NFL Combine Winners and Losers -Defense

NFL Combine

There are many football fans who wonder just how much stock to place in the NFL Combine. Some will say it doesn’t change what they saw on tape, while others will say that your eyes can sometimes lie to you, so the Combine can confirm/deny your assumptions. I’m somewhere in the middle. While I don’t think it matters all that much to me, it does matter to NFL teams, which will impact my mock drafts significantly.

Here is a look at the winners and losers on the defensive side of the ball from the recently completed NFL Combine.

Defensive Linemen
Winners

Justin Madubuike (Texas A&M)
Not only did he show off his strength when he threw up 31 reps on the bench press (4th among linemen), but he also flashed great athleticism when he made it through the 40-yard dash in just 4.83 seconds at 293 pounds.

Jonathan Garvin (Miami)
I’ll admit that I didn’t pay very much attention to Garvin prior to the Combine, but after his performance this weekend, I’ll be going back to take a second look. Among the defensive linemen working out, he finished No. 1 with a 36-inch vertical, No. 2 with a 125-inch broad jump, and No. 9 with a 4.82-second 40-yard dash. It’s clear that he’s among the best athletes entering the draft.

Losers

A.J. Epenesa (Iowa)
The strength of his game is supposed to be… his strength. After putting up just 17 reps on the bench press, which was the lowest among defensive linemen, his best attribute will be questioned. By comparison, 5-foot-11 wide receiver Jalen Reagor hit 17 reps on the bench press. There were 10 tight ends who topped 17 reps.

Trevon Hill (Miami)
He’s not someone who was fighting his way into the first-round conversation but had an outside chance at getting into the Day 2 conversation. After weighing in at just 248 pounds, Hill needed to show some athleticism to make up for his lack of size, but he failed to do so. His 4.89-second 40-yard dash, 28-inch vertical, and 113-inch broad jump were all far below what was expected.

Linebackers
Winners

Isaiah Simmons (Clemson)
Remember when everyone talked about Jonathan Taylor running a 4.39-second 40-yard dash on Friday night at 226 pounds? Yeah, well, Simmons one-upped him on Saturday when he ran the same exact time at 6-foot-4 and 238 pounds. He can play any position on the field and his speed score proved that. It also didn’t hurt that he jumped 39 inches and had a 132-inch broad jump. His stock is surely top-10 and he may have moved into the top-three conversation.

Davion Taylor (Colorado)
I was someone who didn’t think Taylor was getting enough love coming into the Combine, but that shouldn’t be the case anymore. Not only did he notch a 4.50-second 40-yard dash, highlighting his ability to easily hang with tight ends and most running backs, but he also showed his burst when he hit 127 inches in the broad jump (4th among linebackers), and finished the 3-cone drill in 6.96 seconds (4th among linebackers). He surely moved up draft boards this weekend.

Losers

Michael Divinity (LSU)
There’s been a lot of question marks surrounding Divinity and his suspension(s) last year, so he needed to detract the attention to what he can do on the field. He failed to do that, and in fact, he hurt his draft stock while running a 4.85-second 40-yard dash at 242 pounds and putting up just 14 reps on the bench press. His draft stock continues to tumble.

Defensive Backs
Winners

Jeremy Chinn (Southern Illinois)
He simply broke the Combine for defensive backs. His 4.45-second 40-yard dash was among the tops at his position, while his 41-inch vertical and 131-inch broad jump (third all-time among safeties) were both top-two among all defensive backs. Chinn may not have played at a high-profile school, but after the Combine, he’s a high-profile prospect.

Javelin Guidry (Utah)
There have been 14 prospects who’ve run a sub-4.3-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Not only did Guidry hit 4.29, but he was the first one to hit 21 reps on the bench press, too. That shows he’s got strength to match his speed, and that should force scouts/evaluators back to the film room to take another look at his on-field performance.

Losers

Xavier McKinney (Alabama)
Sure, McKinney was dealing with cramps, which makes it difficult to say he hurt his stock too much, but knowing what was at stake, he was one of the biggest movers in the wrong direction. There is a close race for the top safety in this year’s class, and McKinney is one of them. His first run at the 40-yard dash netted a less-than-stellar 4.63 seconds, which surely didn’t help his stock. His 122-inch broad jump was the eighth-lowest mark among defensive backs, while his 36-inch vertical was very middle-of-the-pack. His stock took a hit on Sunday.