Day Three of the NFL Scouting Combine is now complete. What were the major takeaways from the third day of on-field drills?
There is a reason why Georgia won the championship
Going into the NFL Scouting Combine, the Georgia defense was expected to be the talk of the town. Eight players from the Bulldogs’ defense made the trip to Indianapolis, with three from the defensive line group and linebackers each. All three defensive linemen (Jordan Davis, Devonte Wyatt, and Travon Walker) have been featured in the first round of recent mock drafts. But the question remained: could these players deliver on their ridiculous expectations?
Suffice it to say, the defensive linemen did not disappoint. The biggest star of the group was the behemoth, Jordan Davis. Measuring in at 6’6” and 341 pounds, Davis clocked in at 4.82 unofficially on his first 40-yard dash. But multiple sources indicated that he got into the high 4.7s based on hand-timing; this led to Davis’ official time being changed to 4.78.
His time was faster than Quinnen Williams’ and both Bosa brothers. He also set a new record in the broad jump for players over 300 pounds. Put simply, any doubts about Davis should be erased after this performance, as he established himself as a top-20 lock.
The Bulldog bonanza did not stop there. Davis’ counterpart at defensive tackle, Devonte Wyatt, was just as impressive. Wyatt recorded the fastest 40-time of any defensive tackle at the Combine. He also looked exceptionally fluid in the positional drills, displaying rare athleticism for a man of his size.
Two of the linebackers, Channing Tindall and Quay Walker, were also excellent, both recording sub-4.55 40-yard dashes. Tindall recorded elite jumps as well, finishing first among all participants in the vertical and 4th among LBs in the broad.
Aliens Among Us
Finally, arguably nobody helped themselves more than defensive end Travon Walker. At 6’5” and 272 pounds, Walker recorded a 4.51 40-yard dash. This is the fastest 40-yard dash in history for a player weighing more than 270 pounds. He also recorded a 35.5” vertical jump. Walker has been rising meteorically in the draft process due to his insane athleticism on tape. By proving it in Indianapolis, Walker may have solidified himself as a first-half of the first-round selection.
Also Read: NFL Scouting Combine: Day 1 Takeaways
The Other Defensive Linemen Exceeded expectations
Even without the trio of Georgia studs, the defensive line group is widely considered the deepest and most talented position group in this class. Edge players like Kayvon Thibodeaux from Oregon, Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo from Michigan, George Karlaftis from Purdue, and Jermaine Johnson from Florida State were all projected first-round picks.
Scouts, media, and fans alike were also excited to see interior defenders like Perrion Winfrey, Travis Jones, and DeMarvin Leal. Everyone that follows the draft was clamoring to see how these players performed at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Interior Defensive Linemen
Like the Georgia defenders, the rest of the defensive line put on a show. Any other year, a 6’4” 320+ lb defensive tackle running a 4.90 40-yard dash would be the biggest story. Unfortunately, Travis Jones’ incredible day was overshadowed by the historic performances of Davis and Wyatt.
With an elite Senior Bowl and Combine performance, Jones may have improved his stock to that of a first-round pick. Thomas Booker from Stanford and Logan Hall from Houston also had excellent days, displaying remarkable movement skills for men of their size.
The Michigan Boys
Going into the NFL Scouting Combine, many expected Aidan Hutchinson to fulfill the expectations put forth by his appearance in the Feldman’s Freaks article. Hutchinson put together a performance that mirrored Chiefs and Vikings legend, Jared Allen. While he did not meet the expectations set by the Feldman article, Hutchinson still proved that he is an elite athlete. His teammate, David Ojabo, also did pretty well for himself.
Other Edge Defenders
Boye Mafe all but locked himself in as a first-round pick, recording insane jumps and an elite 40 time. Players further down the draft board also put together excellent days; Nik Bonitto, Arnold Ebiketie, Sam Williams, and Amare Barno all had fantastic days. This draft class has one of the deepest groups of edge defenders in recent memory.
Also Read: NFL Scouting Combine: Day 2 Takeaways
It’s Time to Respect Kayvon Thibodeaux
As I’m essentially a guest writer for this piece, I hope Hussam doesn’t mind me getting on a soapbox. But I’m sick and tired of hearing about Kayvon Thibodeaux’s lack of effort. After running a 4.58 40-yard dash with an excellent 1.59 10-yard split, Thibodeaux elected to sit out the rest of the positional drills. According to the NFL Network broadcast, he was hoping to do all the defensive lineman and linebacker drills at the same time. But due to their separation and the long nature of the day, he elected to delay working out until his pro day.
Generally, I like Rich Eisen and Daniel Jeremiah. But the pair spent an unreasonable amount of time giving further life to the narrative that Thibodeaux doesn’t love football and he takes plays off. Thibodeaux spent a lot of his media time working to dispel this narrative.
Turn On the Tape; Turn Off the Noise
Furthermore, if you simply watch his tape, you can see that he is an extremely high-effort, high-motor player. This season alone, he kept playing through multiple injuries, even when he could have shut down his season as Nick Bosa did in 2017. Former edge rusher and Hall of Famer Willie McGinest tried to dispel their talking points, indicating that doing the drills during the Pro Day is exactly the same. But the pair returned to the issue multiple times for seemingly no reason.
It is fair to say that Thibodeaux had a disappointing season, as many expected him to strengthen his claim to the #1 overall pick. But to continue to claim that the reason behind his struggles is his effort or desire to be great is irresponsible and exceptionally unfair.
For every article written about his supposed laziness or apathy, there are at least two diving deep into Thibodeaux’s dedication and love of the game. Some of his comments about branding and such are being taken out of context by a sports media circus that is behind the times. I know the love of Ted Lasso has somewhat jumped the shark as of late. But the darts scene in which Ted recommends being curious and not judgmental should be applied to Kayvon Thibodeaux.