The measurements and 40 times are about to start rolling in from Indianapolis.
Workouts at the NFL scouting combine officially begin Thursday, with defensive linemen and linebackers taking the field for drills and testing. While this setting might seem like one that doesn't lend itself to a showcase for players at these positions, there have been several breakout performers from the front seven in recent years, including Georgia's Jordan Davis and Travon Walker last year and Clemson's Isaiah Simmons in 2020.
Who will create the biggest buzz this year?
Check back throughout Thursday for live updates on players' measurements, testing and performances during drills:
Top 40-yard dash times for linebackers
These 40-yard dash times for the linebackersare now official, led by Auburn's Owen Pappoe's updated mark of 4.39.
1. Owen Pappoe, Auburn: 4.39
2. Trenton Simpson, Clemson: 4.43
3. Yasir Abdullah, Louisville: 4.47
4 (tie). DJ Johnson, Oregon: 4.49
4 (tie). Dorian Williams, Tulane: 4.49
4 (tie). Dee Winters, TCU: 4.49
7. Charlie Thomas, Georgia Tech: 4.52
8 (tie). Anfernee Orji, Vanderbilt: 4.53
8 (tie). Jeremy Banks, Tennessee: 4.53
8 (tie). Shaka Heyward, Duke: 4.53
Owen Pappoe sets himself apart in 40-yard dash
We highlighted Auburn linebacker Owen Pappoe earlier as a potential sleeper, and he just backed up that billing.
Pappoe ran an unofficial 4.46-second 40-yard dash, the best among all linebackers.
Pappoe also notched a 35 1/2-inch vertical leap (fifth among linebackers) and a 10-6 broad jump (fourth).
Top 40-yard dash times for edge rushers
These times are now official, and topped by Nolan Smith's updated mark of 4.39 - the second-fastest time of any edge rusher or defensive lineman since
Nolan Smith, Georgia: 4.39
Byron Young, Tennessee: 4.43
Robert Beal Jr., Georgia: 4.48
Adetomiwa Adebawore, Northwestern: 4.49
YaYa Diaby, Louisville: 4.51
Isaiah Foskey, Notre Dame: 4.58
Lukas Van Ness, Iowa: 4.58
Nick Hampton, Appalachian State: 4.58
Isaiah Land, Florida A&M: 4.62
KJ Henry, Clemson: 4.63
Tavius Robinson, Mississippi: 4.66
Thomas Incoom, Central Michigan: 4.66
Ikenna Enechukwu, Rice: 4.70
Jose Ramirez, Eastern Michigan: 4.73
Isaiah McGuire, Missouri: 4.76
Habakkuk Baldonado, Pitt: 4.78
Colby Wooden, Auburn: 4.79
Caleb Murphy, Ferris State: 4.81
Brenton Cox Jr., Florida: 4.85
Mike Morris, Michigan: 4.95
Tyler Lacy, Oklahoma State: 5.11
Nolan Smith's incredible day continues
There probably won't be many people talking about Nolan Smith's 238-pound build after Thursday.
Instead, all of the buzz will likely be on the other numbers from his workout - but especially his unofficial 4.44-second 40-yard dash time, tops among all edge rushers.
After posting a 41 1/2-inch vertical and 10-8 broad jump, Smith is making a strong bid to be the fourth edge rusher off the board after Will Anderson Jr., Tyree Wilson and Myles Murphy. Is a spot in the top 20 within reach?
And Smith apparently wasn't even satisfied with his 40.
Adetomiwa Adebawore runs blazing 40-yard dash
The first 40-yard dash of the edge rushers set an incredibly high bar.
Northwestern's Adetomiwa Adebawore clocked an unofficial 4.54-second 40-yard dash, a remarkable number for a player who could have worked out among the interior defensive linemen at 6-2, 282 pounds.
Adebawore was expected to post great measurables, and he's off to an outstanding start with a 37 1/2-inch vertical leap (third among all edge rushers) and 10-5 broad jump (tied for fifth).
Early eye-popping numbers from edge rushers
As the edge rushers prepare to run the 40-yard dash, it's worth pointing out some notable measurements from a couple marquee players.
Georgia outside linebacker Nolan Smith, whom we spotlighted earlier, recorded a 41 1/2-inch vertical. That would have been the second-highest mark of any player at last year's combine, trailing only Seattle Seahawks cornerback Tariq Woolen at 42 inches. He added a 10-8 broad jump to further underscore his explosiveness.
