Show.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) February 28, 2016
CBS Sports considers Lee the third-best linebacker in this class. It ranked him 17th overall coming into the weekend, but he may wind up moving toward the top 10. Alabama's Reggie Ragland, also competing to come off the board second among linebackers, compared unfavorably from a numbers standpoint. Ragland turned in a 4.72-second time in the 40-yard dash and a 116-inch broad jump.
Pat Kirwan of CBS Sports was nonetheless impressed with his interviews:
most impressive interviews@ Combine were DeForest Buckner &Reggie Ragland both love football&serious about the games https://t.co/cepClY9A0I— Pat Kirwan (@PatKirwanCBS) February 28, 2016
A'Shawn Robinson and DeForest Buckner will have a few questions to answer after having 40 times above five seconds. Robinson's 5.2-second time was the eighth-slowest among participants in Day 4, and he had only 22 bench-press reps. Those numbers aren't going to hurt Robinson's stock too much; his film is too impeccable for it to send him very far down the first round. But any hopes of him moving up after this weekend are probably out of the question.
Buckner chose not to do the bench press, so the Oregon product will be allowing his tape to do the talking as well. NFL Network did, however, note Buckner's hand size is quite impressive:
Overall, the linemen and linebackers didn't offer all that many surprises. Those who were expected to put up eye-opening numbers largely did so, though the likes of Tapper and Lee must certainly be glad they made the trip to Indianapolis.