NFL Draft Odds – Top Defensive Draft Prospects – Three-Cone Drill

COLLEGE PARK, MD - NOVEMBER 02: Kwity Paye #19 of the Michigan Wolverines in action on defense during a game against the Maryland Terrapins at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium on November 2, 2019 in College Park, Maryland. Michigan defeated Maryland 38-7. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The NFL Combine’s three-cone drill — also known as the L-drill — can be more important for the bigger guys than the smaller guys. That might be surprising to some fans. NFL scouts want to see how quickly an athlete can change direction while also accelerating, exhibiting body control. 

Athletes want to show they have a burst of speed and change directions quickly within a small space — something that comes in very handy, especially when you’re talking about the rush or edge position on defense. 

Defensive ends and outside linebackers — who are referred to at the NFL Combine as edge players — want to show off in this drill, and a good showing can lead to an elevation in draft status. Of course, NFL Draft betting odds could also improve with a good showing in this drill.

Cones are placed five yards apart in the shape of the letter L. An athlete blasts to the first cone, then comes back and touches the starting point. Then he blasts to the second cone, loops around the third cone, then comes all the way back. It is measured in seconds. It’s nothing like the 40-yard dash, and times tend to be in the six or seven-second range for the better runners.

Think of it as chasing a slippery quarterback who has some serious moves and has angry linemen standing in the way. Showing explosive ability is important, but the quickness factor and ability to change direction are even bigger attributes than raw speed and power.

The comparison numbers you’ll see below are from on-campus pro days since the NFL Combine in Indianapolis had to be canceled due to COVID-19. The travel logistics were deemed too challenging to try to hold the event in one place.

Other key pre-draft measurable drills are the 40-yard dash, bench press, broad jump, and vertical jump. Prospective draftees sometimes train as much as three months for these simple events, and an improvement can mean millions of more dollars on draft day.

We used pro-day data from the site DraftScout.com, the data scouts use to establish a base for their evaluations. You never know how much this will affect the NFL Draft odds this year, but the scouts consider it.

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The Vertical Jump  – By Defensive Position

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - JANUARY 11: Christian Barmore #58 of the Alabama Crimson Tide pressures Justin Fields #1 of the Ohio State Buckeyes during the College Football Playoff National Championship football game at Hard Rock Stadium on January 11, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. The Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes 52-24. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

Defensive Linemen

Three-cone technique — Also known as the L-drill, the three-cone technique measures change of direction while at a high rate of speed.

TOP COMBINE PERFORMANCE SINCE 1999 (number of seconds)

6.76 — Mike Reilly, DE, William & Mary (undrafted in 2015)

6.78 — Trent Murphy, DE, Stanford (2nd round pick in 2014)

6.80 — James Cowser, DE, Southern Utah (undrafted in 2016)

6.85 — (top DT) Chris Hovan, DT, Boston College (1st round pick in 2000)

TOP PRO DAY PERFORMANCES BY POS. – 2021 (number of seconds)

6.90 — Jayson Oweh, DE, Penn State (projected 1st round)

6.96 — Milton Williams, DT, Louisiana Tech (projected 2nd to 3rd round)

6.97 — Rashad Weaver, DE, Pittsburgh (projected 4th to 5th round)


TOP DL PROSPECTS (by BetMGM odds)

Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan

ODDS OF FIRST DL PICKED: -225

PRO DAY 3-CONE (seconds): did not run (personal choice)

DRAFTSCOUT PROJ: 1st round (No. 15 overall)

Jaelan Phillips, DE, Miami (Fla.)

ODDS OF FIRST DL PICKED: +225

PRO DAY 3-CONE (seconds): 7.13 (tied for 12th best for DLs)

DRAFTSCOUT PROJ: 2nd round (No. 42 overall)

Greg Rousseau, DE, Miami (Fla.)

ODDS OF FIRST DL PICKED: +900

PRO DAY 3-CONE (seconds): 7.50 (25th best for DLs)

DRAFTSCOUT PROJ: 1st round (No. 24 overall)

Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama

ODDS OF FIRST DL PICKED: +900

PRO DAY 3-CONE (seconds): 7.81 (3rd best for DLs)

DRAFTSCOUT PROJ: 1st round (No. 22 overall)


Linebackers

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - AUGUST 31: Azeez Ojulari #13 of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrates after a sack against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Vanderbilt Stadium on August 31, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

Three-cone technique — Also known as the L-drill, the three-cone technique measures change of direction while at a high rate of speed.

