I am sorry for the delay on these notes. I will be hitting it fast and furious for the next few days. When you do this for a hobby and trying to make a serious blog and write articles as well, you have to find time for your family. I am caught up with the first two days of Combine workouts and I look forward to the next few days as well.

Day 1 saw the tight ends, offensive lineman, and even the specialists’ work out for us in the weight room and on the field. There were plenty of great numbers and interesting story lines. I am writing an article for FootballNation.com on the 5 winners and losers of the combine, so make sure to check back in for that tomorrow after the last drills and times are made official.

Of the first day participants, here are a few notes from Day 1 of the NFL Combine:

Tight Ends

Tight End Zach Eifert- Notre Dame

Tight End Zach Eifert- Notre Dame

– The top two tight ends since before the Combine have been Tyler Eifert of Notre Dame and Zach Ertz of Stanford. While neither player seemed to be a lock for the top 25 picks before the Combine, Eifert might have worked his way into consideration. Eifert ran well in drills and in his 40 while measuring in at a solid 6’6 250. Between Eifert and Ertz, it was apparent that the more athletic of the two was Eifert. I don’t believe Ertz hurt his draft stock by any means, but I thought he would run a little faster time and have a couple better numbers than what he put up.

– Three of the most impressive players of the day were Matt Furstenburg of Maryland, Chris Gragg of Arkansas, and Vance McDonald of Rice. All three players are not ranked in a lot of draft analyst’s top five lists but all of them performed well enough for people to notice them going forward. Now the scouts and general managers will go back to the film and see if the numbers correlate to production or if they don’t add up to on the field success.

– Two of the most intriguing prospects of the group in my mind are Colorado’s Nick Kasa and Michigan State’s Dion Sims. Kasa is a big, athletic prospect at 6’5 271 lbs. Kasa ran well with a 4.71 in the 40 and had 22 reps on the bench press. He has a lot of momentum because of a solid Senior Bowl week and I think he might have played himself into Round 4 consideration. Sims is an underclassman that has some character concerns (felony plea bargain in 2010) and might have done well for himself to stay in school another year, however he did perform well at the Combine and turned some heads with his athleticism for a man his size. He weighed in at 262 lbs. and stands 6’5. Sims is one of the better blocking tight ends in this class.

Superlatives

Fastest 40- Chris Gragg, Arkansas- 4.50 seconds

Slowest 40- Chris Pantale, Boston College- 4.99 seconds

Most Bench Reps- Vance McDonald, Rice- 31 reps

Least Bench Reps- D.C. Jefferson, Rutgers- 3 reps (note that he injured himself during the lift)

Highest Vert- Chris Gragg, Arkansas- 37.5 inches

Lowest Vert- tie between Zach Ertz, Stanford and Philip Lutzenkirchen, Auburn- 30.5 inches

Offensive Line

Offensive Lineman Terron Armstead- Arkansas Pine-Bluff

Offensive Lineman Terron Armstead- Arkansas Pine-Bluff

 

– The story of the day had to be the athleticism of the offensive tackles, highlighted by two players in particular, Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson and Arkansas Pine-Bluff’s Terron Armstead. Both players ran exceptionally good times for men their size, as Armstead posted the fastest time of the entire offensive lineman at 4.71 seconds. Johnson put up a valiant effort to clock in at 4.72 seconds, a very minuscule difference in times between him and Armstead. Armstead not only played exceptional at the East West Shrine game, but earned a late invite to the Senior Bowl and really opened eyes there with a good week. Johnson is an outstanding athlete who has a unique story that I have talked abouti n this blog before. Johnson was expected to come in and have good times, while Armstead definitely was a nice surprise Strength was a concern coming in for Armstead, but his 31 reps on the bench press is another box scouts can check off on his resume. While Johnson was always in the first round conversation, Armstead might have played his way into it as well. I don’t put too much stock into the 40 for OL but his game tape, all star performances and now the Combine really put him in the talks of being one of the best offensive tackles in the draft.

– Arguably the top guard and tackle coming into the Combine was Chance Warmack of Alabama and Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M. While neither player did anything to hurt their first round status, two players decided that they would try to close the gap between the top slots. Jonathan Cooper of North Carolina and Eric Fisher of Central Michigan both had stellar performances on the first day. Fisher has had a great post season as he was dominant at the Senior Bowl and looked very athletic and at ease in the on field drills. The gap between he and Joeckel is fast closing, and no longer is Joeckel the “lock” that he seemed to be as the top tackle taken. Watch for Fisher to move ahead of him in some analysts and scout’s eyes as we move forward Cooper of UNC showed some great strength and athleticism at the Combine and has scouts raving about his potential. It was a foregone conclusion that Warmack would be the first guard taken, more than likely to the Titans or Chargers. However, before he Combine and especially now that the players have worked out, more and more people are saying that Cooper has a chance to be the first guard off the board. Warmack was a little dinged up at the Combine and he will hopefully be healthy by his Pro Day, but Cooper definitely made a move up in a lot of peoples’ eyes.

– A player to watch out for as the draft nears is California’s Brian Schwenke. Schwenke had a great week at the Senior Bowl and is a gritty, smart, and tough center prospect. He displayed good strength with 31 reps on the bench and great athleticism for his size with a 4.99 40 and good on the field drill work. I think Schwenke has a great chance to be the second center prospect off the board sometime in the late 2nd to mid 3rd rounds. He also has some versatility in the fact that he practiced and held his own at guard during Senior Bowl week.

Superlatives

Tallest- Luke Marquardt, Azusa Pacific and Reid Fragel, Ohio State- 6’8

Heaviest and Longest Arms- D.J. Fluker, Alabama- 339 lbs. and 36.75 inch arms

Most Bench Reps- Eric Herman, Ohio- 36 reps

Fastest 40 and Highest Vert- Terron Armstead, Arkansas-Pinebluff- 4.71 seconds and 34.5 inch vert

Slowest 40 and Lowest Vert- Mark Jackson, Glenville State- 5.65 seconds and 20.5 inch vert

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