Posted February 26, 2013

2013 NFL Draft defense position rankings, post-combine

NFL Draft, Scouting Combine
Despite a shoulder injury that will require surgery, Dion Jordan wowed scouts. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Despite a shoulder injury that will require surgery, Dion Jordan wowed scouts. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The 2013 NFL Draft scouting combine is in the books.

Next up for the NFL: Pro Days and free agency, before the draft opens on April 25. Earlier Tuesday, I offered a glimpse at my post-combine positional rankings on the offensive side of the ball. Now, it’s time to hit the defense.

Each position includes a top-five ranking, plus one rising and one falling player from outside that upper-echelon group.

Defensive tackles

1. Sharrif Floyd, Florida
2. Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
3. Star Lotulelei, Utah
4. Sylvester Williams, North Carolina
5. Jesse Williams, Alabama

The big news here is that Lotulelei was unable to work out after an echocardiogram uncovered a heart condition that will require further tests. Floyd and Richardson, meanwhile, continue to impress scouts — both could wind up in the top 10.

Rising: Akeem Spence, Illinois.

Spence measured in at just 6-foot-0, though he did hit 307 on the scale. More than those numbers, though, he hit 37 reps in the bench press and performed well during positional drills. He’s probably a Day 2 pick at this point.

Falling: Jonathan Hankins, Ohio State.

In reality, Hankins’ stock probably held mostly steady this weekend. But he did skip the bench press — he’ll do it at Ohio State’s Pro Day in March — and was near the bottom of the DT list in the 40-yard-dash, broad jump and vertical jump.

Defensive ends

1. Dion Jordan, Oregon
2. Ziggy Ansah, BYU
3. Bjoern Werner, Florida State
4. Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
5. Datone Jones, UCLA

Things get a little tricky at the next few spots, because there are several guys that could be either DEs or outside linebackers, plus several more than could play multiple LB positions. So Jordan very well could wind up as a rush linebacker. Ansah continues to climb the charts. He did just about everything scouts could ask during drills Monday.

Rising: Margus Hunt, SMU.

Hunt is a towering 6-foot-8 … and he did 38 reps on the bench press. That’s astonishing. Hunt also said that he believes he can put on a good 20 pounds (he weighed in at 277), so the sky might be the limit there.

Falling: William Gholston, Michigan State.

Did Gholston do anything especially poorly? No. He also did not do anything particularly well, finishing 23rd among defensive linemen in the 40 (4.97 seconds) and landing in similar position on other drills. For a player who lives and dies on his athleticism, that’s not good enough.

Outside linebackers

1. Jarvis Jones, Georgia
2. Barkevious Mingo, LSU
3. Chase Thomas, Stanford
4. Khaseem Greene, Rutgers
5. Sio Moore, UConn

Again, this is mix-and-match from a positional standpoint. Jones chose not to work out in Indy, while Mingo suited up with the defensive linemen. Keep an eye on Moore, who looked like a guy capable of doing some work in coverage, though his 7.49 three-cone time was underwhelming.

Rising: Cornelius Washington, Georgia.

A silly combination of marks for the 6-4, 265 Washington: 4.55 40, 36 bench-press reps and a 39-inch vertical. There’s no doubt he is an athlete. The problem for Washington is that he sizes up as a bit of a tweener, stuck between being an end and an OLB. Southern Mississippi’s Jamie Collins had a big weekend, too.

Falling: Keith Pough, Howard.

Pough put himself on the map by showing well at the Shrine Game. However, his 4.9 40 time was among the slowest for all of the combine’s linebackers, and he did himself no favors with just 17 bench reps.

Inside linebackers

1. Alec Ogletree, Georgia
2. Arthur Brown, Kansas State
3. Kevin Minter, LSU
4. Manti Te’o, Notre Dame
5. Kiko Alonso, Oregon

Brown very well could wind up outside — he’s probably a better fit there than at this spot anyway. All eyes were on Te’o here, of course, and he mostly disappointed on the field, though he’s always been better in action than as a true athlete. Minter barely edged him out in the 40.

Rising: Kevin Reddick, North Carolina.

Reddick’s combine effort did not really jump off the page, except for one number: a 1.57 10-yard split in the 40-yard dash. Though a lot of focus falls on the 40 times, that split is critical for NFL scouts, because it shows off a player’s explosiveness. Only Jamie Collins fared better there.

Falling: A.J. Klein, Iowa State.

Klein had the look of a mid-round linebacker, aided by a solid 4.66 40. All that changed when he tumbled during a drill, reportedly after suffering a serious knee injury.


1. Dee Milliner, Alabama
2. Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
3. Desmond Trufant, Washington
4. Jamar Taylor, Boise State
5. Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State

Milliner’s official 40 time landed at 4.37 (up from its original 4.31 spot). Either way, he likely convinced teams to erase “Does not have elite speed” from his negatives column. Trufant and Taylor both posted 4.39, while the latter really had a terrific Tuesday in drills. On the flip side, Banks’ 4.61 is horribly disappointing for a potential first-round pick.

