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2020 NFL Combine: standout on-field performances from DL/LB

Defend this

Backup three-tech defensive tackle, strong-side linebacker, edge rusher...the Bills have needs that can be filled with the selection of some of the players who performed in Indianapolis on Saturday. Whether you count some of these players as a linebacker or edge player can often distort the thresholds for metrics, but there were some outstanding performances by some players certain to hear their names called during the 2020 NFL Draft. Let’s take a look at some of them:

Isaiah Simmons, LB/S/CB/EDGE, Clemson

I legitimately considered adding “wide receiver, running back, water boy, Assistant to the Regional Manager, etc” to the end of Isaiah Simmons’ position tag. The do-it-all Clemson defensive weapon clocked in a ridiculous 4.39 official 40-yard dash alongside a 39-inch vertical and a 132-inch broad jump. It’s a good thing Dave Gettleman doesn’t like trading down because he’s going to have a whale of a decision to make with the offensive tackles in this class competing with Simmons to go as high as number four overall.

Alex Highsmith, EDGE, UNC-Charlotte

Highsmith was incredibly productive in college, but playing at a lower level of competition puts more pressure on an player to show athletic prowess to ease the minds of NFL decision makers and convince them he can transition that production to the next level of play. Highsmith is well on his way to that end goal after posting a 4.70 40-yard dash, a 4.31 20-yard shuttle, and a 125-inch broad jump while looking smooth in on-field bag drills. He may project best to OLB in a odd-front defense, but he can consider the “athletic” box checked.

Jabari Zuniga, EDGE, Florida

One of my admitted pre-Combine draft crushes, Zuniga is ready to show that he’s healthy and athletic after coming into the 2019 college football season with some buzz. Zuniga ran a 4.64 40-yard dash, did 29 bench press reps, had a 33-inch vertical jump and a 127-inch broad jump. It’s one of the most complete performances we’ve seen from a player thus far this week and were it not for the earth-shattering dash of Isaian Simmons, we likely would be hearing more about it.

Alton Robinson, EDGE, Syracuse

When you show the ideal body type and bend on tape, sometimes you just need to not stir concern with your athletic testing and that’s exactly what Robinson did. A 4.69 40, 25 bench press reps, and a 35.5” vertical means Robinson showed he has the level of athleticism necessary for teams to want to invest in his development as a base 4-3 end.

Willie Gay Jr., LB, Mississippi State

Wow. A 4.46 40-yard dash, a 39.5-inch vertical, and a 136-inch broad jump are tallied up for Gay after Saturday night. Combined with smoothness in the on-field bag drills and wheel coverage drill, Gay is causing a lot of people to go back to the tape.

...and that’s the way the cookie crumbles. I’m Bruce Nolan for Buffalo Rumblings. You can find me on Twitter @BruceExclusive and for more on Jabari Zuniga and my other pre-Combine defensive draft crushes, see the latest episode of “The Nick & Nolan Show”: