INDIANAPOLIS – The third day of the NFL Scouting Combine saw defensive prospects begin taking the podium at the Indiana Convention Center.
Here are five things learned on Thursday:
1. Hybrid traits add to Wisconsin LB Zack Baun's intrigue.
Baun still remembers the first time the Badgers coaching staff turned on the film of Joe Schobert and showed the incoming freshman how impactful a do-it-all linebacker can be in Wisconsin's defense.
Baun, the reigning state offensive high school player of the year at the time, had never played defense before, but he was up for anything after receiving very few Division I offers coming out of Brown Deer, Wis.
"I was like, 'So this dude is covering, rushing the passer and doing everything? Yeah, I want to do that,'" said Baun. "I just trusted in the development program Wisconsin had and here I am today."
Originally a greyshirt who wasn't extended a full scholarship until Paul Chryst was hired as head coach, Baun thrived in that hybrid role in the Badgers' defense and now is on the cusp of following a long line of Wisconsin linebackers into the NFL.
The Badgers have had seven linebackers drafted in the last four years alone, including Schobert, T.J. Watt and Ryan Connelly.
Baun bounced back from a foot injury that wiped out his sophomore year to become a two-year starter for the Badgers. He was one of the most dynamic pass rushers in the country in 2019, amassing 76 tackles, 12½ sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception in 14 games.
Baun's draft stock rose at last month's Senior Bowl when he also displayed the ability to play off the ball. Listed at 6-2, 238, Baun has drawn comparisons to former Packers linebacker Clay Matthews because of his pure athleticism, explosiveness and scheme versatility.
"One of the teams identified me as like 'the toy,' a can-do-it-all linebacker," Baun said. "Give me the opportunity to rush the edge, play off the ball, drop into coverage, (and) use all my skillsets to the fullest."
2. Elgton Jenkins left an indelible impact on Mississippi State's O-line.
Darryl Williams was scrolling through Twitter when the Mississippi State senior center's thumb froze on a video clip of his mentor, Elgton Jenkins, blocking All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly and two others backward this past November.
Williams had seen those types of heroics from the Packers rookie guard plenty of times while together in Starkville, but this was different. Jenkins was putting three men simultaneously on skates.
"I was clearly shocked," said Williams, who later texted Jenkins about the play. "I was like, 'Man, how did you do it?' He was like, 'You gotta have feet in that league.' He's been a joy to watch. I think he's going to continue to kill that league and I can't wait to be a part of it with him."
While the individual play was stunning, neither Williams nor fellow Mississippi State draft prospect Tyre Phillips was surprised to witness Jenkins' instant success with the Packers.
A starter in 16 of his 18 games as a rookie (including playoffs), Jenkins was the first Packers offensive lineman to be named to the PFWA All-Rookie Team since Corey Linsley in 2014.
Phillips, a left tackle, didn't play alongside Jenkins every down like Williams but he also sings his former teammate's praises. Phillips spoke before the combine with the Packers' starting left guard, who gave him one word of advice.
"Dominate," Phillips said. "That's what I'm here to do."
Jenkins' graduation resulted in Williams sliding from left guard to the center spot Jenkins vacated when he was drafted by Green Bay in the second round last April.
Williams said he spoke to Jenkins "on a daily basis" for tips on the position and best practices for making calls at the line of scrimmage. In two months' time, the 6-foot-3, 310-pound offensive lineman hopes to join his friend in the NFL.
"(He's) a guy who knows the game and taught me the ropes," Williams said. "He taught me how to become a great offensive lineman and become a smart offensive lineman, as well. I enjoyed my time with him."
3. The city of Fond du Lac has Robert Windsor's back.
The Penn State defensive lineman's direct messages have been filling up all week with well-wishes from friends and family in Fond du Lac, Wis.
Windsor was born in Green Bay and spent a few years in De Pere before his family moved one hour south. A three-star recruit out of Fond du Lac High School, the 6-4, 285-pound defensive tackle committed to play for the Nittany Lions, with whom he racked up 121 tackles, 14 sacks and three forced fumbles to put himself on NFL scouts' radar.
And he has plenty of hometown fans cheering him on.
"It was something really special for me, especially people from my town," said Windsor, whose father Richard also attended Penn State. "I think I was the first athlete out of my school (in a long time) to play at a big school like this. It was kind of cool to pave the road because now we have another guy, a four-star safety (Braelon Allen) coming up who already has an offer from Notre Dame. … It's kind of cool to represent the town."
4. Unique shakes have Ben Bartch on the verge of history.
Bartch came to St. John's (Minn.) University as a 230-pound tight end without any scholarship offers. He left as a 6-foot-5, 308-pound offensive lineman destined for the NFL.
While working towards a degree in psychology, Bartch also picked up a job as a local high school strength and conditioning coach. Needing to put on weight and often short on time, Bartch began concocting a unique, and unsettling, protein shake.
"I would scramble seven eggs, a big tub of cottage cheese, quick grits, then peanut butter and banana and Gatorade," Bartch said. "I would throw it all in and plug my nose. I'd gag sometimes, but that's what you have to do."
Bartch performed that routine five days a week prior to his junior year. By the summer, he'd jumped from 250 pounds to 275. By the start of the season, he weighed more than 300.
Bartch still maintained his agility and athleticism in spite of the weight. Thanks to a stellar career at St. John's and a standout performance at the Senior Bowl, Bartch is close to becoming the first St. John's alumnus to be drafted in 53 years.
Coincidentally, the school's most recognizable football figure happens to be Pro Football Hall of Fame halfback Johnny "Blood" McNally, who played seven seasons with the Packers.
"It's a great honor. I'm very humbled about it," Bartch said. "I'm very grateful for the opportunity to be here, to be honest. If I can bring some pride and some honor back to St. John's and represent them well, I'm all for it."
5. Neville Gallimore's family sacrificed for his NFL dream.
Canada isn't exactly known as a football hotbed.
But when it became apparent Gallimore, an Ottawa, Ont., native, had a knack for the sport, his parents made the financial commitment to send their son to Canada Prep Academy in St. Catharines, located 20 minutes from Buffalo.
The private school's head coach is Geoff McArthur, a former California-Berkley receiver who played with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The team plays a full schedule against American varsity football programs.
Gallimore credits Canada Prep for giving him a platform to draw more than 30 scholarship offers. Widely regarded as Canada's top college prospect in 2015, Gallimore committed to Oklahoma and started for two seasons on the Sooners' defensive line.
As Gallimore closes in on achieving his NFL dream, the 6-foot-2, 304-pound defensive tackle is appreciative of his parents for their sacrifices to help him get to this point.
"I'm not speaking for Canada, I'm not speaking for Ottawa, I'm speaking for the kids who have a dream and grow up watching football, grow up having that passion, and have that talent and the work ethic," Gallimore said.
"That if you have the desire to play you won't have to go out of your way to get found, they'll come find you. … I have a lot of family, both of my parents are from Jamaica, and when I go there, there is so much talent and so many guys who if they got an opportunity I wonder what they'd do with it."