Moving past the 40-yard dash and getting into the nuts and bolts of the drills we come to some change of direction drills. Important that the D-Lineman have a little wiggle of agility to make plays at the next level because it’s not all about power and the bull rush.
A guy who might fit that mold of a later round DE pass rush specialist is David Veikune from Hawaii. Not very big at 6-2 257, not very fast with a 4.81 40-yard dash. But he was productive and works hard and gets after the QB. He’s got a solid motor that never stops running. He’s not the most fluid of athletes out there but he is just all around a good football player.
The sewing machine drill as we’ll call it shows just how quick some of these big boys are in tight spaces. B.J. Raji looks quicker than he does running the 40-yard dash. In the 40 he barely looked like he was taking a full stride, it was almost like he was doing a D-Lineman shuffle.
A lot of midwestern D-Lineman out here, seems like there’s more Big-10 guys out there than SEC guys which is kinda suprising given the emphasis on athletic defenses in the SEC. Another one you can keep an eye on as a potential mid rounder is Matt Shaughnessy from Wisconsin who has nice size. Measuring up at 6-5 266-pounds he didn’t have impressive stats numbers that jump out at you. He just made plays for the Badgers.
Another possible late-rounder, Brandon Williams of Texas Tech 6-5 252-pounds who had 13 sacks for Texas Tech last year. Might be a little on the lighter side by with that type of sack production you know he can get after the QB. He looked good in his drills and showed up well in the three cone which measure some burst speed and agility to go with change of direction.
In the end I don’t know if there was real good way to judge a lot of the DEs in these drills because so many of them are such good athletes and just look good to great in spandex. There’s a plethora of tweener DE/LB types. Guys who may get pushed around at the point of attack and in the run game but be good pass rushers.
There may not be one truly elite all around DE prospect in this year’s draft. There’s a lot of system type players and guys that fit into the 3-4 defense as outside linebackers.
The good news however is the talent pool is deep and some teams may overreach for some of these prospects in order to fill out a 3-4 defense and emulate the Steelers. After all the NFL is a fad following league and right now the Steelers D is what will be copied. What does this mean for the Chicago Bears? They should be able to get a quality OT at 18 and then a good WR in the second round.
Moving on to the linebacker workouts where the Bears probably won’t be going after top talent early. Additional depth may be called for here from the later rounds rather than on the first day. One last thing to ponder is everyone says that you need to draft for scheme and personnel specific needs aka prospect A) is a nose tackle in the 3-4, prospect B) is a 3-4 DE or a 4-3 DT…why should the Bears limit themselves to not drafting a LB who may project better as a 3-4 DE? Why not find a better blitzer who happens to be a good strong side LB as well? Versatility is the key, especially since the Bears don’t really have a blitzer that plays LB.