INDIANAPOLIS – 2020 features an impressive group of offensive linemen, including a handful of offensive tackles who could hear their names called in the top half of the first round. On the interior, there are several players with starting potential in the NFL. Use this preview as a cheat sheet for today's action (4 PM on NFL Network) to understand which drills are most important throughout the workout at Lucas Oil Stadium. For a full explanation of each category, jump down to the bottom of the piece.
Top of the heap: Jedrick Wills, Alabama
A two-year starter at right tackle for the Crimson Tide, Wills has pretty much everything you want in a starter along the offensive line. He's big, strong, powerful, nimble, and technically sound. He will be one of the first big men off the board, offense or defense, in April.
Workout warrior: Saahdiq Charles, LSU
Charles is a bit on the smaller side (6-4, 321 pounds), but he's an extremely athletic prospect who has only been playing offensive line for four seasons (three years as a starter at LSU, one in high school). He's got outstanding flexibility, very light feet, and position versatility to play a handful of positions at the next level.
Off the radar: Alex Taylor, South Carolina State
A small-school tackle from a program that has consistently churned out NFL talent, Taylor has arms like trees and is built like a power forward, which makes sense, as he starred on the hardwood for the school's basketball team before making the full commitment to football. Expect those movement skills to show up in athletic testing. Taylor is raw, but he's long, athletic, and an exciting prospect.
Stopwatch shocker: Tristan Wirfs, Iowa
Whether it's because of his size (nearly 6-5, 320 pounds) or the fact that he's a right tackle from the Big Ten conference (which typically puts out maulers who are not the most athletic), observers peg Wirfs as a bit of a slug in the trenches. While he is strong and powerful, he's actually a very impressive athlete. I expect that to show up in athletic testing. Wirfs won't blow the numbers out of the water, but he'll perform better than analysts think.
Will kill the drills: Josh Jones, Houston
The guys who look best in these offensive line drills are twitchy and have active hands. I'll explain why below. A four-year starter at Houston, Joes has both. He got better as the week went on at the Senior Bowl. His strong senior tape backs it up as well. Don't be surprised if there's more buzz about him leaving Indianapolis.
Trust the tape: Mekhi Becton, Louisville
Becton is a large, large human being at 6-7, 369 pounds, but you wouldn't know it by watching him move, as he's a pretty graceful athlete. Still, there will be some limitations at that size. It's important to keep that in mind when the raw numbers come in from these athletic tests. He's going to be moving a lot of weight around the field at Lucas Oil Stadium. Becton has the look of a longtime NFL starter.
Most productive college player: Logan Stenberg, Kentucky
There aren't stats that consistently track offensive linemen in college football, but one thing that people take note of is experience. One could argue that no one has more pelts on the wall, per se, than Stenberg, who started all 13 games in each of his four seasons with the Wildcats in the SEC at left guard. The senior is a strong, powerful player with a nasty streak. He'll scrap with anyone in the trenches.
One-year wonder: Netane Muti, Fresno State
Muti was penciled in as a starter for the Bulldogs for a long time, but only really played one full season (2017) at Fresno State due to injury. The Tongan started three games in 2019, two in 2018, and redshirted all of 2016. On the field, his talent is remarkable, but the sample size is very small, with only one real season of starting experience.
Best pro comparison: Matt Hennessy, Temple
A junior who received his degree in three years and therefore was eligible to play in January's Senior Bowl, Hennessy is a longtime starter for the Owls as a smart, athletic center. Hennessy is never on the ground, has light feet, and a workmanlike mentality in the trenches. I couldn't help but think of Weston Richburg while studying him. Richburg was built very similarly out of Boston College with a similar skill set. A Day 2 selection, Richburg turned into an immediate starter. I expect Hennessy to follow the same path.
Best story: Austin Jackson, USC
If you want a story that can pull on your heartstrings a bit, be sure to read about Jackson and the sacrifice he made for his little sister this past year. And he didn't miss any playing time for the Trojans. It'll be tough not to root for Jackson, who is also an impressive player on the field thanks to his light feet and efficient hands in pass protection.
Small-school standout: Ben Bartch, St. John's
Gustavus Adolphus. Bethel College. St. Olaf. Rose-Hulman. These are some of the schools that Ben Bartch lined up and competed against at the Division-III level over the past four years. A converted tight end, Bartch went down to the Senior Bowl and showed up very well against top-end competition. He'll look to check another box in the evaluation process in Indianapolis.
Philly connection: Cesar Ruiz, Michigan
Ruiz grew up right over the Ben Franklin Bridge in Camden, New Jersey, where he attended Camden High School before transferring down to IMG Academy in Florida. He's a rock-solid center who some believe could sneak into the back part of the first round in April. He has all of the tools to be a more-than-competent starter in the NFL. Ruiz played at Michigan with another Combine attendee, Michigan tackle Jon Runyan Jr., whose father, obviously, is an Eagles legend.
Most To Prove: Trey Adams, Washington
Two years ago, Adams was projected by every media outlet as a potential top-10 pick in 2019, but knee and back injuries derailed those hopes a year ago. After a healthy fall, Adams earned a Senior Bowl invite, but did not attend due to a reported minor injury. His medical report will be huge for his final evaluation, as he's a big, strong left tackle with pretty light feet for his size.
