Back Before Combine, Montez Sweat Starred for State

Before Combine, Montez Sweat Starred for State

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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For all that Montez Sweat did at the NFL Combine, he was an All-American first.

Obviously, Montez Sweat absolutely dominated the NFL Combine. The 6'6'', 260-pound Mississippi State stud set a new event record for defensive linemen by running a stunning 4.41 forty yard dash, also finishing in the top five amongst all defensive linemen and edge rushers with a 126-inch broad jump and a 7.00-second 3-cone drill. Additionally, as if any more confirmation was needed, Sweat ranked in the positional top seven with a 36-inch vertical leap and a 4.29-second 20-yard shuttle. His showcase has to be considered one of the top performances ever.  

For point of reference, Sweat ran a faster combine forty than Odell Beckham, Jr., had a longer broad jump than Todd Gurley and recorded a quicker 3-cone drill than Landon Collins.

Some players excel in workouts. Others thrive on tape. Sweat has done both. Though he has become more of a national name after grabbing headlines in Indy, Sweat's production was in place before his potential. He just tied for second in all of Power Five football with 11.5 sacks, recording 10.5, the most in the SEC, the year before. Sweat, settling in after transferring from JUCO from Michigan State, finished his career on a remarkable pace, recording all 22 of his sacks in his final 22 outings. Mississippi State went 6-1 when Sweat had more than one sack in a single game.  

Few SEC standouts in recent memory have been better at pressuring the passer. Since 2000, only six players have reached a minimum of 22 sacks in consecutive seasons: Jonathan Allen, Derek Barnett, Myles Garrett, Jarvis Jones and current prospects Josh Allen and Sweat. The four prior defenders were all first round NFL Draft picks; Allen and Sweat, who has the true versatility to play as a 4-3 defensive end or a 3-4 outside linebacker, are expected to further the trend. 

For all that Sweat did at the NFL Combine, he was an All-American first. Only Allen, of P5 defenders, had more sacks than Sweat over the last two years. He and Jeffery Simmons formed one of the most disruptive end-tackle tandems the SEC has ever seen. Sweat made a name for himself against the game's toughest competition. From facing Greg Little, Jawaan Taylor and Jonah Williams to chasing Jake Fromm, Lamar Jackson and Tua Tagovailoa, Sweat has been tirelessly training for what awaits.     

The full scope of Sweat's impact at Mississippi State is hard to measure. Despite playing in a division with a record-setting Alabama offense, the Bulldogs, bolstered by their disruptive defensive line, ranked number one in the nation in total defense in 2018, allowing just 263.1 yards per game. Mississippi State also gave up the fewest yards per play in the country at merely 4.13. Notably, the Bulldogs held the Crimson Tide to 305 offensive yards, their lowest total by almost 100 yards, and 4.24 yards per play, their lowest rate by over 1.5 yards.   

Sweat leaves Starkville as an all-time great.

Part of a potentially-historic class of defensive linemen, Sweat is now a name leading the pre-draft conversion entering the spring. It's hype he, even before his workouts, had already earned. Sweat is suddenly one of the draft's most talked about players. He has long been one of its most productive.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports