Terron Armstead, his huge, hulking mass lumbering down the field, crossed the electronically controlled finish line of the 40-yard dash in a record time of 4.71 seconds.
The question, then, is does anyone care how fast an offensive lineman can run 40 yards?
Within a hundredth of a second or a fraction of an inch, the NFL Scouting Combine can measure every aspect of a prospect's athleticism and physicality; but it can't tell you whether or not that prospect will be a successful NFL football player.
There have been many track stars or otherwise physically impressive athletes who shined at the combine only to fizzle after being drafted. St. Louis Rams fans may remember Trung Canidate. Cleveland Browns fans surely remember Courtney Brown.
Where the combine has value is in answering questions about a player's athleticism or character.
As an example of the latter, one incredibly dense player wrecked his draft stock as effectively as if he had ran the slowest 40-yard dash in history with one of his interviews:
This is why the NFL scouting combine has value: LSU DE Sam Montgomery is a first-round talent. Solid pass-rusher, strong, athletic, good...— Anthony Stalter (@AnthonyStalter) February 24, 2013
in pursuit, etc. But he admitted (among other things) to taking games off when facing lesser opponents. He's destroying his own draft value.— Anthony Stalter (@AnthonyStalter) February 24, 2013
Other players managed to forcefully answer nagging questions about their own shortcomings with extraordinary performances in the on-field drills.
Follow through the slides to see how the developments at the combine might shape the St. Louis Rams' 2013 draft.
All combine results courtesy of NFL.com.
The Rams have other positions of need that some would deem more important, and perhaps they are, but with the depth of talent available at the wide receiver and safety positions in the 2013 NFL draft, the team would be better served by snatching up Georgia's Alec Ogletree at No. 16 if he is still available.
For a linebacker whose primary assets are speed and athleticism, Ogletree's combine performance was a bit of a head-scratcher.
He ran a 4.7-second 40-yard dash, good for ninth fastest. He ranked 15th in the bench press with 20 reps, seventh in the vertical jump at 33.5 inches, sixth in the broad jump at 122", seventh in the cone drill at 7.16 seconds and 11th in the 20-yard shuttle with a time of 4.39 seconds.
Solid results, to be sure, but not the elite athleticism that people have come to associate with Ogletree.
Ogletree consistently displayed remarkable sideline-to-sideline speed throughout his college career, which he began as a safety.
When there are years of videotape available to support the assertion that a player has great speed, but then that player posts a disappointing time in one test, to which one do you give more credence?
He also hits like a truck, which is something the combine has no way of testing.
He not only hits hard, but effectively. In 2012, he led the Georgia Bulldogs in tackles (111) despite missing four games due to a suspension.
Which brings us to the real reason why Ogletree will likely still be on the board when the Rams' first pick comes up.
Per Garrett Downing of BaltimoreRavens.com: "The versatile defender was arrested for driving under the influence earlier this month, and missed four games last year for allegedly failing a drug test."
The bottom line: He is a kid who made the same mistakes a lot of kids make. Those mistakes don't preclude his ability to be a star NFL player, which, having seen him play, is exactly what he will be.
North Carolina's Jonathan Cooper has been on everyone's radar for awhile now as the No. 2 offensive guard prospect in the 2013 draft (behind Alabama's Chance Warmack, who will most likely be selected before the Rams' first pick).
Everyone has lauded Cooper's athleticism, and rightly so, he is widely acknowledged as one of the most athletic offensive line prospects many scouts can remember.
The knock on him has been his lack of strength, relatively speaking of course.
If he could just increase his power he would be the complete package—a can't-miss interior offensive lineman.
Cooper got the message.
“During the season, I had gotten down to about 285 pounds running the spread, no-huddle offense,” he [Cooper] said.
But he weighed in at 312 pounds Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine, on a 6-foot-2½-inch frame.
“I do feel the difference,” he said. “I feel like I’ve got just a little more ‘butt’ behind me”
(The better to anchor.)
“And I’m ready to be more of a physical player,” he said.
At the combine, Cooper bench pressed 250 pounds 35 times. Only one other player surpassed Cooper's total, and that player only beat him by a single rep.
