Day Three of the NFL combine is in the books as defensive linemen and linebackers took to the field Monday. Injures and disappointments continued to be a storyline, although one linebacker in particular appeared to be making his way toward the top of draft boards. Here's the National Football Post's report:
(Note: Times were obtained from sources inside the stadium who observed workouts.)
The story of the day was definitely Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry. Curry ran off a blistering 4.56 in the 40 along with 25 reps on the bench and a 37-inch vertical jump. This was by far one of the best workouts at the combine, and with the injury to Texas Tech wideout Michael Crabtree, Curry could be moving into the top overall spot on draft boards.
USC linebacker Clay Matthews did nothing but help his draft stock all year and Monday was no different. Matthews posted the fourth fastest 40 time (4.67) of the group and was also among the top five performers in the vertical jump, broad jump, 3-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle. Matthews now looks to have secured a spot in the first round and could be moving into the top-20 range.
South Carolina linebacker Jasper Brinkley showed up at the combine almost 20 pounds lighter (252) than his listed playing weight last season and had one of the best performances of the day. His 4.72 time is more than enough for the inside linebacker position. And his 26 reps on the bench along with top-10 finishes in the 3-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle proved he has the power and fluidity to make it inside at the next level.
Richmond defensive end Lawrence Sidbury looks to be gaining momentum after clocking in with a 4.64 40-time and a 35-inch vertical. Sidbury was by far one of the most explosive and laterally gifted athletes during position drills and will be moving up the defensive end rankings in the coming weeks.
Also moving up in the defensive line rankings are tackles Evander Hood from Missouri and Myron Pryor from Kentucky. Hood was already viewed as a likely second-round pick, but after a strong showing Monday, which included a sub-5.0 time in the 40 and 34 reps on the bench, he might be making a run toward the latter portions of round one. Pryor, on the other hand, is considered more of a late-round guy, but he displayed excellent foot quickness, body control and punch during position drills. His 5.1 40 time was enough to impress scouts, and with the nose tackle class as weak as it is, Pryor may have guaranteed himself a spot the mid/late rounds.
Speaking of nose tackles, the draft's top interior lineman, B.J. Raji, had a solid showing. Even with his struggles starting in the 40-yard dash (he was forced to re-start four times because of a rolling start), Raji still posted a respectable time in the 5.1 range and looked smooth and powerful during position drills. This guy could be making his way into the top five.
Two of the draft's best outside pass rushers posted respectable times today, as Florida State defensive end Everette Brown finished with a time of 4.73 and Georgia Tech standout Michael Johnson finished with a 4.75. Johnson also displayed his impressive athleticism with a 38.5-inch vertical jump and looked very explosive during position drills
Iowa defensive tackle Mitch King posted a time of 4.81 and was very explosive and quick during position drills. He displayed the body control to keep his balance while accelerating around the corner and looked very natural during his entire workout.
Possibly my favorite prospect in this year's draft is OLB/DE/TE Connor Barwin. He displayed better-than-anticipated straight-line speed and athleticism during his workout yesterday. Barwin recorded the second fastest 40 time among all defensive lineman at 4.66 as well as the top 3-cone drill and 20-yrd shuttle time. Barwin proved he isn't simply a straight-line athlete and could be forcing his way into the mid-to-early portions of round two.
USC inside linebacker Rey Maualuga ran his first 40 in the 4.8 range but pulled up lame with a hamstring injury. He will likely miss the USC pro day.
Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo was also was injured today but not before he was able to post an impressive 4.7 40-time and throw up 31 reps on the bench. However, the more I watched Orakpo run and work out, the more I am convinced Orakpo is not suited to stand-up in any capacity as a 3-4 rush linebacker. He simply looks too stiff.
Northern Illinois standout Larry English posted a disappointing 40 time, as high as the 4.9 range. He did post some of the best numbers in the 3-cone and 20-yard shuttle; however, his straight-line speed may be a concern for teams looking at him as a pure 3-4-rush linebacker.
Also struggling today were defensive ends Michael Bennett from Texas A&M and Matt Shaughnessy from Wisconsin. Bennett posted a pedestrian 4.97 in the 40 while Shaughnessy looked very slow-footed and stiff during position drills. Neither man warrants much more then a mid-round pick.
Finally, Penn State pass rusher Aaron Maybin weighed in at 249 pounds, which was 15 pounds heavier than what he was listed coming in. He ran a respectable 4.78 40 and posted an impressive 35.5-inch vertical. However, he did his best work during position drills, displaying an impressive first step off the ball and the ability to attack up field.
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- Clay Matthews