Previewing The Combine: LB’s and DB’s

UVA Chase Minnifield is one of a few CB prospects who will be looking for a big combine

This is our last Combine Preview piece before we get everything set for the workouts and testing. The final set of previews will look at both the LB’s and DB’s in this class. The LB’s will actually get measured and workout with the DL on the 25th and 27th respectively. The DB’s however will get their days all to themselves as they get measured on the 26th and workout on the 28th.

Here are the LB participants;
OLB Emmanuel Acho-Texas
OLB Ryan Baker-LSU
OLB Nigel Bradham-FSU
OLB Zach Brown-UNC
OLB Miles Burris-San Diego State
OLB Lavonte David-Nebraska
OLB Demario Davis-Arkansas St
OLB Darius Fleming-Notre Dame
OLB Josh Kaddu-Oregon
OLB Terrell Manning-NC State*
OLB Brandon Marshall-Nevada
OLB Tyler Neilsen-Iowa
OLB Keenan Robinson-Texas
OLB Sean Spence-Miami
OLB Stephen Stupar-Penn State
OLB Danny Trevanthan-Kentucky
OLB Courtney Upshaw-Alabama
OLB Tahir Whitehead-Temple
ILB Vontaz Burfict-Arizona State*
ILB Tank Carder-TCU
ILB Audie Cole-NC State
ILB Chris Galippo-USC
ILB Najee Goode-West Virginia
ILB Dont’a Hightower-Alabama*
ILB James-Michael Johnson-Nevada
ILB Steven Johnson-Kansas
ILB Marvin Kendricks-Cal
ILB Luke Kuechly-Boston College*
ILB Travis Lewis-Oklahoma
ILB Shawn Loiseau-Merrimack
ILB Caleb McSurdy-Montana
ILB Bobby Wagner-Utah St

Here is our estimate at who will be the top workout warriors from the LB position:
40 Yard Dash-Courtney Upshaw 4.50
3 Cone Drill-Zach Brown 6.92
Short Shuttle- Keenan Robinson 4.20
Bench Press-Audie Cole 31

Everybody will probably expect Vontaz Burfict to be the fastest LB at the combine and he may be but every time we’ve counted out Courtney Upshaw he’s made us look silly. We won’t let that happen again as we are taking Upshaw to throw down on the 40.

That doesn’t mean LB’s like Burfict and Zach Brown won’t perform well, we fully expect both to fight it out in every drill for the top spot. Burfict, more so than Brown, badly needs a good showing in Indy.

We are interested in seeing what Dont’a Hightower runs at the combine, there has been a lot of speculation and questions about his speed and we think he could run lower than expected.

A few lower end OLB’s who we think should test well will be Terrell Manning, Keenan Robinson, Miles Burris, and Darius Fleming. All three have more than enough athleticism to play the position and could give their stock a nice boost leaving the combine.

While we have Travis Lewis listed as an ILB for the purposes of this preview, we see him as more of an OLB in our 43 defense. He should run well but will need to pass the medical exams to put some more security into his stock.

The combine testing should not go as well for small school LB’s Caleb McSurdy and Shawn Loiseau as other small school prospects. They are not the same caliber of athletes as some of the guys they’ll be testing with and we fear they will look slow in comparison despite being very good football players.

It’s no great secret that we really like Lavonte David as a fit for our defense, he should test very well and possibly push to win almost every drill. It would not shock us if he left Indy with a 2nd Round grade.

The two players to watch who may be a bit under the radar are Josh Kaddu at OLB and James-Michael Johnson at ILB. Both should test well, should interview well, and perform in drills. From the day they weigh-in to the day they workout we expect both players to shine.

Another couple of guys we are interested in seeing are ILB’s Tank Carder and Chris Galippo. Carder was a tackling machine for the Horned Frogs but played in a non-NFL defense in terms of scheme. The combine won’t tell us a ton about his transition but some about how he could fit athletically. Galippo is just a player that we struggled to see any consistency out of and we have lots of questions about his athleticism.

