This is the 2017 NFL Combine Stock Report for the linebackers. Follow me @walterfootball for updates.
Ben Boulware, LB, Clemson
Ben Boulware was an excellent player for Clemson, but he doesn't project well into the NFL. Boulware refused to run the 40 because he would be exposed, and his jumping numbers (9-3 broad, 29.5-inch vertical) were very lackluster. He also struggled in the on-field drills, looking awkward and stiff. Boulware could have a place in the NFL as a special-teams player, but that's about it.
Tyus Bowser, DE/OLB, Houston
Tyus Bowser came out of his shell at the combine and continued to breathe fire at the combine. Bowser displayed excellent athleticism in Indianapolis, hammering a 4.65 40, which was one of the fastest times for all the linebackers. His other tests were excellent (10-7 broad, 37.5 vertical, 6.75 3-cone), and he showed some terrific change-of-direction skills in the on-field drills. Bowser appears to have axed any notions that he'll be chosen after Day 2.
Blair Brown, LB, Ohio
A publication interviewed me a week prior to the combine, and I was asked to name a sleeper in the NFL Draft. I referenced Blair Brown. Well, he may not be a sleeper any longer, as Brown enjoyed a terrific combine. Brown ran a 4.65 40 with a superb 1.54 10-yard split. He also posted a 10-4 broad jump, a 37-inch vertical and a 6.92 in the 3-cone. Brown doesn't have much experience playing in college, but his 2016 tape was outstanding. Brown just confirmed his great play, so he could definitely be a second-day selection.
Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
Everyone knows the Reuben Foster story by now. Foster was sent home from the combine for getting into a heated exchange with one of the hospital workers. I still think Foster will be a top-15 pick, but if he drops, this could be the reason why.
Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State
Raekwon McMillan was seen as a very good two-down player at the very least heading into the combine, but there was some question about how well he could do in pass coverage. McMillan's performance in Indianapolis will have evaluators looking at his tape again to see if they missed something because he tested very well. McMillan ran a 4.61 with a terrific 1.55 10-yard split. He also posted a 10-1 broad jump and a 33-inch vertical, all while excelling in the drills.
Hardy Nickerson, LB, Illinois
Hardy Nickerson was a great team leader in college and the son of a former NFL player, but he didn't show well at the combine. His 40 time (4.78) was very slow, and all he could muster in the broad jump was 9-8. Nickerson is an instinctive player and has solid tape, but the athleticism is very lacking.
Jabrill Peppers, S/LB, Michigan
Jabrill Peppers posted some of the best numbers of all the linebackers at the combine. That, of course, is misleading because he's really a safety. Peppers was a good sport about being miscast as a linebacker, as he volunteered to do drills on both days. Peppers excelled in those on-field drills, and some of his testing numbers helped. He ran a 4.46 40 with a 1.53 10-yard split. He also posted a 10-8 broad jump and a 35.5-inch vertical. Peppers is a tweener, but he will likely be chosen in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft despite having quite a few skeptics.
Duke Riley, LB, LSU
Outside of Zach Cunningham, Duke Riley looked the best to me in the on-field drills. He was excellent there, and he was just as good in the testing numbers. He ran a 4.58, which was a great time, especially with a 1.54 10-yard split. He also blazed a 6.89 3-cone to go along with a 10-2 broad jump and a 34.5-inch vertical. By the way, I didn't list Cunningham as a stock-up player because his numbers were kind of average. He made up for it in the drills, so he wasn't going to get a stock-down arrow either.
T.J. Watt, DE/OLB, Wisconsin
T.J. Watt was considered to be on the cusp of the first round entering the combine, and based on what he did in Indianapolis, he may have gotten there. Like his older brother, Watt posted some amazing numbers. He ran a 4.69, which was a nice time considering he's 6-4, 252. Watt had the second-fastest 3-cone time (6.79) among linebackers, and his jumps (10-8 broad, 37-inch vertical) were excellent.