2011 NFL Combine: Offense

DeMarco Murray NFL Combine

Running back DeMarco Murray had a big day at the 2011 NFL Combine.

NEPD Staff Writer: Doug Kyed

With the offensive half of the NFL Combine down, it’s time to break down some of the notable performances from the first two days.

We’ll tackle the offensive linemen first, typically some of the hardest players to breakdown based purely off the combine drills. It’s a shame Tyron Smith (OL, USC) chose to wait to compete in drills due to fluid in his knee, so we’ll have to wait until the USC Pro Day for him to show off his athleticism.

Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin

We expected big things from these three and they all produced. Solder turned in the best 40 time of the three with a 5.05, while Castonzo and Carimi turned in respectable times of 5.23 and 5.27 respectably. Castonzo looked the most fluid in pass blocking drills capable of staying low while moving left to right with ease. Carimi was the strongest of the three, churning out 29 reps on the bench.

Rodney Hudson, OL, Florida State
Hudson worked out as a center on Friday, but could stick at guard at the NFL level. He showed athleticism in bursts and had the best footwork out of any guard not named Pouncey.

Marcus Cannon, OL, TCU
Kris O’Dowd, OL, USC

Two linemen lower down on most draft boards that improved their stock. Cannon carried his 6’6” 350lb. frame well and looked impressive in pass blocking drills. O’Dowd showed impressive athleticism with a 5.16 40 and was one of the best interior linemen in pulling drills.

Jason Kelce, OL Cincinnati
Kelce was by far the most athletic lineman on Saturday, which makes sense because he was also the smallest at 280 pounds. The converted linebacker will either need to gain weight to play guard at the NFL level or lose weight to play tight end or linebacker, but with a 4.93 40 time and the second fastest 20 yd shuttle time of 4.14 of any player on Saturday Kelce showed enough athleticism to get a look somewhere at the NFL level.

Moving on to tight ends, Virgil Green (TE, Nevada) was the biggest story on Saturday due to his near record breaking vertical and broad jump numbers of 42.5 and 10’ 10”, but his sub par catching skills and stiffness running were cause for concern for me.

Julius Thomas, TE, Portland State
Thomas is the latest in the mold of Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham as a converted basketball player trying to make the NFL as a Tight End. Though he’s not as polished as Graham looked last year, he probably raised his stock more than any other player on Saturday. Thomas made few drops and showed an ability to catch the ball away from his body, especially for a player with only two years of football experience at college and high school combined. A 4.68 40 time doesn’t hurt his stock either.

D.J. Williams, TE, Arkansas
Williams displays similar size and speed to Aaron Hernandez and could make the same kind of impact as a hybrid receiver/tight end. Williams showed impressive route running and receiving skills.

If you were listening to NFL Network coverage of the combine, that might have been all that you heard on Sunday. I was a huge fan of Newton at Auburn and I do believe he’ll be able to star in the NFL one day, but his combine was sub par from a throwing perspective. Issues with footwork and a high release forced Newton to airmail almost half of his throws. It may not hurt Newton’s draft stock, but it will force teams to take a second look at Newton. He’ll have a lot to prove at the Auburn pro day.

Jake Locker, QB, Washington
I’ll let it be known from the top that I’m a fan of the Washington Huskies, which has been known to cloud my judgement of the UDub QB. That being said, Locker did his part to dismiss any rumors over the weekend that he is falling out of the first two days of the NFL Draft. Locker showed the best skills of group one QBs and his improved footwork since the senior bowl really showed. If Matt Jones was a first round pick, I don’t see how Locker won’t be.

Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State
If there were no injury concerns Ponder would be the consensus number one QB in 2011. From my count, he might have missed one throw on Sunday. His mix of athleticism, accuracy, arm strength and touch really made him stand out among group 2 QBs.

Scott Tolzien, QB, Wisconsin
Out of all the third day QBs, Tolzien impressed me the most. He may not have the big arm or athleticism that some of the bigger name QBs have, but his accuracy and touch are top notch. Tolzien was also one of the most impressive QBs in group two taking his five and seven step drops. While everyone is always looking for the next late round star QB, Tolzien is my best bet from this class.

I’m not sure if Ponder or Julio Jones (WR, Alabama) had a bigger NFL Combine. Jones has been the most impressive athlete so far in the combine running a 4.39 40, jumping 11’ 3” in the broad jump and 38.5 in the vertical. He also showed great hands and route running. He and AJ Green (WR, Georgia) are as close to sure things at the WR position as you can find.

Titus Young, WR, Boise State – Despite turning up a 40 in the 4.5s, Young played a lot faster in drills. He showed off soft hands and improved route running.

