Saturday marked the first day of on-field drills for the NFL Scouting Combine. Players had been put through an array of medical exams, as well as interviews and a few off-field measurements such as height, weight, and bench press.
The NFL Scouting Combine consists of 11 groups each holding certain positions that take the field for drills over the course of four days. Group one has kickers, special teamers, and some offensive linemen. Group two is all offensive linemen, and group three is the tight ends. Groups four and five consist of quarterbacks and wide receivers, and the running backs are in group six. Groups seven and eight consist of defensive linemen and group nine has the linebackers. Groups 10 and 11 hold the defensive backs.
The big story on Day One of the on-field drills was Arkansas Pine-Bluff offensive tackle Terron Armstead, who turned out to be an absolute workout warrior. Armstead ran an unofficial 4.65 40 at 6’5″ 306 pounds, which was later officially called a 4.71. This is the fastest 40 time ever ran by an offensive lineman, which isn’t very surprising. Oklahoma tackle Lane Johnson (and projected first round pick) ended up running an official 4.72, and both of their stocks are on the rise.
That wasn’t all Armstead accomplished on Saturday though, he put up 31 reps on the bench, recorded a 34.5 inch vertical leap and a 112 inch broad jump. Obviously this doesn’t make Armstead a first round pick, but it just proves that this small school stud is an athletic freak, and you can’t teach athleticism. This will be the point where many teams go back and double-check his game film just to see how much he has proven as a blocker.
Two other offensive tackles of note were Central Michigan LT Eric Fisher and Alabama RT D.J. Fluker. Fisher continued to show his ability to be a franchise left tackle and looked very smooth in his drills. Fluker meanwhile, looked very slow, but showed that with his length, he will make a very solid right tackle in the NFL. He’s quick enough and big enough that he will be able to block well out on an island. Both of them looked like first round picks, and Fisher has pretty much solidified himself in the Top 7 for the NFL Draft.
The two big-name tight ends Tyler Eifert (Notre Dame), and Zach Ertz (Stanford) had good performances at the combine. Eifert put up a 4.68 40 time, while Ertz only put up a 4.76. Ertz proved to be a little bit stronger, as Eifert proved to be a little bit faster, with Ertz putting up 24 reps on the bench; two more than Eifert. Eifert continued to prove that he was more athletic than Ertz, posting a vertical leap that was five inches higher (35.5-30.5) and a broad jump that was eight inches more (119-111). Ertz was said to catch the ball better during the day, and he looked like it, so it will undoubtedly be a photo finish as to which tight end is first off the board.
Notre Dame LB Manti Te’o was the big story off-the-field because he held his first public press conference since the story about his fake girlfriend broke on Deadspin. His press conference was an absolute zoo, and the room was pretty much filled to the brim.
Te’o was very impressive with the way he handled questions and had clearly been coached up on how to answer various questions. If you have spare time, the copy of his press conference transcript is here, but he didn’t say anything ground breaking. Just said that the incident was embarrassing and that he is trying to move on and focus on football now; which is completely understandable.
Obviously this group is not the sexy, flashy group, but it was still an entertaining group to watch. Once the Combine is over, check back here for the NFL Combine Winners and Losers to see who’s stock is on the move.
[Photo via: @BroncosTV]