This morning is the day at the NFL Combine where defensive linemen are running their 40-yard dash times.
Teams look for different things from outside vs. inside guys in this drill.
For instance, the 40-yard dash is not what scouts and coaches look at with defensive tackles. They’re MUCH more interested in their 10-yard split. Why? Because it’s very rare when a DT is asked to run 40 yards on a play. If he is, the defense has already failed on that play…the Dallas Cowboys’ infamous play where DT Randy White caught an Eagles’ WR from behind 40 yards downfield nonwithstanding.
The ten-yard split time shows that fast-twitch muscle fiber ability to go from start to full speed – a measure of acceleration, if you will.
Both times are important for defensive ends, however. The ten-yard split for the same reason they look for DTs, and the 40 because an end/OLB sometimes has to pursue a play from the back side.
That said, Oregon’s Dion Jordan ran into a 3-way tie for the best 40-yard dash time among DL at the NFL Combine Monday morning. At only 245 pounds because a lingering shoulder injury has kept him out of the weight room, he ran a 4.53.
Recall, West Virginia’s Bruce Irvin was a surprise pick at 15th overall last year by the Seattle Seahawks as he ran a similar time – at 245 pounds. The pick was widely panned, but Irvin did his job as a situational pass-rusher in sub-packages…which most NFL teams spend at least 50% of their defensive snaps in.
Ezekiel Ansah, the raw player but impressive physical specimen from BYU at 6’7″ 270 lbs. whom so many people raved about going into the 2013 NFL Combine, ran an an equally impressive 4.62 with his size.
Jordan went to school in Kansas for a while, but transferred to Oregon so he could be closer to home. Since his college coach, Chip Kelly, is now the Philadelphia Eagles‘ Head Coach, I can see him going #4 overall to the Eagles if Kelly wants him that high. Nobody knows the kid better than he does and knows that Jordan is going to have surgery on that shoulder and will need to ultimately weigh in at about 265.
Since Jordan will be playing catch-up physically his first season, #4 overall could be a bit high for him but if anyone is willing to take a flyer on him that high, it’ll be his ex-college coach.
“The Eastern Bloc,” Margus Hunt from SMU, ran a 4.60-flat which was good for 4th place.
Auburn’s Corey Lemonier (pronounced Lemon-wah) ran a 4.53, tying Jordan’s time for tops among defensive players running today. Barkevious Mingo, a DE from LSU, completed the three-way tie with the same 4.53.
Utah’s literal star player, Star Lotuleilei, was pulled from drills because of an unspecified heart condition that was discovered. Previously slated as a top-ten talent and a top-5 or even top-3 according to some analysts, it’s unclear for now what effect this will have on his draft status. With all the talent along the defensive line in this season’s class, it could possibly kick him out of the top ten. We’ll just have to wait and hope that his condition turns out to be something minor and transitory.
He was told the doctor saw something “heart-related” and will go home to seek a second opinion later this week, and says he’s never had any issues show up on any physical exam in the past. Let’s all hope he’ll be fine.
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