2015 NFL Combine: DT Workout Analysis

What matters and what the defensive tackles 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. Leonard Williams, USC 6-5, 302
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: Has he harnessed his skills yet? There’s no questioning his combination of size, speed and upside, but he’s still in need of some molding. Is he ready to be a franchise-making defender? Anyone who takes him will be expecting Pro Bowls – plural – and the interview process is vital to see if he can handle being a leader that everything works around.
Key To The Workout: Effortless. He looked like he rolled out of bed and worked out. It was easy and smooth, carrying the 300 pounds easily on his 6-5 frame and moving and cutting like a far smaller player. The vertical was just under 30”, and he didn’t explode through the leaps, but the sub-5.0 40 was great and he was terrific overall. He did nothing to ruin the notion that he might be the best prospect in the draft.

2. Danny Shelton, Washington 6-2, 339
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: Is his lack of height a problem? A true bowling ball, he’s built for the nose, but can he be around 320 instead of being a few cheeseburgers away from 350? He’ll need to be able to somehow prove he can hold up and be in good enough shape to keep on moving even when wearing down.
Key To The Workout: It was great for what he needed to do. He looked massive and like the ideal guy to stick in the middle of a defensive line, and he showed off his power with 34 reps on the bench. The 5.64 40 was epically slow, but no one will care – the 339-pound guy came up with almost 31” in the vertical. He moved fine and did a great job of cementing himself as a sure-thing top ten pick.

3. Malcom Brown, Texas 6-2, 319
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: Is he strong enough? The bench will matter since there’s no real question marks about his interior pass rushing ability. He’s always working and always moving – motor isn’t a problem – but can he be an NFL anchor who can hold up when getting plowed on?
Key To The Workout: It was good enough. He ran a solid 5.05 in the 40, came up with a good 26 reps on the bench, and overall moved well and did everything he needed to do to keep his stock around the late first round and early second. If you want him as an interior pass rusher, he looked the part.

4. Carl Davis, Iowa 6-5, 320
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: Does he have the speed and quickness to become a dangerous interior pass rusher? He’s going to be a rock against the run, but the more he can show he can move outside of a phone booth, and the more quickness and burst he can show, but better the chance he has of being a top 50 pick.
Key To The Workout: He checked in a bit bigger than originally expected and looked more like a big block you’d stick in the middle of a line than a pass rusher. He was athletic enough, and he exploded to a 33” vertical, but now it’s onto the tape. He has the tools, though.

5. Eddie Goldman, Florida State 6-4, 336
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: Quickness, quickness, quickness. While he was a force at times for the Seminoles, he’s not a pass rusher and he’s not the type who can make enough plays behind the line to scare offensive coordinators. He’s a true nose tackle, but he has to be able to fit more schemes.
Key To The Workout: He interviewed, but he didn’t work out. He checked in heavier than expected and will need to prove at his pro day that he can move at his new weight – or he needs to drop the pounds fast.

6. Jordan Phillips, Oklahoma 6-5, 329
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: Can he be more than a nose tackle? How is his conditioning? The size is impressive, and he can actually move a little bit, but he’s not a pass rusher and he’s not quite consistent enough to be counted on regularly – the OU defense didn’t do enough with him as the anchor.
Key To The Workout: Considering concerns about his quickness, he looked great. He ran well for a player of his bulk, and while the basic numbers were fantastic, they were solid. The 5.17 40 was impressive for a 329-pound prospect, and he was good enough through the short drills to show he can be more than just a block in the interior.

7. Michael Bennett, Ohio State 6-2, 293
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: He has to be really, really quick. He’s not big enough, and he’s not bulky enough, so he has to make his money with the short and agility drills. He can be a dangerous interior pass rusher, but after a bit of a disappointing year after looking like a world-beater in 2013, he has to somehow prove that he’s not slopping.
Key To The Workout: He checked in a bit bigger than expected, and he was great with the media and supposedly in the interview process. A groin problem kept him from working out or running.

8. Xavier Cooper, Washington State 6-3, 293
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: Can he look the part? He doesn’t really have the right body and the right appearance of an NFL defensive tackle, but he can move and he’s athletic. Raw strength has to be shown off – he needs a good bench press – and he has to look relatively powerful.
Key To The Workout: Under-the-radar fantastic. For all the question marks about his strength and power, the 29 reps on the bench helped, and he moved really, really well. The 4.86 40 was outstanding and he moved like an outside linebacker more than a defensive tackle. He was expected to be athletic, though, but he also showed that he doesn’t quite have the right body type.

9. Gabe Wright, Auburn 6-3, 300
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: Can he overcome the lack of massive bulk? He’s not a strong interior presence, and he’s coming off a shockingly mediocre season, but when he’s on, he looks like a potentially dangerous pass rushing force. He might be just a part of a puzzle and rotation, but he has to get past his issues by being more athletic than anyone else.
Key To The Workout: Excellent. Quick enough through the short drills and fast enough in the 40 with a 5.07, he did his job to keep on moving despite packing on around 15 pounds of bulk. The 34 reps on the bench were the key, showing off the raw strength to potentially overcome the lack of size.

