The most difficult aspect of judging Chris Wormley’s draft status might be determining where and how he is best used in the NFL.
Wormley is listed as a defensive end on the Senior Bowl’s roster but some analysts project him as a defensive tackle. Scouts may feel the same way about the talented pass rusher that is projected as a Day 2 pick.
While Michigan ran a 4-3 defensive scheme, Wormley spent Senior Bowl week working in a 3-4 system under the direction of the Chicago Bears coaching staff. What he proved is that he can be effective in different schemes and at different positions.
“There’s challenges all over — playing head-up compared to being on the shade, being on a tackle compared to being on a guard or a nose, inside or outside of a guard. There’s a lot of challenges on both sides but we’re working on that this week,” he said.
“I’m learning, I’m having fun. … I feel like I’m pretty athletic for a 300-pound guy.”
He showed that during practices for the North team during Senior Bowl week, displaying a quick burst off the snap and applying pressure on the quarterbacks. That was his specialty with the Wolverines, as he was credited with applying pressure on 15.3 percent of his pass-rushing attempts (43 pressures and six sacks), according to Pro Football Focus.
“The last two seasons, we put an incredible amount of work into pass rush. I learned football at a more in-depth way, learning where the linebackers fit, learning where the other guys on the defensive line are going. It helps you as a pass rusher to be more aware of where the other guys are at so you can set up a move and make a move, so I’m definitely studying tape and studying other guys’ pass rush,” Wormley said.
“There’s a lot of things that I can work … a lot of power with speed in the inside, pushing the pocket and moving guys on the outside, creating pressure on the outside and being a team player.”
Being at Michigan, Wormley had a head coach (Jim Harbaugh) and defensive line coach (Greg Mattison) with plenty of NFL experience.
“When you have Coach Harbaugh, first and foremost, successful in all phases of football, Coach Mattison was a defensive coordinator with the Ravens five, six, seven years ago and then other coaches that are on the staff have played in the NFL or coached in the NFL know what it’s about, it’s tremendous,” Wormley said. “[Harbaugh] has connections that can help you with guys talking, helping you out in the draft process, helping with agents, helping with what it’s going to be like at the next level. He’s been a tremendous help.”
At 6-foot-5½ and 297 pounds, Wormley already has a well-proportioned body for an NFL defensive lineman and was tied for the longest wingspan (82-6/8 inches) and one-eighth of inch shy of the longest arms on the North squad at the Senior Bowl.
Despite the size and length, his quickness shined through.
“I think that’s one of my strengths as a 300-pound man who probably will play inside in the league is being able to be tough, quick and be faster than those offensive linemen that I’m going against,” he said.
The comparison he hears most often is Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt, whose career Wormley followed at Notre Dame and in the NFL.
“He’s kind of a similar body type, 3-4 end, can rush the passer, can stop the run, too,” Wormley said. “Looking at him the last couple years has – I’ve not necessarily modeled, but taken some chips off of him.”
He spent Senior Bowl weeks proving himself on the field and selling himself to NFL personnel at night during meetings with NFL scouts, coaches and general managers.
While he is considered a second- or third-round pick by some draft analysts, he admits to seeing some mock drafts that have him going as high as late in the first round.
“Which would be unbelievable,” he said. “I would be lying to you if I said I didn’t want to go in the first round. I’ve also seen second and third round. This week is an incredible week to showcase what you can do and raise your draft stock. The Combine, pro day, and just getting a good fit for scouts and having them fall in love with you and that organization.”