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NFL Combine: Top defensive line prospects 2022

The 2022 NFL Combine will get going in Indianapolis here soon. It’s an opportunity for prospects to show what they have to offer during the pre-draft process leading up to the NFL Draft itself.

When is the NFL Combine?

It runs from March 1 through March 7. The annual event is broadcast on both ESPN and NFL Network with most of the focus being on position drills. Here’s a breakdown of coverage on NFL Network.

  • Thursday, March 3: 4 PM ET
  • Friday, March 4: 4 PM ET
  • Saturday, March 5: 4 PM ET
  • Sunday, March 6: 11 AM ET

What is the NFL Combine?

nfl combine
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It’s an annual pre-draft event that has gone from being somewhat of a niche grouping to a week-long showcase broadcast nationally on multiple networks.

Former Dallas Cowboys president and general manager Tex Schramm proposed the annual event as a way for teams to evaluate talent. Since its inception as the national invitational camp (NIC) in 1982, this thing has taken on a whole new meaning.

Among the most important aspects of the NFL Combine are the positional workouts scheduled for a four-day span during the annual event. Teams also have an opportunity to meet and interview prospects leading up to the annual NFL Draft.

Related: Ranking the top 2022 NFL Draft QBs

2022 NFL Combine workout schedule

  • Thursday, March 3rd: Quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends
  • Friday, March 4th: Running backs, offensive line and special teams
  • Satuday, March 5th: Defensive line, linebackers
  • Sunday, March 6th: Defensive backs

As is typically the case, the defensive linemen will be looked at closely at this year’s combine. In a pass-heavy league, players that excel at getting to the quarterback are at a premium. So talent evaluators will be digging deep into the details to find the next TJ Watt.

This year’s class has a couple of talents with superstar potential. Here, we check in on five defensive linemen to watch during the NFL Combine.

George Karlaftis, Purdue

nfl combine
Credit: USA TODAY NETWORK
  • George Karlaftis college stats (2021): 36 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles

George Karlaftis is a nasty, punch you in the mouth style edge rusher. He is powerful, relentless, and has a really good first step that has been a problem for Purdue opponents throughout his college career. He does lack a bit in length, and in certain aspects of his overall pass rush capabilities. Nevertheless, he has a nice set of tools to be productive at the next level.

Related: NFL combine, checking in on the QBs

Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon

nfl combine
Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux dances to “Shout” during a break in the second half against Oregon State. Eug 111427 Uofb 21
  • Kayvon Thibodeaux college stats (2021): 49 tackles, 7 sacks, 2 forced fumbles

Kayvon Thibodeaux has a body perfectly built for the edge rusher position, in today’s NFL. What makes him a devil for opposing offenses is his outstanding first step and the uncanny closing speed he has at 6-foot-5 and 258 pounds. Although he is not a powerhouse and will need to add a bit more strength, he has the base tools to be a serious pass rush threat in the NFL.

Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan

nfl combine
Credit: USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Aidan Hutchinson college stats (2021): 62 tackles, 14 sacks, 2 forced fumbles

Aidan Hutchinson is not only one of the top defensive prospects in the draft, he is arguably the jewel of the entire 2022 field. He has size — 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds — top-shelf athleticism and a serious gas tank. He proved his elite talents by winning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and All-American honors, as well as broke the Michigan single-season sack record. He is one of the safest picks in this draft class.

Related: Top 2022 NFL free agents

David Ojabo, Michigan

nfl combine
Credit: USA TODAY NETWORK
  • David Ojabo college stats (2021): 35 tackles, 11 sacks, 5 forced fumbles

David Ojabo had the bad luck of playing opposite the consensus best defensive player in college football last year. His impressive skills were overshadowed by Hutchinson in 2021, but for those that watched Michigan games in the fall, they know Ojabo is as talented as it gets when it comes to pass rushing.

Although not the physical freak of his teammate, Ojabo does have uncanny speed. The big question will be, was he an underappreciated star at Michigan, or accumulated stats and benefitted by playing opposite of Hutchinson. Talent evaluators will need to figure that out before April.

Jordan Davis, Georgia

Credit: Corey Perrine/USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Jordan Davis college stats (2021): 32 tackles, 2 sacks

Jordan Davis is a run-clogging monster. The 6-foot-6, 340-pound interior force doesn’t have stats that jump out at first glance, but those in the know realize how excellent he was at run-stopping in 2021. His talent and immense power make him an athlete that will force double teams and open up opportunities for others. Sometimes he relied on that power too much and he will need to sharpen his fundamentals so he can be a consistent threat at the NFL level.

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