INDIANAPOLIS — The Vikings defensive line played a significant role for a defense that led the league in both yards allowed and points allowed per game in 2017.
Teams, however, are always looking at ways to add talent and depth.
Prospects in that position group spoke with the media Saturday at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine and will hit the field for workouts Sunday.
The biggest news of the day was that Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst was not cleared medically to participate because of what was reported as a "heart condition" that was discovered during his exam.
Hurst was the top-rated player at his position by NFL.com media analyst Bucky Brooks and as the third-best defensive tackle by NFL.com media analyst Mike Mayock.
Here are highlights from the defensive linemen at the combine:
Vita Vea, Washington
Pre-combine draft rankings: Mayock 2, Brooks 1
On trying to break former college teammate John Ross' 40-yard dash record of 4.22 seconds:"You can tell John Ross and Adidas I'm coming for the island."
On trying out quarterback in high school: "I tried to play quarterback. Didn't really succeed in that as you can tell, I'm over here playing D-line. It was just something that I tried to put too much effort into one play, and I was focusing too much on throwing the perfect pass, that when my time came to throw that ball to the receiver down the field I chucked that ball like 30 feet up in the air and it was gone. And there were my quarterback dreams — up in the air. Lost with the wind."
On his changed diet:"It's actually been pretty healthy in this training process. I cut back to one carb a meal, so I was hurt by that, being a big man. But it turned out to be good. I felt healthy throughout the training, and I felt like that was the most important thing for me was to be eating healthy and training hard."
Da'Ron Payne, Alabama
Pre-combine draft rankings: Brooks 2, Mayock 4
On Alabama's strong history of defensive linemen:"It's definitely the way we work. I think the D-line group always has the mentality to be the best D-line in the country. We tried to bring that every day at practice."
Taven Bryan, Florida
Pre-combine draft rankings: Mayock 3, Brooks 4
On his preference of position:"Honestly I don't have a true preference, both of them have their advantages and disadvantages. With the three technique, you get a lot more 1-on-1s than you would normally at any other position. It's kind of helpful when you want to make more plays. End is another good one I like. The nose? Nose, you've got to be a solid teammate, man, you've got to hit that double team every time, and really it kind of sucked, honestly, but you've got to do it man.''
On growing up in Wyoming:"I always get questions like, 'What's it like in Wyoming?' It's kind of the same as everywhere else, nothing too exciting, it's not like we ride horses to school or anything like that."
Harrison Phillips, Stanford
Pre-combine draft rankings: Brooks 5, Unranked by Mayock
On time management at Stanford as a double major:"Football always comes first, so school is going to sacrifice, that's just the way it was. School came easy to me. Spending as much time as I did in football, I had a process after practice to wind down and turn off the switch … I'd find the time maybe in the day, in between classes, in the locker room, before practice, after meetings and do my school work."
On his wrestling background in high school:"It helped a lot. I was a three-time state champion and four-time national champion. There's the physical parallels of hips, hands, fluidity, balance … but there's also the mentality part. In wrestling, it's you and another person and you can't blame your shoes for slipping or coaches for the play call. You can't have any excuses, you just let another man beat you. In some ways, that is the trenches."
Derrick Nnadi, Florida State
Pre-combine draft rankings: Mayock 5, Unranked by Brooks
On his process during film study: "A lot of the things I look at when it comes to the offense in general, I look at the center and the two guards. I pay attention to small tweaks to read, if they have a close stance or a wide stance. Where the position of the running back is … if he's deep, then he might go straight into the A gap."