Share & Connect
Following hot on the heels of our look at the offensive NFL prospect at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, we now look at the defensive standouts who influenced their draft stock with particularly strong or weak showings in Indianapolis.
Aaron Donald, Defensive Tackle, Pittsburgh
Donald put in such a good performance at the Combine, that he almost outshone the media magnet and physical phenom that is Jadeveon Clowney. The interior defensive lineman, who weighs in at 285 pounds, ran a 4.68 in the 40-yard dash, put up 35 reps in the bench press, and was exceptional in all of the on-field drills. Coupled with excellent production in his college career, and a dominant performance at the Senior Bowl, Donald could well now be the first 4-3 defensive tackle off the board come the NFL Draft in May.
Justin Gilbert, Cornerback, Oklahoma State
Similarly to Donald, Gilbert turned in an almost flawless performance in both the off and on-field drills, and cemented himself as the number one prospect at his position. Gilbert posted the best 40-yard dash of any of the defensive backs, clocking in at an impressive 4.37 seconds, and also recorded 20 reps on the bench press. Both measurables, combined with his 6”0, 202 pound frame, mean that NFL teams will be hopeful he can have a similar impact in the pros to the one that Richard Sherman has had with the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Safety, Alabama
Clinton-Dix came into the Combine as the second best safety on many people’s draft boards, most often filling in just behind Louisville’s Calvin Pryor. Whilst Pryor put in a decent showing in Indianapolis, Clinton-Dix looked smoother in many of the on-field drills, and may have done enough to warrant a number of teams revaluating their draft boards at the position. With teams like the Dallas Cowboys and Baltimore Ravens in need of a rangy, free safety, Clinton-Dix could well find himself drafted in the top 20 in May.
Michael Sam, Defensive End, Missouri
It was a disappointing day for Sam, who posted below-average measurable in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, and bench press. Furthermore, Sam looked stiff in most of the conversion drills for defensive linemen who could also potentially play linebacker at the next level, and it’s unlikely too many teams will consider him a prospect capable of playing anywhere other than with his hand in the dirt. A role as a situational pass rusher, at least in the immediate future, beckons for Sam, but he may have to wait till the third day of the draft to hear his name called, after a poor day in Indianapolis.
Marcus Roberson, Cornerback, Florida
Unremarkable numbers across the board, and good performances from the elite prospects at his position, will have pushed Roberson further down the cornerback pecking order, and potentially out of the top 10 at the position. Roberson was run close for this by his former college teammate Louichiez Purifoy, and both players will need to turn in much-improved performances at their Pro Days to help rise back up teams’ draft boards.
A trio of tall, rangy corners in Utah’s Keith McGill, Lindenwood’s Pierre Desir, and Nebraska’s Stanley Jean-Baptiste all had varying fortunes, but showed enough in a number of drills to help their draft stock. All three will be seen as strong, press corners, who can jam receivers at the line of scrimmage, and could go anywhere from the second to fifth rounds. Another player who caught the eye was Montana’s Jordan Tripp, as he was one of the most fluid looking linebackers in the on-field drills. Initially slated as a late-round draft pick, whose primary responsibilities would be special teams, Tripp could now be rising up draft boards across the NFL.