2012 NFL Scouting Combine Day 3 Impressions: USC LT Matt Kalil Shows He's Elite

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2012 NFL Scouting Combine Day 3 Impressions: USC LT Matt Kalil Shows He's Elite
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USC left tackle Matt Kalil came into the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine ranked as the top offensive lineman in the 2012 NFL draft and the No. 2 overall prospect for the draft class. Kalil solidified his status as an elite left tackle prospect with his terrific performance in Indianapolis, Ind. on Saturday.

Among both groups of offensive linemen, Kalil stood out. Kalil, who has ideal size for a left tackle at 6’7’’ and 306 pounds, is an elite athlete for his size, and he put that on display throughout the drills.

Kalil was one of only two offensive linemen, the other being Oklahoma’s Donald Stephenson, who ran a sub-five second 40-yard dash, completing the drill in an official time of 4.99 seconds.

In every positional drill, Kalil’s footwork stood out, and he was very fluid in his movement. Kalil lined up in perfect technique and had no problems with any of the motions in any of the drills.

Kalil also put his strength on display. He had a good showing on the bench press with 30 repetitions and looked very good in the blocking bag drill.

For Kalil, a tremendous combine performance was just icing on the cake to prove that he is an elite left tackle prospect worth a top-three draft pick in 2012. Kalil was a dominant left tackle at USC and has the prototypical skill set and measurables that should make for a smooth transition to the next level.

Kalil was far from the only offensive linemen worth watching today. At what may be the deepest area of the draft, six of my top 18 overall prospects are offensive tackles or guards, and all six of them were active participants at the combine.

Kalil widened the gap between himself and the rest of the group on Saturday, but the other five are jockeying for position amongst one another. One player who may have worked his way up at the combine is Georgia offensive lineman Cordy Glenn.

After a tremendous week in Mobile, Ala. at the Senior Bowl, Glenn’s stock was already on the rise. Glenn had one of the most surprising performances of day one when he ran a 5.15 40-yard dash—the sixth-fastest time among offensive linemen at the Combine.

Glenn has been looked at primarily as a guard prospect due to a perceived lack of athleticism, and to be fair, he did struggle with many of the change-of-direction drills at the combine, which continues to point to him being better suited to play guard.

That said, Glenn displayed tremendous athleticism for a 345-pound man by running that 40 time, and after a terrific week, lining up at left tackle at the Senior Bowl, Glenn is stating his case for being capable of lining up at offensive tackle at the next level.

At the very least, Glenn is continuing to prove that he is a better athlete and a better prospect than I had once believed, and while he may not be a starting left tackle at the next level, he has displayed the skills to be a very good right tackle or guard. After another positive showing at the combine, Glenn has now moved ahead of Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams to No. 5 in the offensive line rankings and ranks No. 16 among overall prospects.

As for Adams, another player whose stock rose solidly into the first round with a great showing in Mobile, his combine showing was a disappointment. Adams, a 6’7’’ and 323-pound left tackle, only managed 19 repetitions on the bench press and ran a disappointing 5.40 40-yard dash.

Although the 40 time is basically irrelevant when it comes to a left tackle, he did not show up to be as athletic as expected, as he did not have a terrific day in the positional drills either. Adams’s bench press performance is also a disappointment, which puts his strength into question.

Nonetheless, Adams remains a first-round prospect, but he did lose some of his positive momentum in Indianapolis.

Stanford offensive tackle Jonathan Martin was a limited participant on Saturday. While being interviewed on NFL.com’s live coverage of the combine, Martin said that he was coming off being sick, and therefore, did not participate in any of the measurable drills. However, Martin did participate in the on-field positional drills.

Martin had a decent but unspectacular day on the field, which left the door open for Iowa’s Riley Reiff to make up ground in the competition to be the No. 2 offensive tackle selected in this year’s draft. Reiff had a solid showing but did not stand out athletically as he was expected to and did nothing to make up ground on Martin. As I watch more tape leading up to the draft, there's still room for Reiff to move ahead of Martin, but he did not do that at the combine.

The other top offensive line prospect to watch on Saturday was Stanford guard David DeCastro. DeCastro had a terrific performance at the combine. He looked very fluid in the positional drills and showed terrific lateral agility for a man of his size.

His time of 7.30 seconds in the three-cone drill ranked best among offensive linemen, while his time of 4.56 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle ranked third among the group. DeCastro also had a terrific performance in the bench press with 34 repetitions. DeCastro solidified his stock as the top guard in this draft class.

Who is the best offensive lineman in the draft class not named Matt Kalil?

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For the two Florida State offensive tackles, their stocks went in opposite directions on this day.

Andrew Datko, who missed nearly all of last season with shoulder injuries, was able to participate in the combine and had a solid showing. While he did not participate in the bench press, leaving the health of his shoulder in question, the fact that he was able to take the field and perform is a step in the right direction for him.

As for teammate Zebrie Sanders, the combine was another disappointment after a subpar showing at the Senior Bowl. Sanders did not look fluid athletically and really struggled with his balance and change of direction in the positional drills. Sanders also did not look explosive. He could now fall into the fifth round of the draft.

Two later-round prospects on the offensive line who helped themselves with impressive showings were South Dakota offensive tackle Tom Compton and Baylor center Philip Blake, both of whom showed up very well athletically on Saturday.

