Today was the day for the defensive linemen and linebackers to show what they can do on the field in the 40-yard dash and agility drills and they did not disappoint. Typically, it was a player not hyped leading up to the week in Indianapolis that stood out in linebacker Mychal Kendricks out of the University of California.
By the time his group was finished inside Lucas Oil Stadium, heads were still shaking over the time of 4.47 seconds he ran in the 40-yard dash. That was the fastest time at his position, edging out the higher profile Zach Brown from North Carolina, who ran a 4.50, and Kendricks wasn’t finished. His 39.5-inch vertical jump and his leap of 10 feet, 7 inches in the broad jump also were tops among all linebackers and should generate the kind of buzz that surrounded the current NFL linebacker he emulates – Patrick Willis of the San Francisco 49ers.
“Willis, that’s who I look up to. I feel like I can move the same way,” Kendricks said. “Very fast, very quick, cat-like, that’s my style of play. I look at him and it’d be nice to be fraction of what he is.”
In addition to Brown, another linebacker that entered the Combine with high expectations was Boston College’s Luke Kuechly and he also delivered. Kuechly ran a 4.58 in the 40 and turned in a 38-inch vertical leap.
Even the big boys on the defensive line impressed, nobody more than Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe. The 6-foot-4, 346-pound specimen already had created a stir in Indianapolis with his Combine-best 44 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press, just five shy of the record set by Oregon’s Stephen Paea in 2010. All Poe did today was run a 4.97 in the 40-yard dash that was reported as a 4.87 unofficially and that’s faster than Ndamukong Suh, who is 40 pounds lighter, ran two years ago (5.01).
With these kinds of times being put up by the front seven players on defense, the final group to take the field tomorrow – the defensive backs – have their work cut out for them.