2012 fifth-round pick Rokevious Watkins will be ready for the start of the 2013 offseason program after missing nearly all of the 2012 season with an ankle injury suffered in the season opener. Even so, Jonathan Cooper has the potential to be an elite interior offensive lineman for many years to come. Watkins does not.
And starting right guard Harvey Dahl is not getting any younger.
If Cooper is on the board when the 22nd pick comes up, the Rams should not, cannot, pass on him.
Meet Danny Amendola version 2.0.
Ryan Swope is an upgraded version of Amendola not because he is a better slot receiver, though he is a very good one, but because he can do more.
Swope is 6'0" tall (Amendola is 5'11") and 20 pounds heavier than Amendola. This size and strength advantage allows him to be a better blocker while also aiding him in creating separation.
Per Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com via CBSSports.com in reference to Swope's Senior Bowl performance:
The toughest of the wide receivers, however, was Texas A&M's Ryan Swope, who Lappano specifically mentioned as having been the best of the team's blockers on the first day of practice. He followed Lappono's advice of blocking where "wind up, not where they lined up," consistently doing the quiet dirty work that helped the South's running backs chew up big yardage.
His toughness is not confined to his blocking, either. His fearlessness when going over the middle has also been universally lauded.
At the combine, Swope proved that in addition to his toughness, he is also one hell of an athlete.
His vertical leap was measured at an unexpectedly impressive 37 inches.
Cordarrelle Patterson, whose raw athleticism has most scouts wiping drool from their chins as they proclaim him a top-15 pick, had exactly the same measurement in his vertical leap test—37 inches.
That's all well and good, you might say, but what about his 40 time? Surely Swope couldn't hang with the likes of Patterson and Tavon Austin in that department.
Before the combine, NFL.com agreed with you, having said: "His height, straight-line speed and acceleration are only average, limiting him to a slot or number three receiver role at the next level."
Swope ran a 4.34.
He tied Austin for the second-fastest receiver at the combine. Patterson ran a 4.42, placing him sixth.
The only remaining knock on Swope is that he is three to four inches too short to be a prototypical No. 1 receiver.
That may be the case, but if the Rams don't take him in the second round, he'll be gone by the time their third-round selection comes up.
The Rams need a playmaker; Swope is that and more.
There are going to be so many quality safety prospects available in the third round that it would be imprudent to single out one name.
Before the Senior Bowl, Florida International's John Cyprien was not on many people's radars. Since then, his name has been bandied about more than any other safety's. Cyprien is known as an interchangeable safety, but his thick build, ability to run through traffic and periodic struggles in coverage indicate a better fit on the strong side at the NFL level.
If the Rams cut Quintin Mikell and he doesn't re-sign for less money, Cyprien would be a great fit to fill that hole.
The problem is, his stock has risen so high that he may be off the board by the time the Rams pick in the third round.
Georgia's Shawn Williams (pictured) also projects as a strong safety, but to view him that way is to miss all that he brings to the table. There really is nothing not to like about this guy. For starters, Williams brings extraordinary toughness and emotional intensity to every single play (per NFL.com):
Georgia coaches give out a “True Grit” award after spring practice for an offensive and defensive player who stands out for his toughness and pure determination on the field. Despite the large number of NFL-caliber players on the Bulldogs’ defense, Williams has picked up the award each of the past two years. That attitude and voraciousness has shown itself on Saturdays, as opposing receivers and running backs will tell you as they get iced down after the game.
In addition, Scouts Inc. rates him as above average in coverage skills and ball skills, and his 4.46 second 40-yard dash was the third fastest among all safeties at the combine. Clearly, Williams has the skills to play either safety position.
His Georgia Bulldogs teammate, Bacarri Rambo, should also be available in the third round. That Rambo was suspended twice for "inadvertent marijuana ingestion" doesn't bother me.
What causes Rambo to be rated lower than his teammate is his deficiencies in reading and reacting to what an offense is doing. That is something he may or may not prove able to remedy.
Syracuse's Shamarko Thomas is a high-character guy who showed himself to be the fastest safety at the combine when he ran a 4.42-second 40-yard dash. He also starred in the bench press, vertical leap and broad jump. He stands only 5'9" but has the athleticism to make up for his lack of size.