Here are the CB participants:
CB Dwight Bentley-ULL
CB Robert Blanton-Notre Dame
CB Omar Bolden-Arizona State
CB Brandon Boykin-UGA
CB Rod Brooks-LSU
CB Charles Brown-UNC
CB Mo Claiborne-LSU*
CB Alfonzo Dennard-Nebraska
CB Antonio Fenelus-Wisconsin
CB Jamell Fleming-Oklahoma
CB Terrence Frederick-Texas A&M
CB Stephon Gilmore-South Carolina*
CB Cliff Harris-Oregon*
CB Mike Harris-FSU
CB Casey Hayward-Vanderbilt
CB Jayron Hosley-Virginia Tech*
CB Asa Jackson-Cal Poly
CB Janoris Jenkins-North Alabama
CB Leonard Johnson-Iowa State
CB Trumaine Johnson-Montana
CB Jeremy Jones-Wayne St
CB Coryell Judie-Texas A&M
CB Dre Kirkpatrick-Alabama*
CB D’Anton Lynn-Penn State
CB De’Quan Menzie-Alabama
CB Chase Minnifieild-Virginia
CB Josh Norman-Coastal Carolina
CB Micah Pellerin-Hampton
CB Chaz Powell-Penn State
CB Shaun Prater-Iowa
CB De’Andre Presley-Appalachian State
CB Antwuan Reed-Pitt
CB Josh Robinson-UCF*
CB Coty Sensabaugh-Clemson
CB Ryan Steed-Furman
CB Trevin Wade-Arizona
CB Corey White-Samford

Here is our estimate at who will be the top workout warriors from the CB position:
40 Yard Dash-Asa Jackson 4.35
3 Cone Drill-Leonard Johnson 6.82
Short Shuttle-Cliff Harris 4.01
Bench Press-Ryan Steed 22

If we had to wager a bet on whether or not the trend of small school CB’s dominating the draft season would continue we would bet on yes. Plenty of speedsters among the group that will include Asa Jackson, Micah Pellerin, De’Andre Pressley, Corey White, Jeremy Jones, Janoris Jenkins, Ryan Steed, Josh Norman, and Trumaine Johnson. As you can see above we are predicting Jackson to win the 40 battle and Steed to win the bench rep.

Getting back to the FBS guys we think plays like Leonard Johnson, Josh Robinson, Brandon Boykin, and Shaun Prater could all really shine in an event that will allow them to showcase their raw athleticism.

In positional drills we really want to watch every CB’s hips and see how smooth they can transition and change directions. For guys like Trumaine Johnson, Casey Hayward, and Chase Minnifield this drill will be crucial to determining their future stock.

There is almost nothing that Mo Claiborne or Dre Kirkpatrick are going to gain out of this event. For the most part they are going to go where they are going to go, and both can be expected to run well. All they need to do is get a solid wonderlic score and do well in the interviews.

Here are the SAF participants:
FS George Iloka-Boise St
FS Janzen Jackson-McNeese St*
FS Markelle Martin-Oklahoma St
FS Trenton Robinson-Michigan St
FS Harrison Smith-Notre Dame
FS Johnny Thomas-Oklahoma State*
FS Phillip Thomas-Syracuse*
FS Christian Thompson-South Carolina State
SS Antonio Allen-South Carolina
SS Mark Barron-Alabama
SS Justin Bethel-Presbyterian
SS Sean Cattouse-Cal
SS Winston Guy-Kentucky
SS Delano Howell-Stanford
SS Duke Ihenacho-San Jose St
SS Kelcie McCray-Arkansas St
SS Jerron McMillian-Maine
SS Charles Mitchell-Mississippi St
SS Edward Pleasant-Oregon
SS Cyhl Quarles-Wake Forest
SS Sean Richardson-Vanderbilt
SS Brandon Taylor-LSU

Here is our estimate at who will be the top workout warriors from the SAF position:
40 Yard Dash-Janzen Jackson 4.40
3 Cone Drill-Winston Guy 6.87
Short Shuttle-Justin Bethel 4.07
Bench Press-Mark Barron 25

The safety class is a bit of crap shoot for most teams needing one. The value after Mark Barron certainly falls off a good bit but a number of the 2nd tier guys are being looked as potential sleepers at the position.

Some of the players who we know interested us were Christian Thompson, Justin Bethel, Winston Guy, Sean Richardson, Jerron McMillian, and Janzen Jackson.

Janzen Jackson and Winston Guy though may be the two most interesting only because we think they are among the most athletic. We project each to win one of the testing drills and both can fly all over the field.

We’ve seen more than few people very high on SAF’s Brandon Taylor and Harrison Smith, we’ve seen both a number of times and for the most part have been unimpressed. We’ll be curious to see how they run though.

Tags: 2012 NFL Draft, CB, LB, NFL Scouting Combine, SAF

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