March 6, 2017
Day one of the NFL Combine is in the books. The opening day saw the offensive linemen and running backs take center stage in Indianapolis.
Many sports analysts considered offensive-line class weak going into the Combine, and the athletes didn’t do much to change that perception. There are some good players, but overall, it is not very deep. However, a bulk of players will still hear their names on day three of the draft.
Three players who will go early in the draft are Cam Robinson out of the University of Alabama, Garett Bolles out of the University of Utah and Forest Lamp out of Western Kentucky University. On the field, they did nothing to hurt their chances of getting drafted quickly.
Teams are also going to take a long look at Texas Christian University’s Aviante Collins, who ran a 4.81-second 40-yard dash. It was the best time for the offensive linemen, with Bolles in second place at 4.95 seconds. Lamp was fourth with a 5-second 40-yard dash, and Robinson tied with several players for eighth place.
Collins’ time will likely attract a few teams take a look at his tape and could move him up the draft. He’ll really move up if he can repeat that time at his Pro Day.
Jessamen Dunker out of Tennessee State University finished third in the 40-yard dash with a time of 4.98 seconds. He had a tendency to pick his feet up too high, but there is plenty of potential for a team who likes his speed.
Ethan Cooper from Indiana University of Pennsylvania ended up being a small-school participant that caught my eye. He might not go early, but like Dunker, he looked like he had plenty to work with on the field.
Justin Senior out of Mississippi State University ran a 5.55-second 40-yard dash, which wasn’t blazing but was nowhere near the slowest time of the offensive linemen. He had a solid day but tended to not bend his knees or bend at his hips as he got tired. Senior should hear his name called on day three of the draft.
While the offensive-line class in this draft is somewhat shallow this year, the opposite could be said of the running backs. This is one of the deepest positions in this draft, with some potential superstars.
One surprise happened to be that this group only had eight players run a sub-4.50-second 40-yard dash. Most of the running backs didn’t showcase blazing speeding.
Early in the day, a lot the talk focused on Louisiana State University running back Leonard Fournette, who weighs 240 pounds, had a poor vertical jump and didn’t do the broad jump. Those questions started to go away after Fournette ran a 4.51-second 40-yard dash. That is an outstanding time for a running back as big as he is.
Fournette did struggle in the passing drills, as he double-caught balls or dropped them. He struggled catching the ball because he didn’t have to do it very much at LSU.
Dalvin Cook out of Florida State University ran a 4.5-second 40-yard dash, and Christian McCaffrey out of Stanford University ran it in 4.49 seconds. It was a bit of a surprise that neither player was faster, but both looked smooth during the on-the-field drills.
Cook and McCaffrey ended up catching the ball with ease, adding to the possibility that they and Fournette could all be drafted in the first round. It looks like early second round at the latest for all three.
One running back who drove up his stock this week is Alvin Kamara out of the University of Tennessee. He did great in the broad jump and the vertical, but only ran a 4.53-second 40-yard dash. He caught the ball well, and his other measurable skills should send him up some draft boards.
T.J. Logan out of the University of North Carolina ended up the fastest player after day one with a 4.37-second 40-yard dash. It was the only sub-4.4-second dash ran on day one of the Combine. That speed should send him up a few draft boards.
There will be plenty of big names at running back available to teams after the first and second round, as well. NFL teams will be able to get a productive player deep into day three of the draft.