NFL Combine OSU oversight, not an oversight

THE NFL COMBINE did the right thing in inviting Beaver d-end Obum Gwacham. He's had limited collegiate time at the defensive end spot but he has wicked athleticism, size and the kind of measurables that speak to loads of future NFL potential. But as good as it is that a Beaver trio was invited to Indianapolis, there's someone missing.

Except that he isn't.

Yes, along with Beavers Obum Gwacham, Sean Mannion and Steven Nelson, there's another Beaver -- on paper -- who appears to be glaringly missing.

Connor Hamlett should be front and center at the NFL Combine in Indinnapolis from Feb. 17-23.

Except ...

Hamlett went through three minor knee surgeries during and after his junior season at OSU and then played his final season this past fall “at about 80 percent” because of ongoing knee pain and other issues, reported the Everett Herald.

After the corrective surgeries, Hamlett still had knee pain, swelling and it took away that elite edge when it came to speed, his ability to plant and cut and to reach into his core strength to stand up oncoming blockers.

“To play (in the NFL), you can't be at 80 percent,” Hamlett told the Herald back on Jan. 22. “So after the season I decided it was time to hang it up. I didn't want to be in pain every day. I felt like it was time to move on and live a normal life.”

That's more than understandable.

But damn.

It's a shame.

Hamlett was that rare combination.

A 6-foot-7, 266-pound tight end who had was able to handle the most athletic offensive tackles when in pass protection.

The tight end who ran routes like a wide receiver.

That tight end who had great hands, and could do so much after the catch.

Alas, when the injuries stacked up, Hamlett made the tough call. It's the right call.

But that doesn't make it any less tough to swallow.

Hamlett, when healthy, tore it up in the Pac-12. He could have done the same, I firmly believe, in the NFL.

But they haven't figured out how to make old knees new again.

Hamlett started 29 games and finished with 104 catches -- third among tight ends in OSU program history. His 1,109 career receiving yards ranks fifth all-time among Beavers tight ends. As a senior this past season, Hamlett began the season on the Mackey Award watch list for the nation's best tight end. He fought through the knee pain and started all 12 games and finished third on the team with 32 catches for 342 yards and two touchdown receptions.

But you could tell he wasn't the same guy his senior season. Still ...

“I would've been really shocked if he wasn't drafted,” John Garrett, Oregon State's offensive coordinator and tight ends coach last season told the paper. “He had a very good chance of making it in the NFL. He has the ability to be both a blocker and a pass catcher ... with excellent receiving skills, tremendous hand-eye coordination and excellent concentration on the ball. He made some excellent catches throughout his career."

Hamlett instead will pursue something in finance vocationally, probably. He was a business management major at Oregon State, with cumulative 3.3 GPA.

"I've always been good at math and I've always loved crunching numbers, so probably something in that field," Hamlett said.

It's the right choice.

It's the smart choice.

It's the honest choice.

But when it comes to Beaver Connor Hamlett and the football gridiron, it's hard not to think about oh what might have been.

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