With the 2015 NFL combine set to start tomorrow in Indianapolis, the next week of physical and mental testing is an opportunity for some of college football’s best to make their case for a chance to pursue their NFL dreams. The combine will begin tomorrow for special teams performers, offensive linemen and tight ends. Specific to the offensive line and tight ends, let’s take a look at some of the players who could make an impact:
Offensive tackles are always among the most coveted positions in the draft, and this year is no different, with as many as seven tackles potentially being first-round picks. Some the best include:
Brandon Scherff, University of Iowa (6’5, 320) Scherff had an outstanding career at Iowa, and was able to use his strength and power to overwhelm opponents in college. Scherff will shine at the combine when it comes to the bench press and interview process, as he is known for his weight room prowess and intelligence. There is some worry that he his skill set will not translate as well in the pros because did not always show great footwork and lateral movement. Another potential pitfall for those thinking of selecting him with a top-10 pick is he seems more suited to play RT or even shift inside to guard. Does that warrant a high pick?
Andrus Peat, Stanford (6’7, 315) Peat might have more upside than Scherff for the simple fact that Peat looks like he will stick at left tackle, always a plus for teams looking to use a first round pick on the position. Peat has the size and athleticism that translates at the next level, and has a high football IQ. Peat is a strong drive blocker which will help him thrive in the running game. One potential pitfall is Peat sometimes struggles with speed rushers, and with plenty of them at the next level, will he be able to protect his QB’s blindside consistently?
La’el Collins, LSU (6’5, 320) I watched Collins play a good bit at LSU, and if there is one thing that stands out with him it’s his physical, nasty approach to the game. Collins is a road grater playing tackle; loves contact, and finishes plays. Collins has a motor, and competes, something that I think could help him have success in the NFL. If there is a weakness, it’s that Collins might be more of a guard or right tackle, and that will diminish his value somewhat. Still almost certain to be selected in the first 20 picks.
T.J. Clemmings, Pittsburgh (6’6, 315) The University of Pittsburgh’s lone draft prospect is one of the more intriguing players available. Without question, Clemmings upside is the highest of any prospect at the position due to his combination of size and athleticism. For one thing, Clemmings is projected to stick at left tackle in the NFL despite of playing on the right side at Pitt. There is little question that Clemmings is the best athlete of the group, and his feet separate him from others at the position. Biggest worry is Clemmings has very little experience after shifting from the defensive side of the ball two seasons ago. Without a doubt a high-risk, high-reward player who could end up being a Pro-Bowl caliber tackle.
At guard and center, the 2015 class is pretty lean, with few grading out as better than second- or third-round picks, at best. That does not mean there is not quality players to be found, but most will go long after the top tackles are picked. Here’s a few of the better prospects to keep an eye on:
A.J. Cann, South Carolina (6’4, 311) Likely the first guard who will be taken in the draft, Cann was a four-year starter for the Gamecocks and consistently played against top competition in the SEC. Cann is a no-frills pick who will be a solid player at the next level. He does not possess the kind of size you would like for the position, but rarely struggled in the run game and was effective in pass protection.
Jarvis Harrison, Texas A&M (6’4, 330) Harrison compares to Clemmings in many ways at the guard position in terms of athletic ability and basketball background. He is the best athlete at the position heading into the combine, but some question the fire and love for the game with Harrison. He could slip into the late second or even third round due to those questions, but if properly coached and motivated, Harrison could end up being a steal for a team looking for help at guard.
Cameron Irving, Florida State (6’6, 310) One of three Seminoles interior lineman projected to likely go in the first three rounds, Irving shifted from defense to center. Irving has limited experience at the position and due to some concerns about his abilities to handle the bull rush of interior lineman, and he may slip a bit if he does not have a solid showing at the combine. One of the positives with Irving is he is a high character individual who is willing to learn and be coached; this might help him become an NFL caliber center with some time and patience.
Maxx Williams, Minnesota (6’4, 250) Williams is generally considered the top tight end available and is projected by some to be a late first-round pick. For teams looking for a pure pass-catching tight end with limited abilities as a blocker, Williams probably is the safest bet in the draft. Williams has a lot of Jeremy Shockey in his game, and looks like a player who will be able to create match up problems for linebackers and safeties in coverage.
Devin Funchess, Michigan (6’5, 230) He played wide receiver at Michigan, but most think he will move inside and be used primarily for his pass catching abilities. More than anything, Funchess is athletic and like Williams has the straight line speed to create mismatches down field. Funchess does not possess great hands however, and had a tendency to drop a lot of passes at Michigan. Many have projected Funchess to sneak into the first round, another high-risk, high-reward player.
Clive Walford, Miami (6’4, 258) For teams looking for more of a two-way tight end capable of blocking as well as catching passes, Walford might be the choice. Walford was a physical player in the running game and is not afraid to get his nose dirty with his strong frame as a blocker. However, Walford is an athlete, and the stop watches will be out for his 40-yard dash. A solid time might push him up draft boards.
Ben Koyack, Notre Dame (6’5, 254) Koyack, an Oil City High School graduate, is my choice as the sleeper pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers if somehow slips to the fourth round. A deceptive athlete who is strong as a pass blocker and receiver, Koyack was underutilized as a receiver while at Notre Dame. Seems like the perfect compliment and understudy for Heath Miller, and is smart and a tough competitor.
The combine will begin tomorrow for special teams performers, offensive linemen and tight ends. Check out a detailed description of the four-day schedule for the first group below, compliments of NFL.com. The live coverage of the on-field workouts at the Scouting Combine will kick off on Friday, Feb. 20, at 8 a.m. Central time on the NFL Network.
DAY 1 ARRIVALS*: Group 1 (PK, ST, OL), Group 2 (OL), Group 3 (TE)
February 17, 2015
|Travel to Indianapolis* ~ Registration ~ Hospital Pre-Exam & X-rays ~ Orientation ~ Interviews|
February 18, 2015
|Measurements ~ Medical Examinations ~ Media ~ Interviews|
February 19, 2015
|NFLPA Meeting ~ Psychological Testing ~ PK/ST Workout ~ Bench Press ~ Interviews|
February 20, 2015
|On-Field Workout (timing, stations, skill drills) ~ Departure from Indianapolis|