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It’s not just the offensive players whose fortunes were affected by this weekend’s combine. The defensive players also had a chance to show what they could do. Some showed they are ready for the next level. Others, not so much. This stock report breaks down which players helped or hurt their draft stock last weekend at the 2015 NFL Combine.
As a group, the defensive linemen were decent to quite good and USC standout Leonard Williams led the way to no one’s surprise. There were few negative surprises in this batch. The linebackers, however, were another story. As a group, there weren’t many standouts and several big names fell short of what they were projected to do. On Monday, the defensive backs took center stage. And while there isn’t the depth among the position as in other drafts, there are still a few standouts worth drafting.
Vic Beasley, EDGE Clemson
His tape is full of explosion and fast first steps. The concerns heading into the combine were his size and strength. Beasley rolled into Indianapolis at 6’3” and 246 pounds, then put up a position-best 35 reps on the bench press. His explosion numbers checked out, notching a 4.53 40-yard dash time, a 41-inch vertical jump and 130-inch broad jump, all of which were the same or better than last year’s No. 1 draft pick, Jadeveon Clowney. Those measurable, combined with his play on tape make Beasley an exciting prospect. If you play in a sack-heavy league, he should be an early option for you.
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Bud Dupree, OLB Kentucky
Dupree had a reputation as an outstanding athlete and he did nothing to dispel that notion this past weekend. He turned in the best 40 time among linebackers, putting down a 4.56 time. He also turned in a 42 inch vertical and 138-inch broad jump. NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah said Dupree would splash on tape at times, but at other times he couldn’t find him. Still, his performance Sunday will give evaluators plenty to consider. Dupree bears drafting, but where to take him will probably require more review.
Danny Shelton, DT Washington
No one was surprised when Shelton showed well in the bench press (34 reps). What got people’s attention was when he turned in a 5.64 40-yard dash time at 6’2” and 339 pounds. He also told multiple NFL Network reporters that he is willing to play both the nose and 3-technique, but he preferred to play on the nose, like his idol Haloti Ngata, who he has often been compared to. Shelton might be more valuable in real life than fantasy, but if you play in a league that requires you to start a defensive tackle, he should fill that role for you quite nicely.
Byron Jones, CB UConn
Jones set the combine on fire, starting with world record broad jump of 12’3”. He wasn’t done there, turning in a 44.5 inch vertical jump. The 6’1”, 199 pound corner didn’t run the 40-yard dash, but recorded a 6.78 in the three-cone, 3.94 in the 20-yard shuttle, and a 10.98 in the 60-yard shuttle. Jones only played in six games in 2014 thanks to a shoulder injury. He could wind up being a mid-round steal for some team.
Trae Waynes, CB Michigan State
Waynes came in at or near the top of the cornerback draft boards, but helped solidify himself with a strong performance Monday. The Spartan recorded a 4.31 time in the 40-yard dash, and had 19 reps in the bench press, both best among the defensive backs. He also demonstrated explosiveness with a 122-inch broad jump as well as a 38-inch vertical leap. In games, Waynes is a physical corner and in Monday’s on-field drills he showed a smoothness in his backpedal and a good transition when flipping his hips. He, along with Alabama safety Landon Collins, should be among your early defensive back draft targets.
Denzel Perryman MLB, Miami
Perryman transitioned from OLB to MLB, so many were expecting a better 40-yard dash time out of him. His effort of 4.78 was disappointing to say the least. He also struggled in on-field drills, showing a lack of fluidity. The biggest beneficiary of a poor day by the linebackers may have been UCLA’s Eric Kendricks. Kendricks didn’t wow with his performance, but he didn’t stumble either and has a strong tape. Perryman still should be among the first linebackers off the board, but he is now squarely behind Kendricks.
Paul Dawson, OLB TCU
NFL Network’s Mike Mayock has been leading the charge about Dawson’s on-field play, but even the veteran analyst had to admit he had to “go back to the tape” after Sunday’s performance. Dawson recorded a 40-yard dash time of 4.93, only put up 21 reps in the bench press and frankly looked terrible in the on-field drills. Now, it may be a case of him being more football player than true athlete, but it certainly doesn’t bode well for his opportunities. Dawson went so far as to Tweet Sunday afternoon “I’m an awesome football player. The best/most productive linebacker in the draft. Not a track star. #meetmeonthefield” Dawson will also require further review before knowing exactly where he should be drafted.
Bendarick McKinney, MLB Mississippi State
His main problem lied in that he didn’t show much in the way of strength, putting up only 16 reps in the bench press. On the plus side, his 40-time of 4.66 was better than Perryman’s. Like his counterpart from Miami, McKinney did not fare well in the on-field drill portion of the combine, looking slow and stiff. He could be a valuable asset in tackle-heavy leagues if he lands in a good spot that can hide his coverage deficiencies.