For several defensive linemen in the 2016 NFL Draft class, the interview was going to be the most important part of the Scouting Combine experience. Unfortunately, this is the one thing no one gets to see and the one thing NFL personnel people lie about the most. While there was talk about people removing Robert Nkemdiche from their boards altogether, we can hardly tell if they are honest or posturing. Several players went into the Combine needing to simply show the measureable skills relative to their tape to stay valuable. Here is a look at some players who exceeded, met or failed to meet the goals they needed.
Dean Lowry, Northwestern
Not that a stock up rating means a first round pick is in his future, but Lowry did very well across the board. Lowry was very comparable to the numbers put up by Robert Nkemdiche. This highlighted an athleticism that might catch the eye of teams looking for some mid to later round defensive line depth.
Lowry measured in at 6'5" and 296 pounds. For someone approaching the 300 pound mark, Lowry impressed with a 4.87 40-yard dash. The day before, Lowry put up 30 reps on the bench press, just three off the best of the day. He also showcased good agility and quickness by putting up a 7.26 second Three Cone Drill and a 4.38 Short Shuttle (just 0.17 seconds slower than Joey Bosa and Shaq Lawson).
Lowry was a constantly improving player while at Northwestern and ended his senior year as a second-team all Big Ten player. He is coachable and disciplined. What Lowry needs is technique and some time. Lowry did himself a big favor by showing that he has the physical tools to succeed at the next level.
Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State
Ogbah was already a likely second round pick. Ogbah impressed with a 4.69 40-yard dash (just 0.04 seconds behind defensive linemen leader Charles Tapper). Ogbah also showed great explosiveness by recording a 35.5" vertical jump and a 10'1" broad jump. Ogbah showed that he has the speed to get upfield and the power to engage blockers. His 4.5 second Short Shuttle did not hurt his chances either.
This is a player who led the Bid XII in sacks and was named the AP Big XII Defensive Player of the Year, so he showed his talents on the field. Placing the measureables up on the board could move him from second round talent to first round.
Charles Tapper, Oklahoma
Tapper put up the best single 40 time among the defensive linemen (4.59 seconds). He could have helped himself out a bit more if he had completed the Three Cone Drill or the Short Shuttle, but that sort of straight line speed in an edge rusher is clearly appealing. His 34" vertical jump and 9'11" broad jump were also very impressive. He showed speed and explosiveness. Tapper could become an interesting pass rusher in the draft.
Do not be fooled, this is not some 245 pound edge rusher out of a mid-major or an FCS school. He played Big XII football and he is a 6'3", 271 pound defensive end. He may not have elite upper body strength, but he will definitely move up several draft boards with the weekend he had.
Hassan Ridgeway, Texas
Ridgeway may have been able to work his way into the second or third round with a good showing. While a 5.02 40 meter dash was not a killer statistic for a 303 pound defensive tackle, the 8.28 second Three Cone Drill was the slowest among all defensive linemen. Only three other defensive linemen placed over eight seconds, and Ridgeway finished a full 0.2 seconds slower than any of them. The 4.82 second Short Shuttle was not spectacular either. Ridgeway showed that he is not agile or quick. While straight line speed is not a must in a defensive tackle, quickness is still a highly valuable commodity. Add to this the lack of top-line upper body strength, as Ridgeway only managed 24 reps in the bench press.
Ridgeway will likely settle into a group of fourth or fifth round names. He showed ability and inconsistency while at Texas. A good showing at the Combine could have solidified his status as a talent that needed more coaching to stabilize into a top tier talent. He did not dazzle.
Vincent Valentine, Nebraska
Valentine showed very little of the promise that he displayed at Nebraska. There were two lines of thought going into the Combine: Valentine was either being overshadowed by Maliek Collins or Collins was covering up his weaknesses. The 329 pound Valentine only managed 17 reps in the bench press, 29" in the vertical jump and 9'2" in the broad jump. This displayed a lack of explosiveness and a lack of upper body strength. Valentine was also one of those three other names to finish with a Three Cone Drill over eight seconds (8.03 seconds). Valentine needed to show that he had the physical tools and he did not do that.
Reader was one of the intriguing names coming into the Combine weekend. The expectation was he would do well in the physical measurements and just needed to demonstrate his commitment during the interviews. Reader matched the shortest broad jump among defensive linemen (8'3") and did not show the quickness or agility that would have projected him higher up the draft board. With a 7.90 second Three Cone Drill and a 4.71 second Short Shuttle, Reader appeared to be a more average talent physically.
Chris Mayes, Georgia
It may not seem like Mayes warranted being on this list as he was not a big name or even really a middle round name in this process. Still, Mayes finished dead last in three of the six drills... and he did not participate in the Three Cone Drill. He had the slowest 40 (5.34 seconds), lowest vertical jump (23.5") and slowest Short Shuttle (5.13 seconds). Add a broad jump that was only five inches from the last place and it gets sad fast. The only bright spot was he finished with the best bench, managing 33 reps.
NO HARM DONE
Joey Bosa, Ohio State
Everyone has heard about Joey Bosa's 4.86 second 40-yard dash. Also, no one really cares. It was slower than expected, but he had the fastest Short Shuttle (4.21 seconds) and showed explosiveness with his 10' broad jump. Joey Bosa showed the power and quickness that everyone saw on film and did nothing to lower himself in the eyes of scouts.
Shaq Lawson, Clemson
Lawson did very well and gave us all the measureables he needed to demonstrate he is an elite talent. Lawson did not do the bench, but matched Bosa in the Short Shuttle, and broad jump. Lawson's 33" vertical jump was an inch more than Bosa. Add to this the 4.70 40 meter dash and Lawson is who we thought he was.