NFL Combine: Risers, Fallers and Rankings

With the Scouting Combine behind us, it's time to evaluate how the players performed.'s NFL Draft Analyst Chris Steuber identifies his top three risers and fallers by position on the defensive side of the ball and adjusts's NFL Draft Rankings.


Offense | Defense

Defensive Line


Connor Barwin, Cincinnati

As far as athletes in this year’s draft, Connor Barwin ranks as high as any other prospect. He has the capability to be a defensive end in a 4-3, a linebacker in a 3-4 or a tight end in certain situations at the next level. The two-way player from Cincinnati had scouts raving with his athleticism at the Combine. He featured a 4.66 in the 40, a 40.5-inch vertical, a 10-foot-8-inch broad jump and had the fastest times of any defensive end in the 3-cone and 20-yard shuttle drills. Barwin is an interesting prospect because of all the things he can do. He has a lot of value, and his performance in Indianapolis could elevate him into late first round, early second round consideration.

Change In Rank: Barwin is now the 7th rated DE (previously 8th) in’s NFL Draft Rankings.

The potential Johnson possesses is off the charts, but it's his production on the field that's worrisome.
AP/Michael Conroy

Michael Johnson, Georgia Tech

Another athlete who benefited from the work order at the Scouting Combine was Georgia Tech’s talented, but inconsistent defender Michael Johnson. Johnson is a workout warrior and an athletic freak who salivated over the opportunity to show off his skill set in drills designed for his body type. It was evident that Johnson would have an impressive showing, and he didn’t disappoint. The 6-foot-7, 266-pound Johnson breezed through the 40 and was timed at a 4.75, which is a great time for a man of his size. He showed impressive strength with 28 reps off 225, tremendous athleticism with a 38.5-inch vertical and tied for the best broad jump (10-foot-8-inch) with Barwin. Johnson’s overall skills have never been questioned; it’s the production that he’s accumulated over the years that doesn’t match his physical prowess. His Combine numbers will help him, and a team drafting late in the first round will be tempted to select him.

Change In Rank: Johnson is still the 6th rated DE in’s NFL Draft Rankings.

Jarron Gilbert, San Jose State

Jarron Gilbert is one of the more fascinating players in this draft and a YouTube celebrity, where he’s captured jumping out of a three-foot deep swimming pool with both feet comfortably landing on the deck. That footage was a sign of things to come at the Combine, as Gilbert performed masterfully. At 6-foot-5, 288 pounds, Gilbert ran an impressive 4.82 in the 40 and flashed his athleticism with a 35.5-inch vertical and a 9-foot-11-inch broad jump. Gilbert also displayed impressive strength with 28 reps on the bench press. Gilbert is versatile and can play in a 3-4 or a 4-3 defense, and that versatility will land him as a late second, early third round pick.

Change In Rank: Gilbert is still the 9th rated DE in’s NFL Draft Rankings.


Paul Kruger, Utah

A tremendously talented athlete who has great upside, Paul Kruger didn’t have the workout he’d like to have at the Scouting Combine. Kruger ran an average 40 (4.86), but it was his 10-yard split (1.76) that was slower than expected. On film, Kruger gets off the line really well and uses his strength to his advantage. He performed well in the bench press with 24 reps, although some expected him to get closer to 30. Kruger left Utah as a redshirt sophomore, primarily because of his age (23). Kruger will probably receive interest from teams playing in a 3-4, but with Barwin having the workout he had, Kruger will have to wait a little longer to be drafted in the second round.

Change In Rank: Kruger is now the 8th rated DE (previously 7th) in’s NFL Draft Rankings.

Ron Brace, Boston College

To expect a 6-foot-3, 334-pound mammoth of a man to run a fast 40-yard dash is asking a lot, but when Ron Brace turned in a 5.52 and a marginal 10-yard split, it showed he lacks explosion off the line. Brace is a two-gap plugger destined for a 3-4 team, but his feet and athleticism are suspect. He did show great strength on the bench press with 32 reps. Brace is likely to be a second round pick, but Missouri’s Ziggy Hood and USC’s Fili Moala are his biggest competition in the second frame.

