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 May. 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.
OFFENSIVE LINEMENWhile most draft pundits have Texas A&M tackle Jake Matthews listed as the top offensive line prospect in this year’s draft, Auburn’s Greg Robinson stole the show Saturday in Indianapolis, and will give a number of teams in the top 10 something to think about when they are on the clock in May.
Robinson’s 40 time (4.92), second best of all the linemen, showed off his athleticism and he proved to be one of the strongest also, pushing up the 225-pound bench press 32 times. Maybe even more impressive was Robinson’s agility and footwork in a number of on the field drills.
Matthews is still the most NFL-prepared of the linemen at the combine according to most of those in attendance, and displayed great technique in some of the drills asked by the coaches running things on the turf inside the stadium. His 10-yard split was an impressive 1.70 on his second attempt.
Zack Martin from Notre Dame had a solid week in Mobile, Ala. during the Senior Bowl last month and carried it over to the Combine. Martin drew raves from the NFL Network commentators including Mike Mayock who mentioned that Martin’s versatility to play either side at guard or tackle, and even center will be something that will make NFL front office’s drool. Martin doesn’t always overpower opponents, instead uses relentless work ethic, technique and his smarts to get the job done.
Michigan left tackle Taylor Lewan, who came in at 6-7, 309-pounds, ran the fastest time of the day for offensive linemen, laying down a scorching 4.87 40-time, including 10-yard split times of 1.70 and 1.64 unofficially.
Other players who shined on Saturday were Boston College offensive tackle Matt Patchan (40 times of with 4.97, 10-yard split of 1.59), Nevada tackle Joe Bitonio (40 time of 4.97, 1.68 10-yard split) and UCLA guard Xavier Su’a-Filo who ran a 5.04. All three had terrific workouts on the field showing the flexibility and fluid motion that the scouts love to see.
Stanford guard David Yankey had poor times in the 40-yard dash putting up a 5.5 on his first attempt then followed up with a 5.53.
TIGHT ENDSTop rated tight end prospect tight end Eric Ebron (6-4, 250) of North Carolina wowed scouts in attendance on Saturday with a blazing official 40-time of 4.6, which was second among tight ends. Unfortunately Ebron pulled a hamstring on the second run and as a result and was unable to perform field drills following the 40-yard dash runs.
Tennessee State tight end A.C. Leonard who was measured in at 6-2, 252-pounds, ran the quickest 40-time at the Combine all day Saturday putting up a 4.5 flat. He was also impressive during the on the field drills, but his biggest obstacle will be how he interviews and if NFL teams feel some of his troubles off the field are behind him. There is no question he has the ability to play in the NFL and showcased that part of the process on Saturday.
C.J. Fiedorowicz had a solid day on Saturday and, although most likely will be mid-round selection in May, did nothing to hurt his stock. His 40-time of 4.76 was about what most expected.
Florida’s Trey Burton also turned in a solid 40-time, (officially a 4.62), but at just 6-2, 224-pounds, may find it difficult to take his game to the NFL due to his size. Burton was an all-around athlete for the Gators over the past four seasons, playing quarterback in the wildcat, running the football at times and also playing tight end. His athleticism will be intriguing to NFL scouts, finding a true position may be frustrating however.Next up on Sunday: Running backs, quarterbacks and wide receivers
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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