Former NFL player and scout Bucky Brooks is spotlighting the prospects who make a mark -- for better or worse -- at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine. On Sunday, the defensive linemen and linebackers took the field. Bucky provides his impressions from Indianapolis.
Vic Beasley, edge rusher, Clemson: It's time to acknowledge that Beasley is one of the top pass-rushing prospects in the 2015 class. At the NFL Scouting Combine, he has silenced critics questioning his size, strength and power, capping off a fine week with a sensational on-field performance Sunday. The 6-foot-3, 246-pound edge rusher pumped out 35 reps on the bench press and posted impressive marks in every athletic drill. From his sizzling 4.53-second time in the 40-yard dash to his terrific measurements in the jumps (41-inch vertical, 130-inch broad) to his remarkable shuttle times (6.91 three-cone drill, 4.15 20-yard shuttle), Beasley showed scouts that he is one of the premier athletes available in this draft. Most importantly, he's packed on nearly 15 pounds since the end of the season without losing any speed or quickness, and he displayed more power than most evaluators expected prior to this event. Given Beasley's impressive athletic feats and his solid résumé as a pass rusher, his stock is shooting up after this week in Indy.
Dante Fowler, edge rusher, Florida: Despite entering the combine with plenty of hype, the jury was still out on whether Fowler possessed the physical tools to be considered an elite prospect. After clocking a 4.60 40-yard dash and displaying better-than-anticipated quickness in shuttle drills (7.40 three-cone drill, 4.32 20-yard shuttle and 11.89 60-yard shuttle), few scouts harbor concerns about Fowler's athleticism and explosiveness as an edge rusher. The ex-Gator also showed outstanding balance and body control in positional drills. From dropping into coverage with his eyes on the quarterback to changing directions in a variety of agility and bag drills, Fowler looks comfortable playing in space from an upright position. If he continues to kill it at his pro day and in a series of private workouts, Fowler could cement his status as a top-five overall talent and surpass Randy Gregory and Shane Ray as the top edge defender on the board.
Alvin "Bud" Dupree, edge rusher, Kentucky: The "Workout Warrior" Award should be placed in Dupree's hands after his eye-popping showing on Sunday. Despite having a groin injury that forced him to sit out positional drills, he ran a 4.56 40 and popped a pair of impressive jumps (42-inch vertical, 138-inch broad) that showcased his explosive athletic ability. This will boost Dupree's stock as an edge-rushing threat.
Eli Harold, edge rusher, Virginia: The former Cavalier standout had been hailed as one of the draft's biggest sleepers prior to the NFL Scouting Combine, but the cat might be out of the bag now, as Harold put on a spectacular showing on the turf Sunday. The 6-3, 247-pounder clocked a 4.60 in the 40 and posted remarkable times in the shuttle drills (7.07 in the three-cone, 4.16 in the 20-yard and 11.81 in the 60-yard). In addition, Harold recorded a 35-inch vertical jump and a 123-inch broad jump, suggesting that he is an explosive athlete with the physical tools to develop into a consistent pass-rushing threat off the edge.
Paul Dawson, LB, TCU: The workouts in Indy are not supposed to hurt a player's stock, but it will be hard for scouts to overlook Dawson's disappointing performance on Sunday. He posted pedestrian times in the 40 (4.93) and didn't show any explosiveness in the jumping drills (28-inch vertical, 109-inch broad). Those lackluster marks accompanied a dismal performance in the positional workout, where he looked stiff and upright while changing directions. Although Dawson's game tape is as solid as any prospect in the 2015 class, this lack of athleticism and explosiveness could prompt some teams to drop their grades on the standout linebacker.
Shaq Thompson, LB/S/RB, Washington: Thompson was painted as a dynamic athletic with explosive speed and quickness, but scouts will question that initial assessment after watching his underwhelming performance in Indianapolis. Thompson posted average marks in the 40-yard dash (4.64 seconds), vertical jump (33.5 inches) and broad jump (117 inches), looking nothing like the athletic freak he was supposed to be. Although he was rather smooth and fluid in positional drills, Thompson didn't show the burst or explosiveness evaluators expected to see. With several scouts and coaches still undecided on Thompson's best position as a pro, the disappointing showing will lead to more questions about his upside and overall potential.
Biggest subplot entering Monday's workout
The competition for the top cornerback spot in the 2015 class will take center stage at Lucas Oil Stadium, with Michigan State's Trae Waynes, Washington's Marcus Peters and LSU's Jalen Collins all vying for the title. Evaluators around the NFL believe the trio offers immense talent, but coaches need to see which defender possesses the speed, quickness, technical skills and versatility to thrive as a lockdown corner in the league. With a host of drills designed to highlight the footwork and movement skills of each player, the final day of the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine should provide evaluators with some clarity on the cornerback pecking order.