NFL combine Saturday preview: Defensive linemen, linebackers take the field

NFL

INDIANAPOLIS — Saturday will be the third day of on-field workouts at the NFL’s scouting combine at Lucas Oil Stadium.

A look at what you need to know:

The workouts: From 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET, the defensive linemen and linebackers will go through the vertical jump, broad jump, the 40-yard dash and position drills.

And … The defensive backs will do the bench press.

The record holders: Memphis nose tackle Dontari Poe carved out his rather hefty slice of combine history in 2012 when, at 346 pounds, Poe posted one of the greatest strength-speed demonstrations in recent years. He ran a 4.98 40-yard dash, posted a 34-inch vertical jump — better than many skill players at the event that year who weighed 150 pounds less than he did — and Poe also did 44 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press. That was all before he went 11th overall in that year’s draft to the Kansas City Chiefs. At linebacker, Shaquem Griffin, who had a hand amputated when he was 4 years old, did 22 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press with a prosthesis attached to his left arm at the 2018 combine and then ran a record 4.38 in the 40-yard dash — best ever for a linebacker at the combine.

At the top of the board: Ohio State defensive end Chase Young will not work out at the combine, but he, like many in the league, believes he is the best player in this year’s draft. As he said in Indianapolis, “I definitely think I’m the best player in the draft. I think I showed on my tape, you can look at every game, I think I showed [it]. I think I put my best foot forward this year. … I think I bring a lot to the table, the whole package as a defensive end.” Elsewhere, if you were listening to offensive linemen in Indy earlier in the week, Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown might have been the most frequent answer to this question: “Who’s the most difficult defensive lineman you faced?” And Clemson’s do-it-all guy Isaiah Simmons could project as a spectacular safety in the NFL, but he has spent his time in Indy with the linebackers and is one of the most versatile players on the board.

Who can really help himself: LSU’s K’Lavon Chaisson is just the kind of fast-twitch edge player teams want in their defenses, but at the moment he is a potential overproduction guy who has flashed only in games. But few if any prospects at a coveted position in the draft have his kind of athleticism and flexibility. Several defensive line coaches have said they want to see him in drills in Indy as a preview to any work he does at his pro day. He has a chance to be one of the big risers on the draft board over the next few weeks.

Don’t miss: New drills. The defensive linemen will do one — the run the hoop drill — that many defensive line coaches have made a staple through the years. Two hoops on the ground, a couple of yards apart, and the prospects will run around the first hoop, pick up a towel, and then run around the second hoop and drop the towel. Sounds simple, but you’ll know the top-shelf agility when you see it.

More on the combine:

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