2015 NFL Scouting Combine: Six defensive linemen to watch

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Prospects to watch at combine: LB | DL | OL | WR/TE | RB | QB


The NFL Scouting Combine runs Feb. 17-23 in Indianapolis, and it brings together 323 of the nation's most draftable players and numerous front-office representatives and scouts from each NFL team.


» Mayock's position-by-position top-five rankings


A big portion of the combine is the individual events, such as the 40-yard dash, the bench press and the vertical jump.

NFL Scouting Combine


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This is Part 5 of our position-by-position look at the combine, on defensive linemen. We look at six prospects who will be scrutinized this year and also look at noteworthy event performances in the past five combines (some of the players listed at end for the combine became outside linebackers, just as some players listed as ends this season will move to outside linebacker in the NFL). We'll also look at how notable current players performed at their combine events.

Six to watch

DL Arik Armstead, Oregon: His size (6-foot-8, 290 pounds) and physical tools make you drool. But he wasn't dominant at Oregon and didn't really play up to the hype until this season; he then left school a year early. His athleticism has been touted, so his combine performance will be worth watching. He played defensive end in the Ducks' 3-4, and that looks to be his best scheme fit. NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah has Armstead as the No. 13 prospect in the draft.

DT Carl Davis, Iowa: Iowa generally wants its defensive tackles to take on blocks, which in turn frees up the linebackers to make plays. Thus, Davis' tackle stats aren't all that impressive. But Davis (6-5, 315) did impress at the Senior Bowl, when he basically was turned loose and showed an ability to get upfield. A strong combine would increase his chances of going late in the first round; Zierlein already has him as a first-round pick. Davis' size is impressive, and he will be looking to show off his athleticism in the drills. Iowa OT Brandon Scherff is seen as a first-round lock; Iowa hasn't had two first-rounders in the same draft since 1997, with DB Tom Knight and G Ross Verba.


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DE Dante Fowler Jr., Florida: Fowler (6-3, 260) should test extremely well at the combine. He was used in a variety of roles by Florida coaches and lined up in different spots, and his versatility is a positive. His best fit in the NFL might be as a 3-4 outside linebacker, and he did do a nice job against the run while an end at Florida. NFL Media analyst Lance Zierlein believes Fowler "has a Pro Bowl ceiling with double-digit sack potential." His combine numbers should feed right into that thought process.

College Football 24/7 is following four 2016 draft prospects as they pursue their NFL dreams.

DT Eddie Goldman, Florida State: Goldman is a large man (6-4, 314) who moves well, and he definitely will get first-round consideration because of his strong work against the run. Strong combine numbers obviously will strengthen his case to be a first-rounder -- and potentially be the second pure tackle taken, behind only Washington's Danny Shelton. Goldman's pass-rush skills basically come down to a bull rush and Zierlein says Goldman's "lack of pass-rushing prowess could limit just how high he rises on draft boards." Showing off his athleticism at the combine is a must for Goldman.

NT Jordan Phillips, Oklahoma: Phillips (6-6, 334) had two seasons of eligibility remaining at OU when he decided to turn pro; at the same time, he already had been at Oklahoma for four years. While he was a fulltime starter this season, he redshirted as a true freshman in 2011, was a backup in '12 and played in just four games in 2013 before receiving a medical redshirt for a back injury that eventually required surgery. His medical charts will receive a thorough going-over from teams looking to add a big body in the middle. And Phillips is huge. It also will be interesting to see how Phillips fares in the drills. Zierlein notes that Phillips is "athletic with nimble feet and (the) pursuit speed of a man much lighter." Zierlein and fellow analyst Bucky Brooks have Phillips as a first-round pick in their first mock drafts of the year, and a strong combine performance certainly would not hurt.

DL Leonard Williams, USC: More than a few folks think he is the draft's No. 1 prospect; NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah is one of those. Williams (6-5, 300) played tackle and end at USC, and depending upon who drafts him, he could play either spot in the NFL. He is a big-time athlete for a guy who is 300 pounds, and he should show off that athleticism at the combine. He is dealing with some shoulder issues and has said he could skip the bench-press portion of the combine.


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Combine bests over past five years

40-YARD DASH

1. DE Dontay Moch, Nevada
Time: 4.44 in 2011
Draft status: 3rd round, Cincinnati Bengals

2. DE Bruce Irvin, West Virginia
Time: 4.50 in 2012
Draft status: 1st round (15th overall), Seattle Seahawks

3. DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
Time: 4.53 in 2014
Draft status: 1st round (1st overall), Houston Texans

4. DE Trevardo Williams, Connecticut
Time: 4.57 in 2013
Draft status: 4th round, Houston Texans

5t. DE Larry Webster, Bloomsburg (Pa.)
Time: 4.58 in 2014
Draft status: 4th round, Detroit Lions

5t. DE Barkevious Mingo, LSU
Time: 4.58 in 2013
Draft status: 1st round (6th overall), Cleveland Browns

Notable players
DL Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State: 4.79 seconds in 2012
DT Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh: 4.68 seconds in 2014
DE Jevon Kearse, Florida: 4.58 seconds in 1999
DE Manny Lawson, North Carolina State: 4.43 seconds in 2006
DE J.J. Watt, Wisconsin: 4.84 seconds in 2011

