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2011 NFL Scouting Combine - Day One Recap
John Tuvey
February 27, 2011
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Day One Recap  |  Day Two Recap  |  Day Three Recap  |  Day Four Recap

After three days of barely breaking a sweat, the action finally moved to the Lucas Oil Stadium turf—though there was still plenty of news being made off of it.

Offensive linemen kicked off the on-field activities, with the big-name tackles drawing the most attention. Nate Solder’s 5.05 40 time was second-best among tackles and fourth among all offensive linemen; when you consider that he’s 6-foot-8 and change and weighs 319 pounds, it’s that much more impressive he can move that fast. The only knock on Solder, one that pops up in film and was evident during the positional drills, is that at 6-foot-8 he tends to play a little high. It’s a coachable point, and most teams would love someone with Soldier’s athleticism to man their left tackle position for the next decade.

The numbers for fellow marquee tackles Anthony Castanzo and Gabe Carimi weren’t quite as impressive, though they by no means cost either player draft position. A fourth tackle expected to go off the board in the first round, USC’s Tyron Smith, pulled out of the Combine due to a knee injury he is still apparently recovering from.

On the other end of the spectrum, Syracuse center Ryan Bartholomew took advantage of the workouts to send coaches and GMs scurrying back to the film room. The 6-1, 302-pound Bartholomew was both the strongest (34 bench-press reps at 225 pounds) and second-fastest (4.97 in the 40) lineman on the field, quite possibly lifting his stock from its previous sixth-round level.

Bridging the gap between the big fellas and the pretty boys who’ll take the field on Sunday were the tight ends. Nevada’s Virgil Green turned heads with a 10-foot-10-inch broad jump and a 42.5-inch vertical—the second-best performances by a tight end in those drills in the past decade. Green’s 4.64 40 was a little slower than expected, but it was still third-best among tight ends. Green also caught the ball well during position drills and may bump himself into the draft’s second day. Kyle Rudolph, widely considered the top tight end in this year’s admittedly weak class, didn’t participate in drills; neither did South Carolina’s Weslye Saunders, who it was learned during medical exams has a broken bone in his foot.

The quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers won’t take the field until Sunday, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t elbow their way into the spotlight. Cam Newton took to the podium with a prepared statement that addressed his ill-conceived “entertainer and icon” statement. For the most part he handled the media smoothly, though later in the day reports surfaced that at least one team ruffled his feathers during the interview process with a question about his decision to run a quarterback sneak instead of taking a knee during the National Championship game.

Fellow quarterback Ryan Mallett also faced intense scrutiny at the podium for his decision not to address rumors about alleged drug use. Mallett indicated that he answered all those questions for the teams who talked to him and that he wouldn’t publicly discuss them; after four more questions along the same vein, Mallett thanked the media and cut the session short. Reports indicate that Mallett was impressive during the team interviews; whether or not his decision to leave the podium prematurely will be viewed as poised and controlled or petulant and punkish remains to be seen.

When the “skill” position players take the field on Sunday, every quarterback except Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert is expected to throw; that includes Florida State’s Christian Ponder, who reversed an earlier decision and announced he’ll participate in the drills. And the Cam Newton media circus should be out in full force. Just another Sunday of football!

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