2014 NFL Draft: Scouting Combine Winners and Losers at Linebacker

Jonathan Daniel

We take a look at the results of this weekend's Scouting Combine and hand out awards to the winners and losers at the linebacker position.

While it's never prudent to draft a player solely based on one fitness test, there are advantages to performing well in front of NFL scouts and at least getting your name on a team's radar. An unknown running back or wide receiver who runs a 4.3 forty-yard dash would likely get a training camp invite or a defensive lineman who benches 225 pounds 45 times can go from a late-round pick to an early-round reach.

On the flip slide, there is more potential for an apparent first-round pick to lose value than there is for them to gain value at the world's most publicly scrutinized fitness test. The Packers seem likely to spend the majority of their draft picks on defensive players after another sub-par season on that side of the ball.

One unit of interest is the linebacker corps. The Packers can ill afford another injury-plagued season with undrafted free agents playing meaningful playing time late in the season. I expect the Packers to draft at least one inside linebacker and possibly sign a free agent as well. It's quite possible that an undrafted free agent from this year's draft class could be training camp invite as well, so an above-average test result could vault someone onto the Packers draft board.

With that in mind, Let's take a look at the winners and losers from this year's combine testing at the linebacker position, with special emphasis on the inside linebacker candidates.

Winners

Ryan Shazier (Ohio State)

Shazier didn't participate in the 40-yard dash, but put up impressive numbers in the bench press (25 reps) and vertical leap (42 inches). He also added solid numbers in the 3-cone drill (6.91 seconds) and 20-yard shuttle (4.21 seconds). Shazier isn't the biggest linebacker in the group at 6-foot-1 and 237 pounds, but he is clearly one of the most athletic prospects at a position that lacks athleticism on the Packers roster.

Prince Shembo (Notre Dame)

Shembo put up impressive numbers - 26 bench press reps, a 4.71-second 40-yard dash, and a 38.5-inch vertical leap - and those are very solid when you consider his size (253 pounds). Shembo reportedly looked impressive in position drills, and made himself an option for teams who doubted his ability to play inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.

Jordan Tripp (Montana)

Tripp is a relatively unknown talent out of Montana, but may have put himself on many team's radars with his combine performance. He was measured in at 6-foot-3 and 234 pounds, ran a 4.67 40, recorded 22 reps on the bench press, a 37.5 vertical leap, 6.89-second 3-cone drill, and the fastest 20-yard shuttle time of 3.96 seconds.

Losers

Yawin Smallwood (Connecticut)

Smallwood was considered by many scouts to be one of the top 5 inside linebacker prospects heading into the combine, but didn't help his chances with his test results. Smallwood only recorded 18 reps on the bench press, ran the 40 in 5.01 seconds, and didn't participate in the 3-cone or 20-yard shuttle drills.

C.J. Mosley (Alabama)

Mosley didn't run a forty-yard dash or rep at the bench press, and didn't exactly show soft hands in position drills on Tuesday. His vertical leap (35 inches), 3-cone drill (7.3), and 20-yard shuffle (4.4) weren't earth-shattering either. While Mosley's testing results might put him in the loser category, it may make the Packers winners if it drops him into the 20s. Could a talented rookie contributor from Alabama fall into the laps of the Packers two years in a row?

Shayne Skov (Stanford)

Skov didn't participate in any testing, and that could end up raising more questions than answers. The former-Stanford linebacker didn't hurt his value by not testing, but did miss out on an opportunity. He could have used a solid forty-time and 3-cone drill to put his past knee injury worries to rest. Much like Mosley, his loss could be the Packers' gain on draft day.

Josh VanDyke covers the Green Bay Packers for Acme Packing Company. He is also currently a sports writer for MLive.com.
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