Scouting Combine – Outside Linebackers

Top Performers from the Scouting Combine

The 2010 NFL Off-Season is inching ever so closer as the NFL Scouting Combine concludes on Tuesday. The combine can be seen as the official kickoff to the NFL Off-Season. The combine comes first, which then leads into free agency (although looking to be a mild one), Pro Days, and finally the NFL Draft in April. The scouting combine can be a great area for many players to showcase their superb talents and measurables, and either rise or fall on teams draft boards. Quoted by many experts as one of the deepest drafts in history, the Falcons will be in a prime position to add immediate impact players and also stockpile talent for the future. The Birds are expected to have 8 draft picks (5 of their own and 3 compensatory picks) when the NFL Draft rolls around.

The NFL Scouting Combine is a place where some players can vault up the boards with teams and general managers in love with measurables, strength, speed, and power. But any superb GM will tell you that the combine is but only one part of the entire process. Many football players may drop some if they simply had a bad day (Jonathan Dwyer may have run slow in the combine, but is a beast on the field) and some players may overextend in the weight room, while lacking necessary skills with the pads on. If nothing else, the scouting combine helps to raise awareness among hardcore fans on who to keep an eye on for the next month and half (51 days to be exact). Here’s a few players the Falcons may have their eye on and had a good combine:

Outside Linebacker

With the news from DOL in his new combine blog that the Falcons likely won’t target defensive end with the first pick, the possibility of drafting an outside linebacker got that much bigger. The stellar rookie years of last year’s 1st round outside linebackers (Brian Cushing – Defensive Rookie of the Year, Clay Matthews Jr & Brian Orakpo making the Pro Bowl), taking a chance on an OLB first is more common than it used to be.

Sean Weatherspoon – Missouri

6’1 – 239 – 4.68 Forty Time – 34 Bench Press x225 – 40 inch Vertical Jump

One of the early fan favorites for Atlanta Falcon fans (at least here in the Bird Cage). This would seem to be a match made in heaven with Weatherspoon grading out right around the top 20 range by many draft gurus and sites, the Falcons picking 19th, and having an enormous need at outside linebacker with Mike Peterson turning 34 and fading quickly in the last year of his contract. Had an excellent combine ranking 2nd among all LB’s in the bench press (34), tying for 2nd in the vertical jump (40 inches), and running a very quick 4.68 forty yard dash. Is arguably one of the best linebacker prospects in the draft and reportedly had a very good interview with the Falcons. Measured 6’1, an inch under what many listed him as 6’2. Is slow to react sometimes and will need to work on his blitzing skills. Only racked up 4.5 sacks last year, but still one of the most popular picks.

Sergio Kindle – Texas

6’3 – 250 – 4.71 Forty Time – 25 Bench Press x225 – 36.5 Vertical Jump

Kindle is still officially listed as a defensive end and it has been reported that he will look to make the conversion to outside linebacker, but nothing has been confirmed. Has impressive size and can add even more weight on his frame. Had a good combine in terms of his 40 yard dash, but came up a little short when he was only able to bench 25 reps, compared to Sean Weatherspoon’s 34 and DT Jeff Owens 44. Kindle was also out-jumped by most linebackers. May be best suited as an OLB in a 3-4, instead of the 4-3 the Falcons run. If he were to play weakside linebacker, Kindle would seemingly have issues in coverage. Even so, Kindle is considered a pass-rushing specialist and that’s exactly what the Falcons need.

Navorro Bowman – Penn State

6’0 – 242 – No Forty Time – 26 Bench Press x225

A player that is all over the map in terms of which draft website or guru you see or hear from. Bowman is a little short for most OLB’s and had a pretty good combine in terms of bench press, but chose not to run the 40 time, which probably raises some serious doubts. Dimitroff takes high interest in drafting senior who were excellent leaders and played out there entire college career. Will probably be sliding down several boards with the emergence of Weatherspoon and Kindle.

