2015 NFL Scouting Combine: Six linebackers 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 for 2015 draft


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 6 of our position-by-position look at the combine, spotlighting linebackers (this includes only players listed as linebackers for the combine, not defensive ends -- such as Clemson's Vic Beasley -- who seem certain to move to outside linebacker at the next level). We look at six prospects who will be scrutinized this year and also look at noteworthy event performances in the past five combines. We'll also look at how notable current linebackers performed in their combine events.

Six to watch this year

OLB Alvin "Bud" Dupree, Kentucky: Dupree (6-foot-4, 262 pounds) was listed as an end at Kentucky, played a hybrid end/linebacker spot and likely will be an outside linebacker in the NFL; he will go through the linebacker drills at the combine. He should wow onlookers -- especially given his size -- during the combine tests; his vertical jump has been measured at 40 inches and his broad jump at 10-foot-7. There's also this: Kentucky uses the "Catapult" monitoring system and Dupree was clocked at 20.5 mph in a game in 2013. Yes, he still is learning the nuances of the game, but "wow" numbers in the combine tests can cause folks to forget all about weaknesses.

OLB Hau'oli Kikaha, Washington: Kikaha (6-2½, 246) led the nation with 19 sacks and was second with 25 tackles for loss; he also is Washington's career sacks leader with 36. His left knee is a potential concern; he missed most of the 2011 season with after he suffered a torn ACL, then reinjured the same ligament in fall camp in 2012 (while covering Austin Seferian-Jenkins on a pass pattern). His medical exam will be pored over. In addition, Kikaha is known as a high-energy, high-motor guy who makes plays because of his relentlessness, not necessarily his athleticism. Thus, his numbers in the combine tests will be pored over, too. He played a hybrid end/linebacker position at Washington, and teams are interested in finding out if he can be a "pure" 3-4 outside 'backer.

ILB Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State: Is he the best pure inside linebacker available (we're among those putting TCU's Paul Dawson in the OLB category, though he seems able to play inside and out)? A strong combine performance will help his case. His size (6-5, 249) is intriguing for an inside guy, but there are questions about his agility and movement skills. Obviously, he cannot alleviate all the concerns in Indianapolis, but he could tamp down some doubts, for sure.

ILB Denzel Perryman, Miami: Perryman also is in the running to be the first inside linebacker off the board. His size, though, is seen as a hindrance; he measured a bit under 5-11 and weighed 248 pounds at the Senior Bowl. He hits a ton, plays with a nasty streak and understands leverage (a good thing when you're under 5-11). Given his perceived limitations, his combine numbers are going to be monitored; his 40 time will be interesting, for sure.

OLB Shaq Thompson, Washington: Thompson is an excellent athlete with a lot of versatility -- so much of both, in fact, that he felt the need to tell people he sees himself as a linebacker and not a running back in the NFL. He should score well in all the combine events, which will lead to talk about how early he will go in the first round. He almost certainly will be the first linebacker chosen.

OLB Max Valles, Virginia: Speaking of highly athletic linebackers, here's Valles. He likely should've stayed for his senior season because he remains raw as a player, but he is an excellent athlete. He had 13 sacks and 18 tackles for loss in two seasons for the Cavaliers; almost 25 percent of his college tackles were tackles for loss (18 of 78, or 23 percent). But Valles needs a lot of refinement as a pass rusher, with NFL Media analyst Lance Zeirlein saying Valles "relies solely on his outstanding athleticism and physical tools rather than an understanding of how to play the game." Still, that athleticism should be on full display, and when that happens, you just known a handful of teams will focus on his upside and not his faults.


