After the first “workweek” day of the Combine is complete, it’s likely that much of the fanbase that watched over the weekend missed maybe the deepest position in the draft, along the defensive line.
We had a defensive tackle throw his name in the ring as a top-five contender based on his combination of film and athletic display, and we had a defensive tackle who may have left the top five with a “largely” ineffective day at the Combine.
Along with the defensive line, we had a few linebackers who displayed running back athletic ability and the diversity to play in many schemes and at different positions.
Let’s break down the defensive tackles and outside linebackers that tested today at the Combine.
Geno Atkins, DT, Georgia
With such a loaded defensive tackle class, it’s hard for any one player to really emerge from this class outside of Gerald McCoy and Ndamukong Suh as that clear-cut third best defensive tackle.
But instead of showing a top contender that is a definite to be behind both of them, it seems we may have added another to the ring.
Defensive tackles really aren’t expected to do much at the Combine other than look like football players and not embarrass themselves. However, when a near 300-pound man runs a 4.75 forty time and has a 33-inch vertical leap while showing his power and strength with 34 reps, scouts will take notice.
Atkins played well over his career and really emerged in 2008 once Jeff Owens went down with an injury. After a solid showing in his senior campaign and a very impressive Combine, he could be the second three-technique defensive tackle taken in the draft.
Dekoda Watson, OLB, Florida State
Florida State linebackers such as Derrick Brooks, Buster Davis, Ernie Sims, and Lawrence Timmons have usually been viewed as linebacker prospects with great athletic ability but limits on what they could do or become as an NFL player because of their size.
However, if Watson’s combine was any indication of how athletic he really is, then his size should become less and less of an issue as teams evaluate this linebacker class.
Watson posted a 4.53, among the best for the linebackers, in the forty and posted an extremely impressive 11'2" broad jump. He’s an outstanding athlete who can’t fit in every scheme, but he has the potential to be as production as former Seminoles Brooks and Sims.
Sean Weatherspoon, OLB, Missouri
Coming into the Combine, I felt that Weatherspoon would win teams over in his interviews due to his great character with teammates and his understanding of defensive schemes.
I knew he was a good athlete based on how he played, but he wowed at the Combine more than I think most expected.
Witherspoon posted a 4.57 forty time, very impressive yet expected from his game film. But boasting a 40-inch vertical, a 10'3" broad jump, and benching 225 34 times, Witherspoon has now become one of the top three or four linebackers in this class.
Terrence Cody, DT, Alabama
I would imagine that after scouts saw this goliath weigh in at the Combine, they began to expect the worst. But that doesn’t mean that he had to show what they expected.
“Mount Cody” ran an embarrassing, both as a number and to watch, 5.64 forty time. To make matters worse, he had a 20.5" vertical leap and a 7'6" broad jump.
I guess I give him some credit for doing most of the drills at the Combine, but he looked like that fat kid in gym class. He didn’t fit in with the Combine prospects and probably should have just run at his Pro Day.
Roddrick Muckelroy, OLB, Texas
Muckelroy was never viewed as a very athletic prospect at linebacker and needed to fit in the right system, like the Colts, who use guys that are a tad undersized or less athletic, to be successful in the pros. I think he solidified that evaluation today, which isn’t good news.
Usually, if a linebacker can post either a good forty or a good set at the bench, the other can be toned down a little, as he can be viewed as either a speed ‘backer or a power ‘backer. However, a 4.73 forty time and only 19 reps showing means that Muckelroy may not be either.
Based on his film, he’s definitely a draftable prospect. But teams will probably view him as a special teamer to start who could be a long-term starter down the road if he improves.
Greg Hardy, DE, Ole Miss
The reason scouts are still giving Hardy a shot is beyond me. I liked Hardy a lot when he was a junior, and I felt he had a chance to be a top-15 pick if he continued to improve in 2009.
Instead, like most of the Ole Miss team, he regressed a little production-wise and was taken out of games at times. He has the talent on film to be a starter at the pro level, but he didn’t show that athletic ability at the Combine.
He posted a mediocre 4.87 and only had 21 bench reps, showing that he needs to get by on his diverse moves in the pros, which is near impossible to do each and every snap. He should still be a second or third rounder, but he could start to slip on boards more and more, as he’s an inconsistent player who doesn’t have top-notch athleticism to develop.
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