Eric Norwood – South Carolina

6’1 – 245 – Did Not Participate in 40 Time or Bench Press

Norwood had made a case to be the 3rd best linebacker after Kindle (assuming his conversion to OLB) and Weatherspoon, but the combine wasn’t friendly to Eric Norwood in that he didn’t compete in 40 yard dash or bench press. Appears to have been passed by several prospects, at least according to several draft gurus. Daryl Washington, Navarro Bowman, and possibly others may have leapt Norwood.

Daryl Washington – TCU

6’2 – 230 – 4.66 Forty Time – 17 Bench Press x225

Washington certainly helped himself to be the next linebacker taken after Kindle and Weatherspoon, according to Mike Mayock of NFL.com. Washington had one of the better 40 times and looked good in drills. Has a frame to add more weight at the next level, but had a poor showing in terms of bench press (17) where many wide receivers had more than that. Likely not a 1st round selection, but could be jumping up charts.

Dekoda Watson – Florida State

6’1 – 240 – 4.56 Forty – 24 Bench Press x225 – 40 inch Vertical Jump

Watson likely helped himself a lot at the scouting combine. Watson was largely considered to be a mid-rounder, and still might be, but the combination of his size (240 lbs) and running the second fastest 40 time (4.56) will perk many scouts and general managers interests. Had 6.5 sacks his senior year and was one of FSU’s best defenders. Seriously struggles in coverage skills and that’s a main area the Falcons need to improve over Peterson’s skill set. Obviously not a first round OLB, but if the Falcons go elsewhere at #19, than Watson could be on the radar.

The Atlanta Falcons will surely be in the market for an outside linebacker and the early returns suggest that Dimitroff will be taking a hard look at OLB at #19 in the NFL Draft. He could definitely be sending up smoke screens, but the likelihood that at least one impact outside linebacker will be there is a good bet.

Your Turn

What’s your thoughts on the top linebackers and how they performed at the Scouting Combine? Did Weatherspoon lock himself in as the early favorite? Does Kindle have more upside than ‘Spoon? Could the Falcons look to possibly trade back, pick up draft picks, and target someone like Washington, Bowman, or Norwood?

Enjoy and Go Falcons!!!!!…………..

Come follow The Bird Cage on Twitter (D3_Falcons) for some fast-paced draft and combine talk.

Good Combine Coverage Over @ The Falcoholic

 

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229 comments Add your comment

I MUS WRITE

March 1st, 2010
10:53 pm

The Spoon all day!!!!

Eric

March 1st, 2010
10:54 pm

WR

March 1st, 2010
10:55 pm

WR

March 1st, 2010
10:56 pm

SeminoleWarrior

March 1st, 2010
11:02 pm

Strike up the band…We know where I going to go. The Sean Weatherspoon Express is in full effect. If you did not know, now you know.

One, two, three…join in with me!! Spoon…Spoon…Spoon…Spoon.

This guy wants to be a Falcon and trust me, there are a lot of us that want him too. TD and Smitty, make it happen please!!

Speedytosin

March 1st, 2010
11:03 pm

I’m starting to like spoon, but when or if we draft him, will we bump Peterson to a third down linebacker and special teamer or bump Stephen Nicholas to a third down linebacker? Pus, i wouldn’t mind drafting Graham, he can play DE and LB.

ATLJBO

March 1st, 2010
11:06 pm

I would be cool with us drafting Spoon…The guy is a good LB and he has the type of Leadership TD loves…. You cant helpbut like this guy’s personality.

SeminoleWarrior

March 1st, 2010
11:09 pm

Speedy…Pete would be a special teamer and may even push Nicholas at the SLB. But youth and speed are where we are heading at LB. Nicholas, Spoon, and Lofton with James, Adkins, and Pete for depth is ok.

