O-linemen bringing more and more athleticism to field


INDIANAPOLIS — It wasn’t always the case that one would throw around the word “athlete” regarding offensive linemen at the NFL Scouting Combine, but it’s becoming more and more common — and this year is no exception.

I joined NFL.com senior writer Steve Wyche and NFL Network’s Paul Burmeister to watch the second group of linemen run their 40-yard dashes Saturday, and it was mentioned that these guys looked svelte despite wearing skin-tight track suits. OK, maybe that’s a reach — but they looked every bit an athlete.

Not every drill here is necessarily critical for linemen — they’re all pieces to the puzzle — but the meaning varies. In the 40, for example, the linemen’s splits at 10 and 20 yards and their explosiveness are what scouts watch.

Two potentially high picks, though, continue to put up solid measurables.

Oklahoma OT Trent Williams was the fastest of this second group, posting an official dash time of 4.88 seconds. Wyche said the upside of Williams — ranked No. 4 on NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock’s draft list — is that he can play both tackle positions.

Oklahoma State’s Russell Okung, Mayock’s top-ranked tackle, continues to impress. His arms measured in at 36 inches and he did 38 repetitions on the bench press Friday, and he unofficially timed in at 5.17 and 5.19 seconds in the dash Saturday.

“They’ve done nothing but help themselves,” Wyche said.

— Frank Tadych

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