On Monday the defense took center stage in Indianapolis with the defensive linemen and linebackers hitting the RCA Dome turf. I expected some outstanding workouts from the D-linemen and wasn't disappointed.
Memphis' Dontari Poe looks like a Vince Wilfork body double and moves like him too. The 346-pound defensive tackle ran a 4.98 40 and glided through the positional drills like he was a 220-pound linebacker.
Poe didn't always perform on game days, but you always saw the athletic potential there. The strength (44 reps on the bench on Sunday) and explosion (an unofficial 1.70 10-yard split) make Poe a definite fit for 3-4 teams and a potential sleeper for 4-3 clubs. Gotta say, that kind of size and athleticism next to Cullen Jenkins would be pretty nice. See his Combine highlights here.
West Virginia defensive endoutside linebacker Bruce Irvin (6-3245) worked out as a lineman and lit up the track, posting a 4.50 40-time. Irvin's long-term future is probably as a 3-4 OLB where all he'll be asked to do early is rush the quarterback. The Mountaineers didn't ask him to do much more. Look for Irvin to go somewhere in the middle to late-second round.
Fletcher Cox from Mississippi State got high praise from NFL Network analyst Warren Sapp, who said of all the defensive tackles in Indy, Cox (6-4298) reminded him most of himself. Hard to disagree as Cox showed nimble feet in drills and ran a 4.79 40.
Cox, a junior, needs some coaching though as he looks like he just tries to blow offensive linemen up on every snap rather than use technique to beat them. I'm not as high on Cox as some but still see him going in the middle of the first round.
USC defensive end Nick Perry wowed on Monday, running a 4.64 40, recording the top vertical (38.5 inches) and broad jump (10'3" -- tied with Rice's Scott Solomon).
Perry, who measured at 6-foot-3 and 271 pounds, may get some looks from 3-4 teams as an outside linebacker, but I see his future as a 4-3 end because of his strong base (i.e. big butt) and upper body strength (35 bench press reps).
Penn State's Devon Still disappointed, running a pedestrian 5.08 40 and looking rather stiff in positional drills. LSU's Michael Brockers, Michigan State's Jerel Worthy, Poe, and Cox may have all passed him as the top defensive tackles available.
Shea McClellin, one of my personal favorites, helped himself with a 4.63 40 and a strong showing during positional drills. McClellin may have a future as a defensive end in the NFL after bulking up to 260 pounds, but I'd love to see him in Philadelphia at a lighter weight playing strongside linebacker.
What really should have interested the Eagles today was the linebacker workouts, with mock draft favorite Luke Kuechly of Boston College taking the field.
Kuechly surely didn't do anything to stop the pundits (me included) from calling his name when the Birds pick at No. 15. Answering questions about his athletic ability, Kuechly ran a 4.58 40, put up 27 reps on the bench press, a 38-inch vertical jump, and a 10'3" broad jump. Pair those numbers with a very strong showing in the positional drills, and the Eagles might not get a chance to draft Kuechly anymore.
And now I can finally quiet those clamoring for the Eagles to draft Arizona State's Vontaze Burfict in the first round. It ain't going to happen. The troubled LB ran a horrid 5.09 40 -- the worst among all linebackers, posted a 30-inch vertical -- the second worst -- and an 8-6 broad jump, also good for worst among LBs. Couple those putrid figures with a doughy body and allegedly terrible interviews, and Burfict might be lucky to be drafted at all.
Arkansas State linebacker Demario Davis had an excellent two days, displaying good athleticism and strength (32 bench press reps). Davis will need to be coached to harness his speed (4.61 40) and play under control. He could go as high as the end of the third round.
California MLB Mychal Kendricks had perhaps the biggest day among LBs. The smallish Kendricks (5-11237) posted the best 40-time (4.47), vertical jump (39.5 inches), and broad jump (10-6) among his peers. He followed those numbers up by looking quick and smooth in positional drills.
There's no question Kendricks is a football player, but his size is the big question mark. The 2011 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year may have given teams a reason to go back to the tape and see whether Kendricks has the stuff to be a starting middle linebacker in the NFL.
A late-second-round to early-third-round pick should give a team a chance to get an answer. See Kendricks' workout highlights here.
TCU's Tank Carder blew me away in the 2010 Rose Bowl against Wisconsin, seemingly in on every tackle. His 2011 season wasn't quite as dominant as that night, but Carder displayed some good athletic ability during positional drills Monday and should be a solid NFL backup and special teams standout. And you just have to love the name (his actual first name is Ricky).
Jared Sherman has been providing CSNPhilly.com with draft analysis since 2000. E-mail him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @Phillyjared.