INDIANAPOLIS – Saturday is perhaps the most intriguing day at the NFL Combine, because we all get a chance to watch this all-important quarterback class go through its workouts.
Jared Goff, Paxton Lynch and Carson Wentz won’t have the chance to work out for several more hours, so I wanted to take some time reviewing the first day of workouts.
These are my main impressions from Friday’s offensive line and running back showcase – including those who impressed and those with work to do.
- Michigan State offensive tackle Jack Conklin had the best workout of the trio of him, Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley and Ohio State’s Taylor Decker. He was athletic in the majority of the drills. He showed nice lateral quickness, range and balance. In the drills where he was asked to move in space, his ease of movement was relaxed and controlled. His name needs to be in the mix when discussing the tackles that will go behind Ole Miss standout Laremy Tunsil.
- Teams are talking about Kansas State’s Cody Whitehair as the first guard off the board, but Chris Westerman of Arizona State closed some ground on him during this workout. I liked what I saw from his lateral agility, change of direction and body control. His workout confirmed what we have seen from him as far as his tape. It is rare to see this guy in a bad blocking position or on the ground.
- There is no question who the best center is in the draft. Alabama’s Ryan Kelly would get that nod over Nick Martin from Notre Dame. Kelly and Martin are similar strength-wise in bench numbers and playing strength. Both do a nice job when it comes to playing on their feet. Where Martin has a bit of an advantage, in my opinion, is his ability to play two positions. I am not sure that you can get Kelly to play as well as Martin at guard and I promise that teams are thinking the same way.
- Scouts were working with 40-yard dash times for Ezekiel Elliott, Derrick Henry and Kenneth Dixon that were right down the line with what they had in the fall on their school calls. The running back that made the biggest jump from what scouts had was C.J. Prosise from Notre Dame. Prosise was listed as a 4.62 guy and rolled off a strong time with a 4.48. Prosise also drew high praise from Marshall Faulk in the type of workout he had when it came to the drill portion of the workout.
- Georgia’s Keith Marshall led all running backs with a 40 time of 4.31 while Tyler Ervin of San Jose State was second with 4.41. I have yet to study the type of player that Marshall was for the Bulldogs, but I do know what kind of player Ervin was. If you only have a chance to scout one of his games, I suggest you try and find the Auburn film from 2015. In that matchup you would swear that you were watching Leonard Fournette of LSU carrying the ball. Ervin is not a small guy weight-wise, and that afternoon he attacked the Tigers inside with power and on the edge with an explosive burst. Ervin shows the ability to be a jack of all trades-type of player that could fit nicely in any NFL scheme he is asked to play.
- Arkansas running back Alex Collins might not have had the type of Combine that he had hoped for, but I am still a big fan of his. This is a case where the film is better than the workout. He can make people miss, he shows balance to make cuts, he can change directions and he can run out of trouble. You don't give up on a player when you see these traits with your eyes. My experience in these types of situations that when the scouts make their way to Fayetteville for Pro Day, we will see an improvement in Collins and his numbers.