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2022 Combine notebook | All about the fronts


The NFL Scouting Combine trudges on in Indianapolis, and today the defensive line and linebackers addressed the media while the offensive linemen conducted on-field workouts. Here's a look at some of the highlights from the day.

-- There was a packed crowd surrounding Michigan edge rusher Aiden Hutchinson's podium. That kind of attention tracks for the Ted Hendricks Award winner, considering that he's projected by some analysts to be the No. 1 pick. It's not a certainty, though, which is why he plans on participating in every drill except the bench press. He also said his favorite player is Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end T.J. Watt, which again makes sense. Hutchinson has a long way before he's on the same level as the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, but the two do share some disruptive traits.

-- One of the reasons why Hutchinson isn't a universal No. 1 pick is because Oregon's Keyvon Thibodeaux is also in this draft class. His potential alone might be enough to tempt the Jacksonville Jaguars or another team in the top 10 to snag him. He impressed people with his answers earlier today and went on a lengthy discussion comparing life and football to chess. He talked about how his speed movie sets up his power and counter moves when rushing the passer. That intelligence combined with his tools could make him a valuable piece for a defense.

-- Many were impressed with how the receivers performed in the 40-yard dash with eight players recording sub-4.4 times. The offensive linemen, meanwhile, were posting sub-5.4 times. Those times aren't as important for them, but their 10-yard split times are good indicators of their explosiveness. Here are some of the top times from the first group of offensive linemen, which included multiple first-round prospects: N.C. State's Ikem Ekwonu had ran a 1.76 while recording a 4.97; Kenyon Green ran a 1.81, while Bowie, Maryland, native Zion Johnson recorded 1.80.

-- Speaking of Green, the Texas A&M guard performed well in the wave drill, which primarily tests a player's change of direction and footwork. Green had a quick reaction time to each command while maintaining his quick feet. Green has started to move up some mock drafts with some projecting him to be selected by the Commanders with the 11th overall pick. Considering how solid Washington's offensive line was last year, a move like that would fortify the group even more.

-- There are always some fun stories that come out of the Combine, and this year was no exception. Nebraska offensive lineman Cam Jurgens had an interesting way of standing out to scouts: he gave out free samples of his own beef jerky (it's called "Beef Jurgy Jerky"). Meanwhile Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean snuck into teammate Channing Tindall's media availability and asked if they and Quay Walker were best friends. Tindall's answer: yes.

-- Georgia defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt was all smiles during his media availability, but he wanted people to know that will change once he gets on the field. "Once you get on that field you can't be the nice guy. You can't be smiling. You can have fun with it, but it definitely gets serious with me." Wyatt's stats last year don't pop off the page, but he's got some impressive intangibles and was a shot putter in high school. We'll see if he can put up some impressive numbers during his workout tomorrow.

-- Utah's Devin Lloyd is considered by most to be the best linebacker available in this year's draft class. He had 111 tackles in 2021, which was enough to rank third in the Pac-12, and his 22 tackles for a loss tied the second-most in a season in program history. When asked what contributed to his ability to make splash plays, he credited his instincts, physicality and football I.Q. He specifically said he's someone who's "really smart and nasty."

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