WR

March 1st, 2010
11:13 pm

If nothing else, Spoon is quickly stamping his own name on the card that the Falcons should run up and hand to Goodell. I won’t go on about Spoon right now, he’s gotten alot of press in the cage and it appears much is deserved. Did anyone catch Daryl Washington, I know the Falcons need to improve the pressure on the QB, but in coverage this guy could be something serious. He was fast yes, his measurables are pretty good although the weight room should become his second home, but the way he back-pedaled was so smooth and effortless. I haven’t seen a LB drop like that in some time, I’m going to work on more research on the guy, and no I don’t see him in the 1st round, but now I’m thinking about some possible two for one value.

D3, great lead off to post combine analyst. This will come up in a later post about the DTs I know, but I hate that the word is getting out on Jeff Owens. He was a sure fire late round steal much the same as Vance Walker, but now he’s up there showing off and the chances of the Falcons getting him in say the late 4th or 5th round is limited. Willie Martinez almost did the Falcons a big time favor because Owens almost wasn’t invited, but now the word is getting out, possible man-child on the loose. @amnnnnnnnnn

WR

March 1st, 2010
11:15 pm

No way Peterson is used on third downs, he’s beyond the lost a step point, a step or three would be more accurate, but he would be a nice security blanket if something was to happen at either of the LB positions, plus he’s good at helping and coaching up younger players about the nuances of the game.

SeminoleWarrior

March 1st, 2010
11:18 pm

WR..

Washington could be the choice if we do not get Spoon. He was very smooth in pass coverage. And as we know, that is a MAJOR issue with the Falcons LB corps and intermediate defensive strategy.

I’m sorry for what appears to be a gloat but I have been on the Spoon Express for a while. I’m just glad that he has shown what some of us have known for a while. This kid is the COMPLETE package. He is a ball player and has all the makings of a DARN good ambassador for the team off the field.

SeminoleWarrior

March 1st, 2010
11:23 pm

Did not know a lot about Jeff Owens but it appears that someone is going to get a heck of a player. He did look very good.

SeminoleWarrior

March 1st, 2010
11:24 pm

WR…good point on Pete. He will be retained for depth reasons for sure.

WR

March 1st, 2010
11:30 pm

Seminole, between yourself and Unca’Bob, both of you called it on Spoon correctly. Problem is the word is getting out on him also, I can’t for some reason get high on Kindle, I actually see Spoon ahead of him, and if teams start to think the same thing it might be hard to get Spoon at 19.

WR

March 1st, 2010
11:33 pm

Kindle could be great in a 3-4, but its hard to imagine him bringing it in the type of 4-3 system the Falcons deploy. The WOLB in the Falcons system has to have good coverage skills, both Spoon and Washington have good if not great skills in this area, I just don’t see that in Kindle so far.

darrell starks

March 2nd, 2010
12:06 am

You got 2 be kidding me cromartie 2 lions wow TD YOU MUST GET THIS GUY this would be a steal.
GO FALCONS!!!!!

darrell starks

March 2nd, 2010
12:19 am

Why not trade with the chargers there 29pick for our 19pick and we get cromartie and they get C.J SPILLER PLUS OUR THIRD.
GO FALCONS!!!!!!

Nookah

March 2nd, 2010
12:37 am

Greetings Cagers!!!

D3, thanks for the new post. As you responded to my last post, I think Washington is shooting up draft boards. Yes he needs more bulk and core strength but he really really looks very smooth and he seems to fit the Smitty mould. A hybrid who can play in coverage. He was improving significantly as a senior and has very long arms, either 34″ or 35″. He has very good speed and is one to watch.

SW, I looked at the draft order and tried to figure out who before us would need a LB and the list is very long. I have to be realistic and say I am not sure “QuickSilver” Spoon will be there at #19 after his performance at the combine.

The teams I think will take a serious look are Chiefs at #5 (perhaps too high).
Raiders #8 (with Al Davis who knows?).
Miami at #12 (interstingly during the combine today, while Spoon was running his 40, NFL Network showed Tony Sparano on his BBerry, could they be seriously considering him?).
49ers, have 2 cracks at him #13 & #16 (what a thought of having Willis and Spoon together and what better coach to have him).
Giants @ #15 (got to replace Pierce) and the Titans at #17.

