Who stood out among the offensive linemen and tight ends on the first
day of combine workouts? PewterReport.com's Mark Cook shares what he saw as the annual event kicked off in
The offensive linemen and tight ends were the first group of NFL prospects who went through the annual pre-draft NFL Combine in Indianapolis Saturday, hoping to improve their status for the NFL draft in late April.
Inside Lucas Oil Stadium NFL coaches, scouts and pro player personnel had their eyes glued to the two units in hopes of solidifying their opinions of the prospects or maybe even finding a draft-day steal.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff offensive lineman Terron Armstead (6-foot-5, 306-pound) was the standout offensive lineman during the 40-yard dash dazzling scouts with an amazing 4.65 time (later officially timed at 4.71). Armstead began making a name for himself last month in St. Petersburg with a solid week at the East-West Shrine game, and is a player that could see his draft stock rise with his outstanding 40-yard dash time.
While most pro player personnel don’t put a ton of stock in 40 times, the fact that Armstead ran a sub 4.7 turned heads and showcased Armstead’s overall athleticism.
Another offensive linemen that wowed those in attendance with his speed (4.72) was Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson. The former Sooner was already on everyone’s radar, and most likely will be the second or at the very least third lineman (behind Luke Joeckel, and Eric Fisher) taken in April. Johnson, a former quarterback and tight end, could end up moving his stock up into the top-10, but also very well could be sitting there when the Buccaneers are one the clock at No. 13. Johnson was also very impressive in the agility drills, showing good hip movement, a low bend, good start-and-stop and quick feet.
North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper was also a solid performer that may have helped his stock rise. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock had high praise for Cooper, even before the combine began.
“Chance Warmack from Alabama is the best football player I saw on tape this year," Mike Mayock of the NFL Network said in a media conference call this week. And Jonathan Cooper from North Carolina is just a tiny notch behind him. As a matter of fact, Cooper's probably a better athlete."
Cooper managed 35 reps at 225-lbs, second only to Ohio guard Eric Herman (36 reps).
Joeckel, the Texas A&M star, did nothing to hurt his chances on Saturday of possibly going No. 1 overall to Kansas City in the NFL Draft in April. The massive left tackle is thought to be as sure fire of a pick, reminding some of Cleveland’s Joe Thomas.
Joeckel didn’t wow anyone with his 40 time, but when watching the tape of his college career it is very hard to find any flaws. Joeckel managed to push up the 225 pounds 25 times in the bench press drill.
Joekel talked to the media following Saturday’s showcase.
"Yeah, definitely coming into this thing I wanted to be the first tackle taken in the draft," Joeckel said. "Now I know it’s a long process until then. I’m trying to do every single thing right to make sure that happens. I know it’s a competition between him (Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher) against the other guys, you know (Oklahoma’s) Lane Johnson. It’s good type of competition between all of us. That’s one of the fun parts about the combine – the competition aspect of it, going against some of the best athletes at your position in the country."Tight Ends
The tight ends took to the artificial turf following the offensive linemen on Saturday in an effort to showcase their athleticism and speed for those NFL personnel in attendance.
Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert is the top tight end prospect in this season’s draft and did little to change that perception. Eifert turned in a 4.68, 40-time, which was good for fourth among tight ends and also displayed a 35.5-inch vertical. Eifert also added 24 reps in the bench press.
Stanford’s Zach Ertz, who came into the combine as the second-ranked tight end, wasn’t quite as impressive as Eifert, posting a 4.76 time in the 40, and only measuring a 30.5-inch vertical. Still most scouts see Ertz as a potential first-round pick. If Eifert and Ertz both are selected in the first round it will mark the first time two tight ends have been selected in the first round since 2006 when Vernon Davis and Mercedes Lewis were taken.
Florida’s Jordan Reed, who played multiple positions in Gainesville had an up and down day on Saturday. Reed ran a solid 4.72 in the 40, but only managed 16 reps in the bench press. Reed will most likely be used as a flexed out tight end as opposed to a traditional in line blocker in the NFL due to his weaker blocking skills.
Arkansas tight end Chris Gragg turned several heads in Lucas Oil Stadium running a blazing 4.44 (4.5 official) 40-yard time on Saturday, leading all tight ends. Gragg (6-3, 244 pounds) had a solid junior campaign but spent the majority of his senior season battling injuries, missing seven games. Gragg also led all tight ends with a 37.5-inch vertical. With his solid performance on Saturday Gragg may have risen his stock as high as the fourth round if NFL front offices feel his durability questions are satisfied.
Up Next On Sunday: Quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers
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