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NFL Combine 2019 Sunday: Sweat, Burns shine as freak athletes on the edge

A freak show broke out at the combine as some of the top linebackers in the draft absolutely lit up the athletic testing, giving the Packers a host of excellent options.

NFL Combine - Day 4
Montez Sweat put up one of the all-time athletic performance for a defensive lineman on Sunday at the NFL combine.
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Jerry Montgomery made sure he had a front row seat for the show. During the defensive line drills, the Packers defensive line coach was standing alone near the end of one of the pass rush bag drills, sizing up this impressive group of edge rushers and he needed his best poker face. Between the freaky athleticism of Brian Burns, the ridiculous size/speed combination of Montez Sweat, and all the depth on the edge, Green Bay should have no shortage of options when it comes to edge players this April.

Sweat was the standout, with the body of a commercial jet at 6-foot-6, 260 pounds of rocked up muscle, and a 7-foot wingspan ran the fastest 40 ever by a defensive lineman at 4.41. He added a 7.0 3-cone drill, which at his size is outstanding and put him in the top-5 among defensive lineman. He tested better Jadeveon Clowney, the former No. 1 overall pick, and looks to have solidified himself as a top-15 pick, maybe even top-10. If he’s there at 12 for the Packers, run the card to the podium.

Florida State’s stud edge player Brian Burns showed outstanding movement skills in drills, and while he wasn’t quite as impressive athletically as Sweat, that’s not really fair to Burns. New Raiders GM Mike Mayock said he thought Burns played at 228 pounds during the season for the Seminoles but came to the combine 248. To run 2.53, jump 36 inches, and still have the flexibility to put up a 7.01 3-cone speaks to the kind of athleticism he possesses. The good reps for Burns are great, but he’ll float in and out of games. That said he walked into the ACC and produced as a teenager for Florida State. He’s still just 20 and won’t be 21 until the draft. If Sweat worked himself out of Green Bay’s range, Burns may just have worked himself into it.

On the other end of the spectrum, Jachai Polite continued a disappointing combine Sunday. He bristled at criticism in team interviews, accusing teams of bashing him for wanting to know about his coachability and passion for the game. He claimed he didn’t watch himself on tape and suggested it was a new experience to have teams call him out on bad reps. He showed up with added weight, but didn’t look to be in great shape, then blamed a hamstring injury for a poor 40 time. Even if that injury is real, this was a bad look for Polite who had been a popular player connected to Green Bay coming into the week.

Clelin Ferrell, another potential top-15 edge player, didn’t run the 40 and looked just OK on Sunday. We knew he wasn’t going to blow scouts away with his athletic prowess. His best ability is to use his length, power, and first step to beat offensive tackles, and has the best inside counter in the class. His 7.26 isn’t going to blow the doors off anyone, but at 6-foot-4, 264 pounds, that’s a solid number for him as was his 4.4 shuttle time, right on the average for edge defenders. He didn’t crush it the way Sweat and Burns did, but he didn’t disappoint either. His tape speaks for itself: He’s really good.

Speaking of really good, the off-ball linebackers finished off the day and each of the top two guys may have tested their way out of range for the Packers. Devin White, a likely top-10 pick out of LSU, ran the fastest 40 among linebackers at 4.42, one of the best times ever. Devin Bush wasn’t far behind at 4.43. Each tested as ultra-elite athletes at the position. For those hoping White might fall to 12, or Bush could drop to 30, those bubbles likely burst on the fast track at Lucas Oil Stadium.