Bill's Combine Research: Defensive Line I

We continue with Part 3 of a series so popular that two NFL scouts have subscribed this week. Leading off with BYU's potential-packed Ziggy Ansah, a native of Ghana who wanted to be the next LeBron James, here are 27 of the 54 defensive linemen who will be testing at the Scouting Combine.

A total of 333 players will be at the Scouting Combine, which begins Feb. 20 in Indianapolis. We're sharing our homework as we get ready for the big week. In Part 3, here are 27 of the 54 defensive linemen.

Note: All heights and weights are from the school, unless noted. All players are listed as "defensive linemen" by National Football Scouting. Several of the players, however, project to outside linebackers in a 3-4 scheme.

Ziggy Ansah, BYU: Ansah (6-5, 274 at Senior Bowl) is all potential. Born and raised in Ghana, Ansah was noticed by a LDS Church missionary and went to BYU because he wanted to be like his favorite athlete, LeBron James. He failed to make the basketball squad twice, so gave track and field a shot in 2009. He was so good in the 400 that the track coaches showed him the way to the football offices. He played special teams and defensive end in 2010 and special teams and outside linebacker in 2011 before going back to end in 2012. Despite not starting until the fifth game of the season, he tallied 4.5 sacks and 13 tackles for losses and picked off a pass in the bowl game. To say he's new to the game would be a major understatement.

T.J. Barnes, Georgia Tech: Barnes (6-7, 345) was a three-year backup before getting his shot as a senior. Among his 28 tackles were five for losses and 1.5 sacks. Always a big guy, he dreamed of being the next Tiger Woods and didn't start playing football until high school. At Enterprise (Ala.) High School, he set a school record with eight sacks in one game. His father played at Auburn, as did cousin Fred Baxter, who played tight end in the NFL for 11 seasons. His brother, Beau Reliford, played at Florida State and spent time with the Redskins.

David Bass, Missouri Western: Bass (6-5, 275) was a second-team All-American and one of eight finalists for the Gene Upshaw Award, which goes to Division II's top defensive lineman. He posted 61 tackles and 11.5 sacks as a senior. The four-year starter finished with 40 career sacks. His favorite NFL player is Aldon Smith, the NFL's reigning sacks champion.

Josh Boyd, Mississippi State: Boyd (6-3, 312 at Senior Bowl) tallied 33 tackles, including 2.5 for losses and 1.5 sacks, as a senior. That was off from his junior season, when he had 51 tackles, eight for losses and 4.5 sacks while playing alongside 2012 top pick Fletcher Cox.

Armonty Bryant, East Central (Oklahoma): Bryant (6-4, 250) dominated the lower-tier competition with 10.5 sacks, 17.5 tackles for losses, four forced fumbles and two blocked kicks as a senior to be a two-time Division II All-American. He was third in the nation (and first among defensive linemen) with 13.5 sacks as a sophomore. He was arrested in October on suspicion of felonious distribution of marijuana and was suspended for three games.

Mike Buchanan, Illinois: Buchanan (6-5, 252) was second-team all-Big Ten the past two seasons. He finished his career with 14 sacks and 26 tackles for losses, including 4.5 sacks, seven tackles for losses and a forced fumble as a senior. That was down from his junior season, when he had 7.5 sacks and 13.5 sacks while a teammate of first-round pick Whitney Mercilus. Buchanan suffered a broken jaw in a fight in June, had his jaw wired shut and lost 10 pounds on a liquid diet.

Tank Carradine, Florida State: Carradine's senior season ended with a torn ACL in the second-to-last game of the regular season. A first-year starter, he finished second in the ACC with 11 sacks to earn first-team all-ACC honors. Carradine (6-5, 265) was the No. 1 junior college prospect after piling up 26 sacks at Butler (Kan.) Community College in 2009 and 2010.

Everett Dawkins, Florida State: Dawkins (6-2, 288 at Senior Bowl) was second-team all-ACC, with the run-stuffer tallying 26 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss as a senior. Dawkins, who earned a degree in social science before his senior season, arrived on campus as a 240-pound defensive end but used frequent fast-food runs to bulk up to 303. "It was fun. I ate whatever I wanted to eat. If I woke up at 3 in the morning and was hungry, I might order some Chinese food or something," he told the Spartanburg Herald-Journal.

