Defensive Winners and Losers at the NFL Combine

Montez Sweat

The defensive players have completed their testing at the NFL Combine. Here are the 2019 NFL Combine winners and losers from the defensive side.

Defensive Line

Winner: Trysten Hill, DT, UCF

Trysten Hill ran a decent 40-yard dash at 5.05 seconds. He added that to his 28 reps on the bench press and a 35” vertical jump, both of which were among the top ten for defensive linemen. Hill looked fluid during the on-field drills, setting himself apart from the other guys participating in Indianapolis. He earned himself a ton of money after a strong performance among a deep defensive line class.

Loser: Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson

An injury ended Dexter Lawrence’s workout early. After running the first 40-yard dash, Lawrence came up injured and did not participate in the rest of the drills. This is a huge blow to Lawrence’s stock. He is considered by most to be a fringe first-round prospect, but missing out on drills will not do him any favors. Lawrence was suspended at the end of his 2018 season at Clemson due to a failed drug test. Now a limited display in Indianapolis is just adding fuel to the fire.

Defensive End

Winner: Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State

The winner was originally going to be Brian Burns or Rashan Gary. Then Montez Sweat happened. Sweat ran a blazing 4.41 second 40, by far the best at the position. Oh yeah, and he’s 6’6” and 260 pounds. The 2019 edge class is phenomenal, but Sweat appears to have placed his name near the top of the list. He jumped 36” on the vertical jump and 125” in the broad jump. The athleticism and production are there for Sweat.

Loser: Jachai Polite, DE, Florida

Quite opposite of Sweat, Jachai Polite did not stand out among the edge talent. He ran one of the slowest 40-yard dashes of any edge (4.84 seconds) and a low vertical jump (32”). Polite opted not to participate in the bench press. That alone makes for a rough Combine, but it gets worse. Along with poor testing, it appears that Polite failed the interview process. He was asked at his press conference to elaborate on his team interviews, and he claimed that a few teams only asked about his “bad plays” and never mentioned any of his good traits. By publicly sharing his interview questions, Polite could only hurt his draft stock.


Winner: Drue Tranquill, LB, Notre Dame

Drue Tranquill tested through the roof at the Combine. He finished in the top ten in the 40 (t-7th), bench press (1st), vertical jump (t-5th), broad jump (t-9th), and three cone drill (6th). With questions concerning his size and athleticism, Tranquill proved that he had the work ethic to belong in the NFL. He may not be a starting linebacker right now, but he will thrive as a special teamer early on. His performance at the combine will push him up boards.

Loser: Te’Von Coney, LB, Notre Dame

Not all Irish are built the same. This is simple, though. Te’Von Coney did not participate in any of the tests at the combine, but did participate in the on-field drills and interviews. As a player that is far from a highly touted prospect, Coney’s lack of participation comes down to two things: either he wasn’t healthy enough to compete, or he knew his numbers wouldn’t stack up to the other guys at his position.


Winner: David Long, CB, Michigan

The cornerback group struggled for the most part in Indianapolis. However, David Long improved his stock tremendously. Although he came in relatively short compared to the rest of the class, he dominated the drills. Long ran a solid 40 (4.46 seconds) and looked very polished in the on-field drills. He flipped his hips in the press-bail drills and tracked the ball well down the field. With the rest of the class struggling, Long looks to have jumped into the day two mix.

Loser: Julian Love, CB, Notre Dame

With a chance to stand out amidst a poor day from corners, Julian Love failed to do so. He ran a sub-optimal 40 at just 4.54 seconds, placing him near the bottom at the position. He showed good footwork in on-field drills, but he failed to finish plays. Love consistently dropped passes, displaying his lack of ball skills. In a league that cherishes ball-hawking defensive backs, Love needs to show that he can force turnovers.


Winner: Juan Thornhill, S, Virginia

When scouts talk about guys taking advantage of the opportunity, Juan Thornhill is the perfect example. Thornhill dominated all of the tests, nearly breaking the Combine record for the vertical jump. He finished in the top five among all safeties in the 40 (5th), bench press (2nd), vertical jump (1st), and broad jump (1st). With Deionte Thompson and Nasir Adderly not participating in tests, Thornhill was able to steal the show. His Combine performance will give his draft stock a very sizable boost.

Loser: D’Cota Dixon, S, Wisconsin

D’Cota Dixon had a decent workout for a linebacker, but unfortunately, he is listed as a safety. He ran a slow 40 and failed to display athleticism in the rest of his tests. However, he had a favorable bench press. It would seem that Dixon will convert to a linebacker in the NFL or at least play as a box-safety that can play downhill against the run. The safety class looked strong in Indianapolis, which doesn’t bode well for Dixon.

You can find the offensive winners and losers here.

Main photo:
Embed from Getty Images