Monday is the on-field workout portion of the Combine for the defensive linemen and linebackers. Every year the Combine workouts produce players who breakout with sensational performances (studs), players who impress by being as good as advertised (steady) and players who quietly go about their business but don’t garner much acclaim (sleeper).
Here’s a look at one player from each of those categories in the defensive line and linebacker groups...
DE Kony Ealy (Missouri): Expect Ealy to be one of the biggest winners from Monday’s on-field performances. He is listed at 6-5, 275 pounds, and I expect him to jump out of the gym and run a 40-time around 4.7 – an excellent time for a man of his size.
LB Anthony Barr (UCLA): Another freakish-type athlete, Barr has the blend of sleekness and strength that shines at the Combine’s on-field workout. That blend also produces disruptive edge pass rushers in the NFL and Barr fits that mold, from a physical standpoint at least.
DT Daniel McCullers (Tennessee): Size alone will make McCullers notable at the Combine, but expects coaches and scouts to watch how he performs in the agility drills. Proponents of McCullers will point to his size and durability, but critics will say he’s just a one-gap player who can’t move laterally.
LB Jordan Zumwalt (UCLA): Zumwalt played in 50 games for the Bruins and is described in his NFL.com scouting report as “very competitive with a fiery, on-field temperament.” He has a knack for making big hits and splash plays, and makes his presence felt on the field. Zumwalt has played all linebacker positions in UCLA’s defense and was even used as a fullback at times because of his competitiveness and love for sticking his nose in the action.
DE Zach Moore (Concordia St. Paul): A good looking athlete at 6-5, 269 pounds, Moore has overcome adversity to succeed at Division II Concordia. He set the school sack record with 33.0, was a three-time all-conference selection and a two-time team captain. His athletic skill set and reputation for being coachable will make him a scheme-diverse and, thus, appealing to many teams as a project.
LB Howard Jones (Shepherd): Jones is size deficient (6-2, 235) and played at a small Division II school. But he is extremely gifted athletically and was ultra-productive while dominating inferior competition. That is a perfect recipe for a sleeper. Jones started 46 of his 47 career games in college, also has the school’s all-time sack record (35.0), has special teams experience and is a sudden athlete who can close on the ball carrier.