Defenses don’t just win championships; they also win at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Some of the most impressive performances at the annual scouting event typically come from defensive prospects, and this year was no different as players such as Jadeveon Clowney blew the roof off Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis.
The top offensive performers have been revealed. Now, we turn the ball over to the defense.
Defensive Linemen: Aaron Donald
Donald dominated every facet of the Combine. The 6-foot-1, 285-pound interior lineman showed brute-force power by completing 35 reps on the 225-Bench Test, displayed remarkable first-step quickness by running the 40-Yard Dash in 4.68, and proved to be extremely athletic and agile in posting a time of 7.11 seconds in the 3-Cone Drill.
Look for Donald’s name to rocket up draft boards between now and the NFL Draft.
Honorable Mention: Jadeveon Clowney
You best believe the hype after this year’s No. 1 prospect ran a blazing 40 in 4.53 seconds.
Linebackers: Khalil Mack
How good is Mack? The always insightful Mike Mayock of NFL Network says he’d take the Buffalo LB with the first overall pick.
Mack was one of the most productive players in college football; however, his big-time numbers came mostly against mid-major competition in the Mid-American Conference. But there was nothing mid-major about his Combine performance. Mack showed out in every test—running the 40 in 4.65, recording a 40-inch Broad Jump, and showing exceptional lateral agility and change-of-direction skills in his positional workout.
Honorable Mention: Kevin Pierre-Louis
The Boston College ‘backer made a name for himself after finishing among the top three in his position group in six of the seven Combine tests, including his leading 40 time of 4.51 seconds.
Defensive Backs: Justin Gilbert
The marquee event of the Combine was magnified even more for a DB group devoid of a clear-cut No. 1 prospect.
Gilbert had been neck and neck with Darqueze Dennard as the top cornerback in the draft, but by running the fastest 40 among the group at 4.37, Gilbert earned enough credibility to be selected first.
Honorable Mention: Bradley Roby and Pierre Desir
Roby propelled himself back into first-round consideration on the heels of his 4.39 40-Yard Dash. Desir is a Division II prospect (6-foot-1 with 33-inch arm length) who recorded an 11-foot-1-inch Broad Jump.