Previewing The NFL Scouting Combine: Defensive Linemen

With the presumed switch to more of a 3-4 Defense for the Colts, the biggest change will come on the Defensive Line, where some guys just won't fit nicely into a new role. We've had some conversations on the site recently about how quick a change in defensive scheme can happen, and we needn't look much farther than last year's Texans team.

The Texans brought in Wade Phillips, and went from running the 4-3, and not doing it well, to fully running the 3-4 last season, and doing it really well. While we'll most likely see some struggles next year, I think it's better to take the lumps in 2012, even if it means playing with 'square pegs in round holes', and start the process now of getting the right players for the system.

With all that said, the key to the 3-4 Defense is a big, space-eating Nose Tackle, like Haloti Ngata of the Ravens or Vince Wilfork of the Patriots. Thankfully, the 2012 draft class has several guys that could potentially fill that role, meaning one or more of those guys could fall a bit, making them a steal for the Colts. There aren't many guarantees when it comes to the draft, but I can almost guarantee we're going to see the Colts take one of these guys in the draft.

The 3-4 Defensive End has similar responsibilities as a 4-3 Defensive Tackle, but they are a little wider on the line. Smarter people than I do a much better job describing all the differences, so I won't go into that here. I do think that the DE position is more of a secondary need for the Colts, probably more of a later round selection. You can't rule out the better guys, so we'll look at those guys too.

After the jump I'll show you the entire group of Nose Tackles and 3-4 Defensive Ends, and give you my favorites in the group.

List of Nose Tackles to watch at the Scouting Combine for the Colts:

Nose Tackles
Jr Player School Camp #
JOSH CHAPMAN ALABAMA DL07
LONI FANGUPO BRIGHAM YOUNG DL15
* DONTARI POE MEMPHIS DL41
KHEESTON RANDALL TEXAS DL43
ALAMEDA TA'AMU WASHINGTON DL52
BRANDON THOMPSON CLEMSON DL53

List of 3-4 Defensive Ends to watch at the Scouting Combine for the Colts:

Defensive Ends
Jr Player School Camp #
JAKE BEQUETTE ARKANSAS DL03
JARED CRICK NEBRASKA DL12
KENDALL REYES CONNECTICUT DL44
TRAVIAN ROBERTSON SOUTH CAROLINA DL45
BRETT ROY NEVADA DL46
DEVON STILL PENN ST DL50
J R SWEEZY NORTH CAROLINA ST DL51
BILLY WINN BOISE ST DL57
DEREK WOLFE CINCINNATI DL58

A couple of my favorites:

  • Brandon Thompson - Clemson: Had a huge Senior Bowl week and looks to be a monster anchoring a 3-4 line.
  • Dontari Poe - Memphis: I've seen this guy mocked several times to the Colts at pick #34, and looks to be the best of the bunch. There's a good chance he'll go before pick #34, but if he's still around, it'd be difficult for the Colts to pass on him.
  • Billy Winn - Boise State: If the Colts are going to have more of a hybrid defense this year, Winn would be a great addition as a guy who could play in either scheme. Projected early in the third round.

Who am I missing? The help has been greatly appreciated so far.

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