By Steven Weldon
The Combine grind continues, and all eyes were on the field for Sunday’s athletes, the 2019 class of defensive ends and linebackers. Of all positions in the draft class, the defensive players are the most talented and most coveted.
The number one pick is projected to be Nick Bosa, of Ohio State. Bosa is an edge rusher, a combination of linebacker and defensive end. At the combine workouts, Bosa showed why he is considered the consensus first selection, running a 4.79 second 40-yard dash time, mastering 29 repetitions at the bench press, and displaying a 33.5” vertical leap. If his play on the field didn’t do the talking, his workouts did. It was impressive, as not even six months ago Bosa sustained a core muscle injury that required surgery.
The story of the day went to defensive end Montez Sweat, of Mississippi State. Sweat ran a 4.41-second 40-yard dash, the fastest for a defensive lineman since 2003. That number rivaled many of the receivers and running backs of the previous two days. Ed Oliver, of Houston, was originally projected to be the top overall pick before the NFL season, but his stock had since cooled off during the season due to size concerns related to the NFL prototypes of his position on the line. He did not run a 40-yard dash but did display his jumping ability, showing off a 36” vertical and a 10’ broad jump. Quinnen Williams, of Alabama, is ranked as the best defensive lineman in the class, and he showed why. An impressive 4.83 second 40-time does nothing but help his stock. Depending on the team, he could go anywhere from second overall to seventh overall.
The linebackers in this class also have great ability, despite some who would normally be slotted in their position classifying themselves as edge rushers. Devin White, of Lousiana State, broke a 4.42-second 40-yard dash, fastest for a linebacker since 2003. White has been projected as a mid-first round pick, and some teams could covet him based on his speed. Another Devin, Devin Bush, of Michigan, had very impressive numbers, with a 4.43 second 40-time, a 40.5” vertical and 10’ 4” broad jump. Mock drafts have him projected as high as the fifth pick. The combine workout definitely helped his stock, and he seems like a solid option.
Having a great front seven is integral to the success of a franchise. Will the next defensive superstar come from the 2019 class? The big boys aren’t the only stars on the field, as the defensive backs will show what they bring to the table on Monday. While not as stacked as the linemen and linebackers, there are some talented players in this crop.
Catch the final day of the NFL Combine on NFL Network starting at 6 AM PST on Monday.