In my estimation we’d better start thinking about another player and that player I think we can look at is Jared Odrick, DT from Penn State. Yes DT. He had a decent combine today and is a beast with a motor!!! Is he a reach at #19? Maybe, but we need to start discussing what is seeming more like the inevitable….No Spoon. SW, I hope I’m wrong!!

Go Falcons!!!

ATLJBO

March 2nd, 2010
12:47 am

Man… Antonio Cromartie can be had for a 4th round pick….. I hope TD takes a look at him… A guy can be taught how to tackle better ,technique ,and foot work… We have a new DB coach who said he is going to work with our DB’s dealing with there technique ..

You cant teach a guy his ball skills, height/weight/speed, and athletic ability…. Its no way you get a guy like that in the 4th round.

We need a bigger CB…. He could be would guy.

darrell starks

March 2nd, 2010
1:30 am

THIS IS A BIG WHAT IF ? lets say we trade our 19# and 83# for the chargers 29# and cromartie ITS A WIN WIN FOR BOTH TEAM.

ATLANTA DRAFT SPOON AT PICK 29# PLUS WE HAVE CROMARTIE.

CHARGER DRAFT THERE MAN C. J. SPILLER AT PICK 19# PLUS THEY HAVE OUR 83# PICK.
GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!

darrell starks

March 2nd, 2010
1:46 am

And we sign DUNTA ROBINSON FREE AGENT
DUNTA , CROMARTIE, SPOON.
GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!

Sarah B

March 2nd, 2010
1:49 am

The Chargers are letting Sproles go too. Looks like they want Spiller or somebody at RB. Sproles would be a better pickup than LT.

Box

March 2nd, 2010
3:09 am

Mayock on NFL Network has slotted Spoon to ATL at 19. We could lose him if his stock goes much higher.

Ed

March 2nd, 2010
4:33 am

Great work as always D3…personally I prefer trading back into the second round and picking up two second round picks for our first. This draft is so good, and so deep we need to have two picks in the first two rounds. The second round provides a lot of value especially at the deep positions like CB.

Nookah

March 2nd, 2010
8:58 am

Greetings Cagers!!!

It’s a new day and I see some of us in the Cage are up early. Whatup Ed, Box. Sarah B I know you are always up pretty late.

How many more years does Cromartie have on his contract? What will it take to sign him? Would Dunta Robinson be a better signing and at what price? One of the things Td continues to emphasize is fiscal responsibility and I understand that thought process.

The “process” will continue to work and TD won’t make a very big splash in FAgency. I think he may grab a CB but he has to be at the “right” price.. Furthermore I think we may still have some gems in the later rounds.

Off to watch that combine today. Oh, by the way don’t get caught up with Patrick Robinson’s anticipated great combine stats. As Mike Mayock would say….”look at the tape”….

Go Falcons!!

CBrass

March 2nd, 2010
9:06 am

D3,

Great job as always. What about our Dawg Jeff pushing 225 44 times? I was hoping like some here that he would be a steal in the later rounds but that may not be the case anymore. He’s the big reason that Geno got the sacks that the did.

I had no idea that so many other teams are in need of an LB. That makes me really nervous about Spoon being there at 19. I hope the Gaints take a serious look at Spikes since he’s a pure ILB where as I hope Miami looks at Kingle since many think he’s a better fit for a 3-4.

Link below shows the top performers at the combine.

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-combine/09000d5d816af2bd/Best-value-linebackers

aDrummer

March 2nd, 2010
9:35 am

what about rennie curran from uga, not with our first pick, but…?

CBrass

March 2nd, 2010
9:45 am

blord

March 2nd, 2010
9:50 am

SHHHH! Stop talking abou Spoon….I don’t want people to know.