Change In Rank: Brace is still the 5th rated DT in’s NFL Draft Rankings.

Maurice Evans, Penn State

Maurice Evans’ decision to enter the draft will come back and haunt him. He’s talented, but he still has a lot of work to do to become a complete player. The 6-foot-1, 274-pound Evans struggled in positional drills and ran disappointing 5.03 in the 40-yard dash. He lacked intensity on the bench press and came away with just 17 reps. Evans will likely continue to slide down the board and could be an undrafted free agent this April.

Change In Rank: Evans is still the 24th rated DE in’s NFL Draft Rankings.



Curry's performance at the Combine solidified his status as a top-three pick in the draft.
Scott Boehm/Getty

Aaron Curry, Wake Forest

Aaron Curry continues to prove that he’s the most NFL ready prospect in the draft. The way he conducts himself in front of the media, with NFL personnel and on the field is first class all the way. He understands the game and has the work ethic to have an instant impact in the NFL. Curry wowed the scouts with his 4.56 in the 40, 37-inch vertical, 10-foot-4-inch broad jump, 25 reps on the bench press and his overall workout in positional drills. He’s the complete package at linebacker and solidified himself as a top-three selection in the draft.

Change In Rank: Curry is still the top rated OLB and the new No. 1 overall prospect in’s NFL Draft Rankings.

Clay Matthews, USC

The evolution of Clay Matthews as a player took a huge leap this offseason with a solid week of practice at the Senior Bowl and a tremendous workout at the Scouting Combine. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Matthews impressed scouts with his athleticism and speed, which was highlighted by his 4.67 in the 40. Matthews also featured a 35.5-inch vertical, a 10-foot-1-inch broad jump and lifted 225 pounds 23 times. Matthews also did very well in positional drills and is a special team’s ace in the making. With his pedigree and all of the positive feedback he’s receiving, don’t be surprised to see Matthews drafted before Maualuga and Cushing; somewhere between No. 15 – 23.

Change In Rank: Matthews is now the 3rd rated OLB (previously 4th) in's NFL Draft Rankings.

Gerald McRath, Southern Miss

Gerald McRath is a promising inside linebacker who has great tackling technique and quickness. McRath measured in a 6-foot-2, 231 pounds and had a solid workout in front of scouts. The biggest concern is his size, but he has great upside. McRath tied for the second best time in the 40 (4.61) amongst the linebackers and had an impressive 10-foot-3-inch broad jump. Again, McRath’s size is a concern, and his strength didn’t test out too well. He only put up 19 reps on the bench press, but athletically he scored high. Look for McRath to get late third, early fourth round consideration in April.

Change In Rank: McRath is still the 3rd rated MLB in’s NFL Draft Rankings.


Rey Maualuga, USC

Rey Maualuga has been up and down all offseason, and at the Scouting Combine he stumbled, literally. When he finished his first 40-yard attempt, Maualuga fell to the ground with an apparent hamstring injury. He recorded an alarming 4.82 in the 40, which has raised some questions about his explosiveness. In Maualuga’s defense, he said that the hamstring was bothering him before the Combine, but if that were the case, why run? Maualuga will most likely try to run again, either at USC’s Pro Day or during personal workouts; he’s too good of a player to go down like that. He’s still a first round pick, but he’s falling.

Change In Rank: Maualuga is still the top rated MLB in’s NFL Draft Rankings.

James Laurinaitis, Ohio State

James Laurinaitis is a gamer and not a player who’s going to impress you in specialized drills. He’s a warrior who plays with passion on game days, not a freak who possesses God given athletic ability that makes you do a triple-take. Laurinaitis struggled during his workout, lacked quickness and appeared stiff in coverage. His 4.80 in the 40 was disappointing, and only lifting 225 pounds, 22 times was less than expected. He’s still a premier talent whose worthy of a mid-to-late first round pick.

Change In Rank: Laurinaitis is still the 2nd rated MLB in’s NFL Draft Rankings.

