2015 NFL Combine: DE Workout Analysis

What matters and what the defensive ends need to prove at the 2015 NFL Combine

For those invited and participating in the 2015 NFL Combine, what matters? What did they need to do? How was the workout? What to take away from …

1. Dante Fowler, Florida 6-3, 261
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: Can he turn into a refined pass rusher? What’s his role? Most scouts won’t care – they’re just going to want him on the front seven to turn loose – but he isn’t a tweener. Is he going to be more than a guy who can get into the backfield? Can he be nasty against the run? He’ll rock the drills as Step One, but he’ll have to prove to the scouts that he’s ready to roll out of the gate.
Key To The Workout: It was a bit inconsistent. The 4.6 40 was phenomenal - especially out of the blocks - and the 19 reps on the bench were decent, but neither part of the workout was outstanding. Eye-opening, though, was the underwhelming vertical of 32 ½” and the broad jump of 9’4”. He looked more than fine in the drills, and he moved well and showed some power, but it was disappointing compared to some of the other top pass rushing prospects.

2. Vic Beasley, Clemson 6-3, 246
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: What is he? Is doesn’t really matter, but is he an outside linebacker or can he work as a defensive end? He might be a one-trick, pass rush only guy, and while that might be good enough to turn into a superstar, somehow he has to show he can be physical enough to hold up if doesn’t put on more good weight.
Key To The Workout: Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow. Not only did Beasley come in much, much heavier than expected, but he carried the weight phenomenally well to come up with the best all-around workout of anyone at the combine. The 35 reps on the bench set the tone – who’s going to call him underpowered now? - and then he blew everyone away with a 4.53 40 and an explosive 41” vertical with a 10’10” broad jump. He was already a first rounder, but now he might have made himself a top ten overall pick.

3. Shane Ray, Missouri 6-3, 245
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: Can the scouts get past his lack of bulk? He needs more good weight to become a true defensive end, and he’ll need to show as much strength as possible – even if the bench really doesn’t quite matter for his style – to get past the one concern. Will he get erased by the more powerful linemen? He won’t be able to show that in Indy.
Key To The Workout: The doctors kept him from running, but he was able to get 21 reps up on the bench and he at least hung around. The pro day has to show explosion and quick-twitch athleticism compared to the oter top prospects. Skinny, he’s still a bit of a projection needing to add some good weight.

4. Randy Gregory, Nebraska 6-5, 235
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: Why didn’t he blow up last year? He was very, very good, but considering he’s seen as a franchise-changing pass rusher, and he’s not quite a finished product, he didn’t come up with franchise-changing production. Is he just a great athlete and prospect, or is he a great athlete and prospect who can turn into devastating force?
Key To The Workout: He measured a little shorter and a little lighter than expected, adding to the belief that he’s a projection – can he carry 15 extra pounds and still move well? He exploded in the jumps with a 36 ½” vertical and 10’5” broad jump, and considering his long arms, the 24 reps were great. The 4.64 40 was good enough, and he moved really, really well. He did what was expected.

5. Eli Harold, Virginia 6-3, 247
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: He’ll have to somehow show the potential to be more than just as a specialist. He might turn into a fierce pass rusher, and his athleticism and upside alone should make him a top-20 pick. However, if he’s going to be THAT guy who’s going to be someone’s franchise disruptive force, he has to look like it athletically.
Key To The Workout: Excellent. The 4.6 40 was more than good enough and he was phenomenal through the short drills and cones. His jumps were fine, and he was smooth as silk, but the biggest key was his cutting ability. He looked every bit the part athletically.

6. Danielle Hunter, LSU 6-5, 252
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: Can he blow up the workouts enough to crack the upper-echelon of the 2015 defensive ends? He has all the speed, size and quickness, but is he a next-level, first-round caliber football player and not a project and workout warrior? There’s one big problem – he didn’t really do too much last year as a pass rusher. A player of his skills should’ve been a better producer. <
Key To The Workout: Outstanding. He needed to show off the speed and athleticism to open up eyes, and he ripped off a seemingly effortless 4.57 40 even though he checked in about ten pounds heavier than expected. He proved he could be versatile enough to play in any system, but at some point he’ll have to translate the athleticism to production.

