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The NFL Scouting Combine has actually been going on since Wednesday, but Saturday was the first time the players showcased their wares on the Lucas Oil Stadium turf. Tight ends and offensive linemen kicked off the “Underwear Olympics”, and for the most part the fantasy ramifications were light—and if anything, disappointing.
Let’s start with the tight ends, where both Eric Ebron of North Carolina and Jace Amaro of Texas Tech have been mentioned as possible first-round picks—maybe even top-10 selections. The 6-foot-5 Amaro weighed in at 265 pounds, larger than he played at in college. But while he punched out an impressive 28 reps in the bench press (second amongst all tight ends), the additional weight didn’t serve him well in the 40-yard dash as he ran a slower-than-expected 4.74. Amaro’s struggles followed him from the track to the on-field drills as he didn’t catch the ball particularly well.
Ebron’s day was no better. While posting a solid, though not spectacular, 4.6 in the 40 Ebron injured his hamstring and sat out the remainder of the drills—denying those in attendance of displaying his impressive catching skills. Ebron’s 40 time still ranked second at the position, but it didn’t drop jaws like the time Vernon Davis posted en route to being the last tight end picked among the first 10 selections of the draft.
Oregon’s athletic but troubled Colt Lyeria displayed some of his skills, topping the position with a 10-foot-8 broad jump and ranking third with a 4.61 40 time. However, like Ebron he didn’t dazzle; given the off-the-field baggage Lyeria carries with him, he needed to dazzle for a team to believe him worth the risk.
Also disappointing: Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the 2013 Mackey Award winner as college football’s top tight end; he bailed out of the on-field drills with a foot injury.
If there was a bright spot to be found in the tight end group, it was Iowa’s C.J. Fiedorowicz. Widely considered one of the top blocking tight ends in this draft class, Fiedorowicz showed well with a 4.76 40—sixth among tight ends—and also posted the top three-cone and short-shuttle times of the day. He won’t threaten Ebron or Amaro as an athletic Day 1 option, but his times demonstrate more than enough ability to be a contributor as a receiver as well as a blocker.
While the tight ends as a group were scuffling, the offensive linemen—particularly the elite offensive tackles—were putting on a show. Auburn’s Greg Robinson was the biggest star of the day—and by biggest, we mean 6-foot-5, 332 pounds—as he blazed a 4.92 time in the 40-yard dash, second among all offensive linemen. Robinson was also explosive in the broad jump—9’5”, also second among linemen—and looked smooth in the on-field drills as well. It was a display that may vault Robinson to the top of the o-line draft board.
No question Robinson was impressive, but the performances of the other two elite tackles—Michigan’s Taylor Lewan and Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews—were nothing to sneeze at, either. Lewan posted the top 40 time (4.87) and broad jump (9’9”) among linemen, while Matthews was faster than expected (5.07 in the 40) and displayed his rock-solid technique in the on-field drills. The trio of tackles may be better than the three (Eric Fisher, Luke Joeckel, Land Johnson) who went first, second, and fourth last year. And while offensive linemen don’t score fantasy points, plopping one of these three studs in front of your quarterback or running back of choice can only help.
Sunday is the big day for fantasy footballers to tune in to the Combine, as the quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers take to the field. Meaningful football on a Sunday… or at least as close as we’ll come for the next six months.