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NFL Combine: Sunday Preview – DL, LB

The deepest part of the Combine shows off on Sunday as defensive lineman hit the workouts along with linebackers. On display will be some big names and impact players on defense for years to come. Who is getting overlooked? I’m here to give you a preview on an important day at the Combine, Let’s Dive In!


Main People to Watch


Joey Bosa (DE) Ohio State

  • Most scouts and football analysts see him as the best defensive player in the draft. He can be a 4-3 or a 3-4 end and the face of the franchise/defense. He will put up some good numbers, but just the intensity that he brings to the workout will capture some eyes of teams at the top of the draft.


DeForest Buckner (DE) Oregon

  • An ideal 3-4 defensive end or a hybrid defensive lineman for specific teams. He could really prove himself to be a player with an extremely high ceiling and too much potential to pass up on early in the draft.


A’Shawn Robinson (DT) Alabama

  • The first defensive tackle off the board because of his brute strength and surprising athleticism. Another player that will look daunting during the on-field workouts with his big-bodied frame moving quicker than expected.


Robert Nkemdiche (DT) Mississippi

  • The interview process was the biggest part of Nkemdiche’s Combine process, which we don’t get to see. Most people expect him to be the most athletic defensive lineman during the Combine. He could put up some impressive numbers on Sunday and really start the process of weighing off-field risk vs. on-field reward.


Myles Jack (LB) UCLA and Jaylon Smith (LB) Notre Dame

  • Neither will participate due to injuries, which allows other players a chance to shine. They are extremely talented and will be taken in the 1st round, it will just be up to the team on when they find the reward bigger than the risk.


Reggie Ragland (LB) Alabama

  • You watch the tape and you see an intelligent football player that is a  tackling machine all over the field. If he can prove that he is more athletic than scouts and analysts think, he will guarantee himself a first round selection.


Who will be the surprise performers that will create some buzz?


Kevin Dodd (DE) Clemson

  • Has a relentless motor and work ethic that keeps him in the discussion for the first round. He will most likely put up above average numbers, but his potential is higher than his current state. He will show burst and initial speed that will grab the eyes of the scouts and general managers.


Darron Lee (LB) Ohio State

  • Without Myles Jack or Jaylon Smith, people will be watching him as the main linebacker prospect at the combine. He will be fast, agile, and will “wow” the Combine. He may be looked upon as the biggest ascending prospect after the Combine on defense.


Su’a Cravens (LB) USC

  • He is smaller than your average linebacker, but so is Deone Bucannon who plays linebacker for the Arizona Cardinals. He will fly around and look like a player that can be a difference maker at the second level.


Who needs a good performance?


Joey Bosa (DE) Ohio State

  • Currently, he could go anywhere in the top 10. He needs to come out and be a “stud” and make sure everyone in the top 10 takes another look, especially teams in the top 5.


Sheldon Rankins (DL) Louisville

  • Has scouts excited due to his performance in the Senior Bowl and his practices during that week. If he can come out with another great performance in front of a lot of general managers and personnel for NFL teams, he will move up a lot of boards.


Leonard Floyd (LB) Georgia

  • Most analysts and scouts are worried about his size. He does need to bulk up, but can he really be an elite athletic edge presence?


Who does not need a bad performance?


Robert Nkemdiche (DT) Mississippi

  • If for some reason he cannot show the athleticism that people thought he would show, he will drop out of the first round due to his off-field issues. Needs to look like an elite prospect and athlete during on-field workouts.


Noah Spence (DE) Eastern Kentucky

  • Another player with off-field issues that needed to nail interviews this week during the Combine. He needs to prove himself to be an elite athlete and show that the on-field talent outweighs the risk of off-field issues.


Reggie Ragland (LB) Alabama

  • His speed and acceleration will be watched closely this weekend as it seems to be his only weakness. If he is a little slower than most, it will move him back on some boards.


Workout Warriors


Andrew Billings (DT) Baylor

  • Extremely strong and will “wow” with his power and impact through the Combine. If he can prove he also possesses some short area burst and quickness, could be the best pure nose guard/tackle in the draft in awhile.


Shawn Oakman (DE) Baylor

  • Looks the part of a physical freak. Impressive frame and body build, will be fun to see if his numbers match his freakish body.


Darron Lee (LB) Ohio State

  • See above on why he will be the talk of the Combine at the linebacker position.


Be Careful of the Hype Guy


Robert Nkemdiche (DT) Mississippi

  • Everyone knows that he is an impressive athlete, but the interviews were the biggest part of his Combine. He will grab attention with his numbers and impressive athleticism on Sunday.


Not “Star” players, but will quietly get a lot of attention at the Combine


Emmanuel Ogbah (DE) Oklahoma State

  • He is one that I will be watching closely at the Combine. On tape, shows flashes of being an elite edge presence. The question will be if an NFL team can harness that potential and talent and turn it into an elite football player. Scouts and General Managers want to interview and get to see this kid up close.


Chris Jones (DT) Mississippi State

  • In a deep draft like this for a specific position, some general managers and scouts want to find a player that is outside the top tier that is talented that would be in the top tier in other years. Chris Jones could be that guy due to his natural toughness and strength. Big-bodied frame that could intrigue some teams.


Jordan Jenkins (LB) Georgia

  • Can be a player that can step in right away and be an above average 3-4 outside linebacker that knows the game of football. He can play and be a good starter for years. Scouts and General Managers look for these type of players that may not be all-pro’s, but productive players.


Kyler Fackrell (OLB) Utah State

  • Could be a hot commodity come the 2nd round and get drafted earlier than we expect due to his motor and ability to challenge off the edge. He had a intriguing Senior Bowl, but could prove himself again and move into the discussion as the best mid-round pass rusher available as a 3-4 OLB.


Guy that won’t Flash Great Numbers but You Need to Know


Shaw Lawson (DE) Clemson

  • There is a reason that Clemson was in the National Championship, especially with these two defensive ends. Lawson is a great edge setter and will be in the NFL. He may not ever be an elite pass rusher, but a great defensive end that will do his job continuously.


Scooby Wright (LB) Arizona

  • Has great football instincts and shows it on tape. Won’t test extremely well, but is a classic linebacker that will make up for it with a quicker recognition and playmaking ability. Teams will see that as a strength and gladly take him in an early round.


Follow me on Twitter @Shep_Collins for opinion, analysis, and fantasy implications from the NFL Scouting Combine

About Dan Collins

I have always been an avid football enthusiast. The NFL Draft and Fantasy Football is my passion in the realm of football. I write Mock Drafts and inform readers of what is happening during the critical stages of the NFL Draft. I spend way too much time working through Fantasy Football analysis, situations, and thoughts; it is an issue. Follow on Twitter @Dan_R_Collins for Football info and the occasional joke or wisecrack.