The 2023 NFL Combine opened its on-field drills on Thursday, starting with the defensive linemen and linebacker groups. As is tradition, one group began by running the 40-yard dash, then shifted into position drills, while another group completed agility drills and measured jumps.
While the measurable numbers from the skill drills are slowly being released, let’s take a close look at the edge rushers who stood out.
Previously: 7 defensive tackle standouts
Note: Some edge rushers that project to the SAM role (i.e James Houston), were grouped with the linebackers at the Combine and will be included in that article.
Adetomiwa Adebawore, Northwestern, 6-foot-2, 282
40-yard dash time/10-yard split: 4.49/1.64
Vertical jump: 37.5, Broad jump: 10-foot-5
A sub-4.5 40-yard dash at 282 pounds is next-level impressive.
With an updated 4.49 forty, Adetomiwa Adebawore has the highest speed score I have in my EDGE database. https://t.co/xarWnWxio8— Hayden Winks (@HaydenWinks) March 2, 2023
His jumps were equally rare.
Adetomiwa Adebawore joined elite company at his size and position, becoming just the fourth edge defender since 2003 to weigh over 275 pounds and jump at least 37" in the vertical.— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) March 2, 2023
Mario Williams (40.5" @ 295 lbs)
Rashan Gary (38" @ 277 lbs)
J.J. Watt (37" @ 290 lbs)
He’s not a traditional pass rushing bender, but he has fast feet when moving laterally, showed great balance when transitioning, and chewed up space when attacking vertically, getting upfield in a hurry. He delivers his pass rushing move without losing speed, and when his moves connect, they come with power. He also showed the ability to drop and maintain control during linebacker drills, further showing scouts his range on the field.
For Detroit, Adebawore would be viewed as a closed end that has the range to push inside to the 3-technique and apparently a sneaky ability to drop into zone coverage.
Yaya Diaby, Louisville, 6-foot-3 1/2, 263
Vertical jump: 37, Broad jump: 10-foot-0
Diaby entered the day with relatively low expectations, but he finished the day as the player who may have most improved his stock. Not only did he run fast in the 40, but he showed quick feet when moving laterally and the ability to execute drills at top speed while staying under control. As a pass rusher, he had power in his punch, spun with balance, and used proper placement with his hands. Very nice day.
Nolan Smith, Georgia, 6-foot-2 1/4, 238
Vertical jump: 41.5, Broad jump: 10-foot-8
A sub-4.4 for an edge rusher is impressive, regardless of his size, but when you combine the jumps into the equation, his day becomes even more impressive. Unfortunately, he is rehabbing from a pectoral injury and did not participate in on-field drills.
Lukas Van Ness, Iowa, 6-foot-5, 272
Vertical jump: 31, Broad jump: 9-foot-10
Van Ness looked the part of a first-round edge rusher at the Combine. He showed almost zero wasted movement in every single drill, was able to hug the edge in pass rushing drills, strung together moves, has excellent power at all times, and did not look out of place when dropping into coverage. Solid day.
Byron Young, Tennessee, 6-foot-2 1/2, 250
Vertical jump: 38.0, Broad jump: 11-foot-0
The acceleration he showed in the 40 translated onto the field in drills. His ability to keep his hips level and gain movement with his legs showed how much balance he has moving laterally and vertically. His only flaw came when asked to sting together multiple pass rush moves, but overall, it was an impressive workout.
Thomas Incoom, Central Michigan (6-foot-2, 262) has very fast feet laterally but did lose some balance when trying to up speed in pass rush drills. Rebounded his balance when asked to string pass rush moves together.
Will McDonald, Iowa State (6-foot-3 1/2, 239) has such long limbs that you would see his arm bending the corner while he was still on the other side of the bag. He didn’t run, which could account for his slow start, though he did get better as the drills wore on.
Caleb Murphy, Ferris State (6-foot-3, 254) showed great ability to execute drills with his heads up and balanced footwork. He has a lot of traits that teams may be willing to take a flyer on early on Day 3.
Tuli Tuipulotu, USC (6-foot-3, 266) checked in significantly smaller than his college size (25+ pounds under), but he showed good balance, footwork, and power in his hands.
Isaiah Foskey, Notre Dame (6-foot-5, 264) looked stiff for most of the day but when it came time to string moves together he was calm, smooth, under control, and had little wasted movement. That speaks to how he will likely be used at the next level.