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Posted Mar 5, 2017

First-round pass-rushing talent on display in Indy.

Highlights from today’s NFL Network coverage of on-field workouts for linebackers and defensive linemen at the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis:

EVERYBODY WANTS SOME: There was no reason to debate which teams arrived at the Combine looking for pass-rushing help.

“You don’t even need to put ‘needs’ up there,” NFL Network host Rich Eisen maintained. “Everybody needs somebody who can rush the passer, everybody. You can’t have enough of those guys. You can’t cycle enough of them in and keep those guys fresh all game long.

“Certainly, when you’ve got a Super Bowl winner (New England) that damn near ran 100 plays to win, so many snaps. Clemson won the national championship almost running 100 plays on Alabama. I know those are the outliers, but that’s where this game is going.”

Added NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock: “It’s a pass-first league and how do you affect the pass game? It’s both inside pressure and it’s outside pressure. That’s more important than the cover guys, it really is.

“It’s really important in the NFL to continually rotate through. If you have two defensive tackles, you want three or four playing to keep them fresh so they can all hunt quarterbacks.”

HELP ON THE WAY: This year’s Combine had plenty of potential pass-rushing help on display, either from defensive linemen, defensive ends projected as linebackers or linebackers.

“When you look at my edge rushers, I’ve got eight guys with potential first-round grades,” Mayock said.

Mayock considers Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett, Alabama’s Tim Williams, Tennessee’s Derek Barnett, Stanford’s Solomon Thomas and UCLA’s Takkarist McKinley to be “first-round locks.”

Mayock also views Michigan’s Taco Charlton, Wisconsin’s T.J. Watt and Missouri’s Charles Harris as worthy of first-round consideration.

RISING STAR: Mayock raved about the offseason Temple’s Haason Reddick is having and about how much it’s improved Reddick’s draft standing.

“At Temple he was a hand-in-the dirt defensive end but he’s probably going to be an off-the-ball linebacker,” Mayock explained. “At the Senior Bowl he blew people away with his coverage skills.”

Reddick was measured at 6-foot-11/2 and 237 pounds, posted a broad jump of 11’1 and was clocked at 4.52 and 4.53, unofficially, in the 40-yard dash.

“That’s Clowney-esque,” Eisen said, referencing Jadeveon Clowney's 4.53 in 2014.

“He’s probably helped himself as far as the process, a really good career at Temple but everybody’s, ‘Aw, he can’t stand up, he’s probably going to be a fourth- or fifth-round pick,’” Mayock continued regarding Reddick. “He’s now in the conversation as a late first-round pick, early second-round pick.

“Remember last year, Deion Jones, from LSU, ended up playing for Atlanta, helping change the face of that Atlanta defense? That’s what the face looks like of today’s NFL off-the-ball linebacker, running 4.5, that’s Deion Jones. (Reddick) is about 15 pounds heavier than Deion was and he’s running similar times. This is today’s NFL linebacker right here. That’s the answer to all those tight ends that ran fast (Saturday), this guy.”

Added NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah on Reddick: “He’s going to go in the first round. It’s hard to find guys like this that can play inside. At the Senior Bowl his ability to see things and sort through things was impressive for having not done it. You have to cover a guy like (Mississippi tight end Evan) Engram who ran 4.42 and all those fast tight ends, you have to have athletic inside linebackers and that’s exactly what Reddick is.”

Engram was one of 10 tight ends who ran sub-4.7 40s on Saturday.

“In conjunction with the way the tight ends ran (Saturday), the reaction defensively is getting smaller and faster and that has to happen,” Mayock said. “So when you’re a linebacker you have to be running 4.7 or better because you’re covering tight ends that are.”

One more observation on Reddick from Mayock during the NFL Network’s coverage of practices at the Senior Bowl: “Think Lawrence Timmons, somebody that can run, blitz, cover and be on the field for three downs.”

FURTHER REVIEW: Mayock on Alabama’s Jonathan Allen prior to the defensive linemen running their 40s: “Jonathan Allen, I believe, is in the conversation for the No. 1 overall pick.”

Mayock after Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett was unofficially clocked at 4.64 in his first 40: “Hello, Cleveland.”

HEARD FROM, NOT SEEN: Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster was sent home after “an incident Thursday during the medical check-ups, a confrontation,” according to NFL Network reporter Kim Jones.

Foster’s response was “a letter his agent sent to all 32 teams,” Jones reported. “In part, he apologizes for what he calls a misunderstanding here at the Combine. He said he does realize and understand that being invited here is both a privilege and honor. He says he wants to invite teams to met with him Tuesday, March 7, from 5-8 p.m., in the linebackers room at the University of Alabama. He says that would allow him to make up for the meetings missed.”

Jones had previously reported one NFL head coach assessing Foster’s exile as “absolutely a red flag.”

Jones also reported the following reaction from an NFL defensive coordinator: “If you can’t be on your best behavior here, what does that say about the guy?”