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 interior defensive linemen who stood out.
Bryan Bresee, 4i/3T, Clemson, 6-foot-5 1/2, 298
40-yard dash time/10-yard split: 4.86/1.71
Bresee checked the boxes on size and speed, but he also showed well in the athletic on-field drills. Bresee showed quick feet when moving laterally, was able to stay low and flatten when bending the corner in pass rush drills, and was able to stack his pass rush moves, all while staying under control and balanced.
Overall, he did enough to stay in the Round 1 conversation, which should have been the goal for the day.
Calijah Kancey, 3/5T, Pittsburgh, 6-foot-1, 281
Pittsburgh's Calijah Kancey ran the fastest 40-yard dash by someone 280+ lbs since 2003@Pitt_FB #NFLCombine2023 pic.twitter.com/PP8PEsfnxc— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) March 2, 2023
The showstopper for Kancey was, of course, his 40/10-yard splits. Coming out of Pittsburgh and checking in at 6-foot-1, 281 pounds, Kancey is naturally getting the Aaron Donald comparison. And after his splits, those comparisons will surely continue.
Donald: 6-foot-0 3/4, 285, 4.69/1.63
Kancey: 6-foot-1, 281, 4.67/1.64
The big difference is arm length (Donald 32 5/8 vs Kancey 30 5/8) and we will have to see how many reps Kancey can do on the bench press—Donald did 35 reps.
Kancey also didn’t do any on-field drills, which could have really helped him solidify his stock.
- Keeanu Benton, Wisconsin (6-foot-4, 309) got better with every drill and by the end of the Combine, he had showcased his balance, power, and ability to change direction at top speed.
- Jerrod Clark, Coastal Carolina (6-foot-4, 334) was significantly more fluid than I expected him to be, and his ability to maintain body control at 334 pounds was very impressive.
- Zacch Pickens, South Carolina (6-foot-4, 291) looked very smooth in his lateral drills and his length showed up in pass rushing drills.
- Jaquelin Roy, LSU (6-foot-3, 305) showed smooth feet when chopping in small spaces, and managed to get his body up and down easily, but he struggled in space.
- Gervon Dexter, Florida (6-foot-5 1/2, 310) had a Combien reflective of his career at Florida, flashes of appealing traits followed but rough patches that left you wanting more.