2014 NFL Combine Recap: Defensive Linemen

Story posted February 25, 2014 in Sports, CommRadio, NFL Draft by Sam DelRosso

At the NFL Combine on Monday, defensive linemen ran drills to show the NFL what they’re made of.

First and foremost, South Carolina’s defensive end Jadeveon Clowney cannot be ignored. Clowney could go first in the NFL draft this year and his performance on Monday solidified that. He ran a 4.53 in the 40-yard dash, which is among the best ever for a defensive end at the combine.

The 6’5 defensive end unofficially ran the 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds. This time is faster than all of the times of current NFL starting quarterbacks since 2006, with the exception of Robert Griffin III, who ran a 4.41. His speed in this event is a comparable to current NFL wide receivers.

Clowney recorded another impressive time for the 10-yard split. He ran a 1.52. His vertical jump was 37.5 inches and his broad jump was 10’4”. The Texans have the number one pick in the draft, but it is possible that they will pick up a quarterback, such as Johnny Manziel or Teddy Bridgewater, rather than Clowney.

Auburn’s Dee Ford has been quoted saying that he is a better play than Jadeveon Clowney, saying that Clowney plays like “a blind dog in a meat market.” But Ford pulled out of the combine for medical reasons.

Texas’ Jackson Jeffcoat impressed scouts, running a 4.63 in the 40-yard dash on Monday. This was the fourth-fastest time among the defensive linemen at the combine. Jackson’s three-cone drill time of 6.97 ranked second among the defensive linemen. He also recorded a 36-inch vertical and 10’3 broad jump, which was only an inch shorter than Clowney.  His vertical jump ranked sixth out of the defensive linemen and his broad jump was tied for fourth. 

Scott Crichton from Oregon State proved to be among the best defensive linemen in the 40-yard dash and the three-cone drill. He placed 14th in the 40-yard dash, recording a 4.84. He completed the three-cone drill in 7.19 seconds, earning the 6th fastest time.

Crichton says his motivation comes from not wanting to see his family struggle. His mother works two jobs, while his father is making $10 an hour. Crichton did not even get a draft estimate because he knew he had to leave school early and find a way to make a living in the NFL for his family.

Missouri’s Kony Ealy ranked the best among defensive linemen in the three-cone drill (6.83).

Michael Sam of Missouri, who has made headlines frequently in the last few weeks, weighed in at 6’2”, 261 pounds at the combine weigh-in. His results were rather unimpressive, tying for 18th place in the 40-yard dash with a time of 4.91 seconds. He completed 17 reps in the bench press placing him second to last. His vertical jump at 25.5 inches, tied him for 39th place.

As for defensive tackles, Pitt’s Aaron Donald impressed scouts at the NFL combine. Donald’s performance at the Senior Bowl quieted his critics, but there were still questions about his size and strength. After the NFL Combine on Monday, those questions were answered. His performance ranked among the top defensive linemen in the 40-yard dash, recording a 4.68, the three-cone drill, in which he ran a 7.11, and the bench press, putting up 35 reps. Donald recorded 32 inches in the vertical jump as well.  He also impressed NFL personnel with his speed, quickness, agility, and strength in his positional workout.

DaQuan Jones out of Penn State weighed in at 322 pounds, but was still able to move well in the drills. He recorded a 7.76 in the three-cone drill and impressed scouts with his size and quickness.

Defensive tackle Will Sutton from Arizona State appeared sluggish at the combine on Monday. Although the junior led the Pac-12 with his quickness, he could not deliver at the combine. He recorded one of the slowest times in the 40-yard dash for defensive tackles, finishing in 5.36 seconds. He had a 28.5-inch vertical jump, an 8-3 broad jump, and a 7.93 second three-cone drill, all unimpressive numbers in terms of standing out in the combine.

Sam DelRosso is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email samdelrosso@gmail.com.