NFL Combine: Highlights and Surprises

Day 1 of the NFL Combine drills was today and the groups that kicked off the festivities were the Offensive Lineman and Tight Ends. Players such as Jake Matthews, Taylor Lewan, Greg Robinson, Jace Amaro, and Eric Ebron were on full display with some impressive times. It was also a chance for the little lesser known guys to move up draft boards. Whether it’s an impressive 40 time, bench press, are just showing off good footwork or catching ability, the NFL Combine can either make you gain or lose millions depending on where you get drafted. These were some of the highlights and surprises from Day 1 of the Sunday Combine.

Tight End Highlights:

The good part was that no one that was expected to have a good showing fell on their face. Both Ebron and Amaro had top 5 times for the TEs, 4.6 and 4.74 respectively. They both also finished in the top 6 TEs for bench press with 28 for Amaro and 24 for Ebron. Make no doubt about it, the consensus top 2 TEs both performed like they were expected, but Amaro was above and beyond. Most people do have Ebron better, but this could be an AJ Green – Julio Jones type battle that could just come down to which teams happens to be picking and who they like more. Another highlight was watching Joe Don Duncan from Dixie State put up 35 reps in the Bench Press, beating the next highest TE by 7 reps.

Tight End Surprises:

There were 2 surprises for TEs today. The 1st one was Oregon Ducks TE Colt Lyeria. The athletic TE ran an impressive 4.61 forty and had the biggest Broad Jump with 128 inches. He isn’t going to overpower you with a low amount of Bench Press reps(15) and he is a little small, coming in at 6’4 242, but in the new-age NFL, he can probably create some mismatches if he covered by a slow linebacker. The other surprise was Troy Niklas from Notre Dame. He had a good showing of bench reps with 27 reps, but he was still outdone by Amaro, who he was expected to do better than. He still should be a 2nd round pick that could crawl in to the back of the 1st round if a team falls in love with him.

Offensive Line Highlights:

Taylor Lewan from Michigan put on a show today. Not only was he the only offensive lineman to post a sub 4.9 forty, but he did it twice. He put up 29 reps on the bench press, which is probably a little low for him, but there were other top guys that did worse, so it can hold up. Every year there is always 1 offensive lineman that puts on a show on the Bench Press, this year, it was Russell Bodine from North Carolina. He put up 42 reps, clearing the next highest offensive lineman by 6 reps.  Greg Robinson of Auburn was also strong with the 2nd best forty time even though he is 30 lbs bigger than Lewan. He was able to put up 32 reps on the Bench Press. Both guys probably locked themselves in the 1st 15 picks.

Offensive Line Surprises:

The 2 biggest surprises were the word being circulated that Alabama OT, Cyrus Kouandjio has been failed by several teams because of an arthritic knee from a bad surgery. It was also said to be genetic as his brother also has bad knees. He was projected to be mid to late 1st round pick. Most now think will could be in for a big fall and may not go till possibly the 3rd. The other surprise was the almost lackluster performance by the people that most scouts say is the best Tackle, Jake Matthews from Texas A&M. He forty time was 5.07, which was 9th for OL, and he only put up 24 reps on the Bench Press, a number that a number of TEs even topped. It will be interesting if the fast rising Greg Robinson passed him.

Overall it was a good solid day to open the drills and it will just get people warmed up for the lightning fast times that we may be seeing tomorrow when the RBs and WRs get on the field. With players like Sammie Watkins, I’m sure the NFL Combine record holder for the 40, Chris Johnson, who ran a 4.24, will be watching to see if his record will hold up for another year.

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