Fran Duffy's Combine Preview: Offensive Line

While many people have focused on the strength of the defensive line class in the upcoming NFL Draft, this offensive line group is pretty impressive as well. Whether you’re looking for quick-footed tackles, road-grading guards, athletic centers, or anything in between, there are options on the table. Let’s take a look at who I am most excited to see in Indianapolis at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Top Pick

This is the player who I feel is at the top of the class coming into the event.

Jawaan Taylor, Florida

This may come as a shock to some, but after studying Taylor from this year’s film I was really impressed with what he brings to the table. A big-bodied kid with an impressive frame, Taylor has light, easy feet; is a natural athlete; displays impressive power to displace defenders one-on-one in the run game; and is strong as an ox when holding his ground in pass protection. Will he light up the track? Probably not, but his film was very intriguing. There are things to work on from a technical side with both his feet and with his hands, but my guess is that most coaches will view that as correctable. Taylor is the real deal.

Workout Warrior

This is the player who I expect to see perform best in the athletic testing portion of the workout.

Andre Dillard, Washington State

Dillard was my favorite pure tackle in the senior class heading into the Senior Bowl, and nothing has changed for me in that regard. The three-year starter at left tackle for the Cougars has solid size and pretty good length for the position, but his feet and natural ease of movement are what impress me most on film. On a recent episode of Daniel Jeremiah’s Move the Sticks podcast, there was a discussion about how Dillard could run very well in Indianapolis, and I can definitely see that coming to fruition.

Dillard can get a bit better with his hands, but athletically the tools are there for him to be a good starting tackle for his future NFL team. Another player who I expect to test well across the board is Tytus Howard from Alabama State. Howard is a natural athlete as well as a former high school quarterback who made the switch to tackle from tight end as a college sophomore. Chuma Edoga from USC impressed me with his athleticism in person at the Senior Bowl as well, and I expect him to look good in drills for the same reason.

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!

Cody Ford, Oklahoma

Considering his size (6-4, 338 pounds), Ford is a pretty graceful athlete. However, I don’t believe he’ll look like one of the top testers at this event. Instead of focusing on that, however, focus on this. Ford started every game this season at right tackle for the best offensive line in college football after starting a handful of games last year inside at left guard. He’s a trained killer in the trenches with raw power and vice-grip hands on contact. Ford is hard to move in pass protection. He’s not going to win a lot of foot races, but this kid can play, and I think he will line up at guard in the NFL. People may remember an Oklahoma lineman by the name of Orlando Brown posted a legendary poor workout in Indianapolis last year. I don’t think Ford will be on that level, but I’m not expecting an outstanding day for the big man in the athletic testing portion of the event.

Stopwatch Shocker

This is the player who I expect to see test better than most in the media believe they will perform based off of current projections.

Dru Samia, Oklahoma

Samia came into the season flying under the radar, as scouts graded him as a mid-to-late-round selection and didn’t expect much from him athletically. Turning on the film, I saw one of the best athletes in the country among offensive linemen. This is directly from my notes on the senior four-year starter: “Easy out of his stance. Has light feet and is always under control. Rarely on the ground. Looks very smooth laterally. Releases as a puller quickly and has the range to reach defenders in space with the change of direction and ease of movement to react on the fly. Gets the second level in a hurry and should transition well to a zone scheme in the NFL.” I expect Samia to be one of the better testers along the offensive line at the Combine.

Will Kill The Drills

This is the player who may or may not be a great athlete, but he will look the best in the position-specific drills after the athletic portion of the workout.

Jonah Williams, Alabama

The key for Williams at this event will be his arm length. It will honestly be one of the most pivotal measurements of any prospect at any position all week and could shape the scope of the first round of the draft. Regardless, Williams is a stud on film. He’s got good feet, uses his hands very well, looks comfortable with everything he’s asked to do, and should excel in this kind of environment. Whether he’s a tackle or a guard in the NFL (I think he could play either at a high level), Williams should be a first-round pick.

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.

Yodny Cajuste, West Virginia

The senior left tackle was getting first-round buzz in media circles back in the fall, and while that shine has worn off a bit, he’s still a talented player. The big thing he’ll have to prove to teams in Indianapolis is his long-term durability. Cajuste pulled out of the Senior Bowl due to an ankle injury and has a history of knee injuries on his résumé as well. If he can prove that those ailments are a thing of the past and not a harbinger of the future, that should solidify his Day 2 status in the upcoming NFL Draft as a potential starter at left tackle down the road. Another player I’d throw into the mix here is San Diego State left tackle Tyler Roemer, who declared for the draft as a redshirt sophomore after being suspended by the Aztecs. He was eventually dismissed from the team at the end of the 2018 campaign.

