Reporting Justin Pawlowski
While the combine has its critics each and every year, there sure are a lot of people who pay close attention to every move these players make.
If the combine was a meaningless weekend, the NFL would have rid themselves of the event by now.
Sure, there are always the “workout warriors” who test well at the combine, but fail in the NFL. However, the combine is the only time before the draft where most of the prospects can all be tested at the same time under the same surroundings.
With that said, here are players from each position that I feel helped their cause during the combine:
Quarterback – Tyler Bray – Tennessee – Like most people who watched the quarterbacks, I was not impressed with most of the quarterbacks who participated at the combine nor do I have high hopes for this class. I thought Bray gained the most steam from this weekend. he ball seemed to explode out of his hand much differently than the other quarterbacks. Bray could be a very interesting mid-round pick.
Running Back – Christine Michael – Texas A&M - This guy has serious character issues. No one, including myself, knows how the meetings went with NFL GMs and coaches, but Michael tested through the roof. At 5’10” and 220 lbs, Michael ran a 4.54 40-yard dash and did 27 reps on the bench press. Michael’s measurables will have NFL teams doing extra research on him.
Wide Receiver – Tavon Austin – West Virginia - There were a couple of receivers like Kenny Stills of Oklahoma and Justin Hunter of Tennessee who did help themselves, but Tavon Austin stole the show. We knew Austin had the quickness, but Austin displayed elite straight-line speed running a 4.34 40-yard dash and good strength with 14 reps on the bench press. His size is a concern at 5’8” 174 lbs, but as a slot receiver and play-maker, Austin is now getting loud 1st round consideration.
Tight End – Vance McDonald – Rice - While Tyler Eifert solidified his status as the top tight end, McDonald had the most dominant weekend of all the tight ends. At 6’4” and 267 lbs, McDonald displayed excellent speed (4.69) and strength (31 reps) at the combine. McDonald also showed off some good hands and could see his stock on the rise.
Offensive Lineman- Lane Johnson – Oklahoma – I really wanted to put down FSU OT Menelik Watson, who I think could end up as a 1st round pick, but Lane Johnson was dominant in testing. As an offensive lineman, Johnson ran a blazing 4.72 40-yard dash at 303 lbs, while still doing 28 reps on the bench press. Johnson just seemed much more athletic than the other offensive linemen on the field.
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