The offensive lineman, tight ends, and specialists are up today, and to the casual fan, it’s probably the most boring day of the Combine.
However, the workouts these prospects go through, especially the offensive linemen, can pay huge dividends. With the offensive line drills testing for pass blocking, a tackle could make himself a lot of money with a good “kick slide” performance.
Also, this is the same day that Vernon Davis emerged as a Top 10 pick, and a few tight ends have a shot to emerge as first round locks.
Plus, a little treat for you 40-yard dash lovers, as there could be a new NFL Combine record on this day.
Sam Young, OT/OG, Notre Dame
At his size, he was a mauler in college and against some of Notre Dame’s easier opponents, he looked like a future LT in the pros.
However, once he faced the USCs of the world, he looked very mediocre as a prospect. He’ll likely run poorly and do most of the workouts with below average times, but scouts are expecting that with his size.
His money will be made (or lost) with the pass protection drills. If he struggles as much as I expect with sliding his very slow feet, he not only will be kicked to the right side of the line, but will have to fit in as an oversized guard.
Jared Veldheer, OT, Hillsdale
When one of my scouts for Optimum Scouting told me in the early part of the year that a Division II tackle had NFL left tackle potential, I struggled to grasp it.
But, a few months and a combine invite later, I won’t doubt Jim Becker anymore. Veldheer quietly emerged as a standout player all season long and dominated the D2 level as a left tackle.
And at 6’8", 312 lbs., he’s cut like an NFL left tackle. He’s shown great balance at his college level of football, but he’ll have to match up well with the big boys if he hopes to squeeze himself into that second tier of offensive tackles that has yet to have a clear cut second to third rounder.
Mike Iupati, OG/OT, Idaho
It’s rare that a WAC player rises from obscurity to an NFL prospect based on play alone.
It’s even more rare that an Idaho prospect not from Boise has a shot to go in the first round in the NFL Draft. The last time that happened? 1967.
Iupati has the size, balance, intensity, and quickness to be an elite guard at the next level. However, teams aren’t disputing that fact when evaluating him at the Combine. They want to know if he can make the transition from college guard to NFL blind-side protector.
He’ll have a chance to show that in the pass protection drills, and if he shows that he at least has the potential to, he’ll fly up boards like Brandon Albert did.
Just a note: The Chiefs are likely going to try and get a left tackle this offseason and move Albert to the right side or to guard.
Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland
When you first glance at the scouting report, you’d notice that Campbell has long arms, good balance, and was a very consistent pass blocker all throughout college.
So, he should excel in the technique part of the pass-blocking drills and overall athletic performances.
His biggest concern is his lack of intensity. He doesn’t have the drive to plow defenders over, and an offensive lineman without a mean streak could mean a bust when he’s facing guys like Jared Allen.
He’ll need to show up and play physically at the combine if a team in the mid-first round who likes to run wants to go ahead and take a soft (according to the film) offensive tackle.
Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers
If it’s possible for an offensive tackle to “explode” at the combine, look for Anthony Davis to do it. At 6’5", 325 lbs., he moves extremely well for his size and obviously has the frame and power to plow defenders over.
He’ll likely be average to above average in the pass protection drills and will maul anyone in his way in run blocking drills. And compared to other lineman, he’ll be fighting for some top spots at a variety of athletic testing drills.
However, I think he could be the next “workout warrior,” and I see way too much Leonard Davis in him for me to make him a Top 15 pick. But, because of his expected amazing workouts, he’ll go in that slot to a team who loves athletes (cough cough Al Davis).
Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma
When you look atop most boards at the tight end position, Gresham usually takes the No. 1 spot. And for good reason.
Gresham is a great talent that fits in that perfect TE/WR hybrid that the position has molded itself into in the past six to seven years.
He’s a tall receiver with soft hands and is tough to defend for any linebacker and most safeties. He’s a match-up nightmare just based on his smoothness as a runner and a tall pass catcher.
However, he’ll need to run well (in the mid 4.7s) and catch well throughout the drills, as his stock is completely based around his catching ability. He won’t bench well, but if he doesn’t excel in his specialties, he’ll likely slip in the rounds and on team’s tight end draft boards.
Anthony McCoy, TE, USC
With the top three underclassmen declaring (Gresham, Aaron Hernandez, and Rob Gronkowski) this year, it looked as though all three had a shot for a first-round selection and they added to a lackluster tight end class.
However, the overlooked McCoy looks to me like a better version of former Mackey Award winner and second-round selection Fred Davis, also from USC. McCoy is a fluid athlete at tight end and can block and run routes well for his position.
He doesn’t need to dominate any one drill, but if he can show consistency and display some solid athletic ability (I’m expecting a sub-4.7 40 time), he could sneak into that top of the second round or maybe even the first.
Andrew Quarless, TE, Penn State
For the life of me I can’t understand why Quarless is still so low on many boards I’ve seen. Granted he didn’t dominate as expected every year of his career, and his junior campaign was weak to say the least.
However, he showed me in his senior season and at the Senior Bowl that he’s as complete of a tight end as any in this draft class. Quarless is a willing and intense blocker who can move defensive backs easily and engages well against linebackers.
He also uses his body well to make catches and can be a 4+ catches per game at the next level. He’ll need some coaching once he gets to the NFL in route running and blocking technique, but he could run and perform well in many of the drills and could rise up into th e second round—where I think he belongs.
Trindon Holiday, KR, LSU
Trivia question: Who has the fastest time in the 40 yard dash in NFL Combine history?
Answer: Chris Johnson, first round pick of the Titans and 2,000 yard rusher in 2009.
Well, Trindon Holiday doesn’t like the answer to that question, and has come out and said that he will match and .01 up him.
Holiday is saying that he’s expecting to run a 4.23 in the 40 yard dash, and it’s not a ridiculous projection. He did run a 10.00 second 100 yard dash for the LSU track team, and based on his acceleration, at that speed he probably ran around a 4.20 40 yard time.
It would be run to see a 5'5" speedster tear up a record just one year after it was broken, especially after the big offensive lineman have done their thing.
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