Combine – OL, TEs

Day 1 of workouts and drills is in the books.  Here are some of my thoughts.

* Terron Armstead grabbed the headlines with his blazing 40 time.  It’s easy to try and dismiss that since speed isn’t a huge thing for an OL, but Armstead is a gifted athlete and that’s part of his game.  Armstead looked good in the positional drills as well.  He’s had a terrific showing since the Shrine Game and looks like a legit LT prospect.  The big question now is value. Does he go in the 2nd or 3rd round?

* Lane Johnson had the best day of anyone.  He posted great numbers in the workout. Johnson ran a 4.72, had a 34-inch vertical, and a 4.52 SS.  Having an OL go 9’10” in the BJ is crazy.  Those numbers shows speed, quickness, agility, body control, and explosion.  He was outstanding in the OL drills.  He’s got very good game tape.  He stood out in the Senior Bowl.  Now he lit up the Combine.  Johnson might now be a guy that makes a push for the Top 10.  He certainly won’t make it out of the Top 20.

* Chance Warmack didn’t have such an impressive showing.  He wasn’t expected to post great numbers since he’s not a special athlete.  I was disappointed in his conditioning.  He was really dragging by the end of the workout.  Normally you’d just excuse that since he’s a big guy.  It is odd, though, because he’s only 317 pounds.  He lost 15 to 20 pounds and came to the Combine in the best shape he’s been in in a long while.  Clearly the guy is a top shelf player and terrific prospect.  He’ll go early, as he should.  I just think you have to make a note about what you saw and see if that bugs you at all.

* I was surprised by how poorly OC/OG Travis Frederick ran.  He was one of the slowest guys in Indy.  His game is strength and power so I wasn’t expecting him to light it up.  He listed at 332 according to Wisconsin, but showed up at 312.  It does make you think twice when a guy shows up in great shape and doesn’t work out well.

* C Brian Schwenke was great in the drills.  You could see just how quick and fast he is.  He moves so fluidly and naturally.  Really impressive C.

* J.C. Tretter from Cornell impressed me.  He’s a good athlete and that showed through in his tests and the on-field drills.

* Justin Pugh remains a tough guy to figure out.  He looked outstanding in the OL drills.  He has very good feet and has the skills to be a starting LT in the NFL.  You can’t ignore the fact he’s got short arms.  That hurt him in the Senior Bowl practices and in the game.  Teams are going to do a lot of debating on him.  Some coaches are adamant about arm length.  Others are more open-minded.

* Chris Barker from Nevada is a guy that I’ve not watched tape on.  He impressed me in some of the drills.  I need to check him out.

* Mike Mayock kept talking about OT D.J. Fluker going in the Top 20.  That might happen, but Fluker looked really stiff in the drills.  I understand the argument that Fluker is a very good run blocker and that he’s got very long arms, but I think Mike is being way too dismissive about the footwork issues and lack of athleticism.  Fluker can start at RT for a team that is very run heavy, but teams that like zone blocking or that want to pass a lot will not be so high on him.  It won’t surprise me at all if he is drafted to be a G or if he lasts to the 2nd round.

* Luke Joeckel didn’t post the kind of numbers that I expected, but he looked very good in the drills.  You can see what a natural pass blocker he is.  Joeckel has terrific feet.  He’s also got excellent balance and body control.  He just looks smooth on the move.  He had the 4th best 3-cone time (7.40) and that is a key drill for LTs.  I don’t think his showing did anything to help or hurt him.  Still could go #1 overall.

* One guy who did impress me was Kyle Long.  I think most people expected him to do pretty well, but I really liked what I saw.  He’s 6-6, 313.  He ran 4.94 in the 40.  He looked good in the positional drills.  I’m not completely sold on him as a LT prospect, but I’d be willing to give him a shot there.  Might be able to handle RT.  Certainly has very good potential at OG.  I liked his footwork.  I thought he did well in the movement drills.  I also liked the way he did things.  Long went full speed.  You can be intense even at the Combine.