Because the Rams cannot delay until the fourth round to take a safety, their need for a right tackle will have to wait until then to be addressed.
Terron Armstead's astonishing combine performance has likely boosted the former fourth-round prospect into at least the second round, but there are still intriguing names that are likely to be available.
Ricky Wagner is the latest in a long line of NFL-caliber offensive linemen to come out of the University of Wisconsin. He could slide to the fourth because of a perceived lack of athleticism, but he would be a solid pickup in that round.
Ohio State's Reid Fragel is raw but carries with him huge potential. Fragel switched from tight end to tackle in the spring of 2012—a career path that NFL coaching staffs have come to love.
He had a monster combine, placing fourth among all offensive linemen in the bench press with 33 reps, fifth in the vertical jump with a leap of 30" and third in the broad jump at 113". Rams offensive line coach Paul Boudreau would love to get his hands on this guy.
Other fourth-round options include West Texas A&M's Manase Foketi, who dominated at the Division II level but needs to clear up why he requested out of Kansas State, and San Jose State's David Quessenberry.
Kwame Geathers didn't wow scouts at the combine, but a defensive tackle doesn't need elite athleticism; he needs power.
Standing 6'5" and weighing 342 pounds, Geathers certainly has that.
He also has a great pedigree (per NFL.com):
The Geathers family doesn’t lack representation in football. Kwame’s brother, Robert Geathers, played for the Bulldogs from 2001-03 and now is a member of the Cincinnati Bengals. Another one of his brothers, Clifton Geathers, played for South Carolina, and currently plays for the Indianapolis Colts. Kwame’s father, Robert Geathers, Sr., played at South Carolina and was a third round NFL draft pick of the Buffalo Bills in 1981. Geathers’ uncle, James "Jumpy" Geathers, played at Wichita State and 13 seasons in the NFL. Geathers’ cousin, Jeremy Geathers played at UNLV. As a high school junior, tallied 85 tackles and 10 sacks and finished fifth in shot put at 2008 state track and field championships.
Geathers will fall in the draft because of concerns over his effort and attitude, but those things can be coached up, and what better coaching staff to do it than Jeff Fisher and Co.?
If they are successful, Geathers could be one of the biggest steals of the 2013 draft.
USC's T.J. McDonald ran a faster 40-yard dash than the player universally agreed upon as the best safety in the draft, Kenny Vaccaro (4.59 vs. 4.63).
He ranked fifth in the bench press with 19 reps—ahead of Vaccaro (15), Matt Elam (17) and Eric Reid (17).
His 40-inch vertical leap was good for third best—again, ahead of Vaccaro (38").
Lastly, his broad jump of 131" placed him fourth. Vacarro was 14 with a jump of 121."
How then, is McDonald still going to be available in the sixth round when Vacarro will be the first safety off the board? (per CBSSports.com):
The biggest concern might simply be the spread passing attacks so popular in today's NFL make long-legged "in the box" safeties like McDonald a liability in coverage. If entering the draft 10 or 20 years ago, he might rank as a potential first or second round choice. Now, he could slip to the third day and will have to be drafted by a team with a specific plan for using his unique skill-set.
Where McDonald is likely to go depends on who you choose to believe. ESPN rated him a 56, meaning a fifth- or sixth-round prospect. CBS Sports, on the other hand has him pegged to go in the fourth.
If the Rams can pick him up in the sixth, his athleticism, hands and physicality will make him a great asset in their secondary.
If I'm the Rams, I'm looking for another weapon in the seventh—someone who could come in and perhaps fill the role of kick return specialist.
Virginia Tech wide receiver Corey Fuller has the tools to be that kind of player. He tied Denard Robinson for seventh fastest in the 40-yard dash with a time of 4.43 seconds, and he is explosive coming out of his cuts. He has also displayed good ball security.
It is justified to be wary of former track stars turned football players, but the Rams won't need him to contribute much in the passing game, at least not right away. All he would have to do is catch a kick, make a couple of guys miss, find a seam and turn on the jets.