20-YARD SHUTTLE

1. DE Bruce Irvin, West Virginia
Time: 4.03 seconds in 2012
Draft status: 1st round (15th overall), Seattle Seahawks

2. DE Jake Bequette, Arkansas
Time: 4.07 seconds in 2012
Draft status: 3rd round, New England Patriots

3. DE Adrian Clayborn, Iowa
Time: 4.13 seconds in 2011
Draft status: 1st round (20th overall), Tampa Bay Buccaneers

4. DE Jerry Hughes, TCU
Time: 4.15 seconds in 2010
Draft status: 1st round (31st overall), Indianapolis Colts

5. DE Junior Galette, Stillman
Time: 4.16 seconds in 2010
Draft status: Undrafted

Notable players
DE Ziggy Ansah, BYU: 4.26 seconds in 2013
DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina: 4.43 seconds in 2014
DT Aaron Donald, Pitt: 4.39 seconds in 2014
DT Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska: 4.44 seconds in 2010
DE J.J. Watt, Wisconsin: 4.21 seconds in 2011

VERTICAL JUMP

College Football 24/7 Hot Topics:

1. DE Dontay Moch, Nevada
Jump: 42 inches in 2011
Draft status: 3rd round, Cincinnati Bengals

2. DE Howard Jones, Shepherd (W.Va.)
Jump: 40.5 inches in 2014
Draft status: Undrafted

3. DE Nick Perry, USC
Jump: 38.5 inches in 2012
Draft status: 1st round (28th overall), Green Bay Packers

4t. DE Trevardo Williams, Connecticut
Jump: 38 inches in 2013
Draft status: 4th round, Houston Texans

4t. DE Greg Middleton, Indiana
Jump: 38 inches in 2010
Draft status: Undrafted

4t. DE Koa Misi, Utah
Jump: 38 inches in 2010
Draft status: 2nd round, Miami Dolphins

4t. DE Jason Worilds, Virginia Tech
Jump: 38 inches in 2010
Draft status: 2nd round, Pittsburgh Steelers

4t. DE Willie Young, North Carolina State
Jump: 38 inches in 2010
Draft status: 7th round, Detroit Lions

Notable players
DE Connor Barwin, Cincinnati: 40.5 inches in 2009
DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina: 37.5 inches in 2014
DT Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma: 30.5 inches in 2010
DT Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska: 35.5 inches in 2010
DE J.J. Watt, Wisconsin: 37 inches in 2011

BENCH PRESS

1. DT Stephen Paea, Oregon State
Numbers: 49 reps in 2011
Draft status: 2nd round, Chicago Bears

2t. DT Jeff Owens, Georgia
Numbers: 44 reps in 2010
Draft status: 7th round, Philadelphia Eagles

2t. DT Dontari Poe, Memphis
Numbers: 44 reps in 2012
Draft status: 1st round (11th overall), Kansas City Chiefs

4. DT Linval Joseph, East Carolina
Numbers: 39 reps in 2010
Draft status: 2nd round, New York Giants

5t. DT Marvin Austin, North Carolina
Numbers: 38 reps in 2011
Draft status: 2nd round, New York Giants

5t. DE Margus Hunt, SMU
Numbers: 38 reps in 2013
Draft status: 2nd round, Cincinnati Bengals

5t. DT Brandon Williams, Missouri Southern
Numbers: 38 reps in 2013
Draft status: 3rd round, Baltimore Ravens

Notable players
DT Geno Atkins, Georgia: 34 reps in 2010
DT Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma: 23 reps in 2010
DT Haloti Ngata, Oregon: 37 reps in 2006
DT Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska: 32 reps in 2010
DT Vince Wilfork, Miami: 36 reps in 2004

3-CONE DRILL

In a weekly series, draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah polls five NFL personnel executives about college football's top prospects.

1. DE Sam Acho, Texas
Time: 6.69 seconds in 2011
Draft status: 4th round, Arizona Cardinals

2. DE Bruce Irvin, West Virginia
Time: 6.70 seconds in 2012
Draft status: 1st round (15th overall), Seattle Seahawks

3t. DE Kony Ealy, Missouri
Time: 6.83 seconds in 2014
Draft status: 2nd round, Carolina Panthers

3t. DE Melvin Ingram, South Carolina
Time: 6.83 seconds in 2012
Draft status: 1st round (18th overall), San Diego Chargers

5t. DE Thaddeus Gibson, Ohio State
Time: 6.84 seconds in 2010
Draft status: 4th round, Pittsburgh Steelers

5t. DE Barkevious Mingo, LSU
Time: 6.84 seconds in 2013
Draft status: 1st round (6th overall), Cleveland Browns

Notable players
DT Aaron Donald, Pitt: 7.11 seconds in 2014
DT Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma: 7.32 seconds in 2010
DT Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska: 7.21 seconds in 2010
DE J.J. Watt, Wisconsin: 6.88 seconds in 2011
DE Mario Williams, North Carolina State: 7.19 seconds in 2006

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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