Iowa State's Will McDonald, by the way, recorded an 11-0 broad jump - tying Tennessee's Byron Young for the best mark among edge rushers -and 36-inch vertical. Not bad for a player who, according to Peter Schrager, was battling a fever of nearly 104 degrees earlier this week.
Jalen Redmond stands out
Though he had to settle as a runner-up toCalijah Kancey in the 40, Oklahoma's Jalen Redmond isn't taking a backseat to many others in testing.
Redmond posted the best vertical leap (34 1/2 inches) and broad jump (9-8) of his position group, highlighting his explosiveness.
In what doesn't look like a particularly deep year for defensive tackles, he might be worth keeping an eye on as a later-round prospect.
Top 40-yard dash times
The official marks are in, and Calijah Kancey is the 40-yard dash kind among defensive tackles with a blistering 4.67-second mark, the fastest of any interior defensive lineman since 2003. Here's the full rundown:
Calijah Kancey, Pitt:4.67
Jalen Redmond, Oklahoma: 4.81
Dante Stills, West Virginia: 4.85
Bryan Bresee, Clemson: 4.86
Gervon Dexter, Florida: 4.88
Zacch Pickens, South Carolina: 4.89
Moro Ojomo, Texas: 5.04
Keeanu Benton, Wisconsin: 5.08
Cameron Young, Mississippi State: 5.10
Nesta Jade Silvera, Arizona State: 5.16
Keondre Coburn, Texas: 5.22
Jerrod Clark, Coastal Carolina: 5.25
DJ Dale, Alabama: 5.26
Siaki Ika, Baylor: 5.39
PJ Mustipher, Penn State: 5.41
Calijah Kancey burns up the 40-yard dash (relatively speaking)
The combine verified what was already evident: Calijah Kancey moves differently from his peers.
The Pitt defensive tackle proved it during his first 40-yard dash attempt with an unofficial4.78-second mark, which he then bestedwith a second run of 4.73. The only other player to crack the 5-second mark in the early going was Clemson's Bryan Bresee, a projected first-round pick, at 4.93 seconds. A few others cleared the mark later, though, in Oklahoma's Jalen Redmond (4.85), West Virginia's Dante Stills (4.92) and South Carolina's Zacch Pickens (4.96).
Perhaps even more impressive for Kancey: his 10-yard split of 1.64 seconds on his first run.
Nolan Smith's measurements
Another possible late first-rounder to keep an eye on today isNolan Smith.
The Georgia edge rusher measured in at 6-2 and 238 pounds and 32 5/8-inch arms. That frame certainly makes Smith an outlier at a position that typically favors rangier and stouter players. Of course, there have been some other notable undersized standouts - Haason Reddick tied for second in the NFL in sacks last season with 16 despite being listed at 6-1 and 240 pounds, while the Patriots' Josh Uche - who notched 11 1/2 sacks last year -measured in at 6-1 and 245 pounds at the combine in 2020.
Smith is already somewhat of an anomaly, as he's a stout run defender despite his size but still has much to prove as a pass rusher given his limited role at Georgia.
Calijah Kancey weighs in
One of the more notable early measurements is in.
Pitt defensive tackle Calijah Kancey tipped the scales at 6-1, 281 pounds.
Kancey's height was actually up from his 6-0 measurement at Pitt - a combine rarity, to be sure. At 281 pounds, he would unquestionably be one of the NFL's lightest defensive tackles. But that figure might not be prohibitive to some teams looking to jumpstart their interior pass rush.
His arm length of 30 5/8 inches, however, could be an additional concern given the limitations he might face in grappling with blockers. For comparison, Aaron Donald - to whom Kancey is often likened - measured in at 6-1 and 285 pounds with 32 5/8-inch arm length.
Sleepers to watch
Lots of people know the biggest names - Will Anderson Jr., Tyree Wilson, Myles Murphy and Co. - working out on Monday. But here are some lesser-known figures to keep an eye on during workouts:
Nick Hampton, OLB, Appalachian State: Despite standing just 6-2 and 235 pounds, Hampton has serious juice as a pass rusher, with 18 sacks in the last two seasons. As a 3-4 outside linebacker, he can challenge blockers with his burst off the edge, imposing reach and wide variety of moves.