* Virginia Tech OT Vinston Painter is a player I must go back and study.  He’s 6-4, 306 with 34 inch arms.  He posted good numbers in the 40 and VJ.  He just flat out passed the eyeball test.  Painter looked like OT material.  He moved naturally and fluidly.  The only real criticism is that he was too upright in some of the drills.  Painter is a project, but the kind of guy you take a chance on.  He sat for 3 years at VT before taking over RT this year.  I’m really interested to check him out.

* Eric Fisher had a good day and solidified himself as a Top 10 prospect.  He posted some really good numbers and also did well in the drills.  Will he make it to the Cardinals at pick 7?  Might not.

* OT Tanner Hawkinson, OG Jeff Baca, OT Reid Fragel, OT Braden Brown, and OL David Quessenberry all posted good numbers.  This really is a very athletic,  very talented class of OL.

* * * * *

* I was disappointed by the TE class.  There were no great workouts.  Several guys were very good, but no one blew us away.

* Chris Gragg from Arkansas put up the best numbers.  He’s 6-3, 244 and ran 4.50.  He had a 37.5 VJ.  That’s important.  You want a TE that can go up and get the ball.  Also had a 3-cone time of 7.08.  That shows good agility.  I thought Gragg was solid in the pass catching drills.

* Tyler Eifert may have had the best overall day.  He’s 6-5, 250.  He ran well, lifted well, jumped well, and had the best 3-cone time of the TE group.  He had a good showing in the receiving drills as well.  He won’t be the top TE for everyone, but he’ll be tops for a lot of teams.

* Zach Ertz has been up and down.  He measured in with short arms and that got things off to a poor start.  He then did poorly in the VJ, getting just 30.5 inches.  Eifter has arms that are 2 inches longer and he can jump 5 inches higher.  If you value a TE that can play the ball up high, that gives Eifert a distinct advantage.  Ertz ran 4.76, which isn’t slow, but also isn’t fast.  He did catch the ball well.  I think teams that liked him before today will still value his ability to catch the ball downfield and be a creative weapon for the offense.

* Mychal Rivera didn’t post good numbers.  He came in at 6-3, 242.  That’s 5 pounds heavier than the Senior Bowl, but still makes him light for a TE.  Rivera ran a disappointing 4.81.  He only had a 31-inch VJ and his 3-cone time was poor – 7.17.  Rivera looked good in the drills.  He has good hands and is a natural pass catcher.  He can wipe the poor times away with a strong showing at his Pro Day, but if not…teams will need to re-check his tape to see why he looks athletic, but doesn’t test that way.

* Gavin Escobar didn’t run well, but otherwise had a pretty good outing.  He was 2nd in both the 3-cone and SS.  He showed good hands in the receiving drills.  His 40 time of 4.84 will bug some teams that hoped he could be a down the field weapon.  His game tape shows that kind of ability.  Escobar can change that at his Pro Day.  He just needs to get down to 4.75 or so for teams to be completely comfortable.

* Vance McDonald is just the opposite of Rivera and Escobar.  McDonald measured in at 6-4 and 267.  He then ran 4.69 and posted very good numbers across the board.  He even did 31 reps on the bench.  I thought McDonald was inconsistent as a pass catcher.  Even on some of the reps when he did make the grab, it wasn’t smooth.  He isn’t a natural pass catcher.  McDonald has such potential that teams will take a chance on him and hope that they can develop his hands.  He only caught 119 passes in his career at Rice.

* Matt Furstenburg from Maryland posted terrific numbers.  I’ve got to go back and watch tape of him.

* Levine Toilolo really struggled to catch the ball.  That will hurt him.  McDonald was inconsistent.  Toilolo was flat out bad.  Big difference.

* Dion Sims was jogging at times and that’s the kind of thing that coaches will not like to see.  Teams want players to go full speed all over the field.  They’re watching not just the reps, but what happens before and after.


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