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B.J. Hill has skills the Panthers could be in the market for


INDIANAPOLIS – N.C. State's defensive tackle duo was side-by-side once again at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Speaking to the media at Podium 7 was B.J. Hill and right next to him at Podium 8 was Justin Jones.

Hill and Jones trained for the combine together in Atlanta, and both spoke about the brotherhood that developed along the talented Wolfpack D-line, which also features potential top-five pick Bradley Chubb and fellow defensive end Kentavius Street.

But Jones singled out Hill as the key to N.C. State's success up front.

"B.J. – he's the anchor of our defense. Without a good nose tackle, there is no defense. That's just the way it is," Jones said. "He's probably the best player on our D-line, in my opinion."

That's quite a statement, especially considering Chubb's star status as one of the best players available in the entire draft class.

That said, Jones' point is well taken. Hill does a lot of the dirty work, and that endears you to teammates.

But Jones wasn't the only one lauding him at the combine. NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah went right to Hill when asked about sleepers at the defensive tackle position.

"When you check in at 311 pounds and you run a sub-5 40, which he did at 4.99, and then you back that up with an outstanding field workout – he helped himself," Jeremiah said after Hill's workout. "Very smooth for a big man.

"They have so many defensive linemen there, he kind of gets lost in the shuffle."

Hill will be on everyone's radar following an impressive show of athleticism at the combine.

Perhaps the Panthers will consider taking a long look at the local prospect, especially if they lose former first-round pick Star Lotulelei in free agency.

Hill's strengths as a player? "Stopping the run," he said, "and taking on double-teams."

Sounds a lot like Lotulelei.

LITTLE LOTULELEI: Speaking of Lotulelei, his younger brother Lowell was at the combine, hoping to carve out an NFL career of his own.

Lowell, who followed Star to the University of Utah, is projected to be a late-round pick, and he knows he'll always face comparisons to his big brother.

"I don't really mind. He's a role model for me. I take it as a compliment, really," Lowell said. "People even putting me in the same sentence as him, I think it's a real compliment to me and what I've done. I want to be like him and I want to do the things that he's doing." 

EVALUATING EDGE RUSHERS: Arden Key of LSU and Sam Hubbard of Ohio State are two defensive ends who will likely be available when the Panthers are on the clock with the 24th pick.

Both are trying to alleviate concerns teams might have.

Key, with his long 6-foot-6 frame, looked like he was on his way to being one of the nation's brightest stars after posting 12 sacks as a sophomore. Then he took some time away from the program (he declined to discuss why) and underwent shoulder surgery, which set him back ahead of the 2017 season.

"That was my biggest adversity. I went through it, I'm passed that and I'm looking forward," Key said. "(After surgery) I was out of shape and I missed the spring and summer."

Key finished with four sacks and 5.5 tackles for a loss this past season – disappointing numbers to follow up his stellar sophomore campaign. But he maintains he's an elite prospect worth investing in.

"I'm the best pass rusher at the combine," Key declared.

Hubbard didn't speak with the same bravado, but he can help teams get after the quarterback.

"Any team I go to I'll improve the pass rush," said Hubbard, who recorded seven sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss as a junior. "I play relentlessly. It's hard to find a play where I'm not going full speed."

Effort is one thing, but there are questions about his athletic ability. Hubbard is well aware.

"I want to show how fluid I am and do everything I can to disprove that," Hubbard said.

His workout in Indianapolis helped his cause. Hubbard was the top performer among D-linemen in the three-cone drill and he moved well during the field work. Hubbard did not run the 40 however, so it will be interesting to see what time he puts up at his pro day.

DAVENPORT DOMINATES: Carolina defensive coordinator Eric Washington could work wonders with a raw, talented edge rusher like Marcus Davenport, but the 6-foot-6, 264-pounder looks to be on his way to a top-15 selection after putting on a show at the combine.

Davenport wowed scouts by running the 40 in 4.58 seconds and posting a 124-inch broad jump.

Most college football fans have never heard of him since he played at University of Texas San Antonio. Along those lines, one media member mistakenly said University of Texas at El Paso when asking if the small-school stigma motivates him.


"What motives me is when people say the wrong (school). You said UTEP. I went to UTSA," said Davenport, who was under 200 pounds coming out of high school. "I always have a chip on my shoulder… I've been the underdog since high school. I have some things to prove, always."

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