NFL Combine DT and LB Drills Recap: Risers and Fallers


On the first day of drills and testing at 2023 NFL Scouting Combine, defensive linemen and linebackers showcased their athleticism. While some prospects opted out of certain tests, others amazed scouts with their speed, agility, and explosiveness. The results either boosted or damaged their draft stock. Here are a few names that scouts are talking about, both positively and negatively.

Three Risers:

1. Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh – A Record-Breaking Display

Kancey, a 6-foot defensive tackle, measured 6-1, 281 in Indianapolis. Although his arm length was shorter than expected, his 4.67 40-time was the fastest for a defensive tackle since 2003. Kancey’s short-area quickness and ability to swim past defenders off the snap impressed scouts.

2. Nolan Smith, DE, Georgia – Injuries Didn’t Hold Him Back

Smith missed his final season with the Bulldogs due to a pec injury. However, he made up for it with a blazing 4.39 40, a 41.5-inch vertical, and a 10-foot-8 broad jump. While Smith didn’t participate in field drills, his performance was impressive.

3. Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa – Surprising Athleticism

Campbell’s athleticism surprised many during the combine. Despite not being regarded as a great athlete, he jumped 37 1/2 inches in the vertical and 10-7 in the broad jump while posting a 1.59-second 10-yard split. Campbell’s fluidity and quickness impressed scouts.

Three Fallers:

1. Mike Morris, DE, Michigan – Unimpressive Results

Morris, a first-team All-Big Ten selection, ran a 4.95-second 40-yard dash at 275 pounds, and his 28.5-inch vertical and 9-foot-2 broad jump didn’t impress either. Morris struggled during field drills, and his tight hips made it challenging for him to change directions.

2. Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas – Opted Out of Testing

Sanders is known for his athleticism, but he chose not to participate in any testing on Day 1. Although he moved quickly in position drills, his lean build and average arm length did not excite teams.

3. Andre Carter II, Edge Defender – Poor Performance

Carter’s production dropped in 2022, and his performance at the combine did not help. Although he measured over 6-foot-6, his arm length was not elite, and his jump figures were poor for an edge defender. Carter didn’t run the 40-yard dash and must excel during his pro day to be considered a Day 2 prospect.

Overall, Day 1 of the NFL Scouting Combine had some remarkable performances and some disappointing ones. Some prospects solidified their draft stock, while others will have to rely on their pro day to impress scouts. As the event progresses, scouts will continue to evaluate prospects’ skills, and some players may surprise or disappoint. These performances can make or break a player’s future, and it’s essential to perform well during this critical evaluation process.

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Featured Image Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports