07 March 2009

Winners and Losers at the 2009 NFL Scouting Combine (Defense)

Defensive Ends

Cincinnati ’s Connor Barwin had probably the best showing of any DE at the combine. He finished second in 40 time (4.66), and posted the best numbers in vertical jump (40.5), broad jump (10.8), 3-cone drill (6.87), and 20-yard shuttle (4.18). He checked in at 6’3”, 256lbs and posted 21 reps on the 225lbs bench press. I think he proved to scouts that he can play LB.

Lawrence Sidbury Jr. posted the top 40-time among DE at 4.64 but he was just average in other drills. He posted a 30 inch vertical and 10 foot broad jump. He also banged out 28 reps on the bench press, good for third among DE. He did not crack the top 10 in change-of-direction drills and appears best moving in straight lines. He opened some eyes but probably didn’t sway his draft status one way or the other very much.

David Veikune proved to be more than just a heart and hustle guy; he notched 35 reps on the bench press, tops among DE, and posted a very respectable 7.20 3-cone drill. He finished with a 4.87 forty.

As expected, Brian Orakpo came in and had a great combine. He was not expected to blow anyone away with his running, but he still had the 4th best forty time at 4.7, was an inch behind Barwin in the vertical jump at 39.5, and as expected, banged out 31 reps on the bench press. He still didn’t prove to me that he is an OLB prospect, but he cemented himself as the draft’s top DE.


Everette Brown did not have a bad combine by any means, but he didn’t blow up like I was hoping to see. His 4.73 forty was good but not great, his 9’6” broad was just average and he didn’t crack the top 10 in 3-cone. His 26 reps on the bench press were again good but not great. He also checked in at 6 foot 1.3 inches shorter than expected but his mass was fine at 256 bs.

Just shy of 250 pounds, Aaron Maybin disappointed with his 4.88 time in the forty. He was explosive in the vertical and broad jumps (38” vert and 10’4” broad) but did not crack the top 10 in 3-cone and his bench press was kind of weak (22 reps). He’s too small to stay at DE and needed to show the speed necessary for a move to outside linebacker and he didn’t.

Defensive Tackle

Jarron Gilbert from San Jose State continues to impress, checking in at 6’ 5” 288 lbs. with 36” arms and 10” hands. His 4.87 forty was tops among DT and put him 10th among all DL. After watching his YouTube video, when he jumps clean out of a pool and lands on his feet, it’s not surprising that he tied Chris Baker for best vertical jump by a DT (35.5) and posted a 9’11” broad jump, again tops among DT. Teams running the 3-4 are watching him closely.

Terrence Taylor didn’t run very well but he did bang out 37 reps on the bench press, good for 2nd among all combine participants. Roy Miller had a good run of 5.09 at 310lbs but he too opened eyes on the bench press, notching 36 reps. NT’s B.J. Raji and Ron Brace never expected to run very well but both showed their great strength with 33 and 32 reps on the bench respectively.

I thought Vance Walker would run quite a bit better than his 5.35 time but he has 11” hands and 35” arms, helping him to bang out 29 reps on the bench press.


Outside Linebacker:

Aaron Curry won the combine, hands down. His 4.56 forty was tops among all LB and has his name at the top of the vertical and broad jumps. I was surprised to see his name not among the top 10 in 3-cone though. He did a respectable 25 reps on the bench press and looked phenomenal in his drills.

Clay Matthews had a better combine than his more herald teammates in Brian Cushing and Rey Maualuga. He measured up very well and his 4.67 forty and 6.90 3-cone really opened eyes. A 35” vertical and 10’1” broad show how good of an athlete he is and he held his own with 23 reps on the bench press.


Mortty Ivy from West Virginia ran a DL-like 4.95/forty and really hurt himself there. He ran very poorly in Indy and may struggle to get drafted.

Inside Linebacker:

Looking well recovered from his devastating knee injury in 2007, Jasper Brinkley turned a lot of heads and made people go back and look at his game tape from 2 years ago. He checked in at an excellent 6’1” 252lbs and ran a 4.72 forty. He also benched 26 reps. By the time draft day rolls around, Brinkley could be just as highly thought of as he was after the 2007 season.

