With the Denver Broncos the lead pursuant of DT Shaun Rogers via the trade route, the Buffalo Bills - who are rumored to be interested in the veteran - may need to begin developing a Plan B option at the defensive tackle position. With very little available via free agency, if the Bills are going to address the position, it will very likely be through the draft. Luckily, we got to see defensive tackles (and ends, and linebackers) work out at the Combine yesterday; here's how they fared.
(Note: keep your fingers crossed for a Rogers trade.)
No one was more impressive, to your humble narrator at least, than Notre Dame's Trevor Laws. Weighing in at 304 pounds, Laws was still able to run a 5.08 40, with unofficial times as low as 4.97. He also threw up 35 reps of 225 pounds and vertically jumped 30.5 inches. Couple his impressive workout with his unbelievable college production, and Laws is looking like a first-round talent.
Sedrick Ellis disappointed with a 5.24 40, and Kentwan Balmer didn't fare any better with a 5.28. Watching these two in positional drills, however, is incredible - both of these guys are amazing athletes with great short-area burst and excellent footwork. Ellis is sure to be a top pick, but Balmer looked every bit the part of a Top-15 pick himself.
To prove that this is a very deep draft class inside, the following players also had impressive workouts: Pat Sims (5.06), Marcus Harrison (5.02), Ahtyba Rubin (5.17) and especially Dre Moore (4.88). Any one of these guys have the athleticism, strength and burst to play in Buffalo's Cover-2 scheme. Looks like that Plan B may actually work out.
Big surprise here: Virginia's Chris Long and Ohio State's Vernon Gholston had excellent workouts. Long ran a 4.75 40 and looked great moving around in space, proving he can play in any defensive scheme. Gholston ran a 4.67, jumped 35.5 inches and looked very light on his feet. Both could very well end up being Top-5 picks. Florida's Derrick Harvey (whom Mike Mayock continued to insist weighed 291) ran a slightly disappointing 4.8, but also looked fluid in positional drills. We won't get into defensive end much more than that, for two reasons: the rest of the workouts were average, and it's becoming more apparent that the team won't add a speed rusher with their top pick.
Neither Keith Rivers nor Dan Connor ran (Connor actually left Indianapolis due to illness), so the linebacker workouts were pretty uneventful. There was only one major disappointment, as LSU's Ali Highsmith - considered one of the more agile and swift linebackers available - ran a very slow 4.96 40. He may drop all the way into the third or fourth round after a pretty poor showing.
There are options for the Bills outside of Rivers, as Erin Henderson, Phillip Wheeler, Xavier Adibi and Tavares Gooden - all considered solid weak side candidates - ran in the high-4.6 or low-4.7 range and displayed similar athleticism. None of them should be considered immediate starters, but they've all got the potential to excel in this league. My preference, however, is Kentucky's Wesley Woodyard, who has packed on about a dozen pounds (he's up to 227) and ran a 4.54. He looked by far to be the most fluid athlete at the position, and although he'll likely struggle against the run, he works very well in space and has the look of being a superb coverage linebacker. The coverage element is something that the Bills don't have in their linebacker corps, either, so Woodyard could make an excellent addition.
Cornerbacks and safeties work out today to wrap up the 2008 Combine.