2010 NFL Combine Analysis: Outside Linebackers
The NFL Combine is an alternate way for players with low visibility to help their stock and for those with high expectations to meet them.
Game tape is still the primary source of how a player performs in real-time situations, but the combine measures physical tangibles and position-specific drills that show the strengths and weaknesses of each player.
Outside linebackers with hopes of NFL salaries are expected to be comfortable with both strong and weak side positions, as well as have above-average speed and good coverage skills. Here are a few players who had a good showing at the combine and others who still have work to do.
1. Cody Grimm (Virginia Tech)
40-Yard Dash (4.64) Bench Press (21) Vertical Jump (35.5) 3-Cone Drill (6.58)
Grimm is a typically undersized linebacker with great speed and good instincts. He was highly productive at Virginia Tech and that hard work will translate well to the next level.
Some project him as a safety in the NFL, but with a few added pounds, Grimm has the potential to be a very effective weak side linebacker. His lateral speed and lower body strength allows him to fly around the field and get to the ball quickly.
For now, he is looking more and more like an early pick on the second day of the draft.
2. Dekoda Watson (Florida State)
40-Yard Dash (4.56) Bench Press (24) Vertical Jump (40.0) 20-Yard Shuttle (4.11)
60-Yard Shuttle (11.35) Broad Jump (11’02″)
Watson is a player who will likely slip beneath the radar and surprise a lot of folks in the Fall. The former Seminole doesn’t have the production or the playing time some of the other prospects have, but he is a workaholic who spends atrocious amounts of time in the weight room.
For his size, he can really move. He has excellent lateral quickness and will eat up space quickly. He has the strength of an interior linebacker but the coverage skills of an outside defender. He still has some polishing to undergo but, in time, he will be a coveted defender in the NFL.
3. Sean Weatherspoon (Missouri)
40-Yard Dash (4.68) Bench Press (24) Vertical Jump (40.0) 60-Yard Shuttle (11.59)
Broad Jump (10’03″)
Weatherspoon is one of the more highly-regarded defensive prospects this spring and his performance at the combine solidified his legitimacy.
He was fast, alert, and strong the entire weekend. There wasn’t a particular drill that stood out among the others, but all of his numbers were solid.
Weatherspoon played on a defense that was often overlooked to the offense’s potency throughout the year. He doesn’t garner enough attention yet but after his weekend in Indianapolis, how can he not?
4. Keenan Clayton (Oklahoma)
40-Yard Dash (4.66) Bench Press (27) Vertical Jump (41.5)
Clayton doesn’t have exceptional production but he makes up for it with a strong football IQ and a tireless desire to play the game. He showed up big at the combine with strong numbers across the board and a good showing at the position-specific drills.
He has a great spring step at the line of scrimmage; he could eventually be a very good blitzer in the NFL. The former Sooner has problems in coverage at times, but he has the speed to be effective and will only need a little polishing at the next level to tap into his athletic resources.
5.Keaton Kristick (Oregon State)
40-Yard Dash (4.64) Bench Press (16) 3-Cone Drill (6.96) 20-Yard Shuttle (4.21)
60-Yard Dash (11.33) Broad Jump (10’00″)
As a projected mid to late-round player going into the combine, Kristick had much to prove in Indianapolis.
Like any other young prospect, the former Beaver felt the wear and tear of a season’s performance and the high-strung schedule of the combine, but he showed progress on the field and will only look to improve those numbers at Oregon State’s pro day.
Kristick has quick feet and does well changing directions in tight spaces. He has a quick step off the snap and can find the path around slower tackles, even at the next level. He’ll need some polishing and a little patience, but could eventually prove to be an effective weak side linebacker.
1. A.J. Edds (Iowa)
40-Yard Dash (4.71) Bench Press (16) 20-Yard Shuttle (4.28)
Edds is another typical Iowa defender, a balanced tackle machine riddled with discipline and a fiery desire to play the game of football. The former Hawkeye had hopes of vaulting his draft stock at the combine, but a slow 40 time and an unimpressive showing at the bench didn’t speak well to his capabilities.
Edds was a tackle machine at Iowa who also learned how to play in coverage his senior season. He has everything you look for in a strong side linebacker, but we will have to wait until Iowa’s pro day to see if it’s as real as it is on tape.
2. Sam Maxwell (Kentucky)
Broad Jump (8’08″)
I completely understand when a player with hopes of a high draft pick declines to perform certain drills at the combine in hops of making a better showing at their respective pro day, but when you do decide to perform in only one physical drill, you better do well.
Maxwell, in respects to a light hamstring injury, opted to only perform in the broad jump. He struggled to maintain his balance and ultimately ended with a sub-par number. He’ll have another chance to perform at Kentucky’s pro day, but he will have to work very hard to escape the shadow of fellow teammate Micah Johnson.
3. Brandon Spikes (Florida)
Vertical Jump (29.0) 3-Cone Drill (6.97) Broad Jump (9’02″)
It’s hard to imagine a player of Spikes’ caliber performing in such a way that allow his draft stock to fall, but it’s much easier to fall from the very top rather than the middle of the road. Spikes entered the combine with high expectations and did not reciprocate.
Posting marginal numbers across the board, Spikes will need to put more work into the weight room in order to continue being associated with the words “top pick” or “elite”.
4. Eric Norwood (South Carolina)
40-Yard Dash (4.67) Vertical Jump (36.5) 20-Yard Shuttle (4.23) Broad Jump (9’07″)
Norwood had overwhelming production at South Carolina and is one of the most durable prospects to enter the draft this year. That being said, scouts were expecting a faster product than what they saw in Indianapolis.
The former Gamecock defensive superstar look sluggish at times and didn’t relay the spark he was so well known for in South Carolina. He did well at the position-specific drills but needs to trim down his 40-yard in order to contend for a quick berth in April.
5. Harry Coleman (LSU)
40-Yard Dash (4.65) Bench Press (13) 60-Yard Shuttle (11.67) Broad Jump (8’11″)
Coleman may be a victim of poor coaching at LSU, where coaches moved him from safety to strong side linebacker his senior season. He is extremely undersized to play linebacker, as it showed at the combine, but fast enough to still be effective as a safety at the next level.
He is a secure tackler and decent in coverage, but don’t rule out the possibility of Coleman playing safety in the NFL. Either way, he is a versatile player with capabilities on both sides of the ball. He isn’t the strongest, but if he puts a little work into the weight room, he won’t be overlooked in April.