INDIANAPOLIS - Here's a few interesting tidbits that occurred from Friday's bench-press session for the top offensive linemen:
- As a scout I always wanted to know as much about a player as I could before I studied the tape when it came in regard of height, weight and speed. The more I knew about a player, the better chance it gave me to correctly put a grade on him. Sitting at Valley Ranch and studying these players is a lot different from making a school call to Florida, Texas A&M or Alabama. Scouts will have the opportunity to visit with the coaches and trainers but they also visit with the strength coach which gives you an idea of how strong physically that player is. You can see if a player plays strong on tape but when you talk to the coach and he is able to confirm that, then it paints a better picture for you.
- I have always enjoyed watching the bench press work at the Combine because he really puts these players under extreme pressure. You can say that the 40 dash can move or drop a player but the bench press can do the same for me which makes me a little different than other personnel guys. Today I was able to sit in while the offensive linemen did their lifts for the front office members and scouts. There were a couple of positive surprises but there were some negatives as well. Let me start with the positives, I was surprised how much that Oklahoma tackle Lane Johnson was able to bench. On most boards Johnson is the third best tackle and today, he was able to bench one more rep than Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher who are the top two. Johnson was able to do 28 which was impressive because there were times on tape where he didn't look like he played that strong and I was expecting maybe six or seven less reps. Now in the war rooms across the country, Johnson will be looked at much differently and that is a good thing.
- On Thursday, guard Jonathan Cooper told the members of the media that his goal was to get 35 reps on bench and he was dead on right when he had his shot today. When you watched Cooper on tape, you can see his ability to sustain blocks but even in his mind, there were thoughts that NFL scouts didn't think he was strong enough and he was out to change their minds. His effort today was the second highest total next to Eric Herman's 36 for the offensive line.
- The negatives for the group had to be that Chance Warmack didn't lift which now puts the pressure on him to have to beat or match Cooper's number at his pro day but what was surprising is that offensive tackle D.J. Fluker only managed to lift 21 times and Wisconsin teammates Travis Frederick and Ricky Wagner only managed 21 and 20 respectively. I have to be honest that I was shocked about Fluker because on tape you do see him play with strength and power but I will say this about Frederick, I was not surprised at all. As much as people want to talk about this Wisconsin offensive line, they are not this mash you at the line of scrimmage group. Frederick in my view is a belly to belly blocker and there were plenty of times where he didn't sustain his blocks and you would see his man on the tackle. For Wagner, I have yet to study his body of work. I was also disappointed to also not see Kyle Long, Barrett Jones, Justin Pugh, Dallas Thomas all not lift as well. I had a positive view of Long over the last couple of days and I liked Thomas as well but I needed to see Pugh because I am trying to get a handle on his ability to play inside as well.
- I welcome the opportunity to always get to know these players a little better as I try and put my own personal board together. In my eyes there were several guys that helped themselves today and others that will make me dig a little more on but that is the great thing about the Combine, it's always here to try and answer those questions.