Defensive line is probably the deepest group of prospects in the upcoming draft, and the group didn’t disappoint at the Combine last week. I have to admit that I was a bit shocked at how good many of the prospects looked in Indy, and it was actually hard to find major disappointments. So many guys stood out that it’s going to be hard to get them all in, but it’s worth a try.
Player I Was Most Impressed With: Dontay Moch (Nevada)
I knew this guy was going to post some impressive numbers, but actually seeing him really blew me away. He set the 40 record for D-lineman at 4.48, and he was just an overall machine. My guess is that he plays outside linebacker in a 3-4 system, and he is certainly athletic enough to do so. I don’t know how good he is going to be in the NFL, but the man is an absolute freak athlete.
Honorable Mention: Christian Ballard, Cameron Jordan, Brooks Reed, Stephen Paea, Ryan Kerrigan, Aldon Smith, JJ Watt, Nick Fairley, Marcel Dareus, Phil Taylor.
I think I probably missed some guys in this list, but these players were all very impressive. Ballard (Iowa) has been shooting up draft boards, and he showed why with an impressive workout in most areas. Jordan (Cal) is probably going to go in the first half of the first round, and Reed (Ariz) opened eyes at the Senior Bowl, and he kept the momentum going. Paea (Ore St.) set the bench press record with 49 reps, and Kerrigan (Wisc) is a major prospect who wowed with his numbers in the 40. Smith (Mizzou) proved that he is an elite pass-rusher, and he could very well be on the Rams’ radar if Julio Jones is gone. Fairley (Aub) will be a top-3 pick, and Dareus (Bama) proved he is an elite DT prospect as well. Taylor (Baylor) is a DT who is a bit under the radar, but he looked very athletic during workouts and he likely helped his draft stock.
Player I Was Most Disappointed In: Jeremy Beal (Oklahoma)
Beal is a guy who was good in college, but he didn’t bring it to the Combine. His 5.16 40 was just awful, and he didn’t look fluid at all during the drills. He is one of those guys who plays better than he works out, which is good because he didn’t work out well at all.
Dishonorable Mention: Ryan Winterswyk
I didn’t expect Winterswyk (Boise St) to be a standout, especially since the rest of his group was so talented, but I expected him to put on a better show than he did. He was a high-motor guy in college, and I still think he can contribute at the NFL level, although he won’t ever be a star.
As you can probably tell, I’m in love with this group, which is great news because the Rams have a need at DE and DT. I would expect plenty of these guys to be high on the team’s board, and I wouldn’t be at all surprise if more than one of these players ended up with the Rams next season.