2015 NFL Combine Winners and Losers- Defense
Every year. The best and brightest college stars look to prove themselves worthy of an NFL contract. Today I rank the top winners and losers from the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine.
1. The edge rushers- This year's class of pass rushers is as deep as any in recent memory. The combine performances of guys like Vic Beasley, Dante Fowler, Alvin Dupree, and Eli Harold all proved that.
Clemson's Vic Beasley solidified himself as one of the top pass rushing prospects this year. He proved his doubters wrong questioning his size and strength with a great combine performance. He recorded 35 reps on the bench press and was exceptional in all the athletic drills. In every major area, Beasley should that he was one of the best athletes in the draft. After bulking up after the season, he added a lot of power to his game without losing any speed and solidified himself as a top 10 pick.
Florida's Dante Fowler was seen as the top outside linebacker prospect in the class but there was still a lot of questions to be asked about his physical traits. Fowler posted a nice 40 time and showed great quickness in the on field drills. He showed great balance and body control in position drills and displayed the ability to play in space. If he continues to show improvement by his pro day, he maybe the first pass rusher off the board.
Kentucky's Alvin "Bud" Dupree was this year's "Workout Warrior." Despite dealing with a groin injury that forced him to miss positional drills, he ran a 4.56, 40 and jumped well showing his athleticism. His ability to fight through pain should boost his draft stock as an edge rusher.
Virginia's Eli Harold was originally seen as one of the biggest sleepers in the class. That is no longer the case. With an impressive 40 time and shuttle drill time, Harold showed he is an explosive athlete with the physical tools to be a consistent pass rusher.
2. Jalen Collins, CB, LSU- Collins possesses both size and speed which NFL scouts drool over in cornerbacks. After his 4.43, 40 time, there will be more and more hype surrounding him. He showed great quickness in drills and flashed great fluidity in transitions and displayed great catching ability in ball drills catching passes like a wide receiver. If he has an impressive pro day, he can see his name being called in the first round.
3. Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State- Waynes might have solidified himself as the best cornerback in the draft. The former Spartan posted the best 40 time among defensive backs at 4.31 seconds and showed great athleticism in on field drills. From his impressive footwork, quickness, agility, and strong hands, gives him all the tools to be a great playmaker in the secondary. If he can tighten up his technique by his pro day, he should be the first corner drafted.
4. Ronald Darby, CB, Florida State- Prior to the combine, Darby wasn't even seen as the best cornerback from his own college. Posting a blazing 40 time and showing ideal quickness in on field drills, he has all the makings of a potential first round pick. Looking like the ideal nickel cornerback, he has all the physical and technical skills to be a starter in the right system. In this ever growing passing league, NFL teams are in the need for athletic corners with versatility.
1. Paul Dawson, LB, TCU- The combine isn't intended to hurt a prospects draft stock, but unfortunately for Dawson it may have just done that. He posted a slower than slow 40 time and showed no explosiveness in jumping drills or linebacker drills. Throughout his workout, he looked stiff while changing direction. While the game tape is solid, scouts will have to wait til his pro day to see who the real Paul Dawson is.
2. Shaq Thompson, LB/S/RB, Washington- Thompson was seen as the most versatile player in the draft with his game tape showing dynamic speed and quickness. His performance at the combine showed none of that. In every major drill he looked average. Although he was smooth and fluid in positional drills, Thompson didn't show the speed scouts expected to see. With scouts giving different answers on what his position at the pro level will be, it leads to a conversation of his upside vs. overall potential.
3. Marcus Peters, CB, Washington- Peters may have hurt his draft stock even more after his poor performance. He posted a slow 40 time which put him in the bottom half of the defensive backs. Although he shows great speed and quickness on tape, this bad combine performance is just another notch in the negative for this troubled defender. He has a lot of issues to fix by his pro day if he expects to retain his draft status.
4. P.J. Williams, CB, Florida State- prior to the combine, Williams was seen as a borderline day one pick. Williams disappointed scouts with his 4.57, 40 time and didn't look comfortable in drills. While that was almost expected given Florida State's press coverage scheme, Williams has to improve on his backpedal, speed, and overall technique by his pro day.