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Defensive Line and Linebacker Podiums and Scouting Combine Recap


That's a term most commonly associated with the he quarterback position, but his counterpart on the other side does the same thing -- the linebacker.

This year's class of linebackers is chocked full of intelligent processors who prioritize communication and serve as the on-field conduit for the coaching staff.

Georgia's Nakobe Dean and Utah's Devin Lloyd are near-locks to hear their name called on night one. Both are leaders, three-down thumpers with a penchant for making big plays. Cincinnati's Darrian Beavers comes equipped with big-strike ability and Wyoming's Chad Muma's exceptional coverage skills pair with their football I.Q. to give this year's 'backer class a little bit of everything.

I asked all four what they believe to be the key to communication and serving in the role as signal-caller of the defense.

Nakobe Dean: "You have to gain respect of guys and trust your guys. You've got to know yourself and know your personnel. You can't treat everybody the same way as far as getting on them. I have to come in and earn my respect. I don't think I'm going to show up and be looked at like a leader. I've got to go in and earn that."

Devin Lloyd: "Being confident, being vocal. Being confident in yourself but also confident in how you're speaking to others. Really, just going out and speaking with authority so everybody can be on the same page. Then, also speaking with energy as well. When you're in the huddle and things might not being going well, you have to speak as if things are going well and bring the team together."

Chad Muma: "Someone that is confident in the defense that they're running, having someone you can trust in that position. Being that green dot type of player you have to know what everyone on the field is doing so then you can communicate it."

Darrian Beavers briefly touched on the signal-caller role, but he explained further that his job at Cincinnati was more about being versatile across multiple jobs.

Darrian Beavers: "Speed and physicality are the same (in terms of importance). That's why I decided to drop weight (knowing it's such a passing league). You still need to be physical because there are really good running backs in this league."

Of course, linebackers need the defensive line up front to create chances for them to read their keys and hit their gaps. Yesterday, we talked about Daniel Jeremiah's top 50 big board featured 10 offensive linemen. The only position with more -- the defensive line, checking in with 14 (eight edge, six interior).

We start with local product Nik Bonitto, who played at St. Thomas Aquinas, which featured Jason Taylor and Sam Madison as coaches.

"J.T. was my position coach so just learning the little things from him, he's such a great defensive mind," said Bonitto. "I learned so much from him and being able to play multiple positions in that defense helped me going into college."

Bonitto on Madison: "He's going to bring a lot of energy every day to practice. Real fun guy, one of the best coaches I've ever been around."

From our own backyard to overseas with Penn State's Arnold Ebikete, who was born in Cameroon. Ebikete blew up the Senior Bowl in the one-on-one pass rush drills after a breakout grad transfer season with the Nittany Lions (9.5 sacks and 18 tackles for loss). Friday, he told us how he arrived at that production.

"I have a lot of different moves that I like to use. My go-to is definitely the speed rush," said Ebikete. "Von Miller is one of the greatest to do it when it comes to the speed and bending through the corner. One thing I've worked on adding to my game is the spin, which I got from him as well."

Houston's Logan Hall came off the board to Miami at 29 in Jeremiah's first mock draft of the season. Friday, Hall spoke about his versatility.

"I can play end and three-tech," said Hall. "If a team wants me to get to 300 (pounds), I'll get to 300. If they want me at 270, I'll do that as well. It's really about their needs."

Oklahoma's Perrion Winfrey played all across the Sooners' defensive line, one of the draft's more-confident men.

"In the most-humble way possible I feel like I'm one of the best defensive linemen in this draft," Winfrey said. "I say that because I know that I can dominate any man in front of me and I know that I'm one of the smartest defensive linemen in this draft. I can play a multitude of positions and do a multitude of things for that allows me to do that for them."

These players, and many more, will be on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday starting at 4 PM ET for their 2022 Scouting Combine workouts.