The NFL Scouting Combine on-the-field drills got underway on Friday with the top offensive linemen and running backs performing under the scrutiny of all the NFL’s 32 teams.
With a number of holes to fill, general manager Jason Licht, head coach Dirk Koetter and the rest of the Buccaneers scouts and front office staff were in attendance to evaluate and watch all of the players that were invited to Indianapolis for the Combine.
Below are some notes and impressions from Friday’s drills.
• Seldom used Georgia running back Keith Marshall drew literal gasps on Friday during his 40-yard dash run, posting an incredible official 4.31 while weighing in at 219 pounds. The former Bulldog was primarily a backup to Todd Gurley and Nick Chubb during his time in Athens, but certainly caught the attention of the NFL scouts and general managers in attendance in Indianapolis. While it still early to even project where Marshall may end up going, his speed, combined with an impressive showing on the bench press (25 reps at 225 pounds) will most certainly help propel him up the draft board. Marshall totaled just 225 yards in nine games for the Bulldogs in 2015, and many thought his decision to leave early was a mistake. After Friday’s performance, Marshall may have proven he made the right choice.
• Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry weighed in at 247 pounds and ran a 4.54, 40 time in Indianapolis in front of the NFL teams perched high above at Lucas Oil Stadium, and they had to be impressed with that time for a player his size. While his change of direction isn’t ideal, there won’t be many defensive backs eager to take him on with a full head of steam late in games at the next level. Henry also showed good strength, putting up 22 reps on the bench press while also displaying a 37-inch vertical.
• Notre Dame tackle Ronnie Stanley, who is on the Bucs radar, had a very good day on Friday. Stanley who weighed in at 312 pounds on his 6-5 frame, ran an official 5.13 40 time. While Stanley is clearly second behind tackle behind Laremy Tunsil, he did nothing to fall, and may have solidified his stock as a Top 10 pick in April’s NFL Draft.
• Indiana tackle Jason Spriggs had one of the better showings on Friday, turning in a 40-yard dash time of 4.85 seconds, quickest of the offensive linemen who ran. Spriggs also performed well during the field drills, showing very good athleticism. After a solid week at the Senior Bowl, and now a very good NFL Combine performance, Spriggs, who still needs improvement working on bull rushes and inside moves according to analyst Mike Mayock, most likely solidified his draft stock as a second rounder.
• N.C. State’s offensive lineman Joe Thuney opened some eyes with the second-fastest 40 time at 4.86 seconds. Thuney also showed some impressive strength turning in 28 reps on the bench press on Thursday. His on the field work was solid, but he is clearly behind some of the top offensive lineman prospects. Some view him as a pete round developmental type player moving forward.
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, the beach and family time.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 email@example.com