Representatives from every team in the NFL descended upon the University of Tennessee Wednesday to take in the Pro Day and while prospects at virtually every position were evaluated, the Vols' talented offensive line was the clear focus.
Eight offensive line coaches were among the NFL personnel on hand for the workout and it is clear why. NFLDraftScout.com currently projects four Tennessee offensive linemen to be drafted in 2014 -- a feat no university has accomplished over the past 10 years.
Our top-rated prospect from the program, junior left tackle Antonio Richardson enjoyed a good but not great workout, according to a scout who attended the event. Comically nicknamed "Tiny," the 6-foot-6, 326 pound Richardson showed off his explosiveness in the leaping drills with a 31" vertical and 9'4" broad jump (numbers which would have ranked among the top five for offensive linemen at the Combine) but showed less-than-ideal fluidity during shuttle drills. His 8.10-second time in the 3-cone drill, for example, would have ranked 13th out of the 17 offensive tackles tested in this event in Indianapolis.
The results match up with Richardson's game. He's surprisingly balanced in pass protection but in the running game he relies more on his size and power to simply drive defenders off the ball than adjust to moving targets at the second level.
Senior right tackle Ja'Waun James was the most impressive of the bunch, according to the scout. While he elected to stand on his Combine numbers, the 49-game starter looked "very fluid" during his positional workout, demonstrating excellent knee bend and quickness out of his stance. James has shown a tendency to step up under the bright lights before as he impressed at the Senior Bowl.
Though they haven't received nearly the fanfare as their outside brethren, interior linemen James Stone, Zach Fulton and Alex Bullard also posted strong positional workouts, I'm told. Stone and Fulton currently rank as potential day three selections on NFLDraftScout.com's board.
Perhaps because of the talent of Tennessee's offensive line, running back Rajion Neal hasn't generated a great deal of buzz in the scouting community but the Combine snub put forth an impressive effort which could earn him a day three selection of his own.
Neal, who caught my attention earlier in the year, measured in at 5-11, 220 pounds and posted solid 4.55-4.58 times in the 40-yard dash. It was the quick change of direction in shuttle drills, as well as his explosiveness in the leaps (38" vertical, 9'11" broad) which really caught the eyes of scouts and Neal also enjoyed a "pretty damn good" positional workout, showing clear cutting ability, acceleration and soft hands out of the backfield.
Massive defensive tackle Daniel McCullers (6-foot-7, 348) posted what was characterized as a "fair" workout, showing off his impressive strength with 27 repetitions of 225 pounds despite possessing very long (36 5/8") arms but also looking a bit sluggish during his positional workout.