10. Grady Jarrett, Clemson 6-1, 304
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: Purely a nose tackle, he’s not quite big enough to be an anchor and he’s not quite athletic enough to move. For him, the bench matters. He has enough talent and skill to be a factor, but the more explosion he can show, and the more physical he can be, the better.
Key To The Workout: Bigger than expected, it was a good overall workout at his larger size. He ran well with a solid 5.06 40, and he showed off nice pop in the jumping drills. He showed off a burst, and he moved just well enough to suggest that he could be more than just a nose tackle. The 30 reps on the bench helped his cause.

11. Marcus Hardison, Arizona State 6-3, 307
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: Is he a big end or a smallish tackle? He needs to show strength and power, and he has to show that he’s more than a pass rusher. He’s still trying to get the finer points of the position after starting out his career on the outside, and now the scouts have to figure out exactly what he is and what he can become.
Key To The Workout: He didn’t run in the workout, but he came up with 27 reps on the bench. Coming off a big Senior Bowl week, he still has a buzz.

12. Joey Mbu, Houston 6-3, 313
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: Can he show any explosion? He’s a rock and he can move a bit, but he has to be great in the short drills. He could turn into a major high-riser with just a little bit of mobility in the workouts. Can he play up to his size? He was a bit too inconsistent last year.
Key To The Workout: There was nothing about his workout to make him seem like anything other than an anchor to gum up the middle of the line – he can’t really move. He wasn’t quick, he didn’t jump all that well with just a 22 ½” vertical, and without any real explosion. However, he wasn’t expected to look nimble.

13. Tyeler Davison, Fresno State
6-2, 316
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: There’s a ton to like, but he’s not going to work as a three-technique and has to be more of a run defender at the next level. He can do it all, and he could surprise and become a really, really nice value pick in the mid-rounds. A great workout could move him into the top 100.
Key To The Workout: He looked the part of a nose tackle and a run stopper with his barrel chest and his great 32 reps on the bench. He wasn’t all that quick, but the 33” vertical was impressive. If the question mark was his strength and power, he did his part to answer the concerns.

14. Christian Covington, Rice 6-3, 300
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: The medical types will make the difference. If he’s right, he has the potential to be among the top big sleeper picks, but he has to get past a knee injury that cost him most of last year. He’s going to drop and drop far, but in three years he could be an absolute steal. First, the doctors have to say his knee isn’t going to be an ongoing concern.
Key To The Workout: He didn’t run or work out thanks to his knee injury.

15. Bobby Richardson, Indiana 6-3, 283
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: Where does he play? He might be an end in any scheme, but he’s mostly needed on the inside as a penetrating quick pass rusher. He’ll be a part of a rotation, but does he have anything worthy of drafting in the mid-rounds? He’s still a bit of a project, but there’s a chance he stands out in a deep field just because he can move.
Key To The Workout: Interesting. Undersized, he needed to be an athletic interior pass rusher, and he was quick and smooth. The 5.16 40 was a little bit slow, but he showed off burst to get past it. The great 32 ½” vertical and the solid broad jump were enough to get scouts more intruiged for his pro day.

16. Derrick Lott, Tennessee-Chattanooga 6-4, 314
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: Is he just coming into his own or was he only great because he dropped a level? He wasn’t quite cut out for Georgia early on and ended up at UT-Chattanooga, where he was fantastic. He has the size and he has the quickness, and now he has to look like he belongs with the big boys.
Key To The Workout: Wow. Really, wow. Not only did he had ten pounds to his frame, but he carried it well and was stunning in the 40 with a 4.99. The 30 reps on the bench and the good hips through the short drills raised the bar – he’s too intruiging not to get even more of a look now.

17. Kaleb Eulls, Mississippi State 6-4, 295 (Not Invited)
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: More of a try-hard plugger than an NFL-caliber interior defender, he’s not a pass rusher and he’s not all that strong against the powerful blockers. He’ll get his chances on his pro day, and he’s going to have to be fluid. He has to look like someone who can fit into a rotation.

18. Louis Trinca-Pasat, Iowa 6-1, 290
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: Is he more than a try-hard type? He was helped in a big way by being next to Carl Davis – and vice versa – and he doesn’t necessarily have NFL starter skills and tools. He’s not freakishly strong, and he’s not known for being able to move – he has to come up with a great drill or three.
Key To The Workout: Smaller than expected, he was a bit squatty at 6-1 instead of 6-3. Even so, the workout couldn’t have gone much better as he looked athletic and quick, cranking out a 4.96 40 with a 32” vertical. Now he might be seen as more than just a plugger – he was quick enough to be a draftable part of a rotation.