7. Trey Flowers, Arkansas 6-2, 266
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: Is he athletic enough to be a true end? He’s built more for a 3-4, but if he can show some quickness and burst in the short drills, all of a sudden, his prospects will quickly change. He has to prove to the scouts that he’s a pass rusher.
Key To The Workout: The glacier-slow 4.93 40 was offset by a strong rest of the workout. Far quicker than fast, he zipped through the short drills and the shuttle keeping it low and with decent balance. The 36 ½” vertical highlighted a strong all-around workout, even though he’s a bit shorter and thicker than the ideal.

8. Owamagbe Odighizuwa, UCLA 6-3, 267
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: What is he? Does he have enough quickness and athleticism to be an NFL pass rusher? Not really. Does he have the bulk and the toughness to be a tackle or a 3-4 end? Not really. He has skills, and there’s enough there to be an NFL starter, but he has to do more than just look the part of a professional football player.
Key To The Workout: Outstanding, he was a workout warrior showing off the pure athleticism that’s opening up eyes. Really, really quick, he was fluid and speedy through the short drills and the cones, and he tore off a 4.62 40. Jumping out of the stadium, his 39” vertical only added to the explosion. If there was any question about whether or not he had the moves to be an NFL pass rusher, he showed them off.

9. Mario Edwards, Florida State 6-3, 279
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: Coming up with a quick-twitch and some athleticism in the drills will go a long, long way to figuring out a spot for him. He’s a 3-4 end at the next level, but he’s not quite enough of a pass rusher to be a three-down defender. He has to create reasons to be drafted as something more than just a big part of a rotation.
Key To The Workout: Far lighter than expected, he seemed to shed some bad weight to show off his versatility. He’s still a pure 3-4 defensive end who’ll work in the interior, but he’s going to be used more like a tackle with his 32 reps on his bench showing off his strength. The running drills were a bit lumbering, but the 4.84 40 wasn’t too bad for his size.

10. Arik Armstead, Oregon 6-7, 292
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: He has to appear to be more than a prospect who seems like he should be a top-five overall pick. Is he worth the risk? How NFL-ready is he to become a force as a 3-4 end? He was a better part of a puzzle than he was as an individual talent, now he has to be the reason a defense is great.
Key To The Workout: It wasn’t quite the blowout performance expected. He’s really big and really athletic on the field, so he wasn’t supposed to run like a corner, but he wasn’t quick at all. The 34” vertical was good enough, and the 5.1 40 wasn’t miserable, but it wasn’t special.

11. Za'Darius Smith, Kentucky 6-4, 274
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: The athleticism and speed have to be there to go along with the fight. Known as the try-hard motor end, he has to look fast enough to become an NFL pass rusher. He’ll be a starter, but he might not be more than a key part of a rotation unless he can show off some tools.
Key To The Workout: A bit shorter than expected, he was a bit bigger and wasn’t a speed and athletic guy, but his 4.83 40 was terrific and the 23 reps on the bench were solid. He didn’t explode in the jumps, and he was tight in the short drills, but for what he is, he was fine.

12. Preston Smith, Mississippi State 6-5, 271
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: It’s all about the agility and quickness drills. The size is there, and he’s a good, tough defender, but does he have any explosion? He might be more of an end who’s a nice piece more than a dangerous disruptive force, and that has to change with a big-time workout.
Key To The Workout: It was outstanding for a 271-pounder. The 4.74 was shockingly blazing for his bulk, and he was unbelievable in the jumps with a 34” vertical and a 10’1” broad jump. While he’s not smooth, he moved quickly through the short drills and the cones. It was the type of special workout that could push him up a round.

13. Markus Golden, Missouri 6-2, 260
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: How much was it being a part of the Missouri defensive line, and how much was it being on the other side of Shane Ray, and how much of it was him being just that good? He turned in a terrific 2014 season, but there’s nothing truly special about his game – he has to be next-level athletic in Indy.
Key To The Workout: It matters that he’s 6-2 instead of 6-3 – he looked short and without any real length. The bigger problem was that he wasn’t able to workout enough to overcome the concerns about his lack of size, and the 4.9 40 was just okay considering he was supposed to be a speed guy. The pro day pressure is now on.

14. Lynden Trail, Norfolk State 6-7, 269
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: His stock is all based on potential, so he has to destroy the drills to overcome the lack of polish. The size is there and he’s athletic enough to have been tried out at tight end during Senior Bowl week, but he’s a projection. A bad weekend in Indy will kill any buzz as a top 100 pick.
Key To The Workout: It was okay. The former wide receiver was okay, but he wasn’t as fluid as hoped for. However, running a 4.91 40 was great for a player of his size, and the 24 reps on the bench were good. It was a good enough overall workout to make him a potential 4-3 end, but he’s not quite the outside linebacker that some might think he’ll be.

