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Three Stars: Defensive Linemen, Defensive Ends and Linebackers | Combine Superstars


The city of Houston doesn't have hockey but there are enough Texans fans that follow hockey. At the end of every hockey game, there are three stars announced for that game's performance. It's like naming a Player of the Game, but three of them for each game. As such, I decided I'd grade Combine performances on the Hockey Three Stars' scale. There were buzzworthy performances on day one of the Combine. Is one (or more) going to be on his way to Houston?

Let's start with the interior defensive line.

3. DT T'Vondre Sweat, Texas - at 366 lb, the man ran a 5.27 in the 40-yard dash. Now, I don't think he should stay 366 lb in the future, but the fact remains that this large an individual ran a 5.27 is downright scary.

2. DT Byron Murphy II, Texas - The top DT on my board weighed in at just under 300 lb and ran an official 4.87 in the 40-yard dash. Then, he posted the second highest vertical in the group at 33-inches. His broad jump of 9-3 was in the top six amongst defensive tackles. It was an exclamation point statement made by DT1.

1. DT Braden Fiske, Florida State - My goodness. When I saw Fiske at the Senior Bowl up close in person, I was struck by his athletic physique. He is nearly 6-5 and 292 lb. He has very little body fat. His lower half looked like a beefy linebacker and not a 300 lb. defensive tackle. Suffice to say, he put on a show. He ran a 4.78 in the 40-yard dash, the best in the DL group. Amongst the defensive tackles, he posted the highest vertical leap 33.5-inches, the longest broad jump of 9-9 and the fastest short shuttle with a time of 4.37 seconds.

Now, let's move to the edge rushers. Wow, what a group this was.

3. DE Marshawn Kneeland, Western Michigan - Kneeland checked every box imaginable. Length? 83 ⅜ arms. Speed at 267 lb? 4.75 in the 40-yard dash. Explosiveness? 35.5-inch vertical and 9-11 broad jump. He also ran a blazing 4.18 second short shuttle, which was the best of the day at any position. I fell in love with him at the Senior Bowl and this testing was right on par, if not better, than I expected.

2. DE Jared Verse, Florida State - Verse had an incredible career at both Albany and Florida State but I wasn't totally sure how he would test at Indy. Uh, yeah, I didn't need to worry; he  crushed it. Like Kneeland, he was one of just a handful of players in this group to perform every test, including the short shuttle (4.44 seconds) and the three cone (7.31 seconds). Those were excellent times, but he also ran a 4.58 40-yard dash at 254 lb, posted a 35-inch vertical and tied for the longest broad jump at 10-7. Only one other player could surpass that performance.

1. OLB Dallas Turner, Alabama - I mean, c'mon, now. Nearly 250 lb. dudes aren't supposed to run 4.46 in the 40-yard dash but Turner did just that. He then posted the only 40+ inch vertical of the entire day with a 40.5-inch jump and then registered the longest broad jump amongst the edge rushers at 10-7. He's my number one edge prospect and that won't change, especially with those numbers.

And, finally, it's the linebackers where there was a CLEAR #1

3. LB Edgerrin Cooper, Texas A&M - At his media session on Wednesday, Cooper did say that he'd added some weight but still maintained his speed. He wasn't lying in the slightest. He ran a 4.51 in the 40 yard dash, then posted a 34.5 vertical jump and a 9-10 broad jump. Added weight? Maintained speed. That's a winner.

2. LB Edefuan Ulofoshio, Washington - I got a chance to see Ulfofoshio at the Senior Bowl in person and my goodness, that dude hasn't miss a workout. He had probably 0% body fat so I expected him to test pretty well in Indianapolis. Mission accomplished. He ran a 4.56 in the 40-yard dash at 236 lb. Then, he posted a near 40-inch vertical (39.5-inches) and a 10-8 broad jump to lead all the linebackers. Injuries delayed the Husky linebacker's entry into the NFL, but this testing will expedite that process for sure.

1. LB Payton Wilson, NC State - There may not have been a player during Thursday's testing that made as big a splash as Wilson (maybe Fiske, that's close). He started the day with a 4.43 40-yard dash, a clear Thursday best, and one of just two 4.4 efforts during testing. He then posted a 34.5-inch vertical and a 9-11 broad jump. But, even more impressive was watching how smooth and fluid he was in drills on the field. No wasted movement. Explosive in and out of his cuts. Man, he was the definitive top star at linebacker.

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