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2020 NFL Combine: Takeaways from Day 3 of DL, LB workouts

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The first defensive workouts are in the books, so let’s take a look at the winners and losers from Day 3 of the 2020 Scouting Combine.

NFL Combine - Day 5 Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

After two days of offensive firepower, some of the defenders got their chance to shine on Saturday.

Day 3 of the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine saw the defensive linemen, edge rushers and linebackers participate in athletic testing and positional drills. The day started off with plenty of talented interior defenders with game-changing athleticism, and it concluded with some freakish off-ball linebackers and edge rushers.

Let’s take a look at some of the winners and losers from the third day of workouts from Indianapolis.

Defensive line

Winners:

Neville Gallimore, Oklahoma

Anyone who watched Gallimore’s tape could have expected him to tear up the Combine, and tear up the Combine he did.

The Oklahoma standout finished second among defensive linemen with a 4.79 40-yard dash, as well as a stellar 1.69 10-yard split. He showcased crazy speed firing off the ball, and that athleticism translated well to positional drills. His feet looked quick, his burst was impressive, and he delivered powerful strikes in bag drills.

Gallimore is a legitimate first-round talent, and his Combine solidified that draft stock. He is a freakish athlete for the interior defensive line who will make an NFL team very happy.

Carlos and Khalil Davis, Nebraska

The Davis twins delivered a dosage of double trouble at the Combine, both putting up impressive athletic numbers and testing well in drills.

Both Davises finished in the top-three for defensive line 40-yard dash times, with Khalil placing first at 4.75 and Carlos finishing third with a 4.82. Khalil looked a little bit more fluid in positional drills, dominating the hoop drills and looking nimble in agility drills, but Carlos more than held his own, demonstrating nasty blows in bag drills.

Having watched only one Nebraska defensive lineman heading into the Combine—the Davises’ teammate, Darrion Daniels—I will have to go back to the tape and check out the set of twins. Both of them looked like future NFL contributors at the Combine this year.

Justin Madubuike, Texas A&M

Perhaps no defensive lineman was as consistently fluid throughout the workouts as Madubuike.

I personally couldn’t name a drill that Madabuike wasn’t great in. He put up a 4.83 40-yard dash—the fourth-best time for a defensive lineman—with a 1.74 10-yard split, one day after finishing fourth among defensive linemen with 31 bench press reps. He looked incredibly fluid in positional drills and killed the hoop drills, showing off impressive flexibility and body control. His footwork was polished and quick, and his burst showed up in spades.

Madubuike has the potential to be a second-round target for any team in need of some athleticism along the interior. His tape showcases plenty of athletic upside, and his performance at the Combine backed that up.

Losers:

John Penisini, Utah

Truth be told, I had trouble picking players to fit the ‘loser’ category, simply because so many interior defenders showed up on Saturday.

Players like Derrick Brown, Ross Blacklock, Davon Hamilton and Robert Winsdor were among those who also put together impressive performances, and several other prospects still played pretty well. However, one player who underwhelmed a little bit was Penisini, who didn’t look great in agility drills and didn’t run a 40-yard dash. In a class with plenty of quick defensive linemen, he didn’t do much to stand out.

Edge rushers

Winners:

Malcolm Roach, Texas

Roach was misplaced positionally, as he’s likely an interior defensive lineman with his size, but he managed to play very well in edge rusher drills.

The 297-pounder ran a 4.84 40-yard dash with a stellar 1.68 10-yard split, and his explosiveness was apparent in positional drills. His footwork was polished in agility drills, his hips looked flexible, and he was able to deliver a solid pop in bag drills. For a prospect who didn’t have a full season as a starter to his name, Roach managed to make a name for himself and impressive athletically;

Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State

Gross-Matos didn’t run his 40-yard dash, but he made up for it with some pretty impressive positional drills.

Whether he was changing direction in space, turning the corner in agility drills or delivering a jab in bag drills, Gross-Matos looked like a natural athlete in his workouts on Saturday. His flexibility in his hips and ankles were on full display in several simulations throughout the course of the workout, including the hoop drills.

