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2020 NFL Draft Combine Offensive-Defensive Line Risers

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The NFL Combine is now behind us. I took some time to digest the overload of information thrown at us. We start with the trenches as I give you the 2020 NFL Draft Combine Offensive-Defensive Line Risers.

The offensive tackles may be the most impressive class in recent memory in terms of size, length and athleticism.

On other side, the defensive line didn’t make as big a splash. However, there are still a lot of valuable takeaways to dive into.

2020 NFL Draft Combine Offensive-Defensive Line

See how all these guys stack up on my Big Board.

2020 NFL Draft Combine Offensive Line

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Not only does the top end of this offensive tackle class look outstanding on film, but their athletic testing was nothing short of amazing. It really is a great year to be in need of exterior offensive line help. Each of the four top prospects has a case for the best tackle in the draft, each for their own unique traits.

Mekhi Becton

Mekhi Becton is a unique prospect. His combination of size, length and athleticism are remarkable. Running a 5.10s 40-yard dash at that stature was mind-blowing. Mike Mayock’s reaction in his suite during the broadcast says it all.

On film, he wins with sheer strength and dominance over his competition, and less so with technique. This leads me to believe there may be growing pains for him early on as he lines up against better/bigger competition. His technique will need to catch up but the athleticism and size are there and he showed it in Indy.

Tristan Wirfs

Tristan Wirfs expectedly blew up the athletic testing. He had a record-setting day, jumping out of this world: a 36.5” vert and 10’1” broad, combine records for offensive linemen. He also ran a 4.85 (1.69s split), the fastest time ever for a lineman of over 320 lbs. And the best part is it translates when you turn on his film.

Wirfs shows amazing burst and explosion out of his stance. His speed flashes when out in space, getting to blocks on the second and third levels. Pair that athleticism with his physicality and technique in pass protection, and you have yourself an elite offensive tackle prospect. He also gave us a top-notch positional workout, showcasing his ability to mirror, redirect and bend at an elite level.

Andrew Thomas

Andrew Thomas really isn’t getting the credit he deserves in the press, coming out of Indianapolis. Thomas started the week off with an outstanding 36” arm measurement.

The only other tackles to reach that mark at the combine? Oh, only Matt Peart and Alex Taylor, length freaks in the eyes of the scouting community.

You can’t teach length, and it shows on his film when he sets anchor keeping edge rushers away from his chest plate. A 5.22s 40-yard dash is fine for a 315 lb lineman, and his technique is so refined on tape that it leads me to believe he’s still the most pro-ready prospect of the four.

Athleticism may not be as mind-boggling as the other three, but he’s still a great athlete, and it showed during the positional drill portion of the workout. There weren’t many athletes as smooth as AT.

Jedrick Wills

If only Jedrick Wills was in a different class than Tristan Wirfs.

This always happens at the combine. Public perception never seems to give equal love to two outstanding athletic performances at the same position. There’s always a winner. Well, I vouch for shared bragging rights.

A 5.05s 40-yard dash at 312 lbs, 34.5” vertical jump (only Wirfs did better), a 9’5” broad jump, and what was probably the best on-field workout of the class.  He deserves his props, and the NFL certainly took notice.


While the top 4 at the position are as locked-in as they can be, OT-5 is still very much in play. Here’s a breakdown of other lineman performances, including some IOLs who stood out.

