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Scouting Combine notes: day 3

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Notes and observations from DL/LB weigh in, WR/TE bench press, and the RB/OL field tests.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Day 3 of the NFL Scouting Combine is in the books, and it was the first of the two busiest days on the schedule. We had DL/LB weighing in, WR/TE completing the bench press, and then the RB/OL did all of their field tests. I’ll start in the middle cause that’s the least that needs reporting.

The WR bench is literally the least important single test of any position group in the entire combine. I could care less how many reps any of them did. The TE bench has some interest, however, and in that group Beau Sandland continues to build an intriguing combine. 6’4"/253, with 34 ¼" arms and 10 1/8" hands; Sandland now adds a 2nd place finish in the bench with 23 reps.

Back in October I wrote in this piece ( http://www.fieldgulls.com/2015/10/26/9614174/2016-nfl-draft-seattle-sea-mock-2-0 ) that Morgan is "country strong"…well, today he confirmed it pushing up 29 reps on the bench to win the group. At this point, I wouldn’t draft him like I was suggesting 5 months ago, but maybe a cool UDFA to look for.

In the DL weigh-in, there wasn’t a whole lot of surprises, but I did feel shocked when I read (in multiple sources) that Matt Judon weighed in at 6’3"/275lbs. He had been listed on his team website as 6’4"/255. I’m still thinking that might be a typo. Those do happen.

One of the things I like to look for at DL is 33" arms. There are plenty this year…I counted 46 out of 64 players (72%). Sleeper LEO candidate from Florida, Alex McCalister had the longest arms in the group at 36" exactly.

A couple of the names that ticked off the 33"arm box included: Andrew Billings, Jonathan Bullard, Willie Henry, Chris Jones, Sheldon Rankins (I believe, a bump up from his Sr Bowl measurement), A’Shawn Robinson, Jihad Ward.

Two names that didn’t hit 33" were Kenny Clark (32 1/8") and Austin Johnson (32 ¾"). The arm length for DL, much like the center of the OL, is more fungible as you travel further inside; so a couple of nose tackles like Clark and Johnson could be fine at 32".

It was good to see Bullard come in at 6’3"/285…2 lbs heavier than his season listed weight, and well above the mark of 275 lbs I’ve seen some writers speculate he was at.

Shawn Oakman came in above his weight from the Sr Bowl weigh-in. Then he was 269 lbs, and somehow today he weighed 287 lbs. But now it will be interesting to see how that sudden bulk-up affects his workout.

The names to watch if you believe in converting a DL to an OL (again) will be Joel Heath and Ufomba Kamalu. Heath measured 6’5"/293 with 34 ½" arms, and Kamalu is 6’5"/295 with 35" arms. Neither have particularly high projection as DT.

The star of the DL weigh-in, and soon-to-be star of the draft, had to be Deforest Buckner: 6’7"/291 with 34 3/8" arms and an astounding 11 ¾" hands. I mean, dude could be on his way to a JJ Watt performance.

The Linebacker weigh-in wasn’t particularly interesting. I did make a general note that this feels like a rather large group of LB overall. I count almost half (47%) of the group weigh over 240 lbs.

Ironically, while most of the league may try to take advantage of that beef, I like Seattle to try to steal the speed. Travis Feeney came in 4 lbs heavier than his 2015 UW weight, at 6’4"/230 and 33 1/8" arms. I like those marks. Reminder: Mike Morgan was 6’3"/226 and Malcolm Smith was 6’0"226 when they were drafted.

Incidentally, for my UW friends, Cory Littleton measured 6’3"/238 with 33 3/8" arms.

Having not watched the testing live today, I’m not sure what happened with the RB group. Currently, all sources are reporting their 40’s and both jumps, but there are only about half the names that appear to have run 3-cone and short shuttle. Were there really that many non-competes?? No idea.

Cliffs notes:

The laser-timer seemed to be working correctly this year, with 10 backs posting times of 4.49 or faster.

Keith Marshall came out of nowhere to lead the pack in the forty with a scathing 4.31s. He would later be disappointing in the vertical jump, and then not participate in any other event.

Derrick Henry did crazy things, but I still wouldn’t pay the price to get him.

Kenneth Dixon posted a 4.54 unofficial time, that later became a 4.58 official, so he’ll have some work to do before his pro day. He did post the 4th-best vertical jump (37.5"), a 10’01" broad jump, the 3rd-fastest cone drill (from a limited-participation group). Kenneth was easily the best route-running RB in the field.

And Dan Vitale put himself comfortably in the position of top fullback in the draft with a line of 4.60 forty, 30 bench, 38.5" vert, 10’3" broad, 7.12 cone, and 4.12 shuttle (his shuttle and bench were tops in the entire group).

Finally, the featured presentation of the day: Offensive Line.

Jason Spriggs came in as the obvious name to watch, and he didn’t disappoint: 4.94 forty, 31 bench, 9’7" broad, 7.70 cone, and 4.44 shuttle. Spriggs will be over-drafted…his tape says he still needs a redshirt year, to me.

The surprises of the day were the two UCLA linemen. Caleb Benenoch and Jake Brendel each had great overall combines, with 40’s under 5.01s, broad jumps over 9’0", and then Brendel posted top-2 marks in cone and shuttle. I was not familiar enough with them before today, so I will be spending time studying them in the weeks to come.

The non-surprises of the day were Connor McGovern and Joe Dahl. Both Senior OT’s are projected to move inside to OG due to shorter arm lengths, but both bested 5.20 in the forty, 28+ in the bench, 9’1" in the broad jump, under 7.65 in the cone, and under 4.78 in the shuttle. These are two guys I’ve really liked all year, and they’re currently looking like value, mid-round OL picks.

Actually, all three of The Joe’s (Thuney, Haeg, and Dahl) performed very well today. Out of 53 total OL, the Joe’s each finished top 15 in pretty much every event. I will spend more time studying Thuney.

At Center, I think Ryan Kelly re-emerged as the top candidate over Nick Martin. With his sturdier, 6’4"/311 frame, R.Kelly had the 6th-fastest 40 overall (5.03 to Martin’s 5.22 at 299lbs), and then he bettered Martin in broad jump, and shuttle. Martin took bench by 2 reps and 3-cone by 0.01s.

While Spriggs probably moved up from top 50 overall to top 25, Jack Conklin probably moved from top 25 to top 15. I’m not sure how that balances out fiscally and who made the most money, but we definitely need to applaud the performance the universally-proclaimed "unathletic" Conklin put forth. Measuring in at 6’6"/308 with 35" arms, Jack ran a 5.00s forty, benched 25 reps, jumped 8’7", and ran top-15 times in both 3-cone and shuttle. Conklin was significantly better than Ronnie Stanley in every discipline, and it’s probably time we consider him the OT2 in this class.

Looking forward to Saturday…DB’s will weigh-in (looking for them 32’s!), DL/LB will bench, and WR will field test. We’ll be looking for any of the WR to top Keith Marshall’s 4.31 forty. I’m looking for Charone Peake to be super-fun. And let’s hope we see some TE hit under 4.65 forties.