Position drill to watch
Coaches are looking to put stress on these big-bodied blockers. One of the best ways to do that is to get them on the move. One of my favorite drills to watch all week long is the "wave" drill, which is done not only with the offensive linemen, but with the defensive linemen as well. Players will start laying on their stomachs before popping up and taking direction from a coach who will direct them to move forward, backward, left, or right as quickly as possible before finishing with a sprint to the goal line.
Players will try to "cheat the drill" by guessing when the coach is about to give the next direction, so expect to see the coach yell at a couple of the first prospects in line for trying to guess.
Once they take the commands, focus on the movement of the prospect. This drill is great at pointing out players who have excellent reaction quickness and twitch. How fast do the players respond? Is there any wasted movement when they change direction? Then, of course, you want a strong, urgent finish to close out the rep!
|Hand Size||1000 (10")|
|Arm Length||3400 (34")|
|Wingspan||8158 (81 5/8")|
|Unofficial 40-Time (Stopwatch)||5.21 seconds|
|Official 40-Time (Laser)||5.25 seconds|
|10-Yard Split||1.81 seconds|
|3-Cone Drill||7.79 seconds|
|Short Shuttle||4.75 seconds|
|Hand Size||978 (9 7/8")|
|Arm Length||3300 (33")|
|Unofficial 40-Time (Stopwatch)||5.22 seconds|
|Official 40-Time (Laser)||5.23 seconds|
|10-Yard Split||1.80 seconds|
|3-Cone Drill||7.69 seconds|
|Short Shuttle||4.70 seconds|
The rest of the pack
Hakeem Adeniji (Kansas), Tremayne Anchrum (Clemson), Tyler Biadasz (Wisconsin), Ben Bredeson (Michigan), Cohl Cabral (Arizona State), Cameron Clark (Charlotte), Ezra Cleveland (Boise State), Trystan Colon-Castillo (Missouri), Lloyd Cushenberry (LSU), Jack Driscoll (Auburn), Yasir Durant (Missouri), Alex Givens (Ole Miss), Jake Hanson (Oregon), Nick Harris (Washington), Charlie Heck (UNC), Justin Herron (Wake Forest), Robert Hunt (Louisiana), Keith Ismael (San Diego State), Cordel Iwuagwu (TCU), Jonah Jackson (Ohio State), Josh Jones (Houston), Solomon Kindley (Georgia), Shane Lemieux (Oregon), Damien Lewis (LSU), Colton McKivitz (West Virginia), John Molchon (Boise State), Kyle Murphy (Rhode Island), Lucas Niang (TCU), Michael Onwenu (Michigan), Matt Peart (UConn), Tyre Phillips (Mississippi State), Danny Pinter (Ball State), Jon Runyan Jr. (Michigan), John Simpson (Clemson), Terence Steele (Texas Tech), Simon Stepniak (Indiana), Andrew Thomas (Georgia), Calvin Throckmorton (Oregon), Prince Tega Wanogho (Auburn), Darryl Williams (Mississippi State), Isaiah Wilson (Georgia)
Breakdown of the categories
Top of the heap: This is the player who, based on media projections, is at the top of the class and will likely hear his name called first at his position in April.
Workout warrior: This is the player who I expect to see perform best in the athletic testing portion of the workout.
Off the radar: This is the player who will come out of nowhere to post great numbers in the athletic testing portion of the workout.
Stopwatch shocker: This is the player who I expect to perform better in the athletic tests than most in the media predict.
Will kill the drills: This is the player who will look the best in the position-specific drills following the athletic portion of the workout.
Trust the tape: This is the player who I don't expect to test off the charts and is a better football player than he is an athlete. With that in mind, don't drop him down the board with a subpar workout!
Most productive college player: This is the player who produced at the highest level, either in his final year in college or over the course of his entire career.
One-year wonder: This is the player who performed at a high level in college, but only for a limited time on campus.
Best pro comparison: Comparing draft prospects to NFL players is tough, but here's a player with the easiest picture to paint when looking at his NFL future through my eyes.
Best story: All of these players have great stories to tell, but who has taken the most unbelievable journey to get to this point in his career? Here's the one that has caught my eyes (and ears) the most.
Small-school standout: This is the player who comes from a lower level of competition (outside of the Power 5 conferences) but still has a potentially bright future in the NFL.
Philly connection: This is the player with a special tie to the City of Brotherly Love or the Eagles who you should keep a close eye on.
Most to prove: This is the player who has the most to prove away from the field, whether it's during the interview process, medical examinations, or even the weigh-ins.
Mr. Average: We get to read all about the measurements for all these players over the next few weeks, but wouldn't it be nice to have some context? What is considered a "good" time in the 40-yard dash? What about arm length? The broad jump? Here's what the average player drafted at each position has looked like over the last decade (by my records).
The rest of the pack: A list of everyone else who will take part in the events in Indianapolis (in alphabetical order).
Fran Duffy is the producer of the Emmy-nominatedEagles Game Planshow which can be seen every gameday during the season on NBC10 in Philadelphia. He is also the host of two Eagles-related podcasts,Eagle Eye in the Sky, which examines the team from an X's and O's angle each and every week as well as theJourney to the Draft podcast, which covers college football and the NFL Draft all year round. Fran also authors the Eagle Eye in the Sky column, which runs four times a week during the football season to serve as a recap for the previous game and to preview the upcoming matchup. Prior to joining the Eagles in 2011, Duffy was the head video coordinator for the Temple University football team under former head coach Al Golden. In that role, he spent thousands of hours shooting, logging, and assisting with the breakdown of the All-22 film from the team's games, practices, and opponents.