Arkansas-Pine Bluff offensive tackle Terron Armstead stole the show with his incredible 40-yard dash on Saturday at the combine, but he likely won't shoot up draft boards enough to document how his athleticism will affect a team's draft-day choice.
Only the offensive linemen, tight ends and specialty players were on the field for the Saturday drill session, but that doesn't mean we lost out on quality players who will have high expectations at the next level.
After those three groups went through their training sessions on Saturday, we know a little bit more about which players are superior athletes and which players are just flat-out good football players. It takes a little bit of both to play in the league, one of the reasons that the NFL Scouting Combine isn't the only thing that teams take into account when drafting a player.
Here's a look at how some of this year's best draft prospects put themselves in position to shoot up draft boards in April's 2013 selection period.
Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson
After a strong season at OU, the QB-turned-OT turned in the second-fastest time of all offensive linemen in the 40, and he also had impressive measurables across the board.
As Dion Caputi notes, he was one of the best athletes all day:
#Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson impresses again in his second run, matching his first unofficial time of 4.75. Impressive athlete.— Dion Caputi (@nfldraftupdate) February 23, 2013
Johnson figures to fall somewhere in the middle of the first round. Taylor Lewan and Jake Matthews returning to school made him a sure-fire first-round prospect, but performances like this put him in contention with Eric Fisher and D.J. Fluker for the No. 2 tackle spot behind Luke Joeckel.
Johnson keeps getting chances to impress, and he keeps coming through. He's got a real shot to move into the top 15, especially if teams looking for offensive line help don't have a clear-cut option on the board during their selections.
Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert
Eifert solidified what we knew about him at Notre Dame on Saturday.
He can jump high, run fast and catch the ball. NFL teams love that about a tight end, and Eifert established himself as a clear-cut No. 1 TE option after running a 4.60 40-yard dash (as reported by Pro Football Talk) and besting fellow TE prospect Zach Ertz in the process.
Eifert and Ertz are virtually neck and neck at this point in the process. That being said, Eifert put himself a step ahead with a faster 40 time, and he'll be on the radar for all teams picking a TE until he's off the board.
Florida State QB E.J. Manuel
Manuel hasn't been on the field yet, but his measurables make him one of the hottest QB prospects that no one is talking about.
With the success of QBs like Colin Kaepernick and Cam Newton fully implanted in our minds, we're generally looking for the next QB in that mold. Robert Griffin III is another dual-threat QB that has had success, and Manuel's body type makes him an automatic candidate.
Standing 6'5", weighing in at 237 pounds and posting a hand size of 10.38", Manuel all but blew the charts to pieces with those numbers. That's exactly the kind of numbers that NFL teams love to see, and Manuel put himself in perfect position for a masterful drill session.
If he posts fast numbers in the 40 and in other drills of note (footwork), then it wouldn't be a shock to see a team make Manuel a value pick as a third-string QB in the fourth or fifth round. If he blows the tests out of the water, it could end up being the third.
Oregon OT Kyle Long
Long quietly continued his epic ascent.
After leaving Florida State for academic reasons, Long got back into football in junior college and spent time at defensive end (like his father Howie and brother Chris) before converting to offensive tackle at Oregon.
It paid off big time.
Long is now one of the sneaky OT prospects in this draft, and as a third-round pick, he might be the best OT available at certain points in this draft. He lit up the charts with a 4.94 40 and impressed scouts with foot speed and coordination all day.
He doesn't yet have a feel for the position like some of the better prospects in the draft do, but the athleticism is off the charts and the measurables (6'7", 311 lbs) are clearly there. Long hasn't turned the heads of the big-time scouts yet, but be assured that teams saw what he did at the combine on Saturday.
Just like teams saw the rest of these prospects.
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