Compton completed the 40-yard dash in 5.11 seconds, which ranked fifth among offensive linemen, and he looked very fluid in the positional drills. Compton did not have a great showing at the East-West Shrine Game, and I have not seen any of his collegiate tape, so he's a hard player to evaluate, but he looks the part of an NFL offensive tackle and looks to be worth a shot in the late rounds of the draft.

Blake also looked fluid and athletic in the drills on Saturday. Blake is not a dominant center, but he has an intriguing skill set and combination of size and athleticism that makes him worth a fifth or sixth-round selection in this year’s draft.

Another disappointment among the offensive line group on Saturday was Midwestern State’s Amini Silatolu. Coming from a Division II school but with plenty of hype around him, he needed to stand out in some way at the combine but failed to do so. While I have not been able to see substantial game tape of Silatolu, it's hard for me to see him worth anything more than a fourth-round draft selection from what I have seen.

For the top tight ends in the 2012 draft class, Saturday was not a very impressive day. Coming into the day, both Clemson’s Dwayne Allen and Georgia’s Orson Charles were in play to be potential first-round picks, but their chances have diminished following disappointing showings in Indianapolis.

Allen is the most well-rounded tight end prospect in the draft, but his ability to be a receiving threat at the next level could be limited by his athleticism. Allen showed a lack of explosiveness, with a disappointing 40-yard dash time of 4.89 seconds, combined with subpar measures of 32 inches in the vertical jump and 9’2’’ in the broad jump. Among the 10 tight ends who participated in the measurable drills at the combine, Allen’s marks ranked eighth in all three of those drills.

Allen is a strong blocker who had a very good showing in the bench press with 27 repetitions, but his lack of athleticism should keep him out of the first round. That said, he remains the top tight end in the draft class.

Charles opted out of the measurable drills, which was a very questionable decision on his part. Charles’s combine already got off to a poor start as he measured in at only 6’2’’, which is short for a tight end.

Charles did have a terrific performance with 35 repetitions in the bench press. This came as a surprising mark for a tight end who flexes out more as a receiver than he works as an in-line blocker, but that impressive mark certainly helps his case for being able to play tight end at the next level.

That said, Charles had a rough day in the on-field drills. Charles struggled to catch the ball consistently. He also failed to follow the proper instructions in the gauntlet drill, which is never a good sign to scouts, and he showed that he was a waist bender in the bag blocking drill, never a good technique for a blocking tight end.

Charles has upside as an athletic receiving threat at the tight end position, but he clearly has some issues that need to be worked on. After a rough showing in Indianapolis, Charles rates as a third-round draft pick.

Another top tight end, Stanford’s Coby Fleener, did not participate in any on-field drills at the combine, but he did put up an impressive mark of 27 repetitions in the bench press.

Coming into the combine, I ranked Louisiana-Lafayette’s Ladarius Green No. 2 in my list of players that I expected to stand out at the combine. While I set the bar high, he did have an impressive showing.

Green ran a very good time of 4.53 seconds in the 40-yard dash and did well with a 10’2’’ broad jump. However, Green did not quite live up to expectations in the vertical jump, where he only managed 34.5 and had a disappointing showing of only 16 repetitions in the bench press. Weighing in at only 237 pounds, Green is going to have to bulk up to contribute as a blocker in the NFL.

Who is the best tight end in the 2012 NFL Draft?

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Green did not quite stand out the way I had projected, but he looked good on the field and performed well athletically and remains a third-round draft value. Two other tight ends who stood out athletically were Missouri’s Michael Egnew and Oklahoma’s James Hanna.

Egnew stole the show with a tremendous 10’11’’ broad jump and also tied for the tight end lead with a 36’’ vertical jump. Egnew also had a solid time of 4.62 seconds in the 40-yard dash, looked smooth and natural in the pass-receiving drills and had a solid performance of 21 repetitions in the bench press.

Egnew was not a blocker at Missouri and may not be much of a blocker at the next level, which limits his draft value, but he may have worked his way solidly into the third round with a good day at the combine.

Hanna has big athletic upside but was a backup tight end for most of his career at Oklahoma and ever put up consistent productivity. Unsurprisingly, Hanna had a very good day at the combine, highlighted by a 4.49 40-yard dash and a 36’’ vertical jump—best and tied for best among tight ends.

Hanna did have his share of drops on the field, and his lack of productivity collegiately leaves him as a long shot to be a draft pick. That said, his athletic potential could entice a team to take a chance on him late in the draft and will at least earn him an invite to an NFL training camp.

One other tight end worth mentioning is LSU’s DeAngelo Peterson.

Peterson, like Hanna, was never a major part of his collegiate offense but has been considered by some to be a potential day-two draft selection for his athletic upside.

Peterson came into the combine with a seventh-round grade in my book and leaves with the same grade. While Peterson did have an impressive 36’’ vertical jump, he had a disappointing time of 4.76 seconds in the 40-yard dash and failed to stand out athletically as expected.

He dropped way too many passes in the on-field drills, and unfortunately, he appeared to tweak his hamstring during the 20-yard shuttle—the tight ends’ final drill of the day.

Thanks for reading!

Check back throughout the week for more coverage of the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine.

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For more coverage of the 2012 NFL Draft, follow me on Twitter @Dan_Hope.

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