Combine Confidential: Defense Risers & Sliders

Mississippi State defensive lineman Montez Sweat (DL51) runs the 40 yard dash during the 2019 NFL Combine.Photo: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Ric Serritella

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Led by Montez Sweat (4.41) and Rashan Gary (4.58), the defensive linemen group this year was the fastest to ever hit the turf inside Lucas Oil Stadium, as the average forty-yard dash times of defensive linemen was 4.905, topping the previous mark of 4.907 in 2003.

Hold my beer! The linebacker group should also be acknowledged, as they too broke the previous combine record as a group overall, averaging 4.64 in the forty, the fastest group time since 2004, which averaged 4.65. Linebackers Devin White (4.42) of LSU, Devin Bush (4.43) of Michigan and Gary Johnson (4.43) of Texas were amongst the standouts.

One of the blazing defensive linemen in attendance was Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, who ran an impressive 5.05 forty-yard dash at 342 pounds. However, Lawrence would suffer a minor quad strain on the run, preventing him from finishing up the combine drills in Indy. He’ll now look to complete the remainder of the tests at the Tigers pro day workout on March 14th.

One player who created a firestorm in Indy was Florida defensive end Jachai Polite, who flunked his team interviews, according to sources. He also provided the assembled media with some unflattering quotes and failed the testing portion of the combine as well. Polite, who reportedly has been dealing with a hamstring issue, has now forced his agents into full-fledged damage control mode. Once considered a potential first round pick, it’s possible he doesn’t hear his name called until the middle rounds.

Washington linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven, who led the nation with 176 tackles this past season, helped his case with a 4.56 forty-yard dash time. He also added solid marks in the vertical (34.5”), broad jump (10-8), short shuttle (4.09) and three-cone drill (6.85). The laterally quick, instinctual backer failed to participate in any all-star games leading up to the combine, so an impressive showing helped solidify his draft stock. BBK could hear his name called as early as Day 2.

Ohio State cornerback Kendall Sheffield suffered a torn pectoral muscle during the bench press drill on Sunday. While the severity of the injury is unknown at this time, it is sure to hold Sheffield out of any testing. A former Buckeyes track standout, Sheffield was a candidate for the fastest man in Indy title this year. Due to the injury, there’s a strong chance that he now slides to Day 3.

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