After a hiatus last year due to COVID-19, we’ve now managed to make it through two straight day of the 2022 NFL Combine! Continuing today, the workouts will begin to feature the defensive side of the ball, with defensive tackles, edge rushers and linebackers performing athletic tests and on-field skill drills. New this year is a schedule change, pushing the events to start closer to prime time. We’ll get you ready with the leading headlines for the prospects working out today.
The appearance of depth linebackers
A general consensus seems to have emerged on which linebackers are the cream of the crop. That list includes Nakobe Dean (Georgia) and Devin Lloyd (Utah). Outside of those two, there a few other players locked into the second round, but the big question mark comes after that. What athletes in rounds three and later can offer teams starters, backups or even developmental options? Expect Georgia prospects Quay Walker and Channing Tindall to be champions at the bench press, but watch Malcolm Rodriguez (Oklahoma State) and Brandon Smith (Penn State) during the on-field drills that ask players to flip their hips in coverage.
Finding athletic pass rushers
Outside of perhaps wide receiver, the edge-rushing class is the deepest of this year’s NFL Draft. While there are sure to be several dominant athletes today, including David Ojabo (Michigan) and Alex Wright (UAB)—who are both likely to jump out of the gym—it’s the on-field technique drills that can sometimes tell you much more about a prospect. Jermaine Johnson (Florida State), Aidan Hutchinson (Michigan) and Cameron Thomas (San Diego State) should be seen as the technicians.
The defensive line drills
It was relatively humorous seeing traditional receiving tight end attempt to push back the blocking sleds on Thursday. But it’s now time for the real thing. Seeing the defensive linemen attempt up-downs, run the circle or drop their hips in various field drills is always a sight. The likely standouts there should be Jordan Davis (Georgia), Logan Hall (Houston), and Travis Jones (UConn). A dark horse of the group is Otito Ogbonnia (UCLA), who is an accomplished shot putter and discus thrower.
This year the schedule is a bit different, as the NFL has sought to ensure the workouts begin around primetime. The on field drills begin at 4:00 pm EST, and are televised on the NFL Network. They can also be viewed through the NFL and NFL Network apps and through NFL.com, but you may need to sign into your TV provider’s account to watch.
For anyone tuned into the workouts, consider this your open thread to discuss the events.