Quinton Dial, Alabama: Dial (6-6, 304), who committed to Alabama out of high school but spent two years at a junior college, registered 21 tackles, 1.5 sacks and 4.5 tackles for losses as a senior. Dial's most noteworthy play was his crushing block on Georgia's Aaron Murray after the quarterback threw a game-turning interception in the SEC title game. He was not penalized and was not suspended.

Lavar Edwards, LSU: Edwards (6-5, 258) started 15 games in his career, including six as a senior. His 4.5 sacks and seven tackles for losses gave him career totals of 10.5 and 20. His family was uprooted by Hurricane Katrina and lived in Texas and Florida before landing in Baton Rouge, La., for high school. As a senior at Desire Street Academy, he scored 12 touchdowns as a tight end. As a junior, he played fullback and scored 10 touchdowns.

Sharrif Floyd, Florida: Early entrant. Floyd (6-3, 303) started 26 games in three seasons and finished with 4.5 sacks and 26 tackles for losses. His three blocked kicks is tied for fifth in school history. He was first-team all-SEC in 2012 and earned All-American honors from The Sporting News — the first such accolades for a Florida defensive lineman since 2001. He led the team with 13 tackles for losses. He was suspended for two games by the NCAA for impermissible benefits — in a Michael Oher-style story.

Kwame Geathers, Georgia: Early entrant. Geathers (6-6, 355) tallied 40 tackles, including five tackles for losses and one sack, plus a blocked field goal in 2012. He started eight games in his three seasons. Football is a family affair. Brothers Robert Geathers and Clifton Geathers play for the Cincinnati Bengals (he just completed his ninth season) and Indianapolis Colts (he just completed his second season), respectively. His father, Robert, was a third-round pick by Buffalo in 1981. His uncle, "Jumpy" Geathers, played 13 seasons in the NFL.

William Gholston, Michigan State: Early entrant. Gholston (6-7, 278) leaves with 142 tackles, including 30 tackles for losses and 10 sacks, in three seasons. Gholston, the father of an infant boy, ranks 10th in Spartans history in TFLs. Gholston was second-team all-Big Ten with 13 tackles for losses and 4.5 sacks this year. He dominated in bowl games, being named MVP of the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl against TCU this season and setting a school bowl-game record with five tackles for losses in the Outback Bowl against Georgia last year. A cousin, Vernon Gholston, was the Jets' first-round pick in 2008.

Malliciah Goodman, Clemson: Goodman (6-4, 272 at Senior Bowl) tallied seven sacks, 9.5 tackles for losses and a team-leading four forced fumbles. Touted as the next great Clemson defensive end as a Parade All-American, that production fell fall short of Andrew Branch (10.5 sacks, 17 tackles for losses in 2011) and Da'Quan Bowers (15.5 sacks, 26 tackles for losses in 2010). Goodman had the biggest hands (10 7/8 inches) and wingspan (87 3/4 inches) among players at the Senior Bowl.

Cory Grissom, South Florida: Grissom (6-1, 313 at Senior Bowl) started all 40 games the final three seasons of his career. He had career highs of 2.5 sacks and seven tackles for losses as a senior, when he was second-team all-Big East. For his career, he tallied five sacks and 16.5 TFLs. Grissom, known as "Pork Chop" by his teammates, was noticed in high school when the football team's defensive coordinator noticed Grissom's footwork on the basketball court.

Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State: Early entrant. Hankins (6-3, 322) had a monster 2001 with three sacks and 14 tackles for losses. He was a preseason All-American entering 2012 and wound up first-team all-conference by posting one sack and five TFLs. "Big Hank" dropped more than 20 pounds since his freshman season by eating six small meals per day. The native of Dearborn Heights, Mich., is a big fan of Ndamukong Suh and B.J. Raji. He was a high school teammate of Gholston.

Jordan Hill, Penn State: Hill (6-1, 294 at Senior Bowl), a team co-captain, was first-team all-Big Ten after recording 64 tackles, 4.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for losses. In his final game, Hill notched a career-high 12 tackles, including three for losses and two sacks against Wisconsin. He played much of the season with a knee injury that required surgery after the season, and was healthy in time for the Senior Bowl. Hill finds motivation from his father, Larry, who has had two strokes and diabetes.