Edmund Gates, WR, Abilene-Christian
The latest Abilene Christian product looking to make a splash in the NFL produced a very impressive 4.37 40. He was apt to catch the ball with his body, but made few drops and showed impressive route running.

Greg Salas, WR, Hawaii
Despite turning in a 5.00 40 in his first attempt, he turned in a far improved 4.56 in his second attempt and might have shown the best hands of this year’s WR group.

No one expected Mark Ingram (RB, Alabama) to set the field on fire during his 40 time, but his 1.53 ten yard split definitely turned some heads. I’m generally against the idea of drafting a running back in the first round, but if there’s going to be one in 2011, it will obviously be Ingram.

Demarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma
Like Ponder, if Murray’s injury riddled past was thrown out, he’d be a lot higher on draft boards. Murray definitely turned some heads today with a 4..41 40, great hands and impressive change of direction skills.

Jordan Todman, RB, Connecticut
Anthony Sherman, FB, Connecticut

Both Connecticut products showed up big (literally) at the 2011 combine. Apparently they teach them how to bench press in Storrs. Todman showed off 25 reps while producing a 4.40 40. Sherman was by far the most explosive fullback prospect in Indianapolis this weekend. The Hockomock product was the only fullback with a sub 4.9 40 time and benched 32 reps. Sherman also displayed decent footwork and receiving skills.

Dion Lewis, RB, Pittsburgh
Allen Bradford, RB, USC
Mario Fannin, RB, Auburn

All three impressed me on different levels. Lewis didn’t turn in the best 40 time, but had the best footwork and change of direction skills. Bradford ran and moved very well for his 242 lb frame. Fannin’s 4.38 40 time was among the best so far in the combine despite his 231 lb frame.

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7 Responses to “2011 NFL Combine: Offense”

  1. Common Cent$ says:

    I was disappointed with most of the RBs 40 times but Mario Fannin and DeMarco Murray had great runs. Fannin got lost in the shuffle at Auburn coming back from injury and competing with the War Eagles great soph. and fr. backs. He may be a steal in rd. 4 or 5 like Arian Foster who he reminds me of. I know Murray has great hands but he’s careless with the ball and runs too upright to me. I agree with Phil on Jordan Todman. He came in 10 lbs. heavier than his playing weight but didn’t lose any speed. He was in tremendous shape. He was impressive on the bench for a small back(25 reps) and had great leaping ability(36″ vert.). While at UCONN, he finished 2nd in the country in yds. per game(over 1600 yds. for the season). He’s been durable(334 totes for 5.5 avg.) and dependable (only 1 fumble this year). He can catch the ball and play in the slot. He needs a lot of work picking up blitzes and needs improvement over all in the passing game. What I really like is his work ethic and determination to be a better blocker and reciever. I grew up with his aunts and uncles so I’m definitely bias but I also know a football player when I see one and he is a PLAYER!!!

  2. Phil says:

    I really liked Todman’s workout…and i wasn’t really impressed with Leshoure’s. I seem to recall better times in the 40 for the WOs and RBs. Is 4.5 good for these guys now? AND i know that this is the offensive thread but holy crap Kerrigan impressed me! Can’t wait to hear eveyone’s thoughts on the defensive thread…keep up the good work NEPD!

  3. TD says:

    NFL channel showed Solder getting beat in Senior Bowl time and again by Kerrigan because he plays to high and not enough knee and ankle bend.
    Saw a bunch of decent RB’s good for the 2nd round and some WR’s for 3rd round.

    • Doug Kyed says:

      Solder got by on athleticism alone at times during his college career. He’s going to need to learn that he’ll need to get low on every play in the NFL. He’s also going to need to put on weight to be an elite left tackle. At 6’8″ 312 he can probably afford to put on 20 or so pounds. Still the upside is definitely there as there is with Smith, Castonzo and Carimi. I’d say there’s the least amount of question marks with Carimi at this point.

      This year’s running back class is sneaky deep. Lots of good players in there, too many to mention.

      I have a lot of questions with this season’s WRs, especially Torrey Smith, but perhaps that’s for another article.

      • Ryan says:

        I thought your right on noting the sneaky deepness of this years RB class. I watched the combine and I think there could be some good RB’s in the 2nd and 3rd round even. I guarnatee we will have more picks in each of those rounds than we currently do. Lets hope, that we can get one of the “sneaky good” running backs.

      • NEPD says:

        Todman, Vereen, Locke, Murray, Taiwan Jones, Carter…. all could be around in the 3rd round or after.

  4. Tom says:

    Great piece. I really like that you cover prospects for the later rounds. I am looking forward to reading about the defensive prospects!

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