Defensive linemen live up to hype Sunday at the NFL Combine

Bosa, Williams, Sweat make cases to be top-5 picks in April

Daryl Ruiter
March 03, 2019 - 5:15 pm

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

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Indianapolis, IN (92.3 The Fan) – The defensive linemen and linebackers had the field at Lucas Oil Stadium all to themselves Sunday and they did not disappoint.

Fortifying the Browns' front seven – at defensive tackle defensive end or linebacker – to generate a better pass rush is a priority for Browns general manager John Dorsey to address this offseason.

“I thought we could’ve been a little bit more,” Dorsey said when asked about how he felt they performed in that area in 2018.

What would Dorsey like to see?

“Well, what you want to see is, you want to see a consistency of pressure, you want to see a consistency of the back four in unison with the front four,” Dorsey said. “It always helps to have that pressure, but that also can be aided by the coverages you run in the back half of that defense as well. Do I think it’s good to have a lot of pressure? Yes.”

Thought to be one of the deepest drafts in years for defensive linemen, the on-field workouts essentially confirmed it which should leave Dorsey with a few options either at 17 or if he decides to move up or down the board come April.

Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams and Montez Sweat made a strong case to be top-5 picks in April’s draft and clearly won’t be making it to Dorsey and the Browns barring a significant move in the draft.

The return of Bosa to the field for the first time since undergoing core muscle surgery was a success. Bosa showed no effects from the procedure that ended his season at Ohio State and led to him leaving the Buckeyes to begin preparations for the draft with his brother. Although he ran a 4.79 40, his 10-split time was third-best among defensive linemen. He’s a top-3, if not the No. 1 overall pick.

Williams, Alabama’s star defensive tackle, ran a 4.83 in the 40 and NFL Network’s simulcam showed him run faster than 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and Arizona QB Josh Rosen at the Combine. His vertical measured at 30 ½ and he was impressively fluid and agile moving through the bag drills.

Sweat absolutely killed his workout. The 6-foot-6, 260-pound Mississippi State defensive end registered the second-best 10-yard split on Sunday with a 1.50, ahead of Bosa’s 1.55 while running a 4.42 40. It was the fastest 40 time at the Combine for a defensive lineman since they began tracking them in 2003. NFL Network simulcammed his run with Texans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and Sweat beat him by a yard. Sweat also tied for the fifth fastest three-cone drill time with Akron’s Jamal Davis with a 7.00.

Michigan's Rashan Gary, who measured in at 6-foot-4, 277 pounds, is thought to be the second-rated edge rusher behind Bosa. He ran 4.58, had a 38-inch vertical and pumped out 26 reps of 225 on the bench press.

So, what is Dorsey looking for in his potential new defensive tackle under new defensive coordinator Steve Wilks?

“I’m sure we’ll begin to see longer guys there,” Dorsey said. “[Wilks] is going to play some concepts within his 4-3 scheme that allows his defensive linemen to make plays.”

The linebackers are not highly thought of in this draft class, but a few stood out Sunday.

LSU’s Devin White lived up to the hype as the best linebacker in the class. His 39 ½ vertical and 9-foor-10 broad jump raised eyebrows, but it turns out that he might not be the only one that carries a first-round grade.

Kentucky’s Josh Allen peeled off a 4.64 in the 40 and a 7.15 three-cone time. His 28 reps of 225 was one shy of Bosa.

Michigan’s Devin Bush made his case to slide into round one by tying for the second-fastest 40 time among linebackers with a 4.43. Bush’s 40 ½ vertical ranked No. 1 and his 10-4 broad jump was third-best among linebackers.

Northern Illinois edge rusher Sutton Smith set a Combine record – again dating back to 2003 – with a 6.75 time in the three-cone drill.

On Monday, the corners and safeties will complete the on-field testing for the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine.