On Sunday, the defensive linemen and linebackers put on a SHOW at the NFL Combine.
Simply put, this draft class is loaded on defense. It’s going to be just nuts on draft day. Let’s get right into it.
Montez Sweat is so fast that the Eagles won’t be able to draft him
That man is 6’6″ and 260 lbs. and terrifying. Who knew Montez Sweat was so fast? NFL scout teams and GMs love rocketing players up draft boards after great Combine performances. Sweat was looking like he could be on the fringe of the Eagles’ drafting range until he ran a 4.42 (I’ve also seen people say it was a 4.41) 40-yard dash, which is a record for defensive linemen.
That’s faster than Odell Beckham Jr. (4.43 secs.) at the Combine.
Where the Eagles might’ve once been able to trade up a couple picks to take Sweat if they wanted to, that’s not the case anymore. Sweat is going to fly up draft boards, and the Eagles likely won’t have a shot at him.
The Eagles drafting a DT is looking more and more likely
There was something about watching Montez Sweat’s blazing-fast 40-yard dash that made me realize how many EDGE rushers are going to be drafted before DTs. Brian Burns from FSU ran a 4.53 40-yard dash, and Rashan Gary ran a 4.58 one too. EDGE rushers are 9 times out of 10 valued above DTs, and will move up every GM’s draft board.
While this means that there will be less EDGE prospects when the Eagles pick, it also means there will be more DTs and other positions available when the Eagles pick.
There are a LOT of great defensive players in this draft. Off the top of my head I think of Quinnen Williams, Nick Bosa, Ed Oliver, Montez Sweat, Devin White, Greedy Williams, Deandre Baker, Brian Burns, Clelin Ferrell, and more. Mix in top offensive guys like Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock, Daniel Jones, DK Metcalf, Jonah Williams, Andre Dillard, and Noah Fant, and there are still a lot of almost top-tier players left over for the Eagles.
Let’s say a team takes a flier on Will Grier, or maybe Dalton Risner gets drafted earlier, or Trayvon Mullen! Or maybe some more WRs come off the board earlier. This pushes more guys up the board who could make sense for the Eagles at 25. Guys like Jachai Polite, Josh Jacobs, Devin Bush, and a slew of DTs.
Christian Wilkins has been linked to the Eagles at 25 again and again, and they even had a meeting with him. Dre’Mont Jones or Jerry Tillery will almost certainly be available. Jeffrey Simmons tore his ACL, but he is definitely going to be there at 25 (but also probably in the 2nd round too). Dexter Lawrence will likely be there too.
What I’m saying is that this draft class is LOADED on defense, and one player (like Sweat) moving out of reach for the Eagles doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll completely miss out on good players, like in other drafts.
Also, I really think Howie Roseman trades up in the draft this year.
Quinnen Williams is like Fletcher Cox, but the NFL is obsessed with Aaron Donald
Aaron Donald is the best DT in the NFL. The Rams are not the best team in the NFL, but they’re the exciting team with Sean McVay as their coach, so everything they do and everyone one their team now is the pinnacle player that everyone should be compared to.
Okay, so Donald could actually be the most pinnacle player in the NFL, but that doesn’t mean every good DT in the draft is just like him.
I happened across a comparison on Twitter or Bleacher Report (I couldn’t find it again) that showed how stud DT prospect Quinnen Williams matched up with Aaron Donald, to show how he could be just like him.
This didn’t add up to me, as Williams is a big guy, and Donald had size concerns during his early days in the NFL.
But you know, Fletcher Cox is a big guy, and other stud DT prospect Ed Oliver has been seen as slightly undersized.
So, a comparison (sorry for the lack of info on Oliver and Williams, prospects these days don’t do all of the workouts anymore):
|Player||Height||Weight||40-yard dash time||Bench Press Reps||3-Cone Time|
|Aaron Donald||6’1″||285 lbs.||4.68 secs||35||7.11 secs|
|Ed Oliver||6’2″||287 lbs.||Didn’t run||32||Didn’t run|
|Quinnen Williams||6’3″||303 lbs.||4.83 secs||Didn’t bench||Didn’t run|
|Fletcher Cox||6’4″||298 lbs.||4.79 secs||30 reps||7.07|
The only point I really am trying to make here is that Fletcher Cox is forgotten in the league, and while Donald is the best DT in the NFL, Cox is right behind him and shouldn’t be ignored as much.
Devin Bush is quietly very good, could be a 2nd round trade-up target for the Eagles
Just a thought, with all of these defensive players rising the boards, some of the very good linebackers not named Devin White will be pushed back later in the draft.
Devin Bush is a cusp-first round pick that did very well in the Combine. Devin White edged him out in the 40-yard dash by .01 seconds, and had one more bench press rep than Bush. Bush then did better in all the other tests than White.
White is heralded as the best LB in the draft, which is well-deserved. Bush is showing himself to be almost as good, however, and shouldn’t be slept on. His athleticism and tape is sneaky good, and the Eagles could use a new young linebacker.
Bush or another LB (maybe Mack Wilson) could be targets in the early 2nd round if the Eagles decide to trade up. Bush is the better coverage LB, though Wilson is a big hitter.