A performance at the NFL Combine can make or break a player’s draft stock. With the 2018 NFL Combine officially over, it is time to analyze the performances of several potential draft picks. With the Texans in need of a complete overhaul on their offensive line, I thought it would be best to address the notable combine performances for that position group. Those big boys in tight spandex must demonstrate several key attributes to impress the scouts: coordination, balance, explosion, and agility, along with their interviews and measurements.
For several prospects, the NFL Combine revealed that these players listed either have or do not have the intangibles necessary to succeed at the next level. The players listed below were ranked and compared in four categories at the NFL Combine: 40 yard dash, bench press, three-cone drill, and 20 yard shuffle. Many performed within the top 10 or worst 10 at the position in several of the drills. These understandably are not the only workouts and drills that these players will participate in, but comparing them based on these tests lets us objectively rate their performance at the moment.
Josesph Noteboom: 6’5”, 309 lbs., TCU
Posting a sub-5.0 second 40 yard dash time for a man of his size is remarkable. Noteboom also posted the second fastest 20 yard shuffle time of all linemen. Scouted as a potential third round pick (cough, cough, Texans), Noteboom was a multi-year starter for the Horned Frogs and uses his frame to stay in front of faster pass rushers. His athleticism provides NFL teams with a lot to mold. His experience and consistency, along with a solid Combine performance will help lock him into a Day Two draft slot.
Quenton Nelson: 6’ 5”, 325 lbs., Notre Dame
Already positioned to be a first round prospect, Nelson solidified his unique position as a guard who is valued as a top fifteen and maybe even top ten pick. His size and strength (he posted 35 reps at the bench press) make him a “franchise” offensive guard selection to the extent such a thing exists. He played on the left side of the line at Notre Dame, along with fellow prospect Mike McGlinchey, and demonstrated next-level power and technique throughout his college career. He is a monster interior offensive lineman who exhibits quick feet and an aggression at the point of attack that was premier in college. He considers himself a “nasty player,” and from his highlight tape, I will not disagree with him.
Will Hernandez: 6’ 2”. 327 lbs., UTEP
Go Miners. That neck roll makes this behemoth of a man look even more terrifying. If Coach Greg Popovich “want(s) some nasty,” he should watch Will Hernadez’s tape because he is the most aggressive guard at the point of attack in this draft. Coming from a small football program, Hernandez needed to demonstrate that he is worthy of praise from an athletic standpoint. The man put up THIRTY-SEVEN REPS on the bench press, the most in the class. He was a top ten performer in three of the four categories and pushed himself up many teams’ draft boards after this performance. His agility and lateral quickness have been a concern, especially for a guard of his size. He will most likely be a right guard that will move interior defensive linemen off the line and swallow up smaller linebackers.
Colby Gossett: 6’ 5”. 311 lbs., Appalachian St.
Another small-school prospect that made big noise at the combine, Gossett had experience playing against top talent when with Appalachian St. His 2016 film against Miami shows a toughness when engaging large DTs and a strong motor. He also drives his feet well when he’s locked in battle and shows good communication with his fellow offensive linemen. The first-team All-Sun Belt pick in 2017 started 13 games at right guard. He has started 46 straight games and seems likely to be a fourth or fifth round pick. His performance at the Combine was shy of each of Will Hernandez’s numbers, but it still was top ten in three of four categories. Gossett’s weaknesses come in his lack of agility (average 20 yard shuffle) and short arms. Although well seasoned, he may need some time to develop into a starter. He reminds me of Greg Mancz.
Brian O’Neill: 6’ 7”. 297 lbs., Pittsburgh
O’Neill ran the fastest 40 yard dash of any offensive lineman at the Combine this year at 4.82 and was also a top four finisher in the 20 yard shuffle. At 6’7”, he shows remarkable quickness and shiftiness, but he may lack the strength to start right away as a tackle. He is the definition of a developmental offensive tackle that will still likely be thrust into a starting role because of his intangibles and college experience. O’Neill also rushed for two scores in college, one on a lateral and the other on an end-around. He needs to anchor better when in pass coverage but he shows great control of quick defenders when rushing. His technique needs to be refined, but he has the build of a starting left tackle.
