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2007 Draft: Top 10 offensive linemen at the Combine

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What's the purpose of making a 300+ lb man jump around like a fool? Why make him run for 40 yards knowing full well he'll never do it in a game situation? Besides the bench press, the combine seemingly provides not a lick of help in understanding an offensive lineman's ability.

But what if we apply some kinematics and elementary physics to a player's 10 yard dash time, his vertical--just how many pounds of force does it take to project Joe Thomas 33 inches into the air? The results give a very clear idea of a player's explosive leg strength, their ability to shoot off the line and deliver that essential first hit. The results illuminate one sure thing (he's not who you think), potentially another first round bust for the Lions and a host of sleepers.

Results only reflect players who participated in the 2007 NFL combine. The first two stats reflect pounds of force generated in the vertical jump (thrust) and the ten yard dash (burst). The former gives a good indication of a player's ability to stand a defender up, this is especially important in pass blocking where a blocker must neutralize a defender for as long as possible. The second indicates straight line burst, paramount in run blocking, especially in short yardage. A player with a high "burst" number delivers a huge amount of force straight off the line. I also listed a player's bench reps and shuttle time. The player's are listed according to how I think they performed; no additional scouting was done or considered for these rankings.

Inspiration and some of the formulas for my stats can be credited to "football physicist" Timothy Gay, Ph.D. Combine numbers taken from NFL Draft Scout.

Justin Blalock

Thrust Burst Bench Shuttle
128.28 173.41 40 4.72

The best, most well rounded combine performance belongs to the big man from Texas. He beat Joe Thomas in the ten yard dash while carrying an extra 9 pounds and crushed the barbell with a mighty 40 reps. His two legged drive was good for a strong second tier showing, decidedly below standouts Thomas and Doug Free, but good and bolstered by elite upper body strength. His shuttle time wasn't spectacular, but it wasn't far from average and while he may never excel at pull blocking, his size, and total body strength virtually guarantees Blalock will make a dominant in-line blocker in the NFL. Blalock should easily move ahead of Ben Grubbs as the top guard on the board.

Allen Barbre

Thrust Burst Bench Shuttle
122.47 170.45 28 4.63

That's how you come from a small school and make people notice you. Barbre tore up the 10 yard dash, but also showed a strong upper body and excellent agility. Thomas pulled down the headlines with his top-end speed, but Barbre bested him in almost every category. Seems best suited for a tackle position where his shakes and powerful leg drive should allow him to effectively seal off the edge. A great sleeper for a team looking for depth on the offensive line.

Joe Thomas

Thrust Burst Bench Shuttle
128.93 166.61 28 4.88

Bust? Maybe. And fittingly he'll be in Detroit's silver and blue next year. It's not that Thomas performed poorly, just not as well as 99% of the media made it sound like. Thomas showed the best top speed for an offensive lineman at the combine, but his ten yard burst was decidedly average, especially for someone weighing 311lbs. Unless Martz can design a play that gives Thomas a 10 yard cushion before the snap, Thomas shouldn't be count on in short yardage. He didn't wow anyone in the 20 yard shuttle, either, troubling because agility is especially important for a left tackle. His vertical force was best among linemen and so once he engages a defender he should be able to stand them up, but for a player many believe to be a slam dunk top five pick his performance raises a lot of question.

Doug Free

Thrust Burst Bench Shuttle
128.07 170.64 22 4.53

Would be a steal if not for a rotten showing at the bench. Still a great sleeper. Anyone who can project 324 pounds 30 inches into the air has explosive legs, couple that with excellent agility and strong acceleration and you have a potentially excellent tackle that might be a couple years away.

Tony Ugoh

Thrust Burst Bench Shuttle
123.83 165.02 32 X

If only we knew how agile this guy is. As is, he gets knocked down for not participating in the shuttle or cones. Regardless, could make a very effective guard. He's explosive off the line and strong enough up top to maintain his blocks. Dig that 9'9" broad jump. The broad jump is too skill based to give an accurate reading about his leg strength, but his performance seems to indicate a rare level of athleticism.

James Marten

Thrust Burst Bench Shuttle
123.15 168.42 X 4.54

Another big guy who gets it going in a hury. Great in line power and excellent agility. He gets knocked down for not recording a bench press. Could be a great guard.

Brandon Frye

Thrust Burst Bench Shuttle
128.83 160.33 34 4.4

His lack of "burst" knocks him down quite a bit, but he delivers everywhere else. Good two legged drive and excellent upper body strength, plus excellent agility. You worry about his ability to blow the opposition off the line especially in short yardage, but while he'll never be an awesome run blocker he should be able to engage his man effectively keeping heat off the quarterback. A team could do much worse at right tackle.

Andy Alleman

Thrust Burst Bench Shuttle
120.56 167.21 27 4.65

Looks to be a better run blocker than pass blocker. Shows very good initial burst and good upper body strength to engage, but lacks the two legged strength to stand a defender up. His cone and shuttle both indicate he could pull block well, but he's never likely to be more than a strong role player. Could make a decent right guard.

Uche Nwaneria

Thrust Burst Bench Shuttle
X 168.33 24 X

On this list for his in line power. Lots of questions here, could be a huge liability in pass blocking. A stout blocker who will have tough time making it in the NFL.

Adam Koets

Thrust Burst Bench Shuttle
121.67 166.29 20 4.47

Need a right tackle? How about a backup right tackle? Koets is not without promise, he's agile and showed good burst, but his 20 bench reps might have some teams thinking blocking tight end. Decidedly thin, 298, this young man needs to bulk up, especially in the upper body, if he wants to play in the NFL.