Montori Hughes, Tennessee-Martin: Hughes (6-5, 328 at Senior Bowl) spent his first two seasons at Tennessee before getting into academic trouble and various violations of team rules. At UTM, Hughes started seven games as a junior before posting 42 tackles, 8.5 tackles for losses and four sacks as a senior. Hughes was a standout during Senior Bowl week. While at Tennessee, then-coach Lane Kiffin compared him to Albert Haynesworth.

Margus Hunt, SMU: Hunt (6-8, 277) earned all-conference accolades all four seasons. He was a first-teamer as a senior, when he finished with eight sacks, 11.5 tackles for losses and two forced fumbles. He was MVP of the Hawaii Bowl with two sacks,, two forced fumbles and a safety. His career was a block party. He set NCAA records with 17 career blocks, including a record seven as a freshman. A native of Karksi-Nuia, Estonia, Hunt won the shot and discus at the 2006 World Junior Championships in Beijing. He was the first junior to sweep those events, and he holds the world junior record in the discus. He went to SMU to compete in track and field but turned to football after the track program was shut down. He'll be a 26-year-old rookie.

Brandon Jenkins, Florida State: An all-ACC player in 2011 and preseason All-American in 2012, Jenkins (6-3, 260) missed the season with a Lisfranc foot injury sustained in the opening game. He could have taken a medical redshirt but elected to go pro. Through three seasons, he ranked eighth in school history with 21.5 sacks and 36.5 tackles for losses.

John Jenkins, Georgia: The massive but light-footed Jenkins (6-4, 359) had 50 tackles, one sack and two tackles for losses as a senior to earn second-team all-SEC honors. Forced to take the junior-college rout to Georgia, Jenkins was ruled academically ineligible for the Bulldogs' bowl game this season. Jenkins wore No. 6; when he started practicing for the Bulldogs in August 2011, the team didn't have a No. 6 that fit so he had to wear No. 66 until the new jerseys arrived.

Abry Jones, Georgia: Playing end in Georgia's 3-4 scheme, Jones (6-3, 308) tallied four sacks and seven tackles for losses as a junior. Rather than a big senior campaign, he was shut down after seven games with ankle surgery and didn't record a sack or TFL. He tried to return for the bowl game but was unable to play. Jones is part of a military family and went to elementary school in Germany. When he and and his family moved to Warner Robins, Ga., there were two choices: take care of the yard work or play football.

Chris Jones, Bowling Green: Jones (6-1, 293) was a three-time all-MAC performer who was conference defender of the year as a senior, when he finished third in the country with 12 sacks and tied for seventh with 19 tackles for losses. He added two forced fumbles. He had more sacks than four of Bowling Green's MAC rivals. Jones' high school strength coach, Bryan Neese, won the America's Strongest Man contest in 1999.

Datone Jones, UCLA: Jones (6-4, 280 at the Senior Bowl) was a three-year starter. He was second-team all-conference as a senior, when he tallied 62 tackles, 6.5 sacks and 19 tackles for losses. He forced two fumbles, blocked two kicks and even caught a touchdown pass. The big guy was born three months premature and three months after his mother lost his twin brother, and a sister died of a lung disease when he was 11. He managed to stay out of trouble as a kid while his friends sold drugs.

Dion Jordan, Oregon: Dion (6-7, 243) contributed five sacks, 10.5 tackles for losses and three forced fumbles as a senior to earn first-team all-Pac-12 honors for the second consecutive year. He entered Oregon as the nation's No. 10 tight end but made move to defensive end during his redshirt freshman season. He is lucky to be alive after suffering second- and third-degree burns in high school.

Joe Kruger, Utah: Early entrant. Kruger (6-7, 280) posted six sacks, eight tackles for losses and two forced fumbles in 2012 to earn all-Pac-12 honorable mention. His brother, Paul, won a Super Bowl ring as a key contributor to Baltimore's defense. His brother-in-law, Tony Bergstrom, is an offensive lineman for the Raiders. His father played at Oregon State. A brother, Dave, played with Kruger at Utah. Dave (6-5, 300) just wrapped up his senior season and was a three-year starter.

Corey Lemonier, Auburn: Early entrant. Lemonier (6-4, 246) was first-team all-SEC as a sophomore and second-team in 2012. He started the season with a bang with five sacks in the first four games but had just one-half sack over the final eight games. He tallied 9.5 sacks in 2011. He gained 10 pounds during the offseason to improve his run defense. How? Peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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