Gone are the days of the high end pass rushers who rely on a bevy of carefully crafted, technically sound maneuvers to become high picks. Gone are the cerebral, instinct laden linebackers with refined cover skills and below average speed, the prototype of the 1980s, 1990s.
Go home, grandpa. We have massive hulking freaks of nature now.
The future of the linebacker and defensive end position is riddled with human beings who are somehow 6’5″ 255 pounds and run 40-yard dashes in under 4.60 seconds. We saw that today in spades, and some of them are certain to peak the Bears’ interest as a team who tends to like high upside, raw players in the top end of the first round (see Leonard Floyd and Kevin White.) Let’s take a look back at three players who massively helped their draft stock today and which headlines emerged from Indianapolis.
We all know the story. This kid is incredible. Shaquem Griffin single-handedly (couldn’t resist) carried Central Florida’s defense to an undefeated season. He has excellent sideline to sideline speed and despite his lack of a left hand, which often times can be quite useful in beating an offensive tackle, shows on his game film that he doesn’t let it hold him back as an edge rusher whatsoever. However, I knew he was fast, but I didn’t think he was THIS fast.
4.38 speed from Griffin is insane for a linebacker. At his size and speed, I might wonder how moving him to defensive back would look, but as of right now I’d keep him where he is. Griffin is a tackling machine in the front seven and I think that’s where he fits best. The combine proved that Griffin is no longer just a great story, he’s a legitimate NFL prospect and a possible top 50 pick. He’s worth a look in the second round if you’re the Chicago Bears.
TLS Senior Writer James Fox tweeted earlier today that Edmunds cemented his status as a top 10 pick. I wholeheartedly agree. Edmunds, in my opinion, can be lined up all over the defensive box and in any linebacker position and have success in the NFL. He looked excellent in positional drills, moving very fluidly, very naturally, very agile for somebody with his size and potential for playing into any spot in a team’s linebacking corps.
At only 20 years old at the time of the draft in late April, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio can mold an athlete and a physical specimen like Edmunds into whatever he wants him to be. His skillset is just waiting to be utilized in a top five defense in the NFL. And oh yeah, 4.55 raw speed at his size is absolutely crazy.
Edmunds should be at the very top of Ryan Pace’s board come April 26. As of right now, he’d be my pick.
I said in my day three preview that the combine would help prove Davenport to be a legitimate target for the Bears at #8 overall. And while I still like Edmunds there more for now, the incredibly raw Davenport did nothing in Indy to change my opinion. Mike Mayock of NFL Network agrees, saying that Davenport is in the top 10 on his board and could very well go in the top 10 in Dallas.
Still though, you could see how unrefined his repertoire is in terms of being a refined pass rusher. He had to be told a couple times to keep his head up during a simple pad punching drill and it was clear that he hadn’t been playing football for a while (he was primarily a basketball player in high school).
This all sounds similar to Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah, the Detroit Lion out of BYU, when he entered the draft as a raw yet talented project (and judging by their broadcast many at NFL Network agree) and Ansah was drafted at #5 overall. Davenport will need good coaching but in the right situation he can become a star.
-The reason I didn’t focus any of this coverage on interior defensive linemen whatsoever is because I don’t believe the Bears should be adding anyone to that position. Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman are studs and they have good depth in Mitch Unrein, Jonathan Bullard, and Roy Robertson-Harris behind them. And in the Bears’ scheme, the vast majority of the game is played with two D-line starters and a nickel back instead.
-Bradley Chubb and Roquan Smith remain top 10 picks. Their combines did not do anything to hurt their already soaring stock. Chubb is still a run to the podium selection if by some miracle he falls to the Bears at eight overall and Smith is still a real option.
-Defensive backs tomorrow. After that, the next stop in the bus ride of the NFL offseason is the legal tampering period, which begins on March 12. Buckle up.