3 linebackers who improved their stock at day 1 of the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine
The Washington Commanders often play with just two linebackers. Head coach Ron Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio often like to employ the “Buffalo nickel,” which is essentially a hybrid safety on the field.
Heading into 2023, the Commanders need help at linebacker. 2021 first-round pick Jamin Davis has one spot locked up after an encouraging 2022 season. At the other spot, Cole Holcomb is a free agent.
And while Holcomb could return, it would be wise for Washington to be looking to add another young linebacker to the mix who could contribute as a rookie and perhaps start somewhere down the line.
Auburn linebacker Owen Pappoe
Auburn linebacker Owen Pappoe (LB24) participates in drills during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Owen Pappoe had one of those days that will have coaches, scouts and general managers looking back at Auburn games this week. At 6-foot-0, 225 pounds, many will consider Pappoe a bit undersized for every-down duty. But he’s actually a perfect fit for the modern game. He is good in coverage, but some will question his instincts. Pappoe ran a blazing 4.39 40 time on Thursday. If the Commanders are looking for a talented linebacker who can cover, Pappoe is one to watch.
Owen Pappoe was feeling it after running a 4.46u. 😜 @AuburnFootball
📺: #NFLCombine on @nflnetwork
📱: Stream on NFL+ pic.twitter.com/LEgF4eCzfz
— NFL (@NFL) March 3, 2023
Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell
Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell (LB05) participates in drills during the NFL Combine. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
It was a great day for Jack Campbell. Not only did he measure in at 6-foot-5, 249 pounds, but he also ran the 40 in 4.65 seconds. Here’s what Chad Reuter of NFL.com said about Campbell:
Unheralded as a great athlete coming into this event, the 6-4 5/8, 249-pounder jumped 37 1/2 inches in the vertical and 10-7 in the broad jump while posting a 1.59-second 10-yard split. Campbell was as fluid and quick as any larger ‘backer who took the field Thursday, which showed in a 6.74-second three-cone effort. Teams will likely project him as an immediate starter at the next level when they consider these results along with the instincts and toughness Campbell showed on tape during his Iowa career.
Campbell would be the ideal mike linebacker for Rivera and Del Rio — two former NFL linebackers. He allows you to keep Davis outside where he is best, and you have two athletic ‘backers behind that outstanding defensive line. Campbell’s size makes him look like an edge rusher.
Washington State lineback Daiyan Henley
Washington State linebacker Daiyan Henley (LB10) participates in drills during the NFL Combine. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
If you followed our work from the Senior Bowl, you’ll know we were fans of Washington State linebacker Daiyan Henley. The speedy off-ball linebacker ran the 40 in 4.54 seconds, showing that his speed on tape matches his timed speed. It was another good day for Henley, who probably didn’t receive a lot of attention because his testing numbers were expected. He is another plug-and-play linebacker in 2023. He fits the modern game.
And, apparently, Washington likes him, too.
The Commanders met formally with LB Daiyan Henley, per source.
— Ryan Fowler (@_RyanFowler_) March 1, 2023