With the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine behind us, there are plenty of players at different positions shooting up or down each team’s draft boards. One of the positions where the players will not be flying up or down the draft boards is offensive line. To judge these players during these drills and having it turnover to play on the field is unrealistic.
Some of the most athletic workout warriors from the Combine have turned into huge busts (Hello Tony Mandarich), while a player with one of the worst Combine performances from three years ago, Wisconsin's Travis Frederick, has been a two-time Pro Bowl player in Dallas. Very rarely will you see a lineman bounce from a middle-round to a top pick but there can be a few players that move up from the lower end of those draft projections based on what they do in Indianapolis. All these players really show what they can do from the hours of film that the teams look over, so the Combine is a place to show off their athleticism and solidify their draft spot.
This draft has four players, Laremy Tunsil, Ronnie Stanley, Jack Conklin and Taylor Decker, who look to be sure-fire first round picks. What intrigues me are the players projected in the middle to late rounds of the draft. Great players can be found in any round and most of these players just need some fine-tuning to their technique and fundamentals before they make an impact in the NFL. Let’s take a look at some of those guys a little further down the draft board who seemed to impress at the Combine, as well as some players that might have left some questions to their game.
Vadal Alexander (LSU)
Alexander comes in as a big, versatile prospect who played tackle at LSU. He’s known as a tough guy who can be very violent on the field. I love hearing that about players, but once he gets to the NFL, he’ll best be suited for guard after his Combine. The big weaknesses that were exposed were his lack of flexibility in his hips and his footwork, which he seemed to struggle with. He had a good initial base in his lateral movement drills but was clicking his heels when he started moving side to side. He also hopped from side to side too much in his drills instead of taking those power steps that you look for on the offensive line.
It didn’t help his cause having some of the lower numbers on all the popular drills that people seem so keen on. His 40-yard dash time was 5.57 with a 1.92 10-second split; he also posted a 7’11" broad jump and his shuttle runs were near the bottom of the rankings. His one saving grace for those drills was his bench press, which was a respectable 25 reps. At the end of the day, I think he’ll be a decent player but he just did not do a whole lot to improve his stock.
Dominique Robertson (West Georgia)
When I saw the size and length of Robertson, I was really intrigued by him and had a vision in my head that he could be one of the guys who had a chance to impress and really move up on the draft boards, especially being a player from a Division II school. Unfortunately, I saw why he was a D-II player. He had nice numbers with a 5.36 40-yard dash (1.84 10-yard split), an impressive 30 reps on the bench press, and middle of the road broad jump and shuttle times.
However, what really stuck out with me were his individual drills, where he showed he was a step slow and very stiff in his hips. He performed very high in his stance and just didn’t have the energy or awareness that the others possessed. He had some good moments in the mirror drill where he kept up with his workout partner, but overall he looked like he did not belong. I’ll say he is still intriguing with some very raw talent and can be a good project for the right team, but he didn’t stand out as someone that could help a team early in his career.
Jason Spriggs (Indiana)
I don’t think there is anyone out there who can deny that Spriggs helped himself more than anyone else in the Offensive Line group. He is a definite second round pick but may have done enough to get himself into the later picks of the first round. Some might say that if he was at a more successful program he might be up there with the four definite first round guys.
Everything about Spriggs was smooth. He had quick feet and very little excess movement in his hands and upper body. He has good size at 6’5", 301 pounds and good length with 34-1/8 inch arms. He was this year’s workout warrior too. He had the best 40 time (4.94) and broad jump (9’7") of the group and he was top five in the bench and shuttle runs. I wish I could have seen all of his positional drills but NFL Network was so fascinated with Tunsil and Stanley that it seemed they would take a commercial break during most of Spriggs’ drills. Of the drills that I did see, he has good balance with a very nice step and slide in his lateral movements. He has a good kick step and will transition well at one of the tackle spots for whatever team picks him up.
Joe Haeg (North Dakota State)
There is always a small school player who makes a good impression at the Combine, and this year that player was Haeg. The former walk on at North Dakota State has all the makings of a tackle who will last a long time in the NFL. He has great size (6’6", 300lbs) and length (33-3/4 inch arms) and his athletic ability shined throughout the drills. He had a 5.16 40-yard dash with a 1.75 10-yard split. His 9’3" result in the broad jump and his shuttle times were some of the best of all the lineman.
Where he really showed his stuff was in his individual drills. He showed quick feet while keeping a wide base. His kick slide was on par with some of the best tackles in the group and his hands were almost always in a good position and had nice drive and power with the fold block drill. His one noticeable limitation was that he’s still somewhat raw in developing his abilities. That’s a somewhat scary proposition though. He hung with some of the best players at the Combine and I can’t imagine how good he could be once a NFL line coach gets to work with him.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Please welcome mpveith, another new name to the Acme Packing Company writing staff. He has an extensive background playing and coaching offensive line, and we are excited for the perspective he will bring to APC in breaking down the play in the trenches. Welcome!