Stanley Arnoux and Gerald McRath aren’t the biggest guys on the block (both checked in at 230lbs) but they timed the fastest. Both clocked 4.61s in their forties. Teams looking for speed at LB will take a long look at these undersized jackrabbits.


James Laurinaitis continued to slide down draft boards after his poor showing at the combine. I thought very highly of him all year long but he’s having a terrible offseason and his decision to skip the Senior Bowl is proving a costly decision. He and Rey Maualuga timed in the 4.8 range but play much faster. They measured in at over 240lbs and did 22 (Laurinaitis) and 23 (Maualuga) reps on the bench press. Maualuga pulled up lame after his run in the forty. Pro days are becoming increasingly important for these players.

Not only did Morris Wooten check in at under 6’ 0" tall (officially 5’11”), he ran a horrendous 5.00 in the forty and only did 15 reps on the bench. A bad, bad day for a prospect who may now find himself undrafted.


I don’t believe the forty times I’m seeing for this group. I’ve heard rumblings about the electronic timer being a fraction slow and it seems pretty obvious that’s the case when looking at the times posted by some of the CB.

Apparently Vontae Davis and small school prospect Lardarius Webb were the only cornerbacks who could break the 4.4 mark and Davis is listed at 4.49. Other than the forty time, Davis posted some sick numbers, like 25 reps on the bench press and a 6.75 3-cone. His numbers in the vertical and broad jumps were not available. He’s an athlete just like his brother Vernon.

Coye Francies knocked out 24 reps on the bench but his hands were measured at 8¾ and he measured in at only 185lbs. He’s strong for his size and has the frame to carry more bulk. He’s still in the top 5 among available CB.

Donald Washington from Ohio State nearly outperformed his more herald teammate Malcolm Jenkins, leading the entire combine with a 45” vertical jump. His others numbers were below average, including his 9 reps on the bench.


Speaking of Malcolm Jenkins, he is in the running for player who hurt their stock the most at the combine. Already thought of as a potential safety, Jenkins a poor 4.55 forty and managed only 15 reps on the bench press. The only time he shone was in the 3-cone, where he led all CB with a 6.59 time.

Victor “Macho” Harris had a bad day as well, running 4.63 forty and not lifting. He was never expected to time fast, but this confirms scouts fears that may be too slow to play CB and could have to switch to safety.


Patrick Chung may have solidified himself as the draft’s top safety after measuring in at 5’ 11” 212 lbs, and running a 4.54 forty. He also did 25 reps on the bench press. Louie Delmas is not far behind though. He checked in 5’11” 204lbs and ran a 4.53 forty. He only did 15 reps on the bench but had a 6.67 3-cone and a 10’6” broad. These two will go neck and neck to be the first safety drafted.

Chip Vaughn’s 4.51 forty at 6’ 1" 221 lbs and 21 reps turned some heads. David Bruton is another big safety (6’2” 219lbs) who ran very well (4.49) and lifted well (19 reps).


Safety is fraught with guys who ran poorly. Never a speedster, Kevin Ellison really hurt himself with his 4.85 forty even he did bench the building (32 reps). He may be too short for LB (6’0”) but he’s obviously too big (227lbs) and too slow to handle playing safety.

Emmanuel Cook was thought to be a rising prospect who could potentially challenge Chung, Delmas and even William Moore to be the first safety chosen but he did not help himself with his 4.66 forty and 19 reps.

I don’t think the combine did anything to help the embattled Moore. After his terrible Senior Bowl, Moore needed to light up the combine and he was just one of the guys (4.53 forty).

Special Teams:

USC punter David Buehler deserves some mention. Buehler was the only specialist to lift at the combine and he knocked out an astounding 25 reps. At 6’ 1” 227 lbs, if Buehler doesn’t make it as a punter he might be able to at least make a team as a special teamer and emergency punter for someone.

Click here to see the Offensive Winners and Losers at the 2009 NFL Scouting Combine.

By Daryl Breault

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