The 2018 NFL Scouting Combine kicked off Friday with offensive linemen and running backs and continued Saturday with quarterbacks, receivers and tight ends. Sunday was about defense.
The interior defensive linemen were the first act, followed by edge rushers and linebackers, and Mike Mayock broke the event down as only he can. Here's what the NFL Network draft analyst had to say about some of the draft's top prospects who participated in Indianapolis on Day 3.
Interior defensive linemen
Vita Vea, Washington: A hamstring injury cut Vea's day a bit short. But the top defensive lineman on Mayock's board made his presence felt with a 5.10 40-yard dash and 41 reps on the bench. "Do you know how freaky this kid is?" Mayock opined. "He played high school basketball, he was a running back in high school. On defense, they've used him everywhere on the front. He stands up at 347, plays the "joker," rushes the A-gap, comes off the edge. [Stanford coach] David Shaw said he's got the ability to be the best 3-4 nose tackle or 4-3 nose tackle in football."
Da'Ron Payne, Alabama: After a dominant performance in the College Football Playoff, Mayock listed Payne the No. 2 interior lineman in the 2018 NFL Draft. Mayock seemed just as impressed with his 40 time. "Wow, wow, wow, wow -- 4.91 at 311 pounds. And he's showing people he can affect the quarterback."
Taven Bryan, Florida: Mayock said the buzz surrounding Bryan is he's being pegged a defensive tackle and has the movement skills of All-Pro honorees Fletcher Cox and J.J. Watt. His initial 40 run of 5.08 was more good than great. His second attempt came in a full tenth of a second better. "There you go," Mayock quipped. "That's what I was looking for."
Harrison Phillips, Stanford: With all eyes on the 347-pound Vea, Phillips finds himself as the other Pac-12 defensive lineman. But he's not an afterthought for Mayock, especially after an impressive showing in the bench press. "You know how may reps he did? Vita Vea did 41, this young man did 42," Mayock said. "He's technically proficient, he's one of my favorite players in the draft."
Rasheem Green, USC: Green resides just outside Mayock's top-five lists but might be climbing the ladder following an impressive combine. His 4.73 40 topped all interior linemen, not to mention quarterback and college teammate Sam Darnold. Mayock believes Green will begin his NFL career as a D-end but ultimately end up a tackle. "He hasn't really filled into his body type yet. I think he's an outside player but I think he's going to grow into an inside player. And I think Green's going to be a difference-maker in the NFL."
Bradley Chubb, North Carolina State: The deepest quarterback class in years has relegated Chubb to a "top-five" prospect instead of potentially being the top overall pick, as we've seen with previous defensive ends. That doesn't mean Chubb isn't of that ilk. In fact, Mayock likens him to 2016 Defensive Rookie of the Year Joey Bosa, only Chubb's 4.65 40 was markedly better than Bosa's 4.88. "How about that one, folks? I kept trying to pick his game apart, watching his film and it's really hard because a lot of these edge guys don't want to pay the run. But he's so physical and tough against the run. He flies to the football."
Marcus Davenport, UTSA: You might not have heard of him. But he was a big topic of conversation at the combine, and you'll hear of him again on Day 1 of the draft. Mayock's second-ranked edge rusher ran a 4.58 40. "I can't tell you how impressive that is. That puts him in-between [Jadeveon] Clowney (4.53) and [Ezekiel] Ansah (4.63). He's more raw than Clowney but this kid's special. ... You talk about Ansah as a freak. You've got to put Davenport, physically, in the same category."
Arden Key, LSU: He didn't run the 40 this weekend but impressed nonetheless in on-field drills. Mayock especially liked seeing him back at 238 pounds, which had been his playing weight prior to being at 265 last season. "He looks so much quicker. I put the first tape of the year on, and I didn't even recognize him."
Harold Landry, Boston College: Projections are all over the place for Landry, with some seeing him as a first round guy and others believing he could fall to Day 3. Mayock's No. 4 edge rusher certainly helped his stock by running a 4.64 in the 40. "Good time for him at 253 pounds. ... He also converts speed to power."
Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech: He's 19 years old and will likely be selected higher than that figure in the first round of the draft. More fun with numbers: he's 6-foot-4, 253 pounds, and he ran the 40 in 4.54 seconds. Those are some of the reasons Edmunds is Mayock's top-rated linebacker on the board. "[He has] the skill-set of being able to be a powerful inside off the ball and an edge rusher."
Roquan Smith, Georgia: Combine the athleticism and sideline-to-sideline speed of Atlanta FalconsPro Bowl linebacker Deion Jones with the leadership and work ethic of former Pro Bowler Jonathan Vilma, and Mayock says you get Roquan Smith. Or maybe the version we saw at Georgia. Despite weighing in 11 pounds heavier at the combine than his listed weight last year (225), he ran an impressive 4.51 in the 40. Mayock's takeaway: "I think he's a plug-and-play off-the-ball linebacker. People are going to love Roquan Smith."
Shaquem Griffin, UCF: He wasn't on the original invite list, but that didn't stop him from crashing the party. Griffin, the combine's most inspiring story, might have punched his ticket as an NFL draft pick. After completing 20 reps in the bench press with the aid of a prosthetic, he ran a blazing 4.38 in the 40, the fastest for a linebacker since 2003. Accordingly, Mayock (and everyone else) was moved: "Hello! Are you kidding me? Wow. ... He can run."