» Charles Davis: Which prospects are in mix to be No. 1 overall pick


Combine bests over past five years

40-YARD DASH

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

1t. OLB Zaviar Gooden, Missouri
Time: 4.47 in 2013
Draft status: 3rd round, Tennessee Titans

1t. ILB Mychal Kendricks, California
Time: 4.47 in 2012
Draft status: 2nd round, Philadelphia Eagles

3. OLB Martez Wilson, Illinois
Time: 4.49 in 2011
Draft status: 3rd round, New Orleans Saints

4. OLB Zach Brown, North Carolina
Time: 4.50 in 2012
Draft status: 2nd round, Tennessee Titans

5. OLB Kevin Pierre-Louis, Boston College
Time: 4.51 in 2014
Draft status: 4th round, Seattle Seahawks

Notable playersbr /> ILB Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State: 5.00 seconds in 2012
OLB Justin Houston, Georgia: 4.68 seconds in 2011
ILB Luke Kuechly, Boston College: 4.58 seconds in 2012
OLB Von Miller, Texas A&M: 4.53 seconds in 2011
ILB Patrick Willis, Ole Miss: 4.51 seconds in 2007

20-YARD SHUTTLE

1. OLB Jordan Tripp, Montana
Time: 3.96 seconds in 2014
Draft status: 5th round, Miami Dolphins

2t. ILB Nick Bellore, Central Michigan
Time: 4.00 seconds in 2011
Draft status: Undrafted

2t. ILB Mike Mohamed, California
Time: 4.00 seconds in 2011
Draft status: 6th round, Denver Broncos

4. OLB Kevin Pierre-Louis, Boston College
Time: 4.02 seconds in 2014
Draft status: 4th round, Seattle Seahawks

5. OLB Von Miller, Texas A&M
Time: 4.06 seconds in 2011
Draft status: 1st round (2nd overall), Denver Broncos

Notable players
ILB Navorro Bowman, Penn State: 4.59 seconds in 2010
OLB A.J. Hawk, Ohio State: 3.96 seconds in 2006
ILB Luke Kuechly, Boston College: 4.12 seconds in 2012
OLB Clay Matthews, USC: 4.18 seconds in 2009
ILB Brian Urlacher, New Mexico: 4.18 seconds in 2000

VERTICAL JUMP

1. OLB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
Jump: 42 inches in 2014
Draft status: 1st round (15th overall), Pittsburgh Steelers

2t. OLB Keenan Clayton, Oklahoma
Jump: 41.5 inches in 2010
Draft status: 4th round, Philadelphia Eagles

2t. OLB Jamie Collins, Southern Miss
Jump: 41.5 inches in 2013
Draft status: 2nd round, New England Patriots

4t. OLB Khalil Mack, Buffalo
Jump: 40 inches in 2014
Draft status: 1st round (5th overall), Oakland Raiders

4t. OLB Simoni Lawrence, Minnesota
Jump: 40 inches in 2010
Draft status: Undrafted

4t. OLB Dekoda Watson, Florida State
Jump: 40 inches in 2010
Draft status: 7th round, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

4t. OLB Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri
Jump: 40 inches in 2010
Draft status: 1st round (19th overall), Atlanta Falcons

Notable players
ILB Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State: 30 inches in 2012
OLB Lavonte David, Nebraska: 36.5 inches in 2012
OLB Justin Houston, Georgia: 36.5 inches in 2011
ILB Mychal Kendricks, California: 39.5 inches in 2012
ILB Luke Kuechly, Boston College: 38 inches in 2012

BENCH PRESS

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

1. OLB Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma
Numbers: 36 reps in 2012
Draft status: 4th round, Detroit Lions

1. OLB Cornelius Washington, Georgia
Numbers: 36 reps in 2013
Draft status: 6th round, Chicago Bears

3. ILB Donald Butler, Washington
Numbers: 35 reps in 2010
Draft status: 3rd round, San Diego Chargers

4. OLB Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri
Numbers: 34 reps in 2010
Draft status: 1st round (19th overall), Atlanta Falcons

5. OLB Demario Davis, Arkansas State
Numbers: 32 reps in 2012
Draft status: 3rd round, New York Jets

5. OLB Ross Homan, Ohio State
Numbers: 32 reps in 2011
Draft status: 6th round, Minnesota Vikings

Notable players
ILB Brian Cushing, USC: 30 reps in 2009
OLB Lavonte David, Nebraska: 19 reps in 2012
OLB Justin Houston, Georgia: 30 reps in 2011
ILB Luke Kuechly, Boston College: 27 reps in 2012
ILB Brian Urlacher, New Mexico: 27 reps in 2000

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

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