Kolton Miller: 6’ 9”. 309 lbs., UCLA
Miller dominated the Combine. He recorded an OL Combine record 10 ft. 1 in. broad jump, along with top four finishes in the 40 yard dash and 20 yard shuffle. He also finished top ten in the three-cone drill. NFL.com projected him as a second or third round selection before the Combine; now, with such a dominant performance in Indy and with being a second-team All-Pac-12 player in a pro-style system, it might be difficult for teams to let him slip out of the first round. Miller does play tall and can get out-leveraged by shorter and faster players like Von Miller, but height is a commodity and he has got it in spades. He played against some great pass rushers in college and held up well against many of them. Having to protect Josh Rosen definitely put pressure on the junior; he should be rewarded with a late first/early second round draft spot.
Orlando Brown: 6’ 8”, 345 lbs., Oklahoma
A well-publicized miserable Combine performance has resulted in a ton of negative attention for the once-projected first round pick. The perfect specimen for an offensive tackle, Brown will now have to rely on teams loving his game tape more than his NFL Combine numbers.
The Big-12 Offensive Lineman of the Year posted the worst 40 yard dash (5.85 seconds), the worst bench press (14 reps), the worst vertical jump (19.5 inches), the worst broad jump (82.0 inches), and the worst 20 yard shuffle (5.38).
Holy [KITTEN], Orlando Brown [KITTENED] the bed. No one expected this out of the stud left tackle with a great resume. Blocking for Baker Mayfield must not be easy, and Brown did a great job of it, but with this type of performance, his pro day is a life-or-death event for his draft future. Maybe he was healing from an injury and did not want to show it; I do not want to speculate. For a player to flop this hard will absolutely frighten teams who were interested in drafting Brown.
Jamil Demby: 6’4”, 319 lbs., Maine
A four-year starter at Maine, Demby looked to demonstrate that he could make the transition to the NFL from a small school. Well, he had almost as poor of a performance as Brown, coming in with bottom four performances in the 40 yard dash, bench press, and 20 yard shuffle. This may knock him off many draft boards entirely, as his film shows a tackle that will have to move to guard. That is a lot of transition for someone who is slow and did not face top level competition in college. In his film, he looks rigid at the hips but does show good balance with his feet. NFL.com had him as a fourth round prospect but I could see him falling farther.
Will Clapp: 6’4”, 311 lbs., LSU
First-team All-SEC, Will Clapp was a bright spot along the offensive line during his time at LSU. Versatile and experienced, Clapp was a projected as a fifth or sixth round prospect. NFL.com’s comparison to Ben Jones is relatively on point, but I think Jones had better aggression at the point of attack. What Clapp has in experience he lacks in athleticism, which showed in the Combine. He had top ten worst performances in the 40 yard dash, three-cone drill, and 20 yard shuffle. These drills don’t have much carry over for centers, but an inability to demonstrate improved athleticism will hurt his draft stock.
Alex Cappa: 6’6”, 305 lbs., Humboldt State
I mentioned last week in my article on offensive linemen that I liked his “patience to land the first blow. He rarely over-extends when punching and it works because he has long arms paired with quick feet. He can get lazy with just bullying weaker and smaller opponents, so I am interested to see how he holds up against NFL-level pass rushers.” At the NFL Combine, Humboldt just did not demonstrate the athleticism necessary to make the jump from the Great Northwest Athletic Conference to the NFL. He was a top four worst performance in the three-cone drill and top ten worst in the 40 yard dash and 20 yard shuffle. He’s an interesting prospect for his domination of lesser competition, and he showed he’s a player who should evaluated as a developmental prospect that needs time to develop in order to match technique with his big motor. Even after a unimpressive performance at the NFL Combine, I can see a team taking a chance on him as early as the fourth round.
Jamarco Jones: 6’4”, 299 lbs., Ohio State
A sub-300 lb. offensive tackle who has a ton of conflicting evaluations, Jamarco Jones is a proven product from a major football program. Learning and playing behind former first round draft pick Taylor Decker, Jones matured into the starting left tackle for all 14 games this season for the Buckeyes. The main pros are his quick feet and the balance between his hips, shoulders, and feet. The main cons for Jones are his upright stance and slow hands. His Combine may turn out to be the biggest red flag on his resume. Of the four drills we are measuring, he performed in the bottom four fin three...and that’s with him deciding not to do the bench press. Although his performance outside of these drills was reported as a better reflection of his talents and draft stock, it cannot look promising compared to the other players in this class. He has the arm span of someone that is 6’7”, which helps negate his shorter stance for a left tackle. I see him moving inside to left guard more than I see him switching to right tackle. Most likely a late third/early fourth round selection, Jones must excel at his pro day to show he is worth the draft choice.