Tackles

  • Matt Peart and Alex Taylor tore down the physical measurements and stood out as the lengthiest tackle prospects in the class. A trait that holds a lot of value for NFL scouts. They both also had nice athletic testing and workouts.
  • I expected Josh Jones to tear up the combine, considering the athletic traits he shows on tape. Quick footwork, tremendous ability to mirror and redirect and consistent wins in pass protection… Bizarrely, we didn’t really see that translate for Josh Jones this week. While his testing numbers aren’t as good as we’d hoped, I still really liked his on-field drill. He looked agile and flexible. He still stands in the high-upside tier of candidates for OT-5.
  • Speaking of candidates for OT-5, Austin Jackson came into the combine as one of the youngest, most promising prospects at the position. He tested as well as expected athletically, with a 5.07s 40 and more importantly a 1.73 10yd split. He also leapt 31″ and hopped for a 9’7″ broad. His tape also holds up pretty well against some tough competition (see: Iowa game vs A.J. Epenesa).
  • Ezra Cleveland (see numbers below). Workout warrior or actual beast? He definitely dedicated a lot of time to prepare for the event. But having only watched one of his tapes (the Florida State game, a fun one), I never felt enough confidence to throw him into any rankings. I definitely plan on circling back to his tape.
    • 4.93 on the 40 (3rd best), with a 1.73s 10yd split (T-3rd)
    • 34″ vertical jump (T-3rd), 9’3″ on the broad (Top 10)
    • 7.26s on the 3-cone (best), 4.46s on the shuttle (best)

Interior Offensive Linemen

  • Hakeem Adeniji had a nice workout. He ran a 5.17 with a 1.78 10-yard split, jumped 34” high and a 9’7” broad. A very nice athletic profile, paired with some good traits on tape. He’s a versatile player that can play tackle or guard. Paired with his athleticism, that is the recipe to stick on an NFL roster for a while, even as a backup. He’s cementing himself as an early Day 3 developmental prospect.
  • Matt Hennessy made some cash this week. He looked good at the Senior Bowl and got on my radar, and followed up with a nice week in Indy. He ran the second quickest shuttle and 3-cone drill of the class. Moreover, his change of direction ability looked no-less impressive during the on-field workout. He placed himself as one of the most agile and top movers of the interior class.
  • On film, Nick Harris might be the most athletic pivot in the class. He gets out in space very quickly and his body control is tremendous. He the positional drills. His upper body strength and ability to survive versus power is a concern, but he offers upside as a quality center at the next level.
  • I thought of Cesar Ruiz as the opposite of Nick Harris prior to the combine. An extremely powerful people-mover at center for the Wolverines. He showed his upper body strength during the workout against the bags but also displayed nice agility and movement reps. He also ran the 4th best shuttle of the class.
  • Two of the strongest IOL prospects in John Simpson and Netane Muti PUMPED IRON on the bench press. It was to be expected, as Muti is an absolute tank in the run game, and Simpson a brick wall versus power rushers. The bench press doesn’t always translate but I love to see two prospects whose film I loved, perform among the top of the class.

2020 NFL Draft Combine Defensive Line

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Don’t you feel bad for these guys? Being the prequel to the freakiest linebacker to come out in the last decade? Having the show stolen from right under your feet? Let’s fix that immediately and recap the defensive line class.

AJ Epenesa

Epenesa is not a speed rusher. Epenesa does not win with an elite burst off the line, a speed move and dip around the edge followed by a burst to the QB.

AJ Epenesa is a cerebral pass rusher that wins with outstanding hand technique, well-set-up inside counters, and a killer ability to convert speed to power.

He’s the best pitcher in the draft. He sets up his rushes and attacks with a long term plan. Nothing Epenesa does well was going to stand out in the athletic testing.

Sure, the bench is disappointing, but the bench is meaningless. He looked good, if not great during the drills. Let’s relax, turn his tape back on and remind ourselves why we liked Epenesa so much.

Derrick Brown

We built up such a big narrative on Derrick Brown being this freakish athlete for his stature, that people expected out of this world testing.

I take my fair share of the blame. I think even I started imagining Neville Gallimore-esque numbers for Brown. When the reality is, he’s a tremendous athlete and his tape is extremely explosive, but he’s no workout warrior. His athleticism stands out on tape and that’s plenty sufficient.

I think we’re really nitpicking if we break down this guy’s combine. His 40 time is absolutely fine for a 326 lb defensive tackle. The 1.73s 10-yard split is very good for that position. He had a very nice positional workout, his COD ability at that size popped off the screen.