Zacch Pickens, DT, South Carolina:The 6-4, 300-pounder certainly stands out from the other big bodies in the middle, as he has the burst to penetrate and create disruption up front. But his functional strength is underwhelming.
Owen Pappoe, LB, Auburn: Taking on blockers will never be his strength, but the 6-1, 225-pounder covers a ton of ground and can match up with running backs and other targets in coverage. For a team that can utilize a playmaker in space, Pappoe should have significant appeal.
Army product Andre Carter II's time to shine?
One of the more intriguing stories in this year's draft is Andre Carter II.
Thefuture U.S. Army field artillery officer has the chance to be the rare service academy draft selection. He is poised to be just the second U.S. Military Academy player selected in the common-draft era (since 1967) and should hear his name called the earliest of any Army product since Glenn Davis was taken second by the Detroit Lions in 1947.
Carter hasn't been able to have the same focus on football-specific training like many of his peers, so there's additional intriguing upside for a 6-6, 252-pounder who notched15½ sacks in 2021 (but just3½ last year).
"That's something that I'm really looking forward to, getting with an NFL team and really getting in the weight room and not having to lose weight every summer for summer trainings and stuff like that," Carter said. "So I'm really looking forward to seeing my potential in the weight room and seeing how much muscle I can put on."
Read more about Carter's journey in Nate Davis' story about the pass rusher.
Jalen Carter back in Indianapolis but not in action
After turning himself in Wednesday on an arrest warrant, Jalen Carter is back at the NFL scouting combine to complete his interviews with teams.
Carter had already decided in the days leading up to the combine not to participate in testing and on-field drills.
Here's the latest from USA TODAY Sports on what we know about Carter and his connection with a January car accident that killed one University of Georgia football player and a recruiting staffer.
OPINION:Jalen Carter's arrest warrant leaves rampant questions – including for NFL teams
Whowill be Thursday's NFLcombine stars?
The action will get underway shortly, but let's look at a few players who could be Thursday's biggest standouts.
Lukas Van Ness, Iowa: Not hard to figure out that the guy nicknamed "Hercules" is probably going to make waves at this event. At a chiseled 6-5 and 275 pounds, Van Ness has excellent initial burst and should post one of the better 40 times among defensive ends. There's still work for him to do in refining his rush, but this is the kind of event built to showcase his best traits.
Zach Harrison, Ohio State: The former five-star recruit didn't enjoy the career many expected of him with the Buckeyes, but his athleticism is still evident. At 6-6 and 272 pounds, he boasts a massive frame and should be a top-notch tester.
Mazi Smith, Michigan: Don't write off the 6-3, 337-pounder as just another lane-clogger in the middle. Smith's explosiveness should be on display in Indianapolis in the broad jump and vertical leap, as he is a contender to post one of the best marks among interior defensive linemen.
Keion White, Georgia Tech: A former tight end who transferred from Old Dominion, White hasn't lost his explosiveness even as he bulked up to 280 pounds on his 6-5 frame.
Mock draft update: Which DL, LB are ticketed for the first round?
Let's do a quick draft stock update ahead of today's drills, courtesy of our latest NFL mock draft.
This class of defensive ends has three likely top-10 picks: Alabama's Will Anderson, Texas Tech's Tyree Wilson and Clemson's Myles Murphy. Anderson currently is slotted at No. 1 to the Chicago Bears in our latest mock draft, though somewhere in the 2-4 range might be more likely given the expected jockeying for quarterbacks at the top of the order. Wilson is projected No. 5 to the Seattle Seahawks, while Murphy is ticketed for the Atlanta Falcons at No. 5.
There then looks to be a steep drop-off at defensive end, with Iowa's Lukas Van Ness landing at No. 29 to the New Orleans Saints and LSU's BJ Ojulari the only other players make the first-round cut. But there are several other players on the cusp who could get a serious boost with strong showings in Indianapolis.
Jalen Carter, projected No. 3 to the Arizona Cardinals, is the top defensive tackle, followed by Clemson's Bryan Bresee (No. 18 to Detroit Lions) and Pitt's Calijah Kancey (No. 30 to Philadelphia Eagles).
Georgia's Nolan Smith is the only linebacker currently projected for the first round (and he's essentially an edge rusher). Arkansas' Drew Sanders and Clemson's Trenton Simpson are among the off-ball linebackers who will look to boost their stock into Day 1.
– Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz