The NFL Scouting Combine is here, and NFL Network will be covering the workouts, which begin at 2 p.m. on Thursday, with defensive linemen and linebackers. Here is more information is how to watch through the weekend.
After months of watching college football players on the field, the same players’ performances will be contextualized with measurements and testing data from drills at the NFL Scouting Combine this weekend.
The Kansas City Chiefs have already been busy this week, scheduling meetings with a handful of prospects along the defensive front. The team has set up official meetings with Wisconsin defensive tackle Keeanu Benton and Auburn edge defender Derick Hall.
Informal meetings with the team were mentioned by Kansas edge rusher Lonnie Phelps Jr., Notre Dame edge defender Isaiah Foskey and Washington State outside linebacker Daiyan Henley.
With a need for both edge and interior defensive linemen, it makes sense that Kansas City would heavily target those groups. I wanted to point out a few names from the edge defenders at the combine that could fit in Kansas City. I started with two more that said they had informal conversations with the team:
1. Felix Anudike-Uzomah
On Wednesday, Kansas State defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah revealed to reporters that he has had an informal interview with the Chiefs. He added that being drafted by the Chiefs “would be a dream come true.”
For many Chiefs fans, it would also be a dream come true — not just for the Wildcat fans. Anudike-Uzomah flourished in his three seasons in Manhattan, transforming from a 220-pound, ball-of-clay recruit to a 260-pound starting defender that racked up 26.5 tackles for loss and 20 sacks in 25 career games. He also forced eight fumbles during his career.
He isn’t the most physically overwhelming player, but he has good enough size to take advantage of his technical hand work and pass-rush IQ. He plays with good leverage, making him stout as a run defender and a handful on any pass rush.
There’s every reason to believe his best football is ahead of him — but he’ll still need to show a worthwhile foundation of athleticism at this weekend’s combine to be a highly-regarded prospect.
2. Nolan Smith
Georgia outside linebacker Nolan Smith also informally talked with the Chiefs, praising head coach Andy Reid during his time with reporters on Wednesday.
Georgia EDGE Nolan Smith said he shared his admiration for Andy Reid/Mike Tomlin during interviews with them. “What (Reid) did on offense at Philly, what he’s doing with the Chiefs now. He’s affected the game. Those people have affected our game. You just have to tell them that.” pic.twitter.com/Nwu9K9NXbg
— Jesse Newell (@jessenewell) March 1, 2023
Smith could have been a top pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, coming off a true-junior season where he rushed off the edge for Georgia’s national-championship team and earned 4.5 sacks, eight tackles for loss, and three forced fumbles. Instead, he returned to school — racking up three sacks and seven tackles for loss before a pectoral ended his senior season prematurely.
Smith played from a stand-up alignment at Georgia, using elite athleticism to make a positive impact as a run defender, pass rusher, and in coverage. He is not the typical size of a Chiefs defensive end, but the shorter stature rarely showed up as a liability on the field in college.
It will still be essential for Smith to hit a certain benchmark in height and weight; if not, he may not even be on the Chiefs’ board.
3. Keion White
While the first two names were well known among the draft community throughout the 2022 season, Georgia Tech defensive lineman Keion White was not. After a standout performance at the Senior Bowl, he has become a possible selection on Day 1; NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah ranked him as the 15th-best overall prospect in the class.
White is a versatile lineman; he has the body of an interior player, one that could at least hold up in the B-gap — but then moves like a true edge defender. The body type comes with power; he uses it to always give offensive linemen all they can handle. He can get off the ball with urgency and beat blockers to gaps.
While the question of his true position can’t be answered on the field in Indianapolis, he can vault himself even further up boards by impressively jumping and running at an estimated 6 feet and 4,280 pounds. A lackluster showing could keep him in Kansas City’s range.
4. Mike Morris
The least-known name of this group was also the most accomplished in the 2022 season. Michigan edge rusher Mike Morris earned second-team All-American honors last year by putting up 12 tackles for loss and eight sacks in 12 games.
He unexpectedly had an impressive senior season after only one season of playing time. Morris’ superior size and length were constantly a problem for opposing offensive tackles; he combined that with an impressive motor and movement skills to be an all-encompassing force on Michigan’s front.
Morris’ tape shows a strong, smart rusher that has a pass-rush plan — but one that still needs further development to reach his full potential. The Chiefs would love to mold the ball of clay that already stands at a listed 6 feet 6 and 292 pounds; his performance this weekend may dictate how high in the draft they would need to take that gamble.