Mortty Ivy, West Virginia

After a solid collegiate career, Mortty Ivy is trying to take his late round label and elevate it into the mid-rounds. But after a poor performance, the 6-foot-1, 248-pound Ivy hurt his status. He ran a horrible 4.95 in the 40 and only benched 225 pounds 18 times. He looked slow in drills and didn’t show much agility.

Change In Rank: Ivy is now the 22nd rated OLB (previously 18th) in’s NFL Draft Rankings.

Defensive Backs


Davis is physically gifted and he impressed scouts with his performance in Indianapolis.
AP/Michael Conroy

Vontae Davis, Illinois

One of the most physical corners in the country, Vontae Davis didn’t have the same kind of production he enjoyed as a sophomore this past season. But a lot of that has to do with teams not challenging him as much, and from the numbers he posted at the Scouting Combine, it’s no wonder why he wasn’t tested. At 6-foot, 204 pounds, Davis ran a 4.49 in the 40 and had benched 225 pounds 25 times. Davis is considered to be the No. 2 corner in the country, but after Malcolm Jenkins’ struggles at the Combine, Davis could take over the top spot and be drafted in the top-ten.

Change In Rank: Davis is still the 2nd rated CB in’s NFL Draft Rankings.

David Bruton, Notre Dame

A smart, instinctive player who has good ball skills and playmaking ability, Bruton was sensational at the Combine. He exceeded expectations and turned in a 4.46 in the 40, a 41.5-inch vertical and an 11-foot broad jump. With the safety class having good depth, but no real standouts in Indianapolis, Bruton’s performance has placed him in a situation where he could elevate his status as a late third round pick.

Change In Rank: Bruton is now the 8th rated S (previously 11th) in’s NFL Draft Rankings.

Donald Washington, Ohio State

It was a shock to see Donald Washington among the underclassmen who declared for the draft back in January, but it was an even bigger shock to see his performance at the Scouting Combine. The 6-foot, 194-pound Washington had the best vertical leap, an incredible 45-inch effort, and the top broad jump, an 11-foot-3-inch attempt. Washington’s explosiveness was an eye-opener, but he’s still likely to be a late round prospect.

Change In Rank: Washington is still the 30th rated CB in’s NFL Draft Rankings.


Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State

A legitimate top-ten pick, Malcolm Jenkins entered today with a lot of concerns surrounding his speed. At 6-foot, 200 pounds, Jenkins has the size and physical approach to make the move to free safety, and after his performance at the Combine, it’s possible he’ll make that transition. Jenkins ran a disappointing 4.55 in the 40, and it raises questions about his overall quickness to cover the NFL’s elite receivers. However, Jenkins had the fastest time (6.59) of the cornerbacks in the 3-cone drill, which demonstrates a player’s explosion and change of direction. The 40-time that Jenkins turned in could hurt his stock, but if you watch him on film, he’s accomplished enough to keep his top-ten value.

Change In Rank: Jenkins is still the top rated CB in’s NFL Draft Rankings.

D.J. Moore, Vanderbilt

Another top cornerback, D.J. Moore, failed to impress in the 40. Moore, who’s considered one of the best playmakers in the country, turned in a 4.54 in the 40. He didn’t look smooth in his backpedal and lacked fluidity in his hips transitioning up field. Moore did show some explosion during his workout, as he recorded a 39.5-inch vertical. At 5-foot-10, 184 pounds, Moore lacks size, and with his quickness and cover skills being questioned, he could fall out of the first round.

Change In Rank: Moore is still the 3rd rated CB in’s NFL Draft Rankings.

Coye Francies, San Jose State

It’s amazing that some of the top cornerbacks in the country didn’t show up for their biggest job training of their career. Coye Francies, a former Oregon State standout, was considered to be a darkhorse candidate as a possible first round pick. But his 4.53 in the 40 was less than stellar. He looked good in position drills, but his change of direction needs some work. The 6-foot, 185-pound Francies did show amazing strength for his size, lifting 225 pounds 24 times. Francies is likely to be selected in the second round.

Change In Rank: Francies is still the 7th rated CB in’s NFL Draft Rankings.

A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. Steuber’s features are published across the network and on If you wish to contact Chris Steuber, email him at:

Scout NFL Network Top Stories