Yes, we expected better jump for the explosiveness he displays. My only rebuttal is: trust the tape. Trust the offensive linemen in this class when they tell you their toughest matchup this season was Derrick Brown.

Neville Gallimore

Gallimore’s athleticism stands out on tape, he’s explosive out of his stance, powerful at the point of attack, can stack and shed, rush into a gap.

There’s a lot to like and a lot popped up at the Combine. He ran well, jumped well and had a decent on-field workout.

The one worry on tape that I did not expect to see in Indianapolis, is the concerns about his balance and body control. He found himself on the ground a couple of times during the positional drills, enough for me to take notice. It’s something I’ll keep my eyes peeled out for as I go through his tape once more, and look to explore as a big question mark on his grade sheet.

The big names in the class were polarizing, but let’s have a look at some other key defensive line performances at the Combine!


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Edge Rushers

  • I loved Bradlee Anae‘s tape at Utah, and he checked a huge box this week. He has perhaps the best hands in the class, beats you in a handful of ways, he can bend the edge, convert speed-to-power, he anticipates the snap well. The real question was regarding his athleticism. He is refined technically but doesn’t look like your typical explosive edge rusher. Oh trust me, those worries are long gone. His 1.69s 10-yd split is music to my ears.  Anae looked good on the jumps, in the agility tests and cleaned through the on-field drills. He’ll rank out as a high-end round 2 prospect in my Draft Portfolio when it’s all said and done.
  • Alex Highsmith finished top-5 in the nation in sacks with 14 last season. Highsmith was also the best pass rusher during the East-West Shrine week. He shows a lot of athleticism on tape as a pure speed rusher. We saw a lot of that ability this week in Indianapolis (1.68s 10-yd split + stood out during on-field workout). Some team will want to get their hands on the super-productive pass rusher in Day 2 and hope they can develop the power aspect of his game.
  • Jabari Zuniga isn’t my favorite d-lineman out of Florida this year (it’s Jonathan Greenard, he had a nice combine too), but he helped himself a lot this week. During the on-field drills, he showcased some of the flexibility and COD ability that makes him a very toolsy developmental prospect. He also tested well athletically.
  • My struggles with Yetur Gross-Matos‘ tape are well documented. But it’s hard to ignore standout athletic testing when you see one. His on-field drills were eye-opening too. I promise, my friends, he’s my watchlist priority #1.

Interior Defensive Linemen

  • Quick shoutout to Last Chance U star Chauncey Rivers! Finishing the hoop and movement drills in socks amazed me. Impressive balance and flexibility. I’m sure some scouts took notice.
  • Malcolm Roach had a nice on-field workout, looked smooth through the bags and showcased agile COD ability. He also posted some nice athletic testing. He pushed himself as a priority on my film watchlist.
  • The Davis twins both had insane combines. As former track stars, it was to be expected. On tape, I prefer Khalil. He shows nice bend and flexibility. Khalil cemented himself as one of my favorite developmental IDLs in this class.
  • Justin Madubuike made himself some money this week. He showcased his speed, strength and looked very smooth on the field. He’s a toolsy prospect who just hasn’t figured out his rushing plan yet. I believe his calling card is as a pure one-gap penetrator.
  • Ross Blacklock also locked up his round 2 quality grade this week. In addition to outstanding athletic testing, he put on a show with his footwork and fluidity through the positional drills. Some team will be very happy to draft him late round 1 or early day 2.

The 2020 “Trench” class at the NFL Combine represents over 80 prospects. I wrote down notes on a large majority of them but can’t bring them all up on this article. Feel free to @ me on twitter to discuss any prospects I may have missed!


Check out the rest of our NFL Draft Coverage by myself and Jon Witt.

About Selyan Lonqueux

Junior NFL Draft analyst, and aspiring football coach. Active Wide Receiver across the pond, in Europe. The truth lies in the tape, the whole tape and nothing but the tape.

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