Combine Notes: Day 6

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Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

It was a tremendous day at the combine, as the defensive front-seven players took the field at Lucas Oil Stadium and put on a show. While there were several outstanding performances, there were also a few red flags. Here’s the latest.

Combine Prospects

- Josh Sweat of Florida State has built a lot of momentum for himself off his terrific combine workout. Despite the fact that he was a great athlete entering college, several teams were surprised by his performance today. His numbers included 4.53 in the 40, 39.5 inches in the vertical jump, 10-foot-4 in the broad jump and a short shuttle of 4.28. I’m told Sweat is expected to participate in extensive coverage drills during Florida State's pro day on March 20, which could solidify him as a top-60 pick. The teams presently the most interested in Sweat include the New York Jets, Carolina Panthers, San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys

- As we previewed the past week, Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch knocked it out of the park. While he wasn’t the fastest in the 40, his 4.65 mark was better than scouts expected and was a tremendous mark for the 256-pound linebacker. His 39.5-inch vertical jump ranked second among linebackers, while his 10-foot-4 broad was a top-four mark. His 6.88 three-cone and 4.15 short shuttle were top-five marks. Vander Esch was one of just four linebackers who ran the long shuttle, and his time of 11.57 was just .05 behind that of Josey Jewell, who clocked the fastest time. I mentioned that Vander Esch would not get past the Pittsburgh Steelers, who own the 28th selection, and I’m now hearing that Vander Esch could be drafted by the Green Bay Packers with the 14th pick. The Philadelphia Eagles would love to add Vander Esch with the last pick of the first round but have come to the conclusion he won’t be available.

- Lorenzo Carter and Roquan Smith of Georgia both had terrific combine workouts. Carter, who I’ve always believed was a first-round talent, ran under 4.5 in the 40, bested everyone in his group with a broad jump of 10-foot-10 and posted a vertical jump of 39.5 inches. Roquan Smith ran 4.51 and will do the rest of the drills at his pro day. I have been informed both players were red-flagged medically by a number of teams due to past injury history. While I don’t expect the medical evaluations to be a drag on the draft stocks of Carter and Smith, it is something likely to be part of the debate on draft day when each player is being considered.

- Bilal Nichols of Delaware quietly had a terrific combine workout, timing 4.95 in the 40 with a 10-yard split of 1.74. The 306-pound defensive tackle tweaked his hamstring during his 40 and was unable to complete the workout. Look for Nichols to be ready by his pro day on March 20. I’m told the New York Jets and Detroit Lions have shown a lot of interest in the small-school defender.