Offensive linemen do the dirty work – they battle in the trenches and pave the way for flashy playmakers to score touchdowns and make the highlight reel. But this year’s crop of offensive linemen at the Combine are having an out-of-character experience, at least for the moment. Granted they have been here the longest and are the furthest along in the Combine schedule, but even compared to last year this crop of offensive linemen are generating plenty of interest.
What does that mean for the Vikings? One could argue that it doesn’t mean much right now because the Vikings aren’t though to be a team looking to tab an offensive linemen with their 1st round pick (#23 overall). Keep in mind, though, that GM Rick Spielman is a stickler when it comes to finding value and disregarding positions of need. Look no further than 2011, when he scooped up TE Kyle Rudolph in the 2nd round at a time when Jim Kleinsasser and Visanthe Shiancoe already had spots locked down on the roster for the next season. Spielman couldn’t pass by an opportunity to take the best player at his position with a 2nd-round pick.
I’m not suggesting offensive line is where the Vikings will go at #23 or at any other point in the draft. Nor am I suggesting offensive line is a position of need for the Vikings – hopefully we’ll have all 5 of our starters back from 2012. But you can never have too many good players in a position group that calls for 5 starters.
Here are a few notes from the Combine regarding offensive linemen…
– NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock has given high praise to Alabama OG Chance Warmack, even suggesting he might be the best prospect in the entire draft. Now, you aren’t going to see many teams willing to draft an interior linemen with the top pick. But the top prospect is the top prospect. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com noted that Warmack measured in at 6-2, 317 pounds, and that of the 9 interior linemen drafted in the 1st round over the last 5 drafts, Warmack would be the smallest. Jeremiah also noted, though, that Warmack’s arms were measured at 34¾ inches and that many scouts’ concerns were alleviated after that. I’m not sure how true that is, but it’s interesting to get a glimpse into all the different aspects of a players ability are measured.
– Another former Alabama offensive lineman was also the subject of some buzz over the past couple of days. OT DJ Fluker weighed in at 339 pounds, which is actually lighter than many expected. Fluker was at the Senior Bowl a couple of weeks ago, and if the feedback he got from teams was that he needed to reduce his weight, than Fluker will get a lot of credit from teams at the Combine because he did just that.
– Azusa Pacific OT Luke Marquardt measured in at 6-foot-8½ and 315 pounds. Wow, that’s huge. Furthermore, he has 34½ arms. He may have played at a small school and he may be raw, but those measurables will have some scouts and coaches excited to get their hands on him. Others will feel the opposite and will dock him for not fitting the ideal position specifics. We won’t know who is right until a year or more down the line.
– Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson was a QB, TE and DE in college before moving to OT. He’s been timed in the 4.7s in the 40-yard dash at times. It will be interesting to see how he times in the 40-yard dash and other drills here at the Combine. He’s an intriguing prospect.
– Here’s what Jeremiah wrote about another dynamic OL prospect – Florida State OT Menelik Watson: “Watson is another player with a unique sporting background. He grew up as a basketball player in England before attending Marist College in New York to play hoops. He has also has a boxing background and actually spent time working out with Oscar De La Hoya’s trainer. He is a raw football player but a freaky athlete. He should break 5.0 in the 40 at 6-6 and more than 300 pounds.”
– Oh, and by the way, many are projecting that the first overall pick in the draft will be an offensive linemen – Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel. My submission that OL are generating buzz at the Combine is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that a mention of Joeckel doesn’t come until the last line of the blog entry.
Tags: 2013 Scouting Combine
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