TOP COMBINE PERFORMANCE SINCE 1999 (number of seconds)

6.56 — Ben Taylor, ILB, Virginia Tech (4th round pick in 2002)

6.64 — Tyler Starr, OLB, South Dakota (7th round pick in 2014)

6.66 — Buster Davis, ILB, Florida State (3rd round pick in 2007)

TOP PRO DAY PERFORMANCES BY POS. – 2021 (number of seconds)

6.67 — Nick Niemann, OLB, Iowa (projected 6th rounder)

6.78 — Baron Browning, ILB, Ohio State (projected 2nd or 3rd rounder)

6.87 — Garret Wallow, OLB, Texas Christian (projected 4th rounder)


TOP LB PROSPECTS (by BetMGM odds)

Micah Parsons, OLB, Penn State

ODDS OF FIRST LB PICKED: -450

PRO DAY 3-CONE (seconds): 6.96 (tied for 7th best for LBs)

DRAFTSCOUT PROJ: 1st round (No. 8 overall)

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, OLB, Notre Dame

ODDS OF FIRST LB PICKED: +650

PRO DAY 3-CONE (seconds): did not run (personal choice)

DRAFTSCOUT PROJ: 1st round (No. 17 overall)

Azeez Ojulari, OLB, Georgia

ODDS OF FIRST LB PICKED: +900

PRO DAY 3-CONE (seconds): 7.27 (16th best for LBs)

DRAFTSCOUT PROJ: 1st round (No. 20 overall)

Jamin Davis, ILB, Kentucky

ODDS OF FIRST LB PICKED: +1100

PRO DAY 3-CONE (seconds): did not run (personal choice)

DRAFTSCOUT PROJ: 1st round (No. 27 overall)


MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - JANUARY 11: Patrick Surtain II #2 of the Alabama Crimson Tide warms up before the College Football Playoff National Championship football game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Hard Rock Stadium on January 11, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. The Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes 52-24. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

Defensive Backs

Three-cone technique — Also known as the L-drill, the three-cone technique measures change of direction while at a high rate of speed.

TOP COMBINE PERFORMANCE SINCE 1999 (number of seconds)

6.34 — Sedrick Curry, CB, Texas A&M (undrafted in 2000)

6.44 — Buster Skrine, CB, Chattanooga (5th round pick in 2011)

6.47 — Daniel Sorensen, SS, BYU (undrafted in 2014)

TOP PRO DAY PERFORMANCES BY POS. – 2021 (number of seconds)

6.63 — Benjamin St-Juste, CB, Minnesota (projected 5th or 6th round)

6.69 — Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford (projected 4th round)

6.70 — Shaun Crawford, FS, Notre Dame (projected 7th round to HPFA)


TOP DB PROSPECTS (by BetMGM odds)

Trevon Moehrig, FS, Texas Christian

ODDS OF FIRST SAFETY PICKED: -400

PRO DAY 3-CONE (seconds): did not run (personal choice – injury)

DRAFTSCOUT PROJ: 2nd round (No. 41 overall)

Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

ODDS OF FIRST CB PICKED: -300

PRO DAY 3-CONE (seconds): did not run (personal choice)

DRAFTSCOUT PROJ: 1st round (No. 6 overall)

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

ODDS OF FIRST CB PICKED: +225

PRO DAY 3-CONE (seconds): did not run (personal choice)

DRAFTSCOUT PROJ: 1st round (No. 14 overall)

Jevon Holland, FS, Oregon

ODDS OF FIRST SAFETY PICKED: +350

PRO DAY 3-CONE (seconds): did not run (personal choice)

DRAFTSCOUT PROJ: 2nd round (No. 43 overall)

Richie Grant, FS, Central Florida

ODDS OF FIRST SAFETY PICKED: +550

PRO DAY 3-CONE (seconds): 6.78 (5th best for DBs)

DRAFTSCOUT PROJ: 2nd to 3rd round (No. 67 overall)


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Brian McLaughlin is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of BMac and Herd’s FCS Podcast. He has covered the national recruiting scene in football and basketball for The Sporting News, headed up the PARADE Magazine High School All-America selections, and handled FCS college football for HERO Sports. Follow BMac on Twitter @BrianMacWriter.

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