INDIANAPOLIS – A few observations from the Friday workouts at the NFL Combine, which largely featured offensive linemen and tight ends.
- If you watched the broadcast of the workouts on the NFL Network, there was plenty of mention of Ali Marpet from Division III Hobert College. The first time I laid eyes on Marpet was earlier in the year at the Senior Bowl. Just in case you missed it - here were my game notes for DallasCowboys.com
I believe this is the first time during my stint with DallasCowboys.com that I have ever devoted a mention to a player from Hobart College in Geneva, New York, but guard Ali Marpet deserves that. I noticed Marpet was when he was working during the North practice and he was matched up against Washington's massive defensive tackle Danny Shelton and he was able to hold him off in the one-on-one pass rush drills. At 6-4, 307 he physically doesn't appear that powerful, but in the game he was able to handle some players with size such as Gabe Wright of Auburn and Joey Mbu of Houston. Where Marpet is able to get these defenders is with his leverage. He does a really nice job of getting his hands inside, then he bends his knees to sit down and this puts him in a leverage position to control. What I liked the best about his game was his ability to finish. There is a nasty side to his game and from his first snap to the last one he was not one bit scared of playing against the bigger school defenders.
- Just watching these offensive line workouts, it appears that there are more candidates to line up on the right side than on the left, which could help the Cowboys in case they have to go that direction. The tackles that worked out well enough to consider on that left side were T.J. Clemmings, Jake Fisher, Laurence Gibson and D.J. Humphries. I wouldn't be afraid to put anyone of these guys I mentioned on the right side as well.
Robert Haverstein from Wisconsin, from a numbers standpoint, had a poor workout -- but don't let that fool you. On tape he is a much better player than he tests, which tends to be a trait of those Wisconsin offensive linemen. Remember back when the Travis Frederick basically had the same type of workout here in Indianapolis numbers-wise, but look what he has developed into in just two seasons. These kids can play and Haverstein proved to me that he is no different.
- In talking with some scouts after the tight end workouts, we were kicking around the idea that because of all these spread offenses that we are seeing in college football, the old school, inline blocking "Y" tight ends are becoming a thing of the past. I can remember tight end groups that had at least three to five quality players to evaluate, but I can say that other than Maxx Williams it's a poor group to select from. If you are just evaluating the numbers, Jesse James of Penn State had the most productive day overall. At 6-7, 261, his 4.83 40-yard time could improve during an on campus workout. The guy I thought was the most natural at catching the ball in the drills was Nick O'Leary of Florida State. His athletic numbers were nothing to get excited about, but I would still like to study the tape and see where that takes me just because of his hands. Wide receiver Devin Funchess from Michigan is a player that most teams might try and move to tight end because of his size (6-4, 232) and if that was the case then it would give the group one of its best athletic players.
- For teams that are looking for an athletic center that could also have some flex to play another position along the offensive line, the player I'd focus on would be Cameron Erving from Florida State. I graded him as an offensive tackle first with the possibility of moving him to center later. After watching his workout at the Combine on Friday, I would go ahead and make that move right now to center. He reminded me size-wise of former Cowboys center / guard Andre Gurode, but with more athletic skill. Both players had that upper body power to hold off rushers and get movement in the running game, but where Erving has him is that ability to snatch that three-technique or get to the outside comfortably on the screen. Ali Marpet, who I mentioned earlier is another player in watching him play during Senior Bowl week and here at the Combine also has a chance to also make that switch center from guard.
- Would you believe me if I told you that receivers Sammie Coates, Geremy Davis, Kevin White had the same number of reps on the bench press (23) as projected first round tackle Brandon Scherff? These receivers also had one more rep than T.J. Clemmings (22) and two more reps than La'el Collins (21), who are also projected to go in the first round. What is strange about this is that when you watch Scherff and Collins play, you see some impressive power especially in their run blocking. It's the difference between football and weight room strength.