Combine Wrap up - Defense

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    Combine Wrap-up Part II: The Defense
    3:19 AM

    an original article by Greg Benjamin

    Defensive End: Ohio State defensive end Mike Kudla was one of the big stories of the combine. Kudla tied the all-time bench press record with 45 reps of 225 pounds. Manny Lawson put up some impressive numbers. The 247 pound DE/LB "tweener" ran a 4.43 in the 40, a 4.18 short shuttle, an 11.08 long shuttle, a 6.90 three cone, and had a 39 ½ inch vertical leap. Lawson will most likely be picked up in the first round by a team that runs a 3-4 defensive scheme and moved to linebacker, much like Demarcus Ware was a year ago. Another physical freak on the defensive line is Mario Williams from N.C. State. Williams is 6-7 and a solid 295 pounds. He ran an impressive 40 for a man his size with 4.66. He also had a 40 inch vertical, the top number among defensive linemen. Mathias Kiwanuka had a solid 40 time of 4.75 and showed his great short area quickness with the best short shuttle of all defensive linemen (4.13). Florida State’s Kamerion Wimbley had a nice workout with a 4.61 in the 40, a 10 foot 9 inch broad jump and a 38 ½ inch vertical. A small school defensive end to keep an eye on is Chris Gocong from Cal-Poly. He put up a 4.70 time in the 40 and had one of the better long shuttles of 11.30 seconds. Gocong is a bit undersized at 6-2 263 and he could be moved to outside linebacker in the NFL.

    Defensive Tackle: Broderick Bunkley from Florida State is an absolute beast. The 6-2 defensive tackle is a solid 306 pounds. He nearly tied the bench press record with 44 reps and he ran a 4.94 40, a good number for a 300 pound man. He added a 9 foot, 5 inch broad jump to his list of accomplishments this week. Bunkley has been rated as a first round pick for quite some time, but he may have moved himself into the top 15 or 20 with his combine performance. Haloti Ngata is the top defensive tackle and although he didn’t put up any impressive numbers at the combine, he didn’t hurt himself either. He will still be selected in the top half of the first round. Gabe Watson came in at a slim-looking 339 pounds and put up 36 strength reps. Much like Ngata, Watson neither helped nor hurt himself. He is still a top 5 defensive tackle due to the lack of 330 pound run stuffers in this draft.

    Linebacker: A.J. Hawk, who ran a 4.46 40 at last years Ohio State pro day came in a little slower than expected with a 4.59. He has put on 10 pounds of muscle in the past year and he was easily the most impressive linebacker in drills. He displayed incredible short-area quickness with a 3.96 short shuttle, the second fastest time of all players regardless of position at the combine. He also had the fastest long shuttle of all linebackers (11.06) as well as a vertical of 40 inches. Hawk has a chance to be the first linebacker selected in the top five in quite some time. Ernie Sims from Florida State is a player who will be moving up draft charts after his 4.50 40, 10 foot 5 inch broad jump. Jon Alston from Stanford opened some eyes with his 4.40 40, his 11 foot broad jump, and his 40 inch vertical. Thomas Howard from UTEP showed impressive speed for a 239 pound player with at 4.42 second 40 time. Howard also had a 10 foot 4 inch broad jump.

    Cornerback: Clemson cornerback Tye Hill put up some impressive numbers as he solidified the first round grade he earned at the senior bowl. Hill was the fastest player at the combine with a 4.30 second 40 time. Hill also had a 6.63 three cone, 4.01 short shuttle, 11.17 long shuttle, 10 foot 9 inch broad jump, and a 41 inch vertical leap to his credit. Antonio Cromartie proved his ACL is fully healed with his 4.41 40 time and 11 foot broad jump ( the best among defensive backs). South Carolina’s Jonathan Joseph and Georgias Tim Jennings showed outstanding speed with 40 times of 4.31 and 4.32 respectively. Devin Hester had good speed (4.45), but wasn’t as great as expected. He is a man without a true position and should fall to the second day, being drafted on his return ability and upside for the most part. A small school prospect to keep an eye on here is David Pittman from Northwestern State. Pittman was one of the most impressive defensive backs at the senior bowl and he put up a very good 40 time of 4.44 seconds this week.

    Safety: Texas’ Michael Huff continues to move up draft boards as he has shown all the tools to become a great safety or a shutdown corner at the professional level. Huff was the fastest safety at the combine (4.34), had a 10 foot 5 inch broad jump, and a 40 ½ inch vertical leap. He could be a top ten pick in April. Jason Allen proved he has fully recovered from his season ending injury and that he has the ability to play safety or cornerback in the NFL. Allen ran a 4.39 40, had a 10 foot 11 inch broad jump, a 39 ½ inch vertical, and put up the fastest short shuttle time of any player at the combine (3.81). Ko Simpson and Donte Whitner showed excellent speed for safeties with 4.45 and 4.40 respectively. Greg Blue came in slow with a time of 4.71 seconds. That along the fact that he is a liability in coverage may cause him to enter the draft as a SS/LB “tweener” as his former teammate Thomas Davis did a year ago. Nebraska safety Daniel Bullocks continued the rise up the draft boards he began at the senior bowl. Bullocks ran a 4.38 second 40 and appears to be following in the footsteps of his twin brother Josh who was a second round pick in the 2005 NFL draft. A small school player to keep an eye on is Reed Doughty from Northern Colorado. Doughty didn’t impress with his 40 time (4.73), but he had one of the fastest three cones of all the defensive backs (6.63) and the guy just makes plays.

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