The NFL's annual scouting combine is underway, and Friday brought the first on-field workouts of combine week. The running backs, offensive linemen and specialists took the stage to run 40s and showcase their talent in various other drills and athletic testing.
Alabama's Josh Jacobs is the top player at running back this year, but he sat out of testing on Friday due to an injury. Jacobs was among along with FAU's Devin Singletary and Iowa State's David Montgomery, but the landscape on Friday was much different, with other names emerging as the standouts at their position. For the offensive linemen, interior players like NC State's Garrett Bradbury and Texas A&M's Erik McCoy really stood out.
Now, let's take a look at who really shined on Friday and which of the big names may have missed a golden opportunity to turn some heads.
How to watch the combine
Coverage of the combine events will begin at 9 a.m. ET on Sunday and Monday, with Saturday's action starting at 10 a.m. ET.
Running back takeaways
With Josh Jacobs sitting out due to an injury, the focus was on who could take the mantle as the No. 2 RB in the class. For some that was FAU's Devin Singletary, but he did not help himself by posting a 4.66 40 time. He did showcase his talent more in the agility drills, but that time isn't going to do him any favors.
Georgia's Elijah Holyfield was an abject disaster. He followed up a 4.78 run with a 4.81 run in the 40, and didn't really stand out during the agility drills, which isn't a surprise. The 4.78 stood up as his official time in the drill. Expect teams to move him down on their boards unless he has a monster pro day.
On the positive end, Oklahoma State's Justice Hill led all running backs with a 4.40 flat in the 40-yard dash and a 40-inch vertical and tied for the best broad jump at 10-foot-10. He might not be perceived as a feature back at his size, but the numbers he put up amidst a class that was struggling to find standouts should make some teams take notice. Unfortunately for Hill, his day was ended early after suffering an injury on his second 40-yard dash so he didn't get a chance to shine in drills.
Speaking of taking notice, Ohio State's Mike Weber was the most impressive player of the day to me. His 40 was one of the top times of the day at 4.47 seconds, and he constantly looked like one of the best RBs on the field in every drill, showing fluid change-of-direction skills, great hands and quickness in routes. He's earned a shot to be part of a committee at the NFL level at the very least, with the potential for more.
Temple's Ryquell Armstead talked to our Ryan Wilson about in Indy, targeting a 4.45 40-yard dash and 23-25 bench press reps. He hit 4.45 on the nose, the second-best time for RBs at the combine, and came close with 22 reps on the bench. But the biggest question mark for Armstead is his catching ability after he didn't do that much for Temple. He did look smooth catching the ball in drills, and if teams liked what they saw, he could shoot up from a late Day 3 pick into the Round 3-4 mix.
Kansas State's Alex Barnes also did a solid job as a pass-catcher, and this comes after he blew away the rest of his position group with 34 reps on the bench press. He only ran a 4.59 40, but since he brings so much more than speed to the table, he should still be a factor as a role player for NFL teams.
Finally, Penn State's Miles Sanders has had to deal with a Saquon Barkley-sized shadow, but he really proved himself in Indy, looking like one of the best pass-catchers running drills and showing fluidity during the drills. This came after a quality time of 4.49 in the 40-yard dash. Sanders seems like someone who the right coaching staff can turn into a star, if not Saquon then at least a top-20 talent at the position.
Offensive line takeaways
Florida right tackle Jawaan Taylor, who's in the mix to be the first lineman taken, didn't run the 40 but did put some good tape together in the agility drills. In particular, he was tasked with keeping up with a high-energy counterpart in the mirror/dodge drill, but was certainly up for the challenge.
Alabama left tackle Jonah Williams didn't really jump off the page in comparison to some of his counterparts at the position. His 5.10 40-yard dash was a good time for him, but the rest of his numbers were good, not great. Maybe a scouting department sees something they love in his agility drill work, which did look smooth, but this performance will do nothing to quell calls for him to move inside. I'd give him a look at tackle, personally, and see if he can handle it.
Weber State left tackle Iosua Opeta had a great showing at the combine. He threw up 39 reps on the bench press when no one else at the position topped 34, then ran a 4.94 40-yard dash and hit 33 inches on the vertical jump. Great week for the former defensive lineman with three years of experience at left tackle.
Oklahoma's Cody Ford might not have blazed a fast 40-time, but 5.21 is more than respectable for his position. And he certainly looked athletic in the drills, especially when he had to prove he could move to take on edge rushers. Many will probably pencil him at guard, but there are plenty of teams picking in the teens that could use him at right tackle as well.
NC State center Garrett Bradbury did everything he could to improve his stock right out the gate. He ran a blistering 4.92 40-yard dash, then showed his moves on the mirror/dodge drill while also standing out in the rest of the agility testing. Expect him to land somewhere in Round 1, likely even in the top 20.
Boston College guard Chris Lindstrom put together a strong 40-time with his 4.91, then looked polished during the agility drills. Like Bradbury, he also topped 30 inches in the vertical. Lindstrom should be locked into the second round with an outside shot of sneaking into the top 32.
Texas A&M center Erik McCoy is another strong option for teams on the interior. He had an OL-best 4.89 40-yard dash after putting up 29 reps on the bench press and later jumped 31 inches on the vertical. He should be a top-50 pick.
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