Monday is when the meat-and-potatoes players on defense showcase their abilities. The linebackers and defensive linemen hit the field in Indianapolis and for some of the biggest and strongest players available in the draft, there was no lack of impressive athleticism and talent.
With the Falcons facing two decisions on their defensive line in John Abraham and Kroy Biermann, defensive end could be a position for the Falcons to consider at No. 55. However, the talent is deep and many teams are looking for strong pass rushers so some of the top talent won't be available for Atlanta with their first pick in the second round.
Vinny Curry from Marshall built a reputation heading into the Combine as one of the best pass rushers in the nation, but some of his performances on Monday left scouts wondering a little. His 4.85 40 time was disappointing to most and many describe his positional workouts as lacking. He's listed as a second-round prospect and his Combine performance could cause him to slide down the second round some. His game film shows a disruptive player that has produced so decisions will have to be made on him. One notable workout for Curry from Monday was his three-cone drill. He finished in the top-five with a 6.90, showing some of his explosive change-of-direction ability.
Bruce Irvin from West Virginia wowed everyone in attendance on Monday with his complete workout. The 6-foot-3, 245-pound outside linebacker/defensive end blazed a 4.43 40 on his second run after posting a 4.5 in his first. His three-cone and shuttle drill times were tops in his category and his vertical and broad jump distances were in the top-10. Scouts saw explosion and burst and were pleased with how he handled himself in linebacker drills as well. He's an intriguing prospect with a potential future as a situational pass rusher with immediacy, but may have a learning curve.
Nebraska's Jared Crick struggled with injuries during his senior season and some of that may have been lingering on Monday. Scouts weren't pleased with his fluid he looked in positional drills and his 4.94 40 wasn't particularly impressive. Additionally, some are concerned about what they believe are shorter-than-normal arms for a defensive end. Crick has some versatility in his game though. Many believe he can be both a defensive end in a 4-3 or 3-4 system.
A middle-round linebacker is never a bad idea for depth and special teams consideration with the hopes of developing him into a potential starter. While the Falcons appear strong at linebacker, a player that fits the profile for Atlanta is California's Mychal Kendricks. His 4.47 40 was tops among the linebackers and his production and urgency on the field of play is encouraging for his future. He's considered a little undersized at 5-foot-11, 239 pounds, but has been relatively durable. He's also got experience playing inside and outside at linebacker.
A small-school player that impressed on Monday was Arkansas State linebacker Demario Davis. He's projected as a late-round pick, but that may begin to improve. His 40 time was 4.61, good for fourth among linebackers and his vertical and broad jumps were second among the position. He's well-built at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds and plays with an explosive style and nastiness. Many believe he's versatile enough for the inside or the outside at linebacker and might one of the biggest sleepers at the position in the draft.