15. Henry Anderson, Stanford 6-6, 294
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: The scouts will probably dog him in the underwear portion of the program. He doesn’t really look like an NFL defensive end even with his size and bulk, and he’s not going to wow anyone with his athleticism. He’ll have to show off one amazing physical trait.
Key To The Workout: Really, really quick, is he athletic or was it motor? It might have been a little of both. He’s a 3-4 defensive end with his blazing cone and shuttle drills, and while his 5.03 40 wasn’t great, it was good enough for his position. He’s going to be a part of a rotation, but he proved that he could be a nice fill-in once in a while.

16. Nate Orchard, Utah 6-3, 250
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: He’s a one-trick prospect, and so he has to show off that he can potentially dominate doing that one trick. Forget about what he might be able to do against the run – he’s a pass rusher in any scheme he’ll be thrown into, so he has to look fluid and he has to be fast, fast, fast.
Key To The Workout: It was good. The 4.8 40 was decent for what he needed to show, and his short drills were okay. He’s not a flash and he wasn’t silky, but he looked the part in his grouping. It would’ve been nice to have seen a little more pop and explosion in his leaps, but like the rest of his workout, it was okay.

17. Anthony Chickillo, Miami 6-3, 267
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: What is he? He can do just enough to be a versatile part of a rotation, but he has to come up with the explosion in a few drills to potentially become a disruptive end, and he has to show off the raw strength to hold up on the inside. He’s just not a pure pass rusher, so something has to stand out.
Key To The Workout: It was nice. He came in far lighter than expected – by more than ten pounds – and it seemed to have mattered with a fantastic 4.79 40 – and one of the most explosive out-of-the-blocks first five steps - and with excellent quickness around the short drills. The 27 reps on the bench were great, and he jumped well, but overall he looked like he was pushing it – it wasn’t an effortless day. Even so, the athleticism was there.

18. Cedric Reed, Texas 6-5, 269
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: To go cliché, he has to do more than look like Tarzan. He’s an NFL player, and he’s going to find a home in the league, but can he blow someone’s doors off with the explosion and speed to go along with the appearance? He needs a workout that gets scouts talking.
Key To The Workout: He wasn’t able to run or do the full workout, so now the spotlight will be on his pro day. The 22 reps on the bench weren’t anything to stand out.

19. Martin Ifedi, Memphis 6-3, 275
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: Can he move? There’s nothing tricky about what he does, and while he’s a producer, it’s not fancy. With his bulk he can work well in just about any sort of scheme, but it would be nice if he could come up with a few good times in the quickness drills.
Key To The Workout: Considering the main question mark was his athleticsm, the 4.88 40 stood out. The 16 reps on the bench were way too light He’s not smooth and he doesn’t cut well, but he moved well enough for his size and showed he could hold up. If you liked him before, the workout helped the cause.

20. Corey Crawford, Clemson 6-5, 283
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: Will he play up to his size? He looks like he belongs on an NFL defensive line, but he’s not a dangerous pass rusher, he’s not tough enough against the run, and he’s not an elite athlete. In the interview process, he has to show that he’s ready to take his tools to another level.
Key To The Workout: Athletic looking, the 5.01 40 wasn’t blazing, but it was more than fine for a 283-pounder, and he ran well in the short drills. The tools weren’t special if you’re just looking at the numbers, but he moved like an NFL defensive lineman – there wasn’t anything lumbering.

21. Zack Wagenmann, Montana 6-3, 247
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: The straight measurements will matter. While he has tremendous pass rushing stats at the lower level, is he going to check in smallish and be purely an outside linebacker or could he work as a hybrid, third-down specialist? He has to show he’s worth talking a flier on in the mid-rounds.
Key To The Workout: He measured a bit smallish and now really might be an outside linebacker than a defensive end, but no matter where he plays, he gave the scouts what they needed to see. The 14 reps on the bench were too light, but everything else was excellent with really, really quick cone and shuttle drills. The 4.82 40 was good enough, and he jumped well – however, he’s still going to be thought of as a tweener.

22. Zach Hodges, Harvard 6-2, 250
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: He needs to blow the numbers off the charts. The interview process will be great, and he can move well and will be athletic, but to overcome the lack of next-level competition he needs to be quicker than everyone else. He needs work, and now he has to be worth molding.
Key To The Workout: He brought the attitude. He did a nice job of focusing on what he needed to do and he proved he has the athleticism. The 4.68 40 was a must considering his size, and he ripped through the short drills with a purpose. With the great broad jump to go along with the rest of the drills, he looked explosive.