Rising: Darius Slay, Mississippi State.

Based on his position-best 4.37 40 alone, Slay will garner some extra attention in the film room in coming days. He is not in Milliner’s class, for example, but he has the potential to be a very solid NFL starter. David Amerson, with a 4.44 time, helped his case, too.

Falling: Logan Ryan, Rutgers.

All in all, the cornerbacks appeared to fare well in their drills. Ryan’s combine was far from disastrous, either, but his 4.56 40 and 32.5-inch vertical (one of the day’s lowest) did not make him look like a top-five player at the position.


1. Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
2. Matt Elam, Florida
3. Eric Reid, LSU
4. Jonathan Cyprien, Florida International
5. D.J. Swearinger, South Carolina

The safety group is extremely deep, filled with guys like Cyprien who can play either free or strong safety. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see Cyprien at the combine, as he was dealing with a hamstring injury. Elam’s 40 time (4.54) definitely stands as acceptable for a player trying to solidify his standing near the top of this class.

Rising: Shamarko Thomas, Syracuse.

Thomas’ 4.42 40 was better than any other safety’s time, and he topped the list on the bench press as well (28). He’s a strong, athletic safety — proving that at the combine could rocket him up boards.

Falling: Zeke Motta, Notre Dame.

Similar to his teammate Manti Te’o, in that he’ll play better than he tests, Motta more or less bombed the scored drills. He did the fewest bench-press reps of any safety (11), then turned in a staggeringly slow 40 time (4.83). He needs to find an exact right fit in the NFL or he could flop.

BA Cyclone
BA Cyclone

ILB prospect A.J. Klein did NOT suffer a "serious knee injury".  Please correct your article.


All these, "he'll play better than he tests," comments about Notre Dame players...How do you know that?  Seriously?  The vast majority of ND's opponents over these kids' careers have been unranked.  The VAST - like, 90% - majority.  Neither Te'o nor Motta played well against Alamaba, the one team that most resembles an NFL roster.I'm not saying these guys aren't draftable, but their good play against average and below-average talent suggests that they're just above-average players.  That does, indeed, make them draftable, but 1st-Round players should be great, or have the potential to be great.  The historic problem with ND players of the last decade is that "above-average" seems to not only be their starting point, but their ceiling as well.  And with measurables that require the excuse, "he'll play better than he tests," I'm feeling confident in declaring that low-ceiling once again. 


Was that the best option for the story's image?  Come on.  There has to be a better picture of that poor guy.


Manti had clear shots where blocking broke down and loose footballs dropping into his hands all season.  Give him credit for having a lot of luck.  But will that last into the NFL?  No.


But Te'o had 7 interceptions. If I'm an NFL GM and need a linebacker who can catch a pass thrown directly at him or deflected right to him, I would take him in the 5th round. No question.



Manti Te'o as the 4th rated MLB prospect is ridiculous.  In 40+ years of watching college football, I can't remember such a highly decorated defensive player get dominated the way he was by Alabama's o-line.  It looked to me like Mr. Inspirational Leader totally lost heart about half way through the first quarter.  He looked small, slow, and emotionally immature. I can think of 30 more promising defensive players in this draft right off the top of my head, many of them listed in this article.   Te'o has been all-hype all along.  If I were a GM, I wouldn't waste a draft pick on him.  


 In Te'o's defense (do I really need to add an extra apostrophe for the possessive!), most defensive schemes are not set up to where the middle linebacker is supposed to be "taking on" an offensive lineman.  Defensive linemen are supposed to protect the linebackers from having to go against someone 50-70 lbs heavier.  Te'o didn't look good in several other aspects of the game (angles, tackling, general play recognition) but not a lot of linebackers ever look good when they have to fight off blocks form offensive linemen.


 @gwe59 I guess you did not Watch the same Alabama team DOMINATE the Georgia linebackers in the SEC Championship game?  I suspect you are not a GM for a pretty good reason.

gwe59 1 Like

 @Brad_O_B  DId Jones or Ogletree get Heisman  hype?  Did they win all of the other major post-season awards for defensive players?  By the way, didn't Ogletree score a great touchdown against 'Bama on a blocked FG?  He looked pretty impressive sprinting like a track star during that play. And Jones is a pass rushing OLB who also made plays against them.  Georgia got run all over, but Jones and Ogletree individually did not get physically dominated.  Did Te'o make even one good play against Alabama?  Not only did he get pushed all over the field, he missed tackles even when he was lucky enough to stumble into position.  He was all hype from day 1 because ND had an undefeated season going so they had to have someone pushed for the Heisman.  They picked him because of his phony tear-jerker personal story.  No one in their right mind would pick him over Jones or Ogletree.  Mark it down - he is going to be a major bust in the NFL.