The third day of workouts at the NFL Scouting Combine provided scouts with an opportunity to see several of the top prospects display their immense talent and potential. Here are a few of the notable standouts in my mind ...
(Click on prospect's name to view the full profile.)
Ingram made a strong case in his bid to be the first defender to come off the board with his performance. He not only posted an impressive 40-yard dash time (4.79) for his size, but he displayed exceptional athleticism, agility and explosiveness in drills. His lateral-movement quickness and body control are uncommon for a defensive end, and he could easily transition to an outside linebacker position in a 3-4. Ingram's height (6-foot-1) and arm length (31 1/2 inches) still remain a concern for some scouts, but his display of raw athleticism and explosiveness will make it hard to bypass him early in the first round.
Irvin was one of the stars of the combine after blazing an official time of 4.5 in the 40-yard dash. This eye-popping 40, complemented by impressive measurements in the broad jump (10 feet, 3 inches) and vertical jump (33 1/2 inches), confirm his explosiveness and suggest he might possess the athleticism to move to outside linebacker as a pro. Even though he looked a little rough around the edges in zone drops during position drills, his combination of speed and production (22 1/2 sacks in two seasons at West Virginia) will make him a hot topic for evaluators in war rooms across the league.
Mercilus was not expected to post impressive numbers during the workout, but he shocked scouts with a 4.68 time in the 40-yard dash. He displayed excellent initial quickness, recording a 1.56-second split at the 10-yard mark, and looked far more explosive than he appears on tape. Mercilus also displayed better-than-anticipated movement skills in the positional work, looking smooth and fluid while bursting through bag drills. He also showed more lateral quickness and agility than many scouts anticipated. If he can follow his strong performance in Indianapolis with a solid showing at his pro day and private workouts, there is little doubt he will be one of the first defensive ends to come off the board on draft day.
Perry was one of the more difficult evaluations prior to the combine, due to his limited playing history and inconsistent track record. However, his strong workout in front of an attentive NFL crowd is sure to erase some of the doubts about his pro potential. Perry finished the workout as the leader in the vertical jump (38 1/2 inches) and broad jump (10 feet, 4 inches), and ranked among the top players in the 40-yard dash. He complemented his impressive athletic showing with a solid positional workout. Perry showed balance, body control and agility running through various bag drills, but he lacks the movement skills to play primarily from an upright position. He doesn't look comfortable playing in space, and that could limit his effectiveness as a potential 3-4 outside linebacker. Regardless, teams in need of a legitimate pass rusher in the bottom stages of the first round should spend a lot of time studying Perry's game tape.
Coples confirmed his unique athleticism and movement skills at the workout. At 6-5, 284 pounds, he clocked 4.72 on watches in the stands, while also recording impressive measurements in the vertical jump (31 1/2 inches) and broad jump (9 feet, 1 inch). In position drills, Coples displayed balance and burst over the bags, though he didn't finish all of his drills with the urgency coaches demand. To his credit, he corrected the effort on the next series of drills and finished the day with a solid performance overall. If he can continue to display the effort and energy evaluators expect from a top 10-caliber talent, Coples could cement his status as one of the top defenders in the draft.
The stands in Lucas Oil Stadium were abuzz after Poe put on a spectacular showing in the workout. At 6-3 1/2, 346 pounds, he posted sub-5.0 times in the 40-yard dash, and displayed remarkable agility and explosiveness for a man of his size. Poe also looked nimble and quick running through a series of bag drills. He glides over the bag and flashes an explosive burst while changing directions. Poe is also one of the strongest prospects in this year's class -- as evidenced by his combine-high 44 reps on the bench press -- and his rare combination of size, strength and athleticism will vault him into the top 20 by draft day.
Kuechly cemented his standing as a top-15 pick by blazing 4.5's in the 40-yard dash on watches in the stands. He is far more explosive and athletic than some scouts expected, and his movement skills suggest he is capable of playing as a three-down linebacker as a pro. Kuechly also impressed scouts with his football IQ and acumen in interviews. Scouts and coaches have routinely touted him as one of the best interviews this week, and his exceptional combination of skills makes him one of the safest prospects in the entire draft.
Kendricks was underrated on the national scene, but scouts on the West Coast have been buzzing about his workmanlike game since the fall. The momentum is certain to continue after he dominated the combine with impressive measurements in the 40-yard dash (4.47), vertical jump (39 1/2 inches) and broad jump (10 feet, 7 inches). Kendricks was also smooth and fluid while executing drops in various linebacker drills. With few inside linebackers capable of staying on the field in every situation, Kendricks has certainly created positive momentum heading into his pro day at Cal.
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