The NFL draft is a ton of fun, but it doesn't hold a candle to the adrenaline churning around the combine. Now that this year's pre-draft event is three days old, some players have set themselves apart from the rest of the pack.
A certain offensive lineman has redefined the position with a blazing 40-yard dash time, and the fact that he is from a little-known school is turning heads. Scouts may not have given him much attention before, but his draft stock easily skyrocketed after Saturday.
The same can be said for some tight ends, who are starting to look more like athletic receivers since the emergence of Rob Gronkowski and Vernon Davis. The position requires speed on top of strength right now, and this year's crop of prospects is starting to show that along with a ton of heart.
It was a busy day all around, so let's take a look at a few players who will definitely be worth watching in the days leading up to the draft in April.
Chris Gragg, TE, Arkansas
Gragg missed most of this season due to injury and had only 22 catches for 289 yards and three touchdowns in his senior season. At the combine, however, he turned a lot of heads with his 40-yard dash time.
When it was his turn to run, Gragg ran the 40 in a blazing 4.5 seconds. If you ask me, that's more of a wide receiver's speed than it is a tight end's.
This is not entirely off-base, as Gragg is small for a tight end at just 6'3", 235 pounds. Just the same, his speed and determination to make an impact will only make his draft sock soar, possibly into one of the earlier rounds if enough scouts take notice.
Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
Stanford has turned out some solid offensive players in recent years, and Ertz is no exception. The junior was a standout on the Cardinal's receiving corps this year and after today, is all but a certainty to be picked in the first round.
In his junior season, Ertz caught 69 passes for 898 yards and six touchdowns. For someone 6'6", 249 pounds, he had a decent 40 time at 4.76 seconds and was second among tight ends with 24 bench reps.
This young man is a dominating presence on the field, and on the right team, he's going to be something special. His combine performance shows just that, so scouts should start calling their respective teams about him.
Terron Armstead, OL, Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Unless you're obsessed with college football or are an Arkansas-Pine Bluff alum, chances are you've never heard of Terron Armstead. At 6'5", 320 pounds, he's on the average side compared to other men at his position.
However, what Armstead lacks in great girth (and I use that term very loosely), he more than makes up for in speed.
Look at it this way: When you think of an offensive lineman, what's the first thing that comes to mind? If my assumption is right, it's a large man well over six feet tall and over 300 pounds.
These men are big as houses and are known for one thing: complete brute force strength that makes scouts' mouths water with anticipation as to how well those linemen can protect a quarterback. However, in terms of speed, these men are generally lacking.
That's what makes Armstead different. Earlier Saturday, he set the record for the fastest 40-yard dash by an offensive lineman, clocking in at an astounding 4.71 seconds. Talk about having an advantage in terms of burst!
Scouts have no choice but to give this young man a second look. Fast offensive linemen are rare, and teams in need of help in that area owe it to themselves to see what Armstead can do.
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