The annual NFL Scouting Combine showcased a slew of standout talents soon to make their impact when called upon at the next level. Eleven players raised their stock—some slightly, some immensely—on the defensive side of the ball.
Without further ado, here is my NFL Combine All-Defense team.
EDGE1: TRAVON WALKER, GEORGIA
Travon Walker is a flat-out DUDE. A prospect who just months ago remained absent from first-round conversations, don’t be surprised if you hear his name called before the first 10 picks are complete. He’s quick, powerful, can push the pocket, and has the performance ceiling of an All-Pro.
EDGE2: AMARÉ BARNO, VIRGINIA TECH
While he has room to grow as a pass-rusher, the athletic traits are hard to ignore. With pterodactyl-like length and a V12 engine stored in his hip pocket, if Amare Barno can put it all together, watch out. 4.36 in the 40, a 37-inch vert, and 10-foot-11 broad will draw attention.
IDL1: JORDAN DAVIS, GEORGIA
After putting up one of, if not the greatest combine performance we’ve ever seen, it’s hard to imagine Jordan Davis slipping past the middle of the first round. It’s a big man’s game, and at 6-foot-6 and nearly 350 pounds, running a 4.78 just isn’t normal, folks. He’ll make everyone better at every single level of the defense.
IDL2: DEVONTE WYATT, GEORGIA
You think the Bulldogs had any good players this year? The unsung hero along Kirby Smart’s front, Devonte Wyatt, like Davis, showcased elite burst (4.77 40) at 304 pounds, leading all defensive tackles, while displaying heavy hands, quick-twitch, and lower-half flexibility rivaled by few in the class.
LB1: TROY ANDERSEN, MONTANA STATE
An All-American on the offensive side of the football during his time as a Bobcat, Troy Andersen turned heads, to say the least. A 4.41 40-yard dash for a prospect with the ability to work all over the second level of a defense? Teams in need of an immediate impact linebacker on day two should be pounding the table for him come late April. One of the most positional-versatile athletes in the entire class, where some teams believe he could serve a role on the offensive side of the ball in due time, Andersen blew talent evaluators away with his burst and premier change of direction skills.
LB2: CHANNING TINDALL, GEORGIA
While Davis stole the show for all the former Bulldogs in attendance, Channing Tindall had one of the most impressive workouts of any player in Indianapolis. A true sideline-to-sideline defender, Tindall is everything defensive coordinators look for to counter the speed of NFL offenses at the second level. He’s a fit within any defensive scheme and his athletic profile presents teams with a chess piece to use at their disposal in man, zone, or as a wide-nine blitzer.
LB3: MALCOLM RODRIGUEZ, OKLAHOMA STATE
The alpha within one of the country’s top defenses this past fall, Malcolm Rodriguez presents a heck of a talent for teams to add moving into day three. A rangy linebacker who has the chance to record 90+ tackles a year, he’s an identity changer at the nucleus of a defense.
CB1: TARIQ WOOLEN, UTSA
We knew he’d test well, but my goodness was Tariq Woolen impressive. One of, if not the most athletically gifted players in the class, Woolen’s blend of size (6-foot-4) and speed (4.26) will be tough for teams to turn down. If it were my guess, don’t be surprised if he sneaks into the back end of round one. The NFL loves traits, and Woolen is dripping with potential.
CB2: SAUCE GARDNER, CINCINNATI
Ahmad Gardner checked every box possible at the combine. A long, rangy corner whose mentality will see him enjoy immediate success at the next level, he’s CB1.
SAF1: LEWIS CINE, GEORGIA
Often overlooked as the nail that held together the Georgia defense this fall, Lewis Cine’s 4.36 speed will have teams drooling over the potential of him aligned at the apex of their defense. One of the most physical, downhill defenders in the class, Cine plays the game at 100 mph and will let you know about it, too.
SAF2: JT WOODS, BAYLOR
Have yourself a week, JT Woods. Although it seemed as if every former Baylor Bear that stepped up to the 40 proceeded to set the combine on fire, Woods was excellent in all facets, and surely enjoyed a nice boost on draft boards.
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