Ranking Top 15 Inside LB’s By Measurables

We continue our unparalleled breakdown of the inside linebackers by ranking the top 15 prospects by their workout performances, including what scouts consider the key measureables. Which top prospects fared poorly in our breakdown?

There’s more to playing football than running fast and jumping high.

Their on-the-field production is paramount. However, scouts must determine if a prospect’s play against collegiate competition will translate to the NFL playing field. That’s why there is such an intense focus on the 40-yard dash and the various jumps and shuttles at the Scouting Combine and pro days.

Here are the testing numbers from the top 15 inside linebacker prospects, as ranked by the NFL’s head scout, Dave-Te Thomas. All numbers are from the Scouting Combine unless noted. In parentheses in the 40-yard dash column are their times in the first 10 yards.

(Note: Only five players ran the 60-yard shuttle at the Combine so that category has been dropped from the chart.

No. Player40 (10)3-Cone20 SArmBroadBenchVertical
1. Eric Kendricks4.61 (1.57)7.14*4.14*3110-041938
2. Stephone Anthony4.56 (1.56)7.074.0332 1/210-022337
3. Benardrick McKinney4.66 (1.63)7.214.273310-001640.5
4. Paul Dawson4.93 (1.68)6.76*4.4931 1/209-012128
5. Denzel Perryman4.78 (1.67)7.07**4.39**31 7/809-032732
6. Kwon Alexander4.55 (1.58)7.144.2030 1/410-012436
7. Jordan Hicks4.68 (1.58)6.784.153210-042038
8. Mike Hull4.68 (1.60)6.994.1530 1/209-02*3130.5*
9. Ben Heeney4.59 (1.61)6.684.0030 3/410-001933.5
10. Ramik Wilson4.77 (1.65)7.39*4.513309-032335
11. Bryce Hager4.60 (1.60)7.154.3631 3/809-092635
12. Jake Ryan4.65 (1.62)7.114.203110-002034.5
13. Taiwan Jones4.95 (1.72)7.254.333409-071932
14. Hayes Pullard4.78 (1.64)7.074.3931 1/409-021931
15. Edmond Robinson4.61 (1.61)7.494.383410-012037

Note: Figures marked with an asterisk are from pro days and taken from NFLDraftScout.com. For Perryman, he didn’t do the three-cone or 20 shuttle at the Combine and was injured at pro day, so his figures come from in-season testing and are courtesy of the Thomas.

So, what does that all mean? For that, we checked with Ted Sundquist, the former Denver Broncos general manager who runs TheFootballEducator.com. A couple years ago, Sundquist enlisted Joe Landers to study the value of the Combine numbers.

“Linebackers want to outperform their peer group in six of the seven skill drills at the Combine,” Sundquist said. “That is, they want to exceed the average posted by all the players at that position. Joe looked at the percent of starters over a given time period and saw a certain percent of those starting at that position in the NFL that did just that.”

According to Landers’ findings, 40-yard dash (79 percent of starters outperformed their peers), long shuttle (78 percent), three-cone drill (77 percent) and short shuttle (73 percent) are the top predictors for linebackers. That’s followed by broad jump (70 percent), bench press (67 percent) and vertical jump (64 percent). Arm length is critical, as well, as that is a 240-pound linebacker’s No. 1 line of defense against a 320-pound guard.

The following chart shows where the top 15 inside linebackers ranked in those categories, with one point for first place in a category and 15 points for last place.

(Note No. 1: No points were awarded for the 10-yard times because they so closely corresponded to the 40-yard times. Note No. 2: Again, the long shuttle was not included because times are not available for every prospect.)

Player40 (10)3-Cone20 SArmBroadBenchVerticalTotal
Stephone Anthony2 (1)52535426
Jordan Hicks9 (3)34618233
Eric Kendricks5 (2)9311111242
Kwon Alexander1 (3)961544645
Ben Heeney3 (7)11136111045
Edmond Robinson5 (7)1511148448
Benardrick McKinney8 (10)1283615153
Bryce Hager4 (5)1110993754
Jake Ryan7 (9)861168955
Mike Hull9 (5)44141311459
Denzel Perryman12 (13)51271121160
Ramik Wilson11 (12)14153115766
Taiwan Jones15 (15)139110111170
Paul Dawson14 (14)21481571575
Hayes Pullard12 (11)5121013111376

Based on Landers’ findings that the 40, three-cone and shuttle times are the most important results from the Scouting Combine (plus direction from NFLDraftScout’s Rob Rang, a former NFC scout and a current NFC scout), the following chart shows where the top 15 inside linebackers ranked in those categories, plus arm length, with one point for first place in a category and 15 points for last place. That total is in the fifth column.

Player40 (10)3-Cone20 SArmTotalBroadBenchVerticalTotal
Stephone Anthony2 (1)5251435426
Ben Heeney3 (7)1113186111045
Jordan Hicks9 (3)3462218233
Eric Kendricks5 (2)931128111242
Kwon Alexander1 (3)96153144645
Benardrick McKinney8 (10)128331615153
Mike Hull9 (5)4414311311459
Edmond Robinson5 (7)151113248448
Jake Ryan7 (9)86113268955
Bryce Hager4 (5)111093493754
Denzel Perryman12 (13)5127361121160
Taiwan Jones15 (15)13913810111170
Paul Dawson14 (14)2148381571575
Hayes Pullard12 (11)512103913111376
Ramik Wilson11 (12)1415343115766

The bottom line? It's no wonder why Clemson's Anthony has moved into first-round consideration — at least that's what one scout said of his team's board. The three-year starter boasts a tremendous combination of size and athleticism. Kansas' Heeney and Texas' Hicks also grade out well athletically. Meanwhile, touted prospects Perryman of Miami and Dawson of TCU rank toward the bottom of our pecking order.

What happens when their on-field performance is taken into account? We'll examine that this week.

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.

Packer Report Top Stories