After studying tape for months, team executives interviewed players and saw feats of strength and aestheticism with their own eyes at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine. With this enlightenment, expect teams’ big boards to crystallize over the next few weeks leading into free agency.
To the shock of no one, all clues point to the Green Bay Packers heavily targeting edge rushers. ESPN’s Rob Demovsky reported multiple agents expect the Packers to be aggressive in the pass rush free agent market. The Packers also sent full entourages to interview and observe the edge prospects at the Combine. With this new … rush of information, the Green Bay Packers have a better picture of the top pass rushers in the 2019 Draft.
With Nick Bosa (Ohio State) and Josh Allen (Kentucky) unlikely available, four names were commonly linked to Green Bay: Brian Burns (Florida State), Montez Sweat (Mississippi State), Jachai Polite (Florida), and Clelin Ferrell (Clemson). After stellar Combine performances, Chase Winovich (Michigan) and Anthony Nelson (Iowa) deserve to be in the early round conversion as well.
Brian Burns: Considered one of the most pro-ready edge prospects by many, Burns had one hell of a Combine. Viewed as undersized while playing at Florida State, Burns bulked up to 249 lbs without sacrificing any athleticism, posting a 7.01 3-cone and 4.53 40-yard dash. Combined with his deep repertoire of pass rush moves, Burns may find himself a top 5 pick.
Montez Sweat: A prime physical specimen, Sweat has the size and power to take the NFL by storm, however concerns involved his bend and flexibility. Consider those concerns null after dominating the physical drills at the Combine. Sweat ran the fastest 40-yard dash ever by a defensive lineman at 4.41. Coupled with a 7 second 3-cone drill, Sweat proved that big men can move. Brian Gutekunst should be sweating in anticipation that Sweat is available at 12.
Jachai Polite: The former Florida Gator was arguably the edge rusher most commonly linked to the Green Bay Packers in mock drafts thanks to Clay Matthews comparisons. After a dismal Combine he may no longer be a first-round pick at all. Polite found his team interviews impolite (including his Packers interview) and wasn’t prepared for the negativity. After appearing out of shape he also tested poorly and peaced out after a hamstring injury that many scouts called “BS”. Still, Polite will get a second chance at his pro day, and his tape provides a lot to get excited for.
Clelin Ferrell: The national champion elected not to participate in the 40 yard or jump tests and didn’t wow in the drills he did do. Ferrell’s best traits are length, power, and technique over raw athleticism and he chose to let his tape and interviews sell his worth. Burns and Sweat will get the bulk of post-Combine talk from their stellar drill scores, but don’t sleep on Ferrell. He’d be a boon to Mike Pettine’s defense.
Chase Winovich: The two time First-team All-Big Ten star entered the Combine with a reputation as a polished and relentless defender with a lack of mobility and and explosiveness. After a 4.59 40-yard dash and incredible 6.94 3-cone drill, Winovich’s draft stock is rising and should definitely be in play for Green Bay at pick 30 or 44.
Anthony Nelson: The Hawkeye defender had one of the most unexpected and explosive performances of the Combine. Before this point, Nelson was considered a solid defender with titanic size and great hands, but with tight hips and no bend. After the Combine he might be considered a son of Zeus. Coming in at 6’7” and weighing 271 lbs, Nelson ran a 4.82 40, had a 6.95 3 cone, and a mind boggling 35.5 vertical jump. Nelson absolutely tested his way onto the Packers’ radar and we know the Packers love Iowa players. Nelson is definitely in play in the first three rounds.
The 2019 NFL Draft is still over a month away, but the edge rushers in play for the Green Bay Packers have made themselves known. Free agency might change priorities and you never know how the board may fall, but its a safe bet at least one of these players will be a Green Bay Packer come April.Matt Hendershott is a Packers fan and Miller High Life enthusiast from Northwest Ohio. He has a Master of Arts in Media and Communication from Bowling Green State University. You can follow him on Twitter @MattHendershott.