In a day featuring performances from linebackers and defensive linemen, it was easy to tell which position has “historic” talent in the 2019 NFL Draft. You didn’t just have to be elite at the NFL Combine to standout among the big boys, you had to be historically elite. Even with that high mark to hit, plenty did, highlighting just how insane the class is along the defensive trenches.
Just like I did for Day 1 and Day 2, the list of winners and losers is based purely on measurements and testing; I plan to re-watch the on-field drills with more scrutiny soon. One tool I use to formulate my athletic score is Kent Lee Platt’s “RAS” (relative athleticism score). You’ll see this heavily cited throughout. It’s a fantastic tool to help gain a better understanding of how prospects performed against a large historical database.
TO THE TAKES!
BRIAN BURNS - EDGE, Florida State
The third overall player on my big board did the dang thing. His excellent tape is now accompanied by top shelf testing and he’s going to be very attractive to teams picking in the top 10, possibly top 5.
Burns has fluid movement skills and everything you’re asking for as a potential double-digit sack master at the next level.
MONTEZ SWEAT - EDGE, Mississippi State
This defensive line class tested like aliens, but Sweat nearly caused the apocalypse with his monocle-shattering 4.41(!) 40-yard dash. His 7-flat 3-cone is in the 83rd percentile, further cementing his status as a Combine stud.
It was a big day for Sweat that’s going to do some great things for a stock that was already on the rise after a solid week at the Senior Bowl.
DEXTER LAWRENCE - iDL, Clemson
Big cat can move! Lawrence flashed the traits that he showed early in his career as a Tiger, but there still remain doubts about his pass rush productivity over the last two years.
If you think Lawrence is more than a block sponge, this is the evidence you’re shouting from a mountaintop. If you had concerns, this will send you back to the film. For a guy that had to spend all week answering questions about his PED suspension, Lawrence did well to shift the attention to something more positive.
RASHAN GARY - DL, Michigan
We all heard Gary was going to test like a freak. Guess what? He tested like a freak.
Rashan Gary posted a top 15 #RAS all time at the #2019NFLCombine at defensive end with elite speed and explosion to go with very good agility.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 3, 2019
His score is top 15 for Defensive Tackle as well, both dating back to 1987.
*Splits Projected* pic.twitter.com/XhLMjcvQkb
The problem with Gary was never if he had the juice, it was why he never had the matching production or impact. Defensive line coaches will want to get there hands on this guy, but they’ll have their work cut out for them on the way to unlocking his untapped potential. Regardless, Gary won the day because the checked box didn’t demand attention from an eraser.
THE TWO DEVIN’S
White checked in with a 9.34 RAS after burning a 4.42 40-yard dash and hitting 39 1/2” on the vertical jump. Bush was a tick behind with a 9.33 RAS and a 4.44 40-yard dash, but bested White with a 40 1/2” vertical. The pair should be the first two selected linebackers in the NFL Draft.
DANIEL WISE - iDL, Kansas
What an odd day for a player that crushed the East-West Shrine week and had good tape to go along with it.
I still like Wise as a Day 3 prospect the Eagles’ could have their eye on; he showed better movement skills on film. He also displayed a good first step, solid pad level, and active hands. If the Eagles consider him they’re going to have to trust the tape.
ISAIAH BUGGS - iDL, Alabama
It’s easy to get slept on when you play next to Quinnen Williams. It’s even harder to get noticed when you test poorly in a historic defensive line class.
Buggs has decent tape, but there’s a ton of eye candy at his position that possess more desirable athletic profiles. Stock down if you expected more from him.
JOE GILES-HARRIS - LB, Duke
Every time I asked for linebacker names in my search for depth in this class, Giles-Harris kept popping up. That fan club is scrambling at the moment.
I haven’t gotten to Giles-Harris film yet, but this doesn’t exactly send me running to the film room. Perhaps he’s just not a great tester, which is fine, but I expected more from a player with such a vocal base. Hopefully I’ll come back a week or so from now singing a different tune.
This is all good news for the Philadelphia Eagles. Despite re-signing Brandon Graham to a three-year deal, the departure of Timmy Jernigan creates a significant need on the interior. If there was ever a year to have a need in the trenches, it’s this one. Also, I don’t ever expect them to say, “no, we have enough pass rushers”, so edge is still in play. The disappointment is the linebacker class, because after Devin White and Devin Bush things get a little hairy.