Friday was the first official day of NFL Combine workouts, with tight ends, offensive linemen, and special teams players on display for all 32 franchises. Let's take a look at some of the highlights and lowlights and if anyone's stock is rising or dropping after workouts and interviews:
– We start with Andy Gallik. The Boston College center posted the eighth-slowest 40-yard dash time among guys participating, running a 5.50. He finished ahead of two guys from Florida State, including Tre' Jackson, but the time is going to hurt Gallik's draft stock. The average offensive center runs almost a full two-tenths of a second faster, which might not seem like a lot, but consider that the average defensive tackle runs a 5.13. Unfortunately, the NFL is a speed league, and an offensive lineman, especially a center, has to be fast to snap the ball and immediately get up field.
– The good news for Gallik is that while his downfield speed isn't there, he was middle of the pack in the 20-yard shuttle. The shuttle measures acceleration and is a better judge of how the OLs are at exploding off the line. Fast offensive lineman are usually better suited for outside blocking so they can kick out and get up field. A center needs to be fast at the interior, which means he needs better quickness. While Gallik's downfield speed is pretty much nonexistent, he should be able to block well on the inside.
– Gallik's bench press was phenomenal and will offset any speed woes. He lifted 225 pounds 29 times to tie for seventh best in the entire Combine. Despite being somewhat slower, his strength will make him appealing to power running teams and pass protection. The speed aspect is more for pull and kick-out blocks, but the strength will protect him against defensive linemen charging up the middle.
– All of this means he's projecting, right now at least, to a solid pass-protecting center. He had a good three-cone drill, which measures agility and is huge for pass protecting offensive lineman, even though his broad jump and vertical jump weren't the best (measuring leg strength). I don't suspect Gallik will be picked in rounds 1-3 without a major reach, especially since teams seem to covet versatile linemen who can play multiple positions. But he's projecting to a very good fourth round pick who will be able to step in and start for teams. He's definitely going to be a middle-round sleeper, the type of guy that, if paired with the right linemen, will fast become a good starter in the NFL. Don't sleep on a team like Tampa Bay in the fourth round, especially if the Bucs can pair him next to Logan Mankins for a couple of seasons.
– As for the rest of the Combine, you're going to get to know the name Ali Marpet very fast. The Division III product out of Hobart & William Smith ran a sub-5.00 40 and bench pressed 225 pounds 30 times. Well over 300 pounds, he's going to get drafted and will be a versatile tackle. If he's picked early, it's because he looked amazing in shorts. If he's not, it's because he's from Division III. But whoever picks him is going to have an interesting case on their hands because he could easily be converted to a pass catching offensive lineman or extra fullback. He's going to give someone a ton of versatility in their lineup at a time when teams are trying to innovate as much as possible in a copycat league.
– Miami's Erick Flowers is the strongest lineman in the draft, but his agility and speed is a disaster. He was BRUTAL in kick-step, pass blocking drills that should submarine his ability to actually block in the NFL. He still has potential as a run blocker, especially with his strength and powering forward, along with a semi-good 40-yard dash time. But if you google his name, he pretty much let an opposing guy jog by him on the outside. Lined up at right tackle, at least the quarterback can see what's going to kill him.
– MyCole Prutit is a tight-end who is best served by the Combine. Without the drills, teams would need to go deep down into the world of college football to find him. But a big body who ran the 40 in 4.58 seconds, he's all of a sudden a name that should be up into the upper rounds of the draft. Looking back over his stats, the first thing noticeable is a 10-catch performance against Purdue.
– Quarterbacks are expected to go through drills and throw on Saturday, which meant they met the media on Friday while specialists are going through drills. That meant we were treated to these two quotes:
"I haven't huddled in a while. It seems like a little detail, but that is kind of a big deal. There are other things as well: Three, five, seven-step drops under center. That's all stuff I've been able to work on the last month."
"This is not a competition. Because one thing about me, I plan on winning the Super Bowls in the next year, so it's going to be _____ versus Peyton Manning and _____ versus Tom Brady. I want to be viewed like that. After all this combine stuff, you're not going to hear no more about ______ and ______. But I want my name to stay relevant for the next 15 to 20 years of my career."
One of those quotes is by Marcus Mariota. One is by Jameis Winston. Take a wild guess which one is which.
Jameis never disappoints because he struggled with the command of the English language. He also rolled out these gems:
"I got so many people to inspire and I got so many little kids looking up to me, not only as a quarterback, but as a person, and I want to be that role model for them."
"A lot of people thought I was fat, but I'm proving everybody wrong, you what I'm saying? I look good, and I know it."
"The hardest thing is just being real with yourself and just letting you know that you let somebody down."
"You can't predict the future, I can't predict the future. But what I can do right now is do what I need to do to be the face of a franchise."
At some point, Jameis, you should probably talk about football. I get the feeling that Mariota is living in film study and workout rooms, which allows him to "crush" interviews with teams (as a couple of analysts are saying). Jameis, meanwhile, is really struggling to put together coherent thoughts about football. He's talking about faces of franchises, about winning Super Bowls, about competing with Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Instead, he should be focusing on being in a classroom, learning NFL style offenses, and talking about five or seven step drops. What got you here won't work.
I realize I take a ton of heat for being a Jameis hater, and I get that people will say I'm just alongside everyone ignoring what he's done on the field the last couple of years. But let's analyze it through, again, the following quote:
"I'm looking forward to a 15-year career, a couple of trips to the Super Bowl, and a parade through downtown San Diego."
You know who said that? Ryan Leaf.