No day underscores the hilarity of the basic premise of the NFL combine like the offensive line workouts, watching 300-pound men running around in spandex. While it’s true offensive linemen are rarely going to be running 40 yards down the field or doing the kinds of drills we see in Indianapolis, the movement skills of these dancing bears can be instructive. Who looks like an NFL athlete and who doesn’t? It’s not everything, but it’s not nothing either.
Garrett Bradbury jumped out during the athletic testing, posting a 4.95 40 with a 1.74 10-yard split at nearly 6-foot-3 and 306 pounds. He also had one of the better verticals at 31 inches and stellar agility scores with a 4.53 shuttle time to go with a 7.41 3-cone. The North Carolina State lineman can play center or guard in the NFL and his movement skills in the drills emphasize what he shows on tape as a blocker in space. Though the Packers don’t generally draft interior college lineman, Bradbury might be the kind of athlete Green Bay makes an exception to get given how much the front office prizes athletic traits with offensive lineman.
Questions about Alabama left tackle Jonah Williams’ arm length didn’t stop there. He ran 5.1 with a 1.77 split at 6-foot-4, 302 pounds which was the good. The bad was bad, with his agility times coming in well below where the Packers prefer with their offensive lineman. He did have one of the best lines of the combine so far so there’s that, but even for someone who might have to be a guard, it wasn’t a great showing. Williams, for his part, says he just wants the chance to compete, wherever it is.
“I’ll play anywhere a team wants me to play but I was the best tackle in college football,” Williams said. His salty demeanor shows up on tape too. He’s a fighter.
In the afternoon, the running backs took center stage, of particular interest to the Packers who have already met with some of the most intriguing names in the draft including Alabama’s Josh Jacobs, Stanford’s Bryce Love, and Memphis standout Darrell Henderson. Though running back isn’t a pressing need for the Packers, Matt LaFleur’s insistence on balance and sharing the backfield load could very well lead Brian Gutekunst to pick one of these guys in the middle rounds, much like 2017.
Jacobs didn’t work out as the consensus RB1, but Green Bay would have to see him take a major tumble to go that route. That makes the workouts for some of the guys projected in the middle rounds more salient for them. Henderson followed a disappoint first 40 with a 4.49 time while FAU back Devin Singletary underwhelmed with a 4.66, though his best attribute is his ability to make guys miss.
And while they didn’t work out, nearly every top-tier pass rusher came measured in above where they were projected from a size standpoint. Montez Sweat, at 6-foot-6, 260 pounds with a 7-foot wingspan looks like a 747, while Jachai Polite (258) and Brian Burns (249) added considerable weight to perform in Indianapolis. They haven’t tested out yet and those numbers will be important, but this impressive group cleared the first hurdle with no problems.
Tight ends likewise didn’t work out, but a number of players mentioned meetings with the Packers including nearly every top-tier prospect. Noah Fant, Jace Sternberger and Irv Smith Jr. said they would meet with Green Bay. T.J. Hockenson was cagey in not mentioning any specific teams, but it would be easily to infer he’s in the mix as well. With the presence of Jimmy Graham, the Packers need a quality blocking tight end opposite him, preferably a player who can blossom into a more full-time pass catcher once Graham moves on.
Matt LaFleur’s offense relies heavily on a solid run game and he’s been unequivocal about believing in sharing carries in the backfield. Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams present a more-than-solid 1-2 punch, but adding depth and variance of skillset makes sense for the Packers. Finding a back to add into the mix will be on the agenda for Gutekunst, as will picking through a deep group of offensive lineman to solidify the right guard spot. Pairing them with a dual-threat tight end rounds out the run-game rebuild. Friday will go a long way to shaking out who the Packers will be targeting come spring to complete just such an overhaul.