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Combine Stock Watch: DL, LB

Posted Feb 25, 2014

Independent analyst Andrew Mason takes a look at the notable performers from Monday's workouts.

INDIANAPOLIS -- If ever we see the nickname "The Freak" revived in the NFL, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney might be the man responsible.

Among defensive linemen who worked out Monday, Clowney had the second-best broad jump (10 feet, four inches) and the second-best vertical jump (37.5) inches. But it was 40-yard dash time that stood out: a 4.53-second sprint that was more like what you'd expect from a running back or a wide receiver.

Indeed, Clowney's time was just .01 off the 4.52 average for the wide receivers and was .06 better than the 4.59 average of the running backs. The receivers' average weight is 201 pounds; the running backs' average is 213. Clowney weighs 266.

If the Speed Score metric -- a measurement incorporating weight and 40 time -- popularized by Grantland's Bill Barnwell is applied to Clowney as it is for running backs, he finishes with an absurd 126.33. Approximately 100 is considered average, and no Combine running back this year was higher than 113.2 (Oklahoma's Damian Williams).

Bot others stood out, too. North Carolina's Kareem Martin had only the ninth-best 40 time among the defensive linemen, but his 10-yard split of 1.53 seconds (all 10-yard splits are unofficial) was the best in the position group. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald covered the 40 yards in 4.68 seconds, and his 10-yard split of 1.59 seconds was .09 better than anyone else who weighed more than 275 pounds. Donald was second-best among all defensive linemen with 35 bench-press repetitions and in workout metrics, had the best size-speed blend among the defensive linemen.

Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, whose press conference attracted unprecedented attention for a Combine gathering, was 20th among defensive linemen with a 4.91-second 40-yard dash time. But among the 22 defensive linemen below 280 pounds who ran the 40, Sam ranked 17th. 

More disappointing for Sam than his 40 time was his 10-yard split, in which he ranked 19th, as his quick burst often evident last year in his 11.5-sack season did not translate to the workout. Relatively low bench-press, broad-jump and vertical leap numbers capped a disappointing workout for Sam, who will now have to count on a better performance at Mizzou's Pro Day.

Only two linebackers ran the 40 faster than Clowney: 232-pound Kevin Pierre-Louis of Boston College (4.51 seconds) and 218-pound Telvin Smith of Florida State (4.52 seconds). Both were also the quickest in the 10-yard split, as well, breaking out in 1.53 seconds.

Pierre-Louis enhanced his stock with an excellent all-around workout. In addition to his 40 time, he was among the linebacker leaders in the vertical jump (39 inches, third-best), the broad jump (10 feet, eight inches, third-best), the short shuttle (4.02 seconds, second-best) and the three-cone drill (6.92 seconds, sixth-best).

An interesting set of numbers emerged from Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier. His arm length of 32 3/8 inches was 22nd of 35 linebackers measured, but he makes up for a bit of that with a 42-inch vertical jump that was the best among Combine linebackers.

And Buffalo linebacker Kahlil Mack did nothing to derail his dash to the upper reaches of the draft class, with a 40-yard dash time of 4.65 seconds that was the fastest of any linebacker who weighed more than 240 pounds. But in the short shuttle, two larger linebackers were faster than Mack: South Dakota's Tyler Starr and Kentucky's Avery Williamson. Williamson was also one of 12 linebackers to cover the first 10 yards in less than 1.6 seconds; 16 did not.