Defensive front seven take center stage at Scouting Combine

While Sunday was probably the day at the Scouting Combine that received the most attention from the casual NFL fan - mainly due to having the "offensive skill position" players work out - I was most looking forward to Monday. Why? The Dolphins need help in their defensive front seven (inside linebacker, outside linebacker, and nose tackle to be specific) and Monday was the day that these guys hit the field in Indianapolis.

There's obviously lots to talk about as any number of guys could be on Miami's radar. So let's touch on at least some of this.

I do plan on posting some of the official results in the coming days once the combine comes to a complete close. But for now, let's talk about some of the players who helped or hurt their draft stock on Monday - and what it might mean for the Dolphins on draft day.

Helped

Sergio Kindle, OLB - Kindle measured in at just a shade under 6'3 and a solid 250 pounds and then ran an official 4.71 in the 40. And while he didn't look spectacular in his positional drills, I think he showed enough to prove he can become a 3-4 OLB. More importantly, he said he'd prefer to play in a 3-4 rather than being a 4-3 DE at the next level. He looked as athletic as advertised but had footwork issues - which keeps his combine at "solid" rather than "outstanding." It'll be interesting to see how he performs at his Pro Day.

Jerry Hughes, OLB - Here's my guy, folks. I've had a good feeling about for a while and I loved what I saw from the former TCU star on Monday. He might be lacking just a little in the height category (6'1 3/4"). But he measured in at 255 pounds and then ran an explosive 4.69 in the 40. His most impressive performances, though, came during the drills when he looked light on his feet and powerful. I was particularly impressed with how sharp he looked in the coverage drills. His combination of strength and athleticism would make him a hell of a pick if he's still on the board for the Dolphins in round two. I really, really like this kid.

Ricky Sapp, OLB - Scouts are raving about Sapp's performance in Indy on Monday. And his 4.7 40 at 6'4, 252 is only part of the reason. He looked like a natural 3-4 OLB during his positional drills - great footwork, fluid hips, light on his feet. He's another guy that would be a steal if he was still on the board in round two.

Brandon Graham, OLB - I'm starting to come around on him despite his lack of ideal size. And yes, I know I sound like a hypocrite for criticizing Graham for his size while I raved about Hughes despite his size. But Graham's athleticism and strength have slowly gotten me to change my opinion. He ran a 4.72 40 after putting up 225 pounds 31 times on the bench press. It's just too bad he tweaked a hamstring and didn't take part in his positional drills. Hopefully he's ready for Michigan's Pro Day because I'm now anxious to see how he does.

Cam Thomas, NT - The 6'4, 330 pound nose tackle put up 31 reps on the bench press and looked very quick for a big guy during his work. He also reportedly interviewed very well and is just an all-around good guy who seems like he wants to be a NT in the NFL. He's got to be on Miami's radar at this point.

Dan Williams, NT - Williams is seeing his stock continue to rise and it wouldn't be a shock, at this point, to project Williams as a top 15 pick. The 6'2, 327 pound Williams displayed a nice combination of size, strength, and quickness - all of the key elements to be a dominant nose tackle in the NFL.

Linval Joseph, NT - This kid from East Carolina is suddenly somebody to watch. He tipped the scales at 328 pounds, put up 39 reps in the bench press (the third most of anyone at the combine) and then ran a 5.1 40. No, 40s mean nothing for potential nose tackles - but does show the kind of shape Joseph is in. He also looked quick on his feet - a must for anyone player hoping to cut it at nose.

Hurt

Brandon Spikes, ILB - Spikes chose not to run the 40 - and it was probably a good idea. He looked terribly slow during his positional drills. I'm talking slower than Channing Crowder and Akin Ayodele if they had elephants on their backs. Scouts are wondering if he'd even break a 4.9 in the 40. He's destined to become a two down linebacker in the NFL. The Dolphins have enough of those kinds of players.

Terrence Cody, NT - The combine started out well for the big man from Alabama, weighing in at 354 pounds - 20 pounds under his Senior Bowl weigh-in. But he still looked unathletic and, more importantly, fatigued early on. You can't draft a potential nose tackle in South Florida who is known for wearing down quickly. There's no way Cody ends up in Miami.

Micah Johnson, ILB - Here's a guy I did like a lot heading into the combine. But like Spikes, Johnson looks destined to be nothing more than a two-down run-stopping linebacker. The Dolphins have plenty of those. He ran an unofficial 4.99 in the 40.

Rolando McClain, ILB - McClain didn't participate in anything in Indianapolis due to a sudden "hamstring injury." Scouts are believed to be doubting this claim and are knocking him down draft boards because of this. You better believe his Pro Day will be one of the most closely watched events of the scouting season. A lot of teams could use linebacker help and Rolando was supposed to be the best - by far. Now it's looking like the gap is closing. I still like him, but he needs to show us something or else his stock could nose dive.

George Selvie, OLB - It's easy to see why his South Florida teammate is getting all the love now. Just two years removed from an outstanding season, Selvie is seeing his stock drop like a rock. Scouts questioned his athleticism heading into the combine and their fears were justified. He ran a 4.89 and didn't look quick at all during drills. He's now a third day draft pick - stunning compared to where he once was rated.

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