NFL Combine Day One

With the 2007 college football season in the books and half a year to wait for gridiron action to resume, we're turning our attention to the NFL draft. Combine season is in full swing, and what happens in the next few days could make or break the hearts of pro football hopefuls from across the country.

The red carpet was rolled out for possibly the best offensive tackle group to come along in years on Day One of the 2008 combine, which also featured a very athletic class of tight ends.

Neither group failed to disappoint, with both offensive linemen and tight ends posting some of the best times we've seen in years. Jake Long continued to prove why he is a top five pick, and in the tight end group, Dustin Keller and Martellus Bennett both made huge splashes.

Here is the best and worst from Day One:

Top Performers

Jake Long- (Offensive Tackle, Michigan) Long did a nice job demonstrating his power with a high of 37 reps on the bench, the best of all offensive lineman. He also showed good straight-line quickness and demonstrated a very compact stance and natural lateral movements.

Chris Williams (Offensive Tackle, Vanderbilt) Concerns about Williams' strength were silenced a little, with Williams posting 22 reps on the bench—not a good performance but fair. He showed a great burst out of his stance and good flexibility, however, and he looked the most natural of any offensive tackles, including Jake Long, in the change of direction drills.

Branden Albert (Offensive Guard, Virginia) Albert posted a very respectable 5.22 forty time and showed good fluidity and feet throughout position drills. He has the ability to line up at tackle in the NFL, but it has been awhile since a guard has come along with his ability to pull and get out to the second level. Albert is a potential late first-round pick.

Donald Thomas (Offensive Guard, Connecticut) Thomas possesses a massive upper body and really carries his weight well; he isn't top-heavy at all. He showed a good burst and straight-line speed, posted a sub 5.0-second forty and looked comfortable changing directions and dipping his hips during position drills.

Chilo Rachal (Offensive Guard, USC) Rachal has a thick build and demonstrated good body control and balance throughout the day. He posted solid performances in the bench press and forty while showcasing the athleticism to play either as an in-line guy or in a zone blocking scheme. He should really start to shoot up draft boards with this good performance.

Corey Clark (Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M) Clark showed surprisingly good body control and coordination in position drills today. He looked more agile and quick than he's given credit for, and he could sneak up into that mid second day range.

Jeremy Zuttah (Tackle/Guard, Rutgers) Zuttah has done a nice job producing some of the best numbers in the bench press (35) and forty (4.99 seconds) at the combine so far. A position change from tackle to guard looks like his best fit. He's a bit stiff in space and has a tendency to play too high, but a position change could really help his chances of becoming a solid pro.

Mike Pollak (Center, Arizona State) Known for his grit and power inside, Pollak is a street fighter who possesses good power and punch. His sub five-second forty time paired with his 29 reps on the bench looks to have solidified his reputation as the nation's top center.

Carl Nicks (Offensive Tackle, Nebraska) A massive tackle that really carried his weight well today in position drills, Nicks is a natural bender who moves well laterally and shows great power at the point of attack. He put up 34 reps on the bench and recorded a 5.18 forty time. He really looks impressive for a man that weighs in at 345 pounds.

Martellus Bennett (Tight End, Texas A&M) Bennett solidified himself as possibly the top tight end in the draft after Day One. He looked explosive out of his breaks and natural catching the ball. Pair that with his power as an in-line blocker and 4.69 forty speed and he may end up being the first TE off the board come draft day.

Dustin Keller (H-Back, Purdue) The Purdue product looked every bit the part physically on Day One, running the fastest 40 (4.55) and posting the highest vertical jump. He looks like he can definitely help a team in the pass game. He struggles holding the point of attack as a blocker but is in the Dallas Clark mold as a receiver.

Craig Stevens (Tight End, California) The best blocker of the tight end group came into Indy and ran one of the best forty times of any tight end. Stevens still looked stiff out of his breaks and isn't a natural receiver, but as a blocking TE he shows he has the burst to uncover in the passing game.

Other players who helped themselves: Duane Brown (Offensive Tackle, Virginia Tech) Chad Reiehart (Offensive Guard, Northern Iowa) Eric Young (Offensive Guard, Tennessee) Gary Barnidge (Tight End, Louisville) Tom Santi (Tight End, Virginia) Darrell Strong (Tight End Pittsburgh) Brad Cottam (Tight End, Tennessee)

Strugglers

Anthony Collins (Offensive Tackle, Kansas) Collins is a finesse blocker who has to rely on his quickness and lateral mobility. He lacked flexibility in his stance and didn't look natural bending and dipping in position drills. He possesses a nice bubble and might have worked on his base strength too much for the combine; he may have lost some of his flexibility.

Jeff Otah (Offensive Tackle, Pittsburgh) Scouts knew Otah wasn't a great athlete, but posting a 5.55 forty time really makes you wonder about his athletic ability. Decent foot quickness and fair lateral mobility are his best attributes, but he had a tendency to get way too upright. It looks like playing LT in the NFL is starting to become out of the question.

Mike McGlynn (Offensive Guard, Pittsburgh) McGlynn struggled during position dills when asked to move laterally and dip his hips. He lacks body control and the ability to dip his shoulder around the bend. He's more of a street fighter and looks more and more like a versatile back-up in the NFL.

John Carlson (Tight End, Notre Dame) I realize it's all about game speed, but the 4.96 forty time could slide Carlson into the second day. He looked stiff and small throughout the day but did do a better job catching the ball in position drills.

Jermichael Finley (Tight End, Texas) Finley failed to show explosion out of his breaks, consistently lacked burst out of cuts and struggled getting started in both 40-yard dashes. He's simply a long strider with built-up speed that isn't real sudden in any area of the game.

Kolo Kapanui (Tight End, West Texas A&M) Kapanui is a small school prospect who had a strong showing on the bench but showed little explosion in his jumps and posted an offensive lineman-like time in the forty.

Other Players Who Didn't Impress: Tyler Polumbus (Offensive Tackle, Colorado) Barry Richardson (Offensive Tackle, Clemson) Geoff Schwartz (Offensive Tackle, Oregon) Joey Haynos (Tight End, Maryland) Jacob Tamme (Tight End, Kentucky) Derek Fine (Tight End, Kansas)


Wes Bunting has been mentored by some of the brightest minds in NFL scouting, names such as GMJR President and former Clevland Browns scout Russ Lande, former coordinator of the year Marc Trestman, 31-year NFL and college football scout Joe Butler and Sports Xchange president and longtime NFL scout Frank Cooney.

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