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NFL Combine results: 5 winners and 3 losers from DLs, LBs on bench press, 40-yard dash and more

The 2019 NFL Combine could help sort out the race to be the No. 1 pick in April.

NFL Combine - Day 4 Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

It’s a good year for teams that need help rushing the passer — the 2019 NFL Draft class is absolutely loaded with defensive linemen and linebackers.

On Sunday, those positions worked out and ran through drills at the 2019 NFL Combine. Among those who participated are Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa, Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen, Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, Michigan defensive lineman Rashan Gary, and LSU linebacker Devin White. That group happens to be the top five players off the board in Dan Kadar’s latest mock draft.

Other draft experts — including ESPN’s Mel Kiper and Todd McShay — also expect the draft to be historically defense-heavy at the top.

All that means there’s millions of dollars on the line for the players jockeying for position at the top of big boards. A big part of that battle will depend on how those defensive linemen and linebackers perform Sunday in Indianapolis.

Last year, UTSA’s Marcus Davenport put together an NFL Combine performance reminiscent of Jadeveon Clowney, and UCF linebacker Shaquem Griffin stole the show with a freakin’ 4.38-second 40-yard dash.

Here’s which defensive linemen and linebacker stood out Sunday:


Quinnen Williams, Alabama

Williams is one of the defensive linemen in the running to be the No. 1 pick for the Cardinals (that is, unless Kyler Murray hasn’t already started locking that up) and the Alabama defensive tackle looked the part Sunday.

After he ran a 4.87 40-yard dash — at 303 pounds! — an awestruck Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network said “somebody’s in the mix for the first overall pick.”

That time was amazing enough that his agent told him there was no need to run a second time. Williams did so anyway and got a 4.84.

What may be most special about his run is that it started with a ridiculously fast 10-yard split — which is especially important for defensive line who need to explode off the line of scrimmage.

Williams was one of the most unblockable players in college football last year, and his tremendous showing in the 40-yard dash showed part of the reason why.

Montez Sweat, Mississippi State

Here’s an easy way to make the winners section: Break an NFL Combine record.

Yep, that’ll do the trick.

Rashan Gary, Michigan

The 277-pound defensive lineman was once the top high school football recruit in the country, so it’s not too much of a surprise that Gary is freaky athletic. But he still exceeded expectation with a 40-yard dash time that is rare for a man of his size.

He also posted a ridiculous number in the vertical jump:

The question Gary will have to answer is why his elite athleticism didn’t translate into more domination on the field. But his numbers from the combine will make NFL teams want to see if they can fix that themselves.

Devin White, LSU

White is one of the best linebackers of the class and proved he’s one of the most athletic too when he recorded a blazing 4.42-second 40-yard dash. It was clear that was a number White was happy with when he was overcome with emotions after seeing his time.

His 39.5-inch vertical jump was damn impressive too.

Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame

Tillery didn’t post the best number in any drill, in particular. He only managed to finish top five among defensive tackles in just about all of them.

Any time a defensive tackle can run a 40 in under five seconds, that’s impressive. Tillery rounding out his day with strong numbers in the explosion drills is a great cherry on top.


Jachai Polite, Florida

Polite is an edge rusher in the first-round conversation, but his trip to Indianapolis wasn’t a positive one at all. He spent much of the media session Saturday complaining about the way his meetings with teams went:

Then he hit the field Saturday and ran an unimpressive 4.84 40-yard dash. It was his only result of the day, because Polite pulled out of the rest of the drills due to a hamstring injury. That may explain his subpar 40-yard dash time, but now he’ll need to prove that at the Florida Pro Day.

Nick Bosa, Ohio State

Kyler Murray is picking up momentum to be the No. 1 pick, but up until the NFL Combine, Bosa has been the heavy favorite. But in Indianapolis, he didn’t look particularly special.

His 40-yard dash time of 4.79 seconds was just barely better than Quinnen Williams’ 4.83 seconds. The problem is Bosa is 6’4, 266 pounds and Williams is 6’3, 303.

It’s not a bad time, and it’s almost exactly the same performance that Joey Bosa had a few years ago before going No. 3 overall.

But if Nick Bosa wanted to show that he’s the best prospect in the class, his numbers didn’t do that. Most of them — including his 33.5-inch vertical and 29 bench press reps — were good, not great.

Expect to see more mock drafts with Murray and Williams in the top spot ahead of Bosa after this weekend.

Daylon Mack, Texas A&M

Mack finished with a low percentile in just about everything at the combine except weight, bench press, and hand size.

So basically, he’s a short, big, slow, strong guy. It’s the kind of chart you’d get if Butterbean was invited to the NFL Combine.