The 2017 NFL Draft is considered as a very deep and talented group at many positions, including cornerback, running back, tight end, and edge rusher. On the other end of the spectrum is the quarterback position, followed closely by the offensive line. While it's not the most talented group of blockers, there are still a handful of intriguing players at the top of the draft as well as some prospects who could fit the Eagles' offense. Who should you be watching when drills kick off in Indianapolis? Let's take a closer look.
For a primer on what each category below means, check out the running back preview which offered a full explanation. The Mr. Average chart will give you a snapshot of what the average prospect drafted at his specific position has looked like over the span of the last five years to give you some context when the numbers from Indy start pouring in.
Top Pick: Taylor Moton (Western Michigan)
He doesn't have the upside as some of his peers, but Moton is ready-made as an NFL starter right out of the box for his future team as a right tackle or potentially at guard. Moton was arguably the best blocker at the Senior Bowl in January, as he spent most of the week on the right side. At 6-5, 330 pounds, Moton is a mauler with strong hands, feet that are just good enough, and a mean streak to boot. The Michigan native would greatly benefit from an impressive athletic performance. Even if he tests in the middle of the pack, I wouldn't knock him down the board because his athleticism is not one of the things that makes him great.
Workout Warrior: Antonio Garcia (Troy)
If you're getting comparisons to All-Pro tackle Tyron Smith, you know you're an impressive athlete. That is certainly the case with Garcia. At 6-6, 293 pounds, the four-year starter for the Trojans has extremely light feet, a motor that doesn't quit, and strong hands that are tough to get loose from in the run game. He needs to get bigger and stronger, and he has some technique issues to work through in pass protection. However, I fully expect the senior to be one of the very best athletic testers in this group. I would throw Garett Bolles of Utah into the mix as well, as he's received some comparisons to Lane Johnson because of how impressive he is athletically.
Stopwatch Shockers: Ethan Pocic (LSU)
For a player who is widely known as the "oversized center," analysts forget that Ethan Pocic is actually a pretty good athlete as well. The 6-6, 301-pound senior from LSU is adept at working out in space and finding moving targets on the run as a puller in the run game or a lead blocker in the screen game. With reps in his career at both guard and center, I believe Pocic has starting ability at either position once he reaches the NFL. People also don't expect the 360-plus pound behemoth Zach Banner (USC) to test well considering his size, but don't forget that he began his career at USC as a basketball player. Banner's athletic numbers will be better than you think when you factor in his size.
Trust The Tape: Dorian Johnson (Pittsburgh)
Moton would belong in this group as well, but here I want to highlight Dorian Johnson. He was a four-year starter for the Panthers who spent his first season at tackle before sliding permanently inside to the left guard spot as a sophomore. At 6-5, 311 pounds, Johnson passed on an opportunity to play at the Senior Bowl due to a minor ankle ailment, but he is a clean prospect on the field with strong hands, impressive eye discipline, and reaction quickness, as well as strength to move people at the point of attack. Johnson's athleticism is below average at best on film, so I don't expect him to light up the track or wow people with his movement. That shouldn't stop him from being a top-50 selection.
Will Kill The Drills: Roderick Johnson (Florida State)
One of the biggest drills you'll see for offensive linemen in the positional workout, particularly for the tackle spot, is the pass set drill. This is where you see how fleet of foot the linemen are in getting out to the perimeter to block an edge rusher. I expect Bolles and Garcia to both look really good in this drill, but keep a close eye on the junior from Florida State, Roderick Johnson, as well. Johnson has good feet and has an impressive frame at 6-7, 307 pounds. The Missouri native needs to get stronger and be more consistent with his pad level on the field, but the former track athlete boasts impressive athletic ability and strong hands. He could be a starter on the left side if he can be more technically sound.
Most To Prove: Cam Robinson (Alabama)
A five-star recruit and the No. 1 tackle in the country as a high school senior, Robinson's arrival in Alabama was viewed by many as more of a three-year lease instead of a four- to five-year commitment because of his natural talent. Blessed with NFL size (6-6, 327 pounds) and light feet for his frame, Robinson has the look for a starting blindside protector when he walks off the bus. He gave up eight sacks in an up-and-down sophomore season in 2015 which was troublesome. He seemingly turned it around as a junior, allowing just two takedowns of the quarterback. Penalties have been a consistent issue (23 over the last two seasons), but if he can put it all together, Robinson could be one of the best in this group.
He will have to answer for an off-field transgression however, as Robinson was arrested and charged with possession of a narcotic and felony possession of stolen firearm. The charges were eventually dropped, but it's a serious issue that the potential first-round pick will have to explain with teams during the interview process in Indianapolis. On the injury front, many evaluators are anxious about the returns on Wisconsin tackle Ryan Ramczyk's shoulder after he reportedly underwent surgery in mid-January.
Most Productive College Player: Forrest Lamp (Western Kentucky)
During the fall, not many people were familiar with Lamp. But once word got out on the Hilltopper's starting left tackle, many evaluators were reciting their favorite Brick Tamland catchphrase from the movie Anchorman because of what the Florida native put on tape. A third-team All-America this year as a senior, Lamp has all of the key traits you want in a starting lineman. He's smart, tough, plays under control, and uses his hands really well. He's not a standout athlete and he'll need to get stronger in the NFL, but I have little doubt he'll stick in the league, most likely as a guard. What makes him the most productive lineman in the class? Well, by my count anyway, no offensive lineman has started more games than Lamp did during his career at WKU (51).
Best Story: Garett Bolles (Utah)
Bolles will light up the drills because of how athletic he is, but his background story is just as intriguing. Bolles was a troubled teenager who was kicked out of his father's house after being expelled from multiple schools due to drug use and a vandalism arrest. He was homeless and on the street before being taken in by a family and put on the right path. He went to junior college, met his wife, and transferred to Utah where he became a 13-game starter as a junior. He declared for the draft to support his wife and newborn child. The arrow appears to be pointing up on his football career even though he'll be a 25-year-old rookie. Watching Bolles' performance in Indy will be exciting because of his athletic traits (he has some of the best feet in the class), but he has a mean streak between the lines as well that will endear him to many an offensive line coach.
Philly Connection: Dion Dawkins (Temple)
Kutztown's Jordan Morgan is from Philadelphia, but I MUST talk about the Temple kid with the legendary surname. Dion Dawkins is from North Jersey, but he became a three-year starter for the Owls at left tackle in Matt Rhule's pro-style offense. Evaluators have projected him as a potential guard or tackle at the next level. Dawkins played both positions during the week of practice at the Senior Bowl, where he was named the Practice Player of the Week among the offensive linemen. He is natural knee bender with light feet and a nasty demeanor on the field. Whether it's at tackle or guard, Dawkins has starting potential and is a player who could also stand out in the athletic testing portion of the weekend.
|Mr. Average - Offensive Tackle
|Mr. Average - Interior O-Line
Fran Duffy is the producer of "Eagles Game Plan" which can be seen on Saturdays during the season. Be sure to also check out the "Eagle Eye In The Sky" podcast on the Philadelphia Eagles podcast channel on iTunes. 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.