Most Productive College Player

This is the player who produced at the highest level, either in his final year in college or throughout his entire career.

Michael Deiter, Wisconsin

The senior captain started a school-record 54 games along the offensive line for the Badgers over his four-year career, and his versatility is what makes it most impressive. Deiter racked up 24 starts at left guard (including 13 as a senior), 16 at center, and 14 at left tackle. I happen to like Deiter best inside at guard, but the ability to play any position up front will do wonders for his stock moving forward. A tough, versatile technician with deceptive athleticism, I think he’ll be a second-day pick and a Day 1 starter on the inside for his future NFL team.

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 their NFL future through my eyes.

Erik McCoy, Texas A&M

McCoy is a junior who declared for the draft but was eligible for the Senior Bowl since he graduated early and performed well in Mobile, Alabama. That’s also how it played out on film, where McCoy showed an impressive blend of size, movement, and technique as he consistently put himself in position to execute his assignment every week against quality competition in the SEC. He reminds me of Ryan Kelly out of Alabama, who was a first-round pick for the Indianapolis Colts just three years ago. I don’t think McCoy is that level of prospect, but the way he’s built and the way he moves really reminded me of the Pro Bowl pivot, who has turned into a real nice player in Indy.

Best Story

Let’s face it, all of these players have great stories to tell, but which guy has taken the most unbelievable journey to get to this point in their career? Here’s the one that has caught my eyes (and ears) the most.

Tytus Howard, Alabama State

Howard was a high school quarterback out of Monroeville, Alabama, who was destined to play tight end in college. He arrived on campus as a 230-pound prospect and redshirted his first year there as he adjusted to his new position. Turnover in the coaching staff resulted in a change in thinking, however, and the new coaches asked Howard how he felt about moving to the offensive line. As a redshirt freshman, Howard played up front at just 255 pounds. The following year, he got up close to 270 pounds. Howard was over 290 pounds by his redshirt junior year and looked like a legitimate NFL prospect. He came in around 315 in Training Camp, and then at the Senior Bowl last month he weighed in at 322 pounds.

Guess what? That athleticism that had coaches thinking he’d be a college tight end still shows up on film, as Howard carries that weight well, looks very natural on the move, and should be one of the most impressive physical specimens at the Combine as a player who has completely transformed his body over the course of his career.

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 very bright future in the NFL.

Josh Miles, Morgan State

In January at the East-West Shrine Game, Miles was one of a handful of small-school linemen whop stole the show. A college tackle who many anticipate will make the transition inside to guard, Miles is an athletic kid with impressive feet and tools to work with. Can he shine in the athletic testing portion of the week? If he can, while continuing to build off what he did in St. Petersburg after starting three years at Morgan, he could be in the mid-round discussion.

Philly Connection

This is the player with a special tie to the City of Brotherly Love or to the Eagles who you should keep a close eye on in Indianapolis.

Ethan Greenidge, Villanova

I watched Greenidge back in October, and honestly, I was pretty impressed with him on film. He’s every bit of 6-5, 325 pounds, and looks the part in person after seeing him at the Shrine Game, but moves very naturally at that size. The New York native has a basketball background, which shows up on the football field with how he moves laterally as well as in reverse. Greenidge’s versatility, having played both tackle spots throughout his career with the Wildcats, will help him moving forward as well, as he figures to be a Day 3 selection.

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" 40-yard dash time for any given position? What about arm length? The broad jump? Here’s what the average player drafted has looked like over the last decade (by my records).

Tackles/Guards
Height 6-5 1/4"
Weight 313 pounds
Hand Size 10 inches
Arm Length 34 inches
Wingspan 81 3/4 inches
Unofficial 40 Time 5.22 seconds
Official 40 Time 5.26 seconds
10-Yard Split 1.80 seconds
3-Cone Drill 7.77 seconds
Short Shuttle 4.75 seconds
Broad Jump 104 inches
Vertical Jump 28.5 inches
Guards/Centers
Height 6-3 3/8"
Weight 307 pounds
Hand Size 9 7/8 inches
Arm Length 33 inches
Wingspan 78 7/8 inches
Unofficial 40 Time 5.22 seconds
Official 40 Time 5.24 seconds
10-Yard Split 1.80 seconds
3-Cone Drill 7.67 seconds
Short Shuttle 4.70 seconds
Broad Jump 103 inches
Vertical Jump 28.5 inches

Fran Duffy is the producer of the Emmy-nominated Eagles Game Plan show 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 the Journey 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.

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