The second day of the NFL Scouting Combine is in the books, and while we’re still waiting for our first on-field action there was still plenty to buzz about on Friday in Indianapolis.
For starters, unless you were Baylor’s Jason Smith it was a rough day to be an elite tackle prospect. Alabama’s Andre Smith announced that he wouldn’t be participating in any of the combine workouts; while that in and of itself isn’t usually a huge red flag, Smith’s rationale for skipping—he was slow to find an agent and as such had only recently begun working out—hardly smacked of the initiative and preparation teams sinking millions into a top 10 pick might be expecting.
As it turns out, Andre’s decision not to work out might have been a smart move. As Groups 1, 2, and 3—offensive linemen, tight ends, and specialists—hit the weight room for the bench press, Jason Smith pumped out 33 reps at 225 pounds to tie for fourth-best among the day’s contestants. The other two top-tier tackles—Virginia’s Eugene Monroe and Michael Oher of Ole Miss—ranked 29th and 35th among linemen with 23 and 21 reps, respectively.
To put that into perspective USC’s David Buehler, the only kicker to participate in the lifting, squeezed out 25 reps.
Texas Tech guard Louis Vasquez set the pace with 39 reps, five more than anyone else could muster.
Among tight ends, multi-position wonder James Casey of Rice and Wisconsin’s Travis Beckum tied with 28 reps apiece. Oklahoma State’s Brandon Pettigrew, widely considered the best combo tight end on the board, finished in the middle of the pack with 22 reps.
Away from the weight room, the remainder of the action could be found in the measuring room and at the podium. Every quarterback—even Missouri’s Chase Daniels—made it to the six-foot mark, with Kansas State’s Josh Freeman both the tallest (at 6-5 ¾) and heaviest (at 248 pounds). USC’s Mark Sanchez boasted the group’s largest hands at 10 ½ , and you know what they say about big hands: big gloves.
Speaking of Sanchez, he addressed his exit press conference from USC and the perception that Trojans coach Pete Carroll wasn’t happy to see him turn pro. Sanchez attributed Carroll’s reaction to “competitive nature” and said his former coach has been “very supportive since the decision.” Sanchez also slipped into the press conference for fellow elite quarterback Matt Stafford and asked the Georgia signal caller what he thought of the “other” quarterback in the draft, eliciting laughs from both Stafford and the assembled media.
Stafford and Sanchez both noted they had shared a meal with representatives from the Detroit Lions, who hold the first pick in the draft. Stafford had a steak dinner with Lions’ reps, while Sanchez had lunch—club sandwich, no mayo—with Detroit offensive coordinator Scott Linehan.
Notable among running backs was the revelation that Pitt’s LeSean McCoy had been battling the flu and wouldn’t be participating in the bench press. McCoy weighed in at 197 pounds, down about a dozen pounds from his playing weight—the only back checking in under 200 pounds. Ohio State’s Chris Wells (6-1, 237) and Liberty’s Rashad Jennings (6-1, 231) were easily the biggest running backs at the Combine.
There were some mild surprises as the wide receiver were weighed and measured. Rutgers’ Kenny Britt, billed at 6-4, checked in at just a shade under 6-3 instead; Missouri’s Jeremy Maclin lost an inch and measured 6-0, 198 at the Scouting Combine; and Michael Crabtree, listed at 6-3, barely topped 6-1 on the official tape. Crabtree, who won’t be running at the Combine, indicated he was at about 95 percent healthy following his ankle injury and expects to be 100 percent when he runs at Texas Tech’s pro day in three weeks. To the surprise of no one Cal Poly’s Ramses Barden was the physical marvel of the wide receiver weigh ins, measuring 6-6 and 229 pounds, with the longest arm length (34 ½) and hand length (10 ¾) in his group.
While defensive players will be weighed and measured Saturday and the backs and receivers will hit the weight room, most eyes will be trained on the Lucas Oil Stadium turf, where the linemen and tight ends will kick off the running and jumping portion of the Combine.