NFL Draft

NFL Combine Day One: What To Watch For

Happy Combine, Steelers’ Nation! It’s a wonderful time of the year. Things kick off early today with the running backs, specialists, and offensive line going through tests and drills.

Though some aspects of the Combine can be over hyped, it’s all information that goes into the big puzzle of evaluating a prospect. So don’t discount it completely. With that said, some players to watch for, and at the end of this post, some great reading and listening material on the Combine by some Depot friends.

Offensive Line

– I don’t have a major in kinesiology, and don’t pretend to, but watching him at the Senior Bowl and talking to some others that know this stuff really well, LSU OT Vadal Alexander is very stiff. There are some serious questions as to whether he can stay at tackle and at Mobile, he saw a lot of time at guard. I want to see him show explosion with a strong ten split and show knee bend when moving laterally in drills. Don’t want to see him pop up. Big day for him.

Josh Garnett should have a great day. For as big and muscular as he is, he’s explosive and I bet he’ll have one of the best ten splits of his group. Huge lower half to fire out and cover ground.

– If Le’Raven Clark was a political campaign, his numbers would be tanking right now. He has a rare body type, 6’5 316 with 36 inch arms, but he struggled playing out of a three point stance and drive blocking at the Senior Bowl. He is a major work in progress. He needs to show well in Indianapolis and get some offensive line coaches banging on the table for him, being able to support their case with numbers and what he shows in drills. That matters when it comes to the war room.

– Two tackles I mentioned in my mock that I still haven’t looked at very closely yet and am excited to look at are Nebraska OT Alex Lewis and Oregon OT Tyler Johnstone. I mocked Lewis to the Steelers as a fairly raw left tackle while Johnstone is cut from a similar cloth, each standing in at at least 6’5, 310 pounds. I don’t know a ton about either so today will be a nice place to begin.

– West Georgia’s Dominique Robertson may have had the most impressive pre-workout portion of the Combine. A big body at 6’5 324 with 36 inch arms and a 86 1/4 inch wingspan, he still managed to put up 30 reps on the bench press, a remarkable number given his length. Much like Terron Armstead from Arkansas Pine-Bluff did in 2013, this is an opportunity to put himself on the map, though don’t expect him to blaze the remarkable 40 time Armstead did.

– Stanford tackle Kyle Murphy struggled with his lateral quickness at the Senior Bowl. Want to see him do well in the kickslide drill and be able to cover ground on his initial slide. I have a feeling teams like him more than some of us scouts do, but this is an important day for him.

Jason Spriggs, the OT from Indiana, should have a great day today. Post some of the best numbers of the group. He just needs to live up to those expectations or he’ll be crushed by analysts. I am worried that technically, he has some serious issues, despite having a ton of starting experience. That reminds me of Jah Reid, who was a similar size, and hasn’t had a great NFL career.

– It’s a strong guard/center group with Nick Martin and Ryan Kelly battling for one of the top spots. It’ll be interesting to see if either of them can create separation with how they time.

Running Backs

– Lot of eyes will be on Auburn RB Peyton Barber stole headlines by disclosing he declared early to help his mom, who is homeless and living with her sister. I don’t know anything about his game but I’m definitely rooting for him.

– Several analysts like Alex Collins out of Arkansas as a sneaky riser at the position in a pretty good class. A big guy at 5’10, 217 pounds, if he can show explosion, many others will agree with that assessment.

Kenneth Dixon should kill in the receiving drills. He’s one of the best pass catchers in this class and for rookies, having the ability to block and catch is how you get onto the field.

– San Jose State running back Tyler Ervin wants to run in the 4.2’s…let’s see if he can pull it off. Either way, he’ll post terrific times, as you’d anticipate. He’ll do well catching the football too, showing it in college and Mobile in individuals.

DeAndre Washington didn’t really catch my eye in Mobile but he’s got an interesting build. 5’8 204 pounds who showed strength and put up 24 reps on the bar yesterday. I haven’t studied him but have seen clips of him running hard and finishing runs.


– Because you need to show them love, too. Baylor’s Jimmy Landes is the only long snapper to be invited to Indy this year. Joe Cardona was drafted in the 5th round last year. Don’t expect Landes to go that high, but who knows, maybe he gets taken in the 7th.

Combine Reading

Two places I’d encourage you to check out. Over at the Football Educator, former GM Ted Sundquist and Brandon Thorn of the Scouting Academy break down what they look for in the Combine. Brandon, who has a degree in kinesiology, has an in-depth breakdown on some of the things he looks for.

Dan Hatman, a former scout, and OL Geoff Schwartz give their experiences on the Combine from their different, unique perspectives. It’s a great 45 minute discussion. Put it on during the Combine and be in football heaven. You can hear it on the Block ‘Em Up podcast.

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