With 17 sacks and 34.5 tackles for a loss in his last two collegiate seasons, Gross-Matos has the production of an early-round pick, and the athleticism he showed off during his time at Penn State certainly played a big part in that. He backed up his tape with an electric performance on Friday.

Losers:

Trevon Hill, Miami (FL)

One of the positives in Hill’s tape is his acceleration off the snap, but you wouldn’t have been able to tell if all you saw of him was his Combine performance.

At 248 pounds, Hill ran a measly 4.89 40-yard dash with a 1.77 10-yard split. Considering several interior defensive linemen much heavier than him finished with faster times in both categories, that’s an underwhelming run. He also finished with a 28-inch vertical jump, the lowest mark for a pure edge rusher.

Though this year’s class of edge rushers was fairly disappointing in athletic drills, among the most disappointing players at the position was Hill. His athletic abilities appear to be better on tape than they were at the Combine, so while it isn’t the end of the world for his draft stock, he certainly didn’t do much to help his case.

Kendall Coleman, Syracuse

Speaking of disappointing athletic testing, Coleman certainly didn’t help his case with his Combine numbers.

Measuring in at 6-foot-3 and 257 pounds, the former Syracuse pass-rusher ran a 4.95 40-yard dash with a 1.7 10-yard split. His burst off the ball was somewhat acceptable, but his long speed was underwhelming. His positional drills admittedly weren’t all that bad, as he did show some promise in bag drills and the hoop drill, but his athletic testing put him in a bit of a hole that he had to dig himself out of.

This year’s class of edge rushers put together an overall decent performance, with very few players standing out significantly, for better or worse. Coleman wasn’t necessarily bad, but his athletic testing likely won’t get him selected outside of Day 3.

Linebackers

Winners:

Willie Gay Jr., Mississippi State

In a class full of athletic linebackers, very few players helped their case Saturday night quite as much as Gay did.

The 6-foot-1, 243-pound linebacker dominated athletic testing, placing in the top three in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump and broad jump, at 4.46 (second), 39.5 inches (second), and 11-foot-4 (first), respectively. He looked fluid in positional drills, showcasing top-notch lateral quickness and acceleration coming out of his breaks. His size and speed combination was certainly eye-opening and did a lot to help out his draft stock.

Seen by many as a Day 3 pick, Gay’s impressive Combine could help elevate his draft stock, especially in a linebacker class that doesn’t have much Day 2 talent. The third round isn’t out of the question for his draft range.

Isaiah Simmons, Clemson

All it took was two jumps and one 40-yard dash for Simmons to dominate the conversation on Saturday.

The 6-foot-4, 238-pound Simmons jumped out of Lucas Oil Stadium with a 39-inch vertical and an 11-foot broad jump that finished third and second among linebackers, respectively. He followed that up with a jaw-dropping 4.39 40-yard dash that led all players at his position. There was no need for him to partake in positional drills after that, as his athletic testing was so unbelievable that there was nothing more for him to truly accomplish in drills.

Simmons deserves to be selected within the first five picks of the draft, and his Combine performance replicated the dynamic athleticism that was apparent from essentially every position on defense at Clemson.

Losers:

Anfernee Jennings, Alabama

Jennings chose to not run the 40-yard dash, so while he didn’t participate in the full scope of Combine activities, his performance in positional drills was somewhat pedestrian.

Granted, when you’re an edge rusher competing against off-ball linebackers, you’re bound to look a step slower than your competition. And to his credit, Jennings did do fairly well in bag drills. However, when asked to drop back in space, he didn’t display much in the way of dynamic agility, slipping up a bit in space and struggling to burst coming out of his breaks. Some teams see some off-ball potential in his skill set, but he proved at the Combine that rushing the passer off the edge is his best fit at the next level.

As has been the case with a lot of the “losers” from this day, Jennings wasn’t terrible in drills, but he failed to do much to improve his draft stock. His stock remains relatively stagnant, keeping him as an early Day 3 pick as a rotational pass-rusher.