INDIANAPOLIS -- Georgia's national title run was fueled by a defense that has eight representatives at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine. Six of those eight took the field on Saturday, with three members of that group putting up some of the night's best performances.
This year's front-seven defenders make up one of the deeper, most impressive groups in the class. There are several intriguing edge rushers, inside linebackers looking forward to long NFL careers and some massive, athletic interior linemen.
While most of the combine participants' performances went as expected, the following players either shined in the spotlight or were unable to emerge like they needed to on the big stage.
There are several talented SEC linebackers in his draft class, and I gave strong consideration to including Alabama's Christian Harris in this space. But Harris' status as a top-50 prospect was well-established coming into the event, while Clark really helped himself with a nice overall effort. He measured 6-foot-2 1/2 and weighed 239 pounds and was solid in his tests (4.57 40-yard dash, 36 1/2-inch vertical, 10-foot-7 broad jump). One of the nation's leading tacklers in 2021, Clark executed each drill without an issue, consistently playing under control and in balance. He proved quick enough to cover ground in space and was reliable converting interceptions at the end of each rep. Clark showed everything a team could want from a leader in the middle of the defense.
Davis wowed with a 4.78-second 40-yard dash, 32-inch vertical and 10-foot-3 broad jump at 341 pounds, amazing results for a player his size. He did not disappoint during drills, either, as he showed quick hands and excellent bend turning the corner for a guy likely to line up between the tackles. Davis' lateral agility was exceptional, and even his ability to backpedal and transition forward was much better than that of the other interior linemen. Going through the drills did not seem to wear him down, either, which is another good sign that his conditioning is NFL-caliber. The performance should go a long way toward proving he's not just a two-down player.
The combine was an excellent opportunity for Walker to show skills he did not get to show during his college career. At Georgia, he played inside while a slew of talented edge rushers got after the quarterback. During on-field drills, however, Walker took advantage of the chance to prove he could have handled that duty, posting a 4.51-second 40-yard dash, a 35 1/2-inch vertical, a 10-foot-3 broad jump and an elite 6.89-second three-cone drill. He displayed good flexibility for a player his size (6-foot-5, 272 pounds), turning the corner and running around hoops in drills to show his bend. Walker also displayed powerful punches and swipes at pads during his workout, portending a bright future as a pass rusher at the next level.
Wyatt played in Davis' shadow at Georgia, and his teammate grabbed the headlines once again on Saturday with his prodigious size and athleticism. Wyatt deserves his own kudos, though, after showing off exceptional agility and heavy hands at 6-foot-3 and 304 pounds. Wyatt's 4.77 40-yard dash is one the fastest times among combine defensive tackles since 2003. His low center of gravity and natural bend helped him change directions quickly, whether he was moving around hoops or spinning off tackling dummies in drills. Even with average length (32 5/8-inch arms), Wyatt could fit in any defensive scheme.
"JJ" Enagbare was a strong player for the Gamecocks the past few seasons, powering his way through tackles with a physical demeanor, but his combine performance could keep him out of the top two rounds of the draft. Enagbare had a below average 40 time (4.87) for a 258-pound edge player and displayed just average movement ability during position workouts. He looked fine dropping into coverage and getting off the ball, but lost his balance trying to turn the corner and was stiff trying to change directions. His power did appear when hitting bags, though, which teams expected.
Leal's stock had already dropped some due to his uneven play during the 2021 season, and his combine performance did not reverse that trend. His 5.0 40-yard dash was not exceptional for a 283-pound lineman. On the field, his tight hips and lack of explosion caused him to look ordinary compared with Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt. At times, he showed glimpses of bend and power, so you can see some potential as a five-technique at the next level. But it seems clear he'll have to wait until the middle rounds to hear his named called.
Lloyd's stellar play the last two seasons has teams excited about his NFL future. However, his workout did not match the outstanding athleticism usually possessed by linebackers taken in the top half of the first round. His 35-inch vertical and 10-foot-6 broad jump were fine, and he had a respectable 25 reps on the bench press. But Lloyd’s 4.66 40 time was not exceptional and neither was his work during on-field drills. His lateral movement and stop-start ability were only average, as were his hands in coverage work. Will the workout cause a significant drop in Lloyd's stock? Unlikely. But with other defenders excelling this week, his performance might make it difficult for teams to justify drafting him with a top-12 selection.