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Saturday, March 2, 2019

2019 NFL COMBINE DAY 1 REPORT: RUNNING BACKS/OFFENSIVE LINEMAN

By Eric C. Wright

Indianapolis, IN.--Day 1 of the 2019 NFL Combine got underway on Friday as the running backs, offensive lineman, and even some special teamers did their drills in front of the league personnel.  Let's check out some of the positives and negatives as the draft moves near.

-Penn State may be churning out another stud running back for the second time in two years.  On the heels of Saquon Barkley putting forth maybe the best Combine performance of all time that netted him the second overall pick last April, his replacement Miles Sanders was very impressive in all the drills on Friday.  Showing great hands catching the football, good 40's times, and cutting ability, Sanders is putting himself in high Day 2 territory. 

Other backs who really helped themselves and boosted their draft stocks at the position on Day 1 undoubtedly were Notre Dame's Dexter Williams, Ohio State's Mike Weber (the Buckeyes ALWAYS produce productive backs to the league), and Washington's Miles Gaskin.  Now in terms of Gaskin, he was a favorite of ours which we wrote about in our annual draft guide (for sale on Amazon) as his ability to both run and catch the football are tailor-made for today's game.  This PPR fiend in fantasy football.  Gaskin is also one of the strongest backs among his class as he did 24 reps at 225 on the bench.  Unfortunately, his 40 time of 4.60 was not overly impressive but Gaskin is a guy who has better game speed than actual.  Speaking of 40 times, Justice Hill of Oklahoma ran a scorching 4.40 in the dash and also supplied a 40 inch vertical.  Tremendous speed and explosiveness here for sure. Finally, Florida's Jordan Scarlett and Temple's Ryquell Armstead both ran under 4.5 which his obviously noteworthy and it helps Scarlett who has been dogged by off-the-field issues.

-Kansas State's Alex Barnes looked like an offensive lineman on the bench as he did a masssive 34 reps.  While a bit slow of foot as he showed in going over 4.6 in the 40, Barnes caught the football well and absolutely helped himself in terms of being a power complement to a speedy back (maybe Armstead) at the NFL level.  Keep in mind that last year Barkley and Nick Chubb both had 29 reps and each was terrific as a rookie.

-David Montgomery was a breaking tackling machine and caught everything in sight at Iowa State but he didn't refute questions he is lacking in speed as he ran a 4.63.  Also Montgomery did drop a pass during drills so it was not an overly good day for him. 

-Speaking of rough days, Georgia power back Elijiah Holyfield and LSU's Nick Brosette struggled badly. Both ran very slow times in the 40 and both were among the worst performers among the backs catching the football.  Each man is destined for Day 3 status at best.

-In terms of the linemen, Boston College's Chris Lindstrom and N.C. State's Garrett Bradberry stood out the most.  Bradberry in particular shined in pretty much every drill and considering he was already the best center by a mile, he could be moving into late first-round territory. 

-On the small school level, Trey Pipkins of Sioux Falls did a nice job in agility drills and so he could have solidified a Day 2 selection.  Remember there has been a high number of blockes who have arrived from the small school level and done very well in the NFL so Pipkins also has that going for him.

-Some other positives:  Penn State's Ryan Bates, Ohio State's Michael Jordan, and pretty much every Wisconsin blockers Michael Deiter and Beau Benzschawel all helped themselves.  On the negative side, Oklahomas Dru Samia seemed very stuff in his movement and lateral agility and Arkansas' Hjalte Froholdt had pretty much the same struggle. 

-In terms of the top blockers, Washington State's Andre Dillard was fantastic and aced every drill on Day 1.  He has solifidied himself as the top blocker in the entire draft in our opinion over Alabama's Jonah Williams who was good but not great like Dillard was. 


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