19. J.T. Surratt, South Carolina 6-1, 304
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: Quickness off the ball is a must. He’s a powerful interior presence at times, and he’s a nose tackle who could become an anchor, but he might only fit in a 3-4. The overall production just wasn’t there, and he’s going to have to prove to scouts that he’s not only in shape, but has some upside.
Key To The Workout: It was good enough. The 29 reps on the bench showed off his strength, and all that mattered was his explosion – he showed some. While he didn’t fly through any of the drills, he got through the cones without looking disastrous. The 30” vertical and the 5.19 40 were great for his size.

20. Ellis McCarthy, UCLA 6-5, 338
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: He has to be in shape and he has to prove to the GMs and scouts that he’s going to be able to hover around 320 to 330. If he’s off, he could balloon up and turn into an unusable defender for more than just a little bit here and there. He never, ever lived up to his immense hype, and he has turned into a projection.
Key To The Workout: Everyone loves the possibilities, but there are still all the puzzling questions about what he is. Why didn’t he play more? Why wasn’t he more productive? At his massive size the 32” vertical was amazing, and even the 5.21 40 was solid, but he was really slow through the short shuttle. Looks the part, and someone will draft him because he’s supposed to be good with the tools he showed off.

21. Leterrius Walton, Central Michigan 6-5, 319
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: He’s going to be a tricky prospect considering what most teams would want to do with him. He needs to add at least ten more pounds, and he’s going to need time to work on his technique. He could become a dangerous all-around interior defender, but the scouts are going to have to determine if he’s worth the effort.
Key To The Workout: He checked in around 20 pound heavier than expected, but he still moved relatively well. For his bulk he moved well and showed off good feet, and he helped answer the question about whether or not he could operate at a higher weight. He helped himself and now looks like more of a must-have mid-round get.

22. David Parry, Stanford 6-1, 308
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: Purely a part of a rotation, he’s not quite big enough to do what he needs to, and he’s not quite quick enough to be anyone’s pass rusher. He’ll come across as a prime undrafted free agent, but he has to be just explosive enough to make someone want to give him a shot in the later rounds.
Key To The Workout: As expected for the try-hard walk-on, he tried hard. He didn’t run all that well and he was a bit stiff, but the biggest problem was his lack of size after checking in about two inches shorter than expected and looking a stockier 6-1 with more girth on his frame. However, the 34 reps on the bench were outstanding and showed the raw strength to potentially hanly the power on the inside.

23. Deon Simon, Northwestern State 6-4, 321
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: Really, really, really big, now he has to check out medically after suffering a knee injury. He’s not going to be all that athletic once he’s right, and he needs a lot of work, but his body mass makes him an intriguing run stopper.
Key To The Workout: Solid. He dropped some of his weight and moved well considering the expectations. The 5.12 40 was solid and while he wasn’t quick, he didn’t struggle too much. With his long arms the hope was that he’d lift well, but 35 reps were off the charts. He worked out like a guy who wants an NFL job.

24. Leon Orr, Florida 6-5, 323
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: The interview process is his ticket. A superstar high school prospect, he never lived up to the hype or potential and later ended up off the team. Never healthy, and with problems with the coaching staff, he has more to prove in the meetings than he does on the field.
Key To The Workout: Bulked up after the time off from his effort as a Florida Gator, he was massive. Even so, he ran well with a 5.16 40. Unfortunatley, he lumbered through the short drills – that’s not going to be a huge issue. It’s all about the interview process, but the athleticism was there – he looked like an NFL defensive tackle.

25. Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Southern Mississippi 6-2, 307
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: Can he look like someone who can start in the NFL? He’s not tall enough and he doesn’t have the body to fit a variety of schemes. With his body type, though, he should be able to rip up the bench – he needs to crush it and be powerful to overcome the basic flaws.
Key To The Workout: Quick. The 5.02 40 was good, but he was slowish in the short shuttle. He doesn’t have the right frame, and he measured out as expected, but he moved well and had a good enough workout to deserve a longer look. The 34” vertical was good – he has some pop.

26. Angelo Blackson, Auburn 6-4, 318
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: Quickness – does he have any? He can take on the powerful blockers and running games, but he’s not going to get behind the line enough to make a big difference. He’s purely a nose guard who has to somehow show he can do more.
Key To The Workout: He needed to look quick and athletic, and he did – he looked the part. The 20 reps on the bench were a concern – somewhat shockingly – but he got through the drills fine and he was find though the short drills. He did a nice job.

27. Darius Philon, Arkansas 6-1, 298
What He Needed To Prove In Indy: While he’s really fast and really athletic, he’s not big enough and doesn’t have the raw bulk. Can anyone take a chance on drafting him as an interior pass rusher? The more strength and power he can show, the better. He can’t get shoved around.
Key To The Workout: He bulked up, but he didn’t move all that well considering his game was supposed to be based on athleticism – he plays quicker than he actually is. He didn’t look like an interior pass rusher, but the 5.00 40 was good.

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