Written by: Adam Poedubicky

This NFL Draft, as many of you already know, is very deep, but especially deep at two positions: defensive tackle and safety. Let’s see how players fared at those positions and others in our combine wrap-up, pre NFL Draft. This is our 3rd installment of NFL Draft Previews.

NFL Combine: Best DE Performance:

Jason Pierre-Paul, South Florida. This was expected, as Pierre-Paul has the numbers to be a top defensive end in the NFL (6’4, 270, 4.69 40, and 19 reps on the bench). If he can play like he measures up, expect him to be one of the top 10 selections this April at worst in the NFL Draft.

Honorable Mention: Derrick Morgan (Georgia Tech), Everson Griffin (Southern California)

Worst DE Performance: Greg Hardy, Ole Miss. Hardy is listed on some sites as high as the #5 defensive end prospect. Being the fifth best prospect at a position and running a 4.94 40 and ten pounds overweight doesn’t cut it, unless you’re a guard or a punter. Look for him to go later in the NFL Draft.

NFL Combine: Best DT Performance:

Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska and Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma. I know, I know, it was a cop-out to choose arguably the best two players as the two best performers, but these two, with literally nothing left to prove, came out and performed. Both ran in the 5.0s, both performed on the bench, and both measured out well. Most players in their circumstances simply would have had a “strained hamstring” this week, but they brought it. Be prepared for a two-month long debate over which of the two is better, and expect both to be gone by the time the 5th selection rolls around in the NFL Draft.

Honorable Mention: LaMarr Houston (Texas), Brian Price (UCLA), Linval Joseph (Eastern Carolina), Jeff Owens (Georgia). Yes, the defensive tackles this year are very, very good.

NFL Combine: Best OLB/Tweener Performance:

Brandon Graham, Michigan. Graham ran a respectable 4.7 at 6’1, 270 pounds before tweaking a hamstring. His performance at the Senior Bowl and on a terrible Michigan defense shows that the tape matches up with the numbers. If he can perform well as a linebacker at Michigan’s Pro Day, he will be a top 20 pick in the NFL Draft.

Honorable Mention: Sergio Kindle (Texas), Sean Weatherspoon (Missouri)

NFL Combine: Best ILB Performance:

Jamar Cheney, Mississippi State. Another player put on the map by his performance in the Senior Bowl, Cheney turned in a 4.54 40, the fastest of any linebacker. He led his team in tackles in 2009 despite it being his first year as a starter. Considering linebacker is by far the weakest position in the draft, expect Cheney to move up NFL draft boards.

Honorable Mention: Pat Angerer (Iowa)

Worst ILB Performance: Brandon Spikes, Florida and Rolando McClain, Alabama. Considering these two are the most recognizable players at the weak position, it would have been nice to see either of them run this weekend. However, that was not the case. The only excuse for not running a 40 while participating in other drills is that it is a concern, so teams looking for linebacker help (looking at you, New York Giants), be careful whom you draft in the NFL Draft.

NFL Combine: Best DB Performance:

Eric Berry, Tennessee. This was close, considering Taylor Mays’ alleged 4.24 40 kept him as a first round pick. However, Berry’s overall performance locked him up as the “can’t miss” defensive back, running a 4.45, getting 19 reps on the bench, and measuring in at a solid 5’11, 215, so look forward to him taking on NFL running backs the way he took on Tim Tebow. He is a definite top 5 pick in the NFL Draft.

Honorable Mention: Taylor Mays (Southern Cal), Earl Thomas (Texas), Chris Cook (Virginia)

Worst DB Performance: Joe Haden, Florida. A 4.58 40 isn’t the time you think of when you think of top 10 defensive back, and best overall corner. When I watched Haden play for the Gators this year, I didn’t believe he was any slower than 4.45, but apparently I, and many other analysts, were wrong. His game-tape simply doesn’t matchup with a 4.58 40, so I still wouldn’t expect him to fall out of the top 10 in the NFL Draft.

The NFL Draft will be extremely interesting this year.

Watch Taylor May’s 40 Yard Dash

What did you think of the NFL combine? Who stuck out? Who surprised?