The players finally made their way to the field on Saturday, with the offensive linemen and tight ends participating in the on-field drills while quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers were weighed and measured.
Pitt tight end Dorin Dickerson was the Underwear Olympics star, blistering a 4.40 40 that opened plenty of eyes. At 6-1, 226 Dickerson is caught between being a big wideout (he played that position at the Senior Bowl) and an undersized tight end. However, as NFLN draft analyst Mike Mayock pointed out, a creative offensive coordinator will find ways to take advantage of the mismatches Dickerson causes. Fantasy owners will want to keep an eye on Dickerson should he find himself in an offense with such an OC, because he could provide Dallas Clark- or Owen Daniels-type problems for opposing defenses.
Miami’s Jimmy Graham, a converted hoopster, put up the second-fasted 40 among tight ends with a 4.56. There is no questioning his athleticism, and he looked good catching the ball in drills as well. At 6-6, 260 he has the size to be a three-down tight end but he’s still raw having played just one year of organized football since his freshman year of high school. Again, the match-up problems he presents will have the wheels spinning in the minds of many OCs, so keep an eye on his landing spot as well.
The top tight ends on most draft boards, Jermaine Gresham of Oklahoma and Arizona’s Rob Gronkowski, were back on the field after missing the 2009 season. Gronkowski lifted (23 reps of 225 on the bench press) but didn’t run because of his back; Gresham ran a smooth-looking 4.73 40, with a 35 inch vertical and 20 reps on the bench but perhaps his best work came .
Under the radar, Clay Harbor of Missouri State topped the position with 30 reps and was second to Dickerson with a 40 inch vertical and a 10-foot broad jump. He also ran a 4.69 40 at 6-2, 252, numbers that should help remove that “under the radar” label. BYU’s Dennis Pitta (6-4, 245 with a 4.63 40 and 27 reps) demonstrated the strength to play in-line and showed well in the receiving drills; he could be an every-down tight end picked up in the second or third round who gets on the field sooner rather than later.
The most disappointing day may have been turned in by USC’s Anthony McCoy. While his measurables (6-4, 259, 4.79 40, 19 reps) weren’t bad, he fought the ball in the receiving drills. With so many other tight ends flashing ability, McCoy may have cost himself a spot in the second round.
Among the offensive linemen, it was no surprise that Bruce Campbell of Maryland was the day’s big star. After measuring 6-6, 314 and filling out his Under Armors in a way that had scouts drooling, Campbell popped even more eyes with a 4.85 40 and 34 bench reps despite 36-inch arms. While some scouts still have Campbell down their board based on his game film, his athleticism may push him into the top 10 (we’re looking at you, Al Davis).
Oklahoma’s Trent Williams was just a blink behind Campbell with a 4.88 40, and he looked as smooth as anyone on the field. Already graded among the top tackles, Williams solidified his spot in the top half of the first round. Similarly, Russell Okung of Oklahoma State proved big enough (6-5, 307), strong enough (38 reps with 36-inch arms), and athletic enough (5.17 40 before tweaking a groin injury and sitting out the rest of the drills) to retain his spot among the top tackles and a possible top-five selection.
Iowa’s Bryan Bulaga (6-5, 314, 5.26 40, 26 reps) looked predictably great in position drills and did nothing to hurt his first-round stock, but the same can’t be said for Rutgers’ Anthony Davis. For starters, he looked puffy at 6-5, 323, didn’t look smooth or athletic in running a 5.38 40, and his 21 reps paled in comparison to other top tackles.
Conversely, several second-tier tackles looked good in drills and on paper and could not only move themselves into second-round contention but also bump some of the top-tier guys down a few picks as teams pass on them in the first round because of the depth at the position. USC’s Charles Brown added weight and checked in at 6-5 and 303 pounds; he didn’t run, but his 31-inch vertical demonstrates explosiveness. During position drills Indiana’s Rodger Saffold (6-4, 316) demonstrated a fluidity that could land him a spot in the second-round as well. And Virginia Tech’s Ed Wang (6-4, 314) ran a 5.14 40 with 29 reps on the bench and a solid showing during position drills as well.
The backs and receivers were measured and hit the bench, with on-field work coming Sunday. Among the more notable developments: Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen measured 6-2, taller than recent scuttlebutt had positioned him; Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford showed up at 6-4 and 236 pounds, significantly thicker than he was during his final collegiate season; C.J. Spiller of Clemson (5-10, 196) measured slightly smaller than expected, with his measurables nearly matched by Cal’s Jahvid Best (5-10, 199); Illinois wideout Arrelious Benn (6-1, 219) put up 20 reps on the bench, matching or besting at least a dozen tight ends; and RB/WR Dexter McCluster of Mississippi measured 5-9 and 172 pounds, but threw up 20 reps of his own to suggest that maybe he can carve out a place in the big man’s game after all.