Nookah

March 2nd, 2010
9:50 am

Chris Cook, CB from Virginia, 6′2″; 212 lbs. Ran a 4.47 in round 1 and 4.43 in round 2. Did an 11′ broad jump. Now that’s explosiveness and size!! Rated # on NFL Draft Scout at #8 among CB’s. Any info on this guy?

Sleeper?

Perrish Cox 5′11″ 195, 4.53 and 4.57.

Brandon Ghee, 6′; 192, 4.37 and 4.39…..now that’s speed. As the cliche goes….you can’t teach that”.

.Go Falcons!!!

Unca' Bob

March 2nd, 2010
10:02 am

Coop

March 2nd, 2010
10:12 am

D# – Another great post. I like Spoon… just not at 19. I think there will be better value on the board than that. I also agree that he may move up most draft boards. If so, let him go. Don’t panic because others want to reach. I’d rather trade back (doubtful). If not, I like DT or OT in the 1st and OLB or Ghee at CB in the 3rd.

If you could get two 2nds, then DT and OLB in the 2nd (Odrick and Washington) and then Ghee in the 3rd. Then with both 4ths, go OT and OC, with your 5ths WR and TE, 6th RB, and if we find a 7th K.

Nookah

March 2nd, 2010
10:17 am

Unca’ Bob, nuff respect!!!

What do you think of him? Seems to have some injury issues but has the physical tools.

Brandon Ghee looks pretty good too. Yes Coop!!!

Coop

March 2nd, 2010
10:21 am

Nookah – You’re right brother… you can’t teach speed.

Nookah

March 2nd, 2010
10:28 am

Cagers I’m at work but I can’t resist.

Unca’ Bob, Coop, any word on Kareem Jackson, 5′ 10″, 196 lbs from Alabama? Should have had the benefit of a solid program and good opposition each week.

Give me your feedback guys.

Nookah

March 2nd, 2010
10:29 am

I hope my boss is not on this blog!!! lol

Coop

March 2nd, 2010
10:32 am

Nook – I don’t have anything on Jackson, but i do like SEC players. Especially from Alabama and Florida. I’m a Dwag till I die, but I have respect coaches that actually win championships. Your fella does look a bit small though. We already have a Grimes.

Nookah

March 2nd, 2010
10:41 am

Coop, point well taken. I am not a fan of Jackson. My best sleepers are Ghee and Cook.

Nookah

March 2nd, 2010
10:42 am

I really like Ghee’s speed and at 6′ that’s not bad.

Falcon Devil

March 2nd, 2010
10:45 am

Draft Taylor Mays and move him to OLB!!!!!!!

Nookah

March 2nd, 2010
10:46 am

Man, Eric Berry is smooth. That’s an apple the Falcons can’t have. Too far up the tree!!!

truth

March 2nd, 2010
11:01 am

Guys talking about “spoon” is weird.

CBrass

March 2nd, 2010
11:35 am

Ok it’s snowing in Athens…AGAIN!!! Seminole what the heck is up with this weather?!?!?1

JJ

March 2nd, 2010
11:37 am

From ESPN NFL rumors:

“Steelers taking Weatherspoon?
11:00
AM ETPittsburgh Steelers Top Email Lawrence Timmons became the full-time replacement for Larry Foote in 2009, after spending a season as his understudy. With James Farrior not getting any younger, it might be time for the Pittsburgh Steelers to address his replacement as well. Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the team took a good look at Missouri LB Sean Weatherspoon at the combine this past week, and Dulac notes that he seems like “a natural fit” for the Black and Gold.

