Combine Preview: OL, RB

By Jared Stanger

One week from today the NFL Combine begins in Indianapolis with the arrivals of the first 3 groups of participants covering the specialists, offensive line, and running backs. In this story I will be taking a look at some of the OL and RB storylines to watch for from this year.

Offensive Line

The first thing to look for chronologically are the arm lengths at the weigh-in. Especially from the OL that were at the Senior Bowl. Recent data suggests that (for whatever reason) the Senior Bowl is the stingiest giving out longer AL’s of the three major events (Shrine, Sr, Combine). Guys like Ethan Pocic, Antonio Garcia, and Forrest Lamp could really use at least 3/8″ bump ups at the Combine. And recent history says that is totally plausible, if not up to a full inch improvement. Don’t ask me why this happens, but it does.

My next interest will be seeing how these MANY small-school OL test out. Erik Austell from Charleston Southern is an underweight LT that probably projects to OG and shows good movement on tape. Same story for Kutztown’s Jordan Morgan:

Clearly, I think, the league knows this isn’t a strong year for OL so they’ve invited a lot of guys that project as day-3 flyers: Jerry Ugokwe from William and Mary, Nate Theaker from Wayne State, Javarius Leamon from South Carolina State, Cameron Lee from Illinois State, Jessamen Dunker from Tennessee State, Julie’n Davenport from Bucknell, Ethan Cooper from IPU, and Corey Levin from Chattanooga. Ten from outside of FBS, plus another eight from non-Power 5. If I counted right, that means 29 OL from within the Power 5, 18 from outside of it.

Can anyone step away from the pack as a potential Right Tackle?

I think the Left Tackle’s are pretty well known/set with Bolles, Ramczyk, Robinson fighting it out for first round order. The Seahawks would be lucky to see even one of those three hang around till #26.

But at RT there are a LOT of questions. I think Sam Tevi tests pretty well, but his tape is damning. I think Taylor Moton’s tape is good, but he’ll test horribly and probably get drafted as a guard. Jermaine Eluemunor is similar to Moton, but likely a degree or two better athlete. Damn…I’m basically out of interesting names. I don’t know that anyone else has enough talent, athleticism, and love of football (or even two of three of those qualities) after Tevi/Moton/Eluemunor.

Like, honestly, if Pocic gets enough of an AL bump up; put him at RT. I’m also lowkey intrigued by the idea of Damien Mama at RT. Otherwise it’s punting on OL until day 3 when you take one of the aforementioned small-school flyers (or someone not at the combine).

In a pure SPARQ intrigue list; I think Bolles will win the combine. I think Dorian will be very good. I think Lamp can surprise. I think Morgan can surprise. Robinson should be top5. I wouldn’t be shocked if Mama finished as top 5 OL in SPARQ, too.

Mama’s athleticism and what I’d guess are 34″ arms check off a couple of RT boxes…it would just be more a question of improving his technique (especially in pass-pro). But if a team is looking for more of a mauler-RT, with a better pass-protector at LT…maybe there’s some added value to be found in Mama.

Then again, Mama at RT might end up essentially being Eluemunor, who is not projecting to go as high.

Running Back

I don’t think there is as much intrigue at RB as there is at OL. Less mystery. If you watch enough RB tape, you can get a sense for their 40 yard dash from a big run. You can get a pretty good sense of their agility drills from their work behind the line of scrimmage.

Plus, RB is a position where you can overlook the pure SPARQ number in lieu of simply identifying guys that hit your benchmarks. And, more specifically, making sure your shortlist of guys you’ve identified/approved from tape hit those benchmarks.

As much as I would guess that James Conner, Wayne Gallman, Elijah McGuire, Brian Hill would hold some interest to Seattle; I’ve sort of painted myself into a corner of preferring one of Kareem Hunt and Aaron Jones. Both can catch very well, so 3rd downs are an option. Both have been bell-cows for 3+ years at their respective schools, and I think could do it at the next level, if needed. Hunt has more heat on him now and would take a stiffer investment, but I think Jones posts a better combine. We’re looking for Aaron to hit a 4.48 forty at 210 lbs. If Hunt can run 4.55 or better he is very interesting in the 3rd.

For the straight SPARQ championship; I could see Joe Williams taking that, but watch out for Hood (he’s Robocop). Dalvin should be up there in the top 5, and Jones may sneak in 5th-7th.