Colts NFL Combine preview: defensive ends


JACKSONVILLE, FL – DECEMBER 30: Montez Sweat #9 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs reacts after a tackle for loss against the Louisville Cardinals during the TaxSlayer Bowl at EverBank Field on December 30, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida. The Bulldogs won 31-27. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – NFL prospects report to the Combine, or underwear Olympics as it’s sometimes called, this week. Franchises will get the chance to interview players, many of whom teams will be speaking with for the first time. Medical checks are always crucial as well. Last year we saw potential first-round pick Maurice Hurst fall to the fifth round after a medical check brought to light his heart condition. For others, medical checks will be an opportunity to show teams they have recovered from a previous injury and are ready to contribute.

The real fun starts March 1 when workouts officially begin. That Friday we’ll see running backs, offensive linemen and special teamers, positions the Colts solidified through last year’s draft. Saturday we’ll watch quarterbacks, tight ends and wide receivers. Defensive linemen and linebackers will run drills on Sunday, followed by defensive backs on Monday.

While game tape accounts for the majority of a prospect’s evaluation, the Combine is a chance for players to distinguish themselves from the pack. Getting official measurements and times can help teams separate guys who are closely ranked. Though the Combine is far from an end-all-be-all, it will certainly have an impact on most players’ draft stock.

With three draft picks in the first two rounds, and four in the first 90 selections, the Colts have an opportunity to add several more starters to their young nucleus. General manager Chris Ballard’s first two picks last year (Quinton Nelson & Darius Leonard) were elected First-Team All-Pro as rookies. The next Colts star will likely be in Lucas Oil Stadium this weekend.

Colts Draft Picks

First Round – 26th Overall

Second Round – 34th Overall (From Jets)

Second Round – 59th Overall

Third Round – 90th Overall

Fourth Round – 123rd Overall

Fourth Round – 135th Overall (Compensatory)

Fifth Round- 154th Overall

Sixth Round – 187th Overall

Seventh Round – 218th Overall

Ballard has made it clear that finding a dominant edge-rusher is his top priority this offseason. Only 11.5 of Indy’s 38 sacks came from defensive ends last season. Jabaal Sheard’s 5.5 sacks led the defensive end group, but the veteran turns 30 in May and is entering the final year of his contract. Last year’s second-round picks Kemoko Turay and Tyquan Lewis showed promise as rookies but have a lot of progress to make before they can be counted on as starters. Even if the Colts sign a pass rusher through free agency, adding young talent through the draft will remain a must. Here’s a glimpse at the top defensive end prospects who might be available for Indianapolis.

Montez Sweat – Senior – Mississippi State

Listed Height: 6’6” – Listed Weight: 252 lbs

Sweat is an explosive athlete with great length and a non-stop motor. He dominated at the Senior Bowl and could elevate his stock even further with an impressive performance at the Combine.

Brian Burns – Junior – Florida State

Listed Height: 6’5” – Listed Weight: 235 lbs

A long, thin edge-rusher with elite burst and bend, Burns comes equipped with a variety of pass rushing moves. He had 23 sacks in 33 college games but must add weight and strength.

Charles Omenihu – Senior – Texas

Listed Height: 6’6” – Listed Weight: 275 lbs

Omenihu has ideal size and length. His hand-usage improved this season, and his sack total rose as a result. The buzz around Omenihu will grow once his athleticism is on display at the Combine.

Zach Allen – Senior – Boston College

Listed Height: 6’4” – Listed Weight: 280 lbs

Allen is a hard-nosed football player who wins with instincts, effort, grit, size and strength. He displays solid athleticism for his size, but an impressive Combine performance could send his stock soaring.

Chase Winovich – RS Senior – Michigan

Listed Height: 6’3” – Listed Weight: 255 lbs

A polished prospect who plays every down with maximum effort, Winovich’ isn’t an athlete who can bend around the edge. How he tests at the Combine will help teams determine his ceiling.

Oshane Ximines – Senior – Old Dominion

Listed Height: 6’3” – Listed Weight: 241 lbs

Ximines was highly productive playing in Conference USA but lacks elite physical traits. He’ll need to show out at the Combine to convince teams his skillset is transferable to the pros.

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