Defensive Lineman Impress in Today's Workouts
Defensive linemen impress at NFL combine
4 DEs could be in play when the Bears select 19th
By Dan Pompei, Chicago Tribune reporter 10:31 p.m. CST, February 27, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS — If the Bears are interested in using their first-round draft pick on a defensive lineman, Monday's NFL combine workouts confirmed they will have some outstanding athletes to choose from.
Four defensive ends could be in play in the late teens, where the Bears are picking: Southern California's Nick Perry (4.64-second 40-yard dash), Illinois' Whitney Mercilus (4.68), South Carolina's Melvin Ingram (4.79) and Alabama's Courtney Upshaw, who did not run.
North Carolina's Quinton Coples, who ran a 4.78 at 284 pounds, is the highest-ranked end and probably will be gone before the Bears choose.
One front-office man said the workouts showed as many as six defensive ends have first-round ability. The other is Clemson's Andre Branch.
Perry's workout may have been the most impressive because he also had 35 repetitions on the bench press and a vertical jump of 38.5 inches.
Mercilus, whose 16 sacks last season were 6.5 more than Perry's total, wasn't far behind in terms of impressing NFL teams. One NFC personnel director commented on how athletic Mercilus looked in positional drills. "He is a very good athlete who clearly has all the tools," he said.
Perry, Mercilus and Ingram all showed initial quickness, which is critical for pass rushers.
Two defensive tackles also left NFL teams buzzing.
Memphis nose tackle Dontari Poe moved like a cat at 346 pounds, running the 40 in 4.98 and bench pressing 225 pounds 44 times, best among the 2012 class.
Mississippi State's Fletcher Cox looks like the best pass rushing defensive tackle and will appeal to two-gap teams like the Bears. He ran a 4.79 at 298 pounds and could be the first DT taken.
As many as seven defensive tackles could be first-round picks, as LSU's Michael Brockers, Penn State's Devon Still, Michigan State's Jerel Worthy, Connecticut's Kendall Reyes and Clemson's Brandon Thompson also are in the mix.
Still and Brockers had been considered the top DTs, but neither had a great workout.
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