NFL Draft

2022 NFL Combine Day Three Analysis: DL, EDGE, And LB

Welcome back to another morning of 2022 NFL Combine recap and analysis. Switching over to defense with the defensive linemen, edge rushers, and off-ball linebackers. If you missed it, you can check out our complete results tracker here along with the players the Pittsburgh Steelers have interviewed so far.

Let’s talk about the notables from Day Three.

Defensive Linemen/EDGE

— Gotta start the day by talking about Georgia NT Jordan Davis. The talk of the day. Big man moving at 6’6, 340 pounds and turning in a 4.78 with a 1.68 ten-split. His jumps showed explosion with a 32 inch vertical and 10’3″ broad, the latter a foot better than any other interior defensive lineman. According to Kent Lee Platte’s RAS Score, Davis has the second best score of anyone he’s ever recorded, over 17,000 people, only second to Calvin Johnson. Wow.

Davis looked a little tall in drills, natural given his height and lack of work moving backwards, but he had a great day.

If you listened to one of the interviews he did with NFL Network, he displayed a fun but humble personality. Cameras also caught him and teammate Travon Walker stayed through the linebacker drills that didn’t wrap up until 9:30 PM/EST to watch teammates Channing Tindall and Quay Walker workout. It’s hard to have a better day than what Davis did for himself. He’ll go in the first round. It’s just a question of how high.

— Davis’ record day overshadowed what one of his teammates, Travon Walker, did. At 272 pounds, he ran a 4.51 with a 1.62 ten-split and an outstanding 6.98 three-cone. Walker moved like a linebacker or tight end in drills, even when asked to move backwards and change directions. He showed great lean and balance in the hoop drill. With size, length, athleticism, production, and competition, he could be a Top 15 pick.

— Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson looked a little tight in coverage drills, losing his footing and playing a bit stiff, but his 6.73 three-cone and 4.15 short-shuttle tell you this guy isn’t stiff when it comes to moving forward and rushing the passer, which is what he’ll be doing in the NFL. His other times were respectable and he competed in everything, something Oregon DE Kayvon Thibodeaux did not do. He only ran the 40, though put in a solid 4.58 time at 254 pounds.

— Virginia Tech’s Amare Barno was the EDGE freak of the day. Combine-record 4.36 40, 37 inch vert, 10’11” broad and a 1.54 ten-split. Have to at least worth numbers like that.

— UConn’s Travis Jones picked up where he left off from a strong Senior Bowl week. Very good times, 4.92 at 325 pounds, with a powerful lower half who moved effortlessly in drills. His feet did click in the bag drill causing him to fall but beyond that, it was a good day. Another first-round pick who probably goes in the final ten picks.

— Oklahoma’s Nik Bonitto was oddly with the defensive linemen at just 248 pounds. He ran exceptionally well, a 4.54 40, but he struggled to keep his feet in drills, constantly slipping as he went through the bags. He also lost his balance trying to flatten and corner on another drill.

— WKU’s DeAngelo Malone was excellent at the Senior Bowl playing with heavy hands and the ability to get off blocks. But his thin lower half causes some tightness in his ankles when asked to change directions, especially going forward. He did look comfortable dropping into coverage and should fit as a 3-4 OLB who can play on his feet. Also got his weight up nine pounds since the Senior Bowl to 243.

— Should note SDSU’s Cam Thomas got hurt in the hoop drill. Penn State’s Jesse Luketa pulled up lame on his second 40. He did get to jump 37.5 inches before exiting for the day.

— Sam Williams and Jeffrey Gunter high-pointed and caught the ball well in drills. Williams’ 1.6 ten-split was one of the best of the day.

— Minnesota’ Boye Mafe has been boosting his stock all draft-season. Has all the tools to put him into first-round consideration though there’s questions about his rawness and overall body of work (only 15 career sacks). He’s also an older prospect, turning 24 in November. But someone should bet on his traits (4.53 40, 38 inch vert) sooner than later.

— Many wondering why Cincinnati’s Myjai Sanders came in at 228 after being in the 240s at Mobile. Reportedly he battled an illness and tried to tough it out. Hopefully he’s better for his Pro Day but props for sticking it out. Despite it, he still posted a 1.62 ten-split.

Linebacker

— Another impressive group of athletes. Montana State’s Troy Anderson carried over a good Senior Bowl week to Indy. A former running back/quarterback turned linebacker, he ran a blistering 4.42 in addition to a 36 inch vert and 10’8″ broad at 243 pounds. He should be no worse than a Day Two pick.

— Most underrated testing of the day? Wisconsin’s Leo Chenal. 250 pounds who ran 4.53 with a 40.5 inch vertical and 10’8″ broad. Rare blend of size and athleticism.

—Very good workout for LSU Damone Clark. Wasn’t the flashiest but he’s smooth when asked to change directions and looked comfortable in all his drills. His testing was solid at a 4.57 40 at 239 pounds with an excellent 10’7″ broad and 36.5 inch vert.

— Wyoming Chad Muma had a tough time through one of the last drills but I didn’t expect a 40 inch vertical and 10’9″ broad. His 40 time was a little more average but he definitely displayed explosiveness. Ditto with Oklahoma State’s Malcolm Rodriguez with an excellent 4.52 40 and 39.5 inch vert.

— Maybe the most surprising number of the day on the negative side was Utah Devin Lloyd’s 40 time. 4.66 official time. Not terrible but based on his tape, it felt slow. He will be a trust-the-tape guy based on his processing, explosion, and hit-power.

— Arkansas’ Tre Williams is one of those “threshold” guys. Testing so bad he may be off boards because he’s under thresholds teams use to measure a baseline chance of success. 5.08 40, 26.5 inch vertical, and 8’8″ broad at 252 pounds. He has size and length but had poor numbers and a workout that showed him in a slower gear than most of his peers. Unlikely to be drafted.

— One guy I didn’t know much about who caught my attention? Arizona State’s Darien Butler. Didn’t run or test but went through drills and showed off his athleticism and explosion. He’s undersized but could become a run-and-hit special teamer who picked off three passes in 2021 for the Sun Devils.

— Finally, Cincinnati’s Darrian Beavers dropped nearly 20 pounds to be faster for the Senior Bowl though he curiously opted against running the 40. Assuming he’ll save it for his Pro Day which is just around the corner. He did jump 36.5 inches in the vert and 10’5″ in the broad so shedding that weight helped him get up a little easier. He still has a big lower half that creates explosion, as I noted at the Senior Bowl, and his testing demonstrates that.

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