Weatherspoon is ranked as the No. 33 overall prospect by Scouts, Inc. and went at No. 32 to the Saints in both Mel Kiper, Jr.’s second mock draft and Todd McShay’s version. McShay does allow that some teams have graded Weatherspoon out as a mid-first round pick, and the LB improved his stock with his showing at the combine:

Todd McShay
Weatherspoon rising

“Missouri’s Sean Weatherspoon (6-foot-1, 239) was one of the biggest winners in the linebacker class, putting up a 4.68 in the 40 and ripping off 34 reps on the bench to continue the momentum he built up at the Senior Bowl. Weatherspoon also showed good lateral agility and explosiveness in bag drills, and his overall athleticism gives him the kind of range we like in late-first round prospects.”

CBrass

March 2nd, 2010
11:41 am

I mean it just snowed in February!!! This is getting old.

Nookah

March 2nd, 2010
11:45 am

OK, JJ you can add The Steelers to my list of interested parties in “Spoon”. I guess we’ll have to find someone else that’s going to be available at 19.

CBrass

March 2nd, 2010
11:46 am

Nookah,

I was about to say the same thing. The way things are starting to look Spoon may not be around at 19.

travis

March 2nd, 2010
11:52 am

i love weatherspoon he have very confidence attitude and raw swagger about himeself he can play all three down and comparsion to another line back by the name of shawn merriman

Nookah

March 2nd, 2010
11:52 am

Joe Haden’s time 4.60 in the 40. Could he drop? Certainly not to 19. Not possible, his ball skills are too good. His 40 times will be thrown out the window.

Dawson Devitt (D3)

March 2nd, 2010
12:00 pm

Great No-Feel Tuesday Cagers! – Figured departing from the Free Agent talk would be a good idea since TD’s not likely to partake in it at all, at least for the big names. Waiting on when TD will assign tenders to our current RFA’s. We’ll do a more in-depth look at some of these players as we get closer to the draft, but this is kind of a pre-draft board of sorts.

Seminole – The Spoon Express is picking up where the Ziggy Express left off. Hopefully, we can have a different outcome. Jeff Owens is another great example of someone having his stock hurt by playing in Coach Soft Willie’s defense. The stats don’t lie (R.Jones, J.Owens, A.Allen, D.Ellerbe, R.Curran) and many others have been dis-serviced by that really awful D-Coordinator. What’s your take on Dekoda Watson?

Speedytosin – I would think that Spoon would be an automatic shoe in for the weakside LB spot in for Peterson. Peterson may start, but then eventually give up the starting spot; but his value in being able to play any LB spot and great locker-room presence is fantastic.

ATLJBO – Just the fact that he wants to be a Falcon speaks volumes. The last draft pick to speak so glowingly about the Birds was one Mr. Matt Ryan……think that worked out pretty well.

WR – Gotta disagree on Kindle and the 3-4. They said the same thing about Orakpo last year, and he made the Pro Bowl. Kindle will definitely have to work on his coverage skills, but he is a pass-rushing specialist and the Falcons would definitely benefit from him. I’m warming to your Taylor Mays idea. Ball-striker, excellent coverage(for an OLB), and would be a perfect fit. The big question is whether he wants to, not necessrily if he will. Spoon/Kindle/Mays/McClain, any of these guys will make an immediate impact and I’d be happy with any of them.

Nookah – Definitely like Washington’s upside, but he’s got some serious work to be done in the weight room. Many wide receivers (and sometimes Special Teamers) did more than 17 bench reps. I think he’s the #3 OLB behind Spoon and Kindle now. Love Chris Cook, he was raved about at the Senior Bowl and is obviously fast, but will he be there in the 3rd round is the question.

CBrass – Regardless if Spoon is there, we can get a great OLB of the future. Spoon, Kindle, Mays, or McClain will drop to us. Any would be excellent IMHO.

Joe Haden – Might be dropping some after he ran a 4.57 and 4.60 in the combine today. Many linebackers were faster than that.

Coop – Will have to agree to disagree with you on Spoon being a top 20 value pick. He’s been slotted in the top overall 20 by many draftniks, including Mike Mayock, DraftCountdown.com, and many others.

Talk to you later guys and gals, until then have a good one Cagers!