The defensive line and EDGE players are the crown jewel of this draft class. They’ll be on display today at the NFL Combine and are expected to put on a show. It’s a big day formany players’ draft stock, and it could affect the Chiefs significantly. Here are the players the AP Nerd Squad are looking forward to watching.
NFL Network coverage begins at 8 a.m. Arrowhead Time (three-hour edition airs at 3 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Arrowhead Time)
Kent - Jerry Tillery
The Notre Dame defensive lineman measured in at the Combine at 6 feet 6 and 1⁄2 inches and weighing 295 pounds. He’s long, with improved athleticism and is coming in a little slimmer than his reported playing weight. He’s currently in the top 35 players for our draft team. His testing could vault him up boards to a range that either helps the Chiefs get value at a more pressing position of need or potentially as a consolation if there simply isn’t a ton of players on the board that appeal. Tillery has tremendous length and uses it well on the interior of the defensive line. He gives great effort, has a good first step, and displays a good bull rush. There are traits to work with, but showing flexibility and a solid athletic profile will push him well into the round one conversation.
Craig - Christian Wilkins
The 6 feet 3, 315-pound Clemson monster defensive tackle is a player I’m really looking forward to seeing go through today’s drills. Wilkins isn’t a space eater; he’s a slippery, agile interior defensive lineman who impacts both facets of the game. He’s got excellent lateral quickness and is ridiculously flexible for a man of his build. His quick feet and shifty hips should help him light up agility drills. He won’t have a blazing 40 time, but he should test off the charts in everything else and cement himself as a Top 20 pick today.
Matt - Khalen Saunders
Khalen Saunders was a stand out at the senior bowl showing up as an athletic, small school player. As the week went in it became evident that he was more than up to the task of playing against the higher level of completion. Now with the combine here, Saunders is in a prime position to increase his draft stock even further with a strong workout. The videos have been viral with him doing backflips and with such explosiveness, his jumps should be top tier for interior defensive linemen.
Kent - Montez Sweat
The Mississippi State EDGE is going to be a fascinating player to track on Sunday. There are rumors that he’s going to test well tomorrow, but the tape doesn’t show an overly explosive or flexible player. I’m intrigued by the results. Athletic testing is a critical, predictive metric for edge rusher. Dense, explosive athletic profiles typically have success at the next level. Analysts consider Sweat a top-20 prospect, but he could separate himself from the likes of Brian Burns and Jachai Polite this week if he shows out.
Craig - Jalen Jelks
Jelks is the definition of a “traits” player as an EDGE defender. He’s ridiculously long, shows some speed and first step explosion, and flashes a little bit of power. However, he comes out of Oregon as a very unrefined player on the outside. He’s versatile — lining up all over the Oregon defesnive lineman — but doesn’t show the consistency or technical skill at any one position. With teams watching the tape and seeing a very raw player that needs development, Jelks’ draft stock will depend almost entirely on his athletic ability. Very few other EDGE defenders in this group will need a good performance to climb as Jelks will.
Matt - LJ Collier
I’ve gone on and on about the likes of Jachai Polite and Christian Miller so emphasizing them here seems a bit unnecessary. LJ Collier, on the other hand, is a guy that hasn’t been talked about a ton but probably should be. Collier is more of a tape player than athlete, but he has shown good explosive ability on film at times. This makes his power rushing style extremely effective, when he gets that kind of jump and is able to explode into a blocker. Collier checking in as an above average or even average athlete could be very helpful for his draft stock.
Kent - Devin White
Devin White is considered by some to be a top-five player in this class. Although we don’t come close to that opinion within our draft team, we’re all excited to see what kind of performance White will put on at the Combine. There’s no denying his athletic traits on his tape, but he’s slimmed down to 237 pounds to run at this event. This could get nutty, folks. White will likely run and hide from the rest of the linebacker group with an expectedly absurd testing day. I’m here to see it.
Craig - Blake Cashman
The WILL linebacker from Minnesota has flown under the radar so far, despite totaling 104 tackles and 15 tackles for loss in his senior year. A rangy player with good size, Cashman has an opportunity to grab some headlines with his speed and short area quickness today. A guy who routinely caught running backs in pursuit and showed good coverage on crossers against wide receivers, Cashman’s already shown flashes on tape to be a contributor at the NFL level. His faults are largely processing related — and as a very coachable player, something that can be fixed — so an event like the combine is a perfect chance to showcase and become part of a day two conversation with a great performance.
Matt - Drue Tranquill
Tranquill is the less hyped Notre Dame linebacker in this draft class but there is no mistaking his athletic ability. He should impress all week with his testing numbers, whether it be speed, strength, explosiveness or change of direction. Even more important than Tranquill’s testing numbers will be his medical checks as he has a long history of injuries in college. If he can pass medicals and test at the level he plays at, he could be a guy making a big splash in the hype department.
KC Draft Guide
We are releasing the first ever edition of the KC Draft Guide on April 8.
We’ll have over 200 prospect write-ups, specifically about how prospects fit the Chiefs. There will be big boards, more than 300 grades on players, mock drafts, positional rankings and features all specific to the Chiefs. You can pre-order the guide for only $6.99 by clicking here.
Today, we launch pre-orders for the KC Draft Guide! Hundreds of write-ups about how prospects fit the Chiefs, player quotes, features, big boards, mock drafts and more. Here's a link to a special launch price of $6.99, less than the cost of a burrito: https://t.co/Gd5Brmhp5P pic.twitter.com/XtWmogQTMe— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) February 20, 2019