The over-emphasis on measuring nearly everything one can measure at the NFL combine is underway. Physical drills for tight ends, offensive linemen, and specialists (punter and kicker) began today.
Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert ran a 4.68-40, 22 bench reps, had a 35.5″ vertical leap and a 119″ long jump. Zach Ertz had a 4.76 40-time, 24 reps, 30.5 and 111.
Media darling Gavin Escobar from San Diego State didn’t really live up to the hype, posting a 4.84 time, 32-inch vertical and 114-inch long jump. No bench rest was available and it isn’t clear that he participated in that drill. Too bad, because his cone drills and other elements were all a small but noticeable bit behind those of Eifert and Ertz.
Almost sounds like a pair of movie critics or a tower and a rental car place but get used to them. I think this means that they are the two that are worthy of first round status while Escobar just fell into the second or third at least. There are too many questions here. Unless he shows something at his pro day, Escobar didn’t help his cause today.
What makes things even more unpredictable at the top two is that they are physically the same size and have similar strengths. This is probably where the combine can help some team either affirm or question their scouting of him. The E’s have it, and either one could go ahead of the other at this point.
Oklahoma’s OT Lane Johnson just muddied the waters quite a bit. He posted a blistering 4.72 time in the 40, 28 reps, 34-inch vertical, 118-inch long jump, with 7.31 and 4.52 7-cone and 3-cone drills.
Luke Joeckel from Texas A&M that protected Johnny Football’s blind side did horribly in some areas by comparison. He did have 27 bench reps, but ran a Rich Eisenesque 5.30 40-time, he posted decent cone drill times of 7.4 and 4.68 respectively and adding a 108-inch long jump.
The biggest difference in the two is the agility/speed aspect. While Joeckel’s a half step behind Johnson in short spaces that linemen need, he’s three or four steps behind him over a distance in pulling, for instance. Otherwise, Joeckel probably showed enough to for those that had him the top-rated OT in the draft will probably keep him there. He has shown good hand punch strength as well as the ability to redirect rushers to the outside. He’s average at best in the running game and lacks “elite” strength.
So what if he can’t outrun anyone? If he’s chasing people on the field, he’s already lost the down.
In short, it looks like Johnson has the upside for some of the modern NFL’s more esoteric offenses and bigger upside in general while Joeckel is the “day-one NFL starter” but has a lot less overall athletic ability than Johnson.