February 28, 2012
NFL Combine 2012: Analyzing Performances of Potential Round 1 Defensive Linemen
Aside from the defensive backs, the defensive linemen may arguably be the most talent unit in the 2012 NFL draft. And as evidence by some solid performances at the combine, the defensive ends and tackles made a strong impression on Monday.
That said, here’s a look at some projected first-rounders who at the very least, lived up to expectations.
Melvin Ingram, South Carolina
If anything at the combine, Melvin Ingram proved his value as a first-round selection. The man comes in at 6’1″, 265 pounds and registered a 4.79 40-yard dash, 28 reps on the bench, a 34.5-inch vertical as well as 9’1″ broad jump.
Ingram’s agility and body control, though, proved to be the most impressive.
On the three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle, Ingram put up top times of 6.83 and 4.18 seconds, respectively. With his versatility along the defensive line and the ability to play outside linebacker, Ingram has all the physical tools to make an immediate impact in pro football.
It also won’t matter whether the franchise who drafts him runs a 4-3, 3-4, 1-5-5 or whatever. Ingram can literally play anywhere in a front seven and be productive against the rush and pass. Although he could gain some muscle strength, doing so would have to happen while maintaining his quickness and lateral footwork.
Nick Perry, USC
What we learned about USC’s Nick Perry from the combine was his freakishly athletic skill set.
There’s no doubt that Perry was expected to perform well but the man went above and beyond himself. First off, he comes in at 6’3″, 270 pounds and ran a 4.64 40-yard dash. In addition, Perry was a top-five performer in the bench press (35 reps) and the top performer in vertical (38.5 inches) and broad jump (10’4″).
Now, his three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle times were only average by comparison. So, what we see here is immediate explosion off the snap but inconsistency at making moves inside or out to apply pressure on the quarterback.
If Perry can develop more lateral agility and improve his body control while changing directions, he has Pro Bowl potential in 2012. With excellent quickness and acceleration, it comes down to not being overaggressive and adjusting to how the play develops.
Dontari Poe, Memphis
Here’s a guy who really shined on the NFL combine stage. The man’s size of 6’4″, 346 pounds is monstrous but his performance was even more monstrous.
Considering his size frame, Poe still managed to run a 4.98 40-yard dash, leap 29.5 inches on the vertical, soar 8’9″ on the broad jump and bolt 4.56 seconds on the 20-yard shuttle. Poe’s bench press, however, was off the charts at 44 reps, the most of anyone at the combine.
With that kind of performance and lateral quickness based on his size, we’re looking at the next dominant nose guard in pro football. Whether it’s a 3-4, 1-5-5 or a 50-look front, Poe has to be the immovable object in the middle.
There’s no reason for him to play anywhere else along the defensive line; otherwise a team would be taking away his strengths. And drawing double-teams while clogging up running lanes is all a defensive coordinator needs him to do.
John Rozum on Twitter.
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