23. Kyle Emanuel, North Dakota State 6-3, 255
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: The production was outstanding, and he’s a favorite in the scouting world, but now he has to overcome his lack of bulk and show he can be an end. He’s not really an outside linebacker – but he’ll be tried out there – and he doesn’t have the size, but if he shows off some tremendous quickness, his stock will shoot up.
Key To The Workout: Outstanding. He’s not going to be a defensive end considering his lack of length and his short arms, but considering he’s a dangerous pass rusher with great tape and tremendous numbers, his workout couldn’t have gone better. He was fast, fluid, quick, and strong, cranking up 27 reps on the bench and ripping though all the short drills. Throw in the 4.77 40, and he’ll be someone’s pass rushing project at outside linebacker.

24. Ryan Delaire, Towson 6-4, 254
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: If it’s possible to show the strength and toughness to be a defensive lineman, he has to do it. He’s athletic, and he’s going to be quick and move well, but he has to look like the type of prospect who could add 15 pounds and still zip.
Key To The Workout: Not good enough. It wasn’t just the 4.97 40 – which wasn’t too horrible – but he was lumbering and sluggish out of the blocks. He needed to come in and rip up the drills, and he didn’t do that. He’s still a scout favorite in terms of tape and potential pass rushing production, but he’s going to have to come up with a huge pro day.

25. Frank Clark, Michigan 6-3, 271
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: The interview process has to be flawless. He has the skills and the drive to be a part of an NFL defensive end rotation, but in the new world of the league, his off-the-field issues are going to be more than just a red flag on several draft boards.
Key To The Workout: Terrific. The off-field questions trump everything else, but he was fantastic on the turf with a shocking 4.79 40 for a 271-pound defender and with an explosive 38 ½” vertical. Really, really quick and agile through the short drills, he was far better and far more athletic than expected.

26. B.J. Dubose, Louisville 6-4, 284
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: What’s his NFL physical trait? He’s not a true next-level defensive end against the run, and he’s not really a pass rusher who could work outside in a 4-3. He has nice backup potential, but is there anything about him that stands out?
Key To The Workout: Far bigger than expected, he packed on plenty of weight, and now might be seen purely as an interior defender than a possible versatile hybrid. The 40 was a slowish 5.06, but his 26 reps on the bench were great. He’s not a pass rusher, and he might be seen as a man without a true position.

27. Tavaris Barnes, Clemson 6-4, 282
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: Is he ready to be a real, live, NFL starter? He has a great combination of size and strength, but why wasn’t he ever quite able to be more than a part of a rotation. He’s a project, but the tools have to be so good that he’s worth the wait.
Key To The Workout: The athleticism was what he needed to show off, and for his 282-pound size, the 4.8 40 was eye-popping. He needs a ton of seasoning as a football player, but he has the bulk and he has the moves to turn into a prospect worth developing.

28. Ryan Russell, Purdue 6-4, 269
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: He has the right size and everyone was waiting for him to explode into something special, but the light never turned on. He was never a good enough pass rusher to put up the production, and now he has to show the fire to go along with the tools. The interview will mean everything.
Key To The Workout: Maddening. It’s all there, but it’s always been there. The tools are near-prototype, looking fast whenever he had to cut and rolling easily through a 4.75 40, but will it all translate? He needs coaching and he needs to turn into a more productive football player, but everything is there for a staff to work with.

29. Davis Tull, Tennessee-Chattanooga 6-2, 246
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: What’s his position? Is he an outside linebacker? Is he an end? He’s a true tweener who needs to find a home, and while there’s no questioning his character or motor, none of it will matter if he doesn’t come up with a great workout with excellent quickness.
Key To The Workout: Unfortunately, he was hurt and wasn’t able to run, but he set the tone for a must-see pro day with a freakish jump of 42 ½” in the vertical and a special 11” broad jump. The 26 reps on the bench were also fantastic for a player of his size, but he’s going to end up spending his career as an outside linebacker and be a specialist.

30. Shaq Riddick, West Virginia 6-6, 242 (Not Invited)
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: How does his body look? Can he get to 260 and still be athletic? Can he load up with more good weight and muscle? He’s a pass rusher, and he could be a steal, but during workouts the scouts will have to project what he’s going to become.

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