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NFL Combine results: 7 standouts from the interior defensive line group

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By: Erik Schlitt

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Taking a closer look at the interior defensive linemen that performed well at the 2024 NFL Combine.

The interior defensive linemen kicked off the televised coverage of the 2024 NFL Combine, and as anticipated, the prospects projected to be the top of this class put on some very impressive performances.

Of the eight prospects that seem the most likely to be selected in the top 100 picks, two of them didn’t participate—Jer’Zhan Newton (Illinois) and Michael Hall (Ohio State)—one had a tough day, and the other five showed very well. But there was one defensive tackle that stood out with a sensational day.

Braden Fiske, Florida State (6-foot-4, 292)

A clean sweep of first-place finishes in the speed and explosion drills, Fiske ran the fastest 40-yard dash, registered the highest vertical jump, as well as the longest broad jump. The agility scores were not made available by the NFL at the time this article was published, but you can see from the data available how impressive of an athletic performance he had.

Update: The agility numbers are out and they’re sensational.

But Fiske’s day went well beyond the measurables. In the on-field drills, he showed elite balance, fast feet, balance through his hips, and power in his hands. He looked prepared and executed every drill at an above-average level, with a few very impressive showings.

This is about as well as you can run this drill:

The draft projections for Fiske ranged from No. 45 by NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah, to No. 90 by The Athletic’s Dane Brugler. With all the boxes checked after this performance, I’m aligning my rankings closer to Jeremiah’s.

Byron Murphy, Texas (6-foot-0 12, 297 pounds)

Billed as the top defensive tackle in this year’s class, Murphy didn’t disappoint with his day. He looked fluid in drills and loaded up his hands with more power than I anticipated. I’m not necessarily moving him up my draft board, but he confirmed what I was hoping to see with regard to his athleticism.

T’Vondre Sweat, Texas (6-foot-4 12, 366 pounds)

Sweat didn’t weigh in at the Senior Bowl, which raised some eyebrows for a player most assume plays heavier than his listed size. But in Indianapolis, Sweat checked in at 366 pounds, right at his listed weight, and the weight looked comfortable. For a man his size, Sweat has impressive movement skills and those were on display in the drills. He helped his case by hitting weight and performing as expected, which should keep his stock stable, as opposed to falling.

Kris Jenkins, Michigan (6-foot-3, 299 pounds)

Jenkins got better as the day progressed and by the time the prospects arrived at the hoop drill, he executed it about as perfect as I’ve seen.

He kept his speed while showing fantastic dip, bend, and delicate touch, illustrating he was in full control of a drill many struggle with.

Ruke Orhorhoro, Clemson (6-foot-4, 294)

Orhorhoro was not on my pre-combine watchlist—when debating between him and Fabien Lovett, I ended up going with the run-stuffing nose tackle—but he performed very well at the Combine, making me consider that I probably made an error in that decision. He looked very smooth in the turns and his long arms slapped with power in the bag drills. He showed more body control than I saw on film, and it was enough to make me want to go back and watch some more to see if his athleticism shows through in games I haven’t seen.

Stock down: Brandon Dorlus, Oregon (6-foot-3, 283 pounds)

Dorlus performed well as a defensive tackle in testing, but at his weight, I’m not sold he can stick inside on a regular basis. If you kick him outside, his testing is less than impressive compared to the edge rushers, and I’m not exactly where to put his tweener measurables. On top of the measurables, I was also less than impressed with his on-field drills, where he showed more hesitation and delays than I expected, and certainly more than what you would want from an interior player at his weight.

Stock up: Mekhi Wingo, LSU (6-foot-0, 284 pounds)

Wingo isn’t as highly rated as Dorlus by draft analysts, but his ability to maximize his athleticism is a terrific example of how you can find success in the NFL. For most teams, Wingo will be a Day 3 pass-rusher-only option, but he has the fluidity and balance to make that work.

Originally posted on Pride Of Detroit