Offensive Line Drills

No offensive linemen really stood out in the drills Saturday morning; some improved their stock a little while others went in a different direction but no one separated themselves from the rest of the pack. Here's a full report on the drills complete with body-fat percentages on some of the best (skinnier) and worst (fattier) offensive linemen.

A few notes on the top two prospects. 

Recently there was a story on Mike Williams, the big tackle from Texas, and allegations he is covering up a torn knee ligament.  On our plane ride home from Indianapolis Monday evening on the US Airways jet, with several scouts from northeastern teams the feeling was unanimous; its' totally untrue.   

First, many suspect it is a smoke-screen from a organization that wants to draft Williams with the hopes that this will make him slide a few slots.  It makes sense; a team wants to do an MRI, Williams says, "no" another team that wants him makes a big stink.  It is done all the time and the scouts we spoke with told us Buddy Ryan was a master of "talking players down only to have the devalued prospect fall to his slot then select him." 

Secondly, Williams did partake in the drills and even gave one attempt at the broad jump (which measured 8-4) something he probably wouldn't have done with a torn ligament in his knee.  These stories crop on players all the time.  Last year we were bombarded with this same type of rumor though the player in question was Richard Seymour and it was ridiculously false. 

The other top tackle, Bryant McKinnie, "cheesed off" more than a few scouts at the combine by not working out.  In fact the soft-spoken McKinnie explained to everyone why he was  not going to lift. McKinnie speaking in a low-tone barely audible voice said, "I am not lifting because I have a pec strain," but some scouts in the room thought he said something totally different.  Some, believe it or not, took it as "I did not train", as opposed to "I have a pec strain."  (You know that commercial that says "get a back-up for O'Niel??!!). 

One scout, sitting in the row directly in front of me said, "Did not train?  What the hell was he waiting for."  That is a true story! 

Now, onto the action. 

We've already posted our thoughts on Mike Pearson's performance.  The Gator tackle looked like his old self displaying power, strength and explosion.  He even looked more athletic than usual, especially with his footwork in pass protection drills and ability to move laterally.  Technically sound and patient, he displayed top arm jolt.  Our only criticism was he didn't attack his blocking drills like he should've.  Overall a good job by the recently maligned junior. 

Andre Gurode also displayed surprising athleticism and intelligence.  His footwork was better than any game film we've watched the past two years and though a mauler, he also displayed excellent patience with his blocking.  Gurode is powerful but plays a little stiff and does not move all that well in space. 

Several linemen looked really good when asked to kick-out or pull across the line of scrimmage and prove they have the ability to block on the move.  Chester Pitts, Ben Miller and Antwaan Kirk-Hughes were the best of all while Tango McCauley also surprised in that aspect.  Even big Bryant McKinnie displayed some ability to block on the move. 

Speaking of McCauley, the former Texas A&M Aggie who transferred to Alabama State really attacked the morning session and moved himself into the later rounds. 

Probably the best athlete of all was Artis Hicks Jr.  Hicks is fluid and light on his feet, displaying nice blocking range.  Though he moved well in space Hicks seemed to struggle with his pass protection techniques and really did not practice aggressively, something almost as disappointing as his bench press results (22). 

Levi Jones built upon his Senior Bowl performance and has obviously been working on his footwork as he displayed much improved quickness and skills to shuffle and slide when "blocking the edge" during drills. 

A few linemen upped their stock at least a whole round higher than where they were ranked prior to the Combine.   

LeCharles Bentley showed solid footwork in pass-protection and effectively used both blocking angles and body positioning.  He is strong but must do a better job of keeping his arms up at all times to use that power.  After watching him we feel he is still better in confined quarters.   

Much the same can be said about Melvin Fowler, who received applause from the coaches on several occasions.   

Toniu Fonoti had an uneven practice.  His game has a lot of pop and explosion to it.  For a 300-pound man he is light on his feet but is best going in one direction; straight-ahead.  When asked to move in space or shuffle and slide his feet the Cornhusker bruiser had his troubles.   

The injury that sidelined Alonzo Cunningham has really slowed his development.  The athleticism is apparent but he looked haphazard moving in drills and off his game.  We've always liked Cunningham and the mid-west scout we sat next to all four days firmly believes he is a prospect. 

Howard Duncan helped himself greatly displaying a lot of natural abilities and just needs to fine-tune the mechanics a bit. 

Other highlights; Kevin Barry can be a force when he decides and displayed great lower body power and surprising footwork.  Matt Hill plays much better than he tests, Jason Ball was solid and Marquise Muldrow with succeed if kept in confined quarters. 

On the flip side… 

Marc Colombo really struggled if asked to move in any direction other than straight ahead almost tripping over his own feet at one point.  His footwork was not good, something we noted during the season, and we doubt he has the abilities to play left tackle.  To his credit, Colombo worked incredibly hard and picked it up as the practice proceeded. 

Though he is obviously a good athlete, PJ Alexander got beat in drills, looked unsure of himself and at one point was put on his ass, the only linemen to hit the turf on Saturday. 

Matt Anderle, Andy Eby, Ed Ta'amu and Konrad Dean displayed almost no abilities to play in anything other than a restricted area and had tough workouts. 

We spoke at length with Broderick Lancaster.  Following him extensively on film since his sophomore campaign at Colorado State, we asked him about the knee injury he sustained against Louisville last season and his junior campaign. 

Lancaster told us his knee would be fine for CSU's pro-day in the middle of the month and as far as his junior year was concerned the coaches were, "messin' with my time." 

Lancaster was one of our favorite linemen coming into the 2000 season but fell out of favor with the Ram staff and though he played sparingly only starting five games, he was still a second team All Conference selection.  If there is a "sleeper" at guard this guy is it.  He is strong, athletic and is probably the best pulling guard in this draft no one talks about.

As far as the body fat test's are concerned, we will post them all but here are the highlights.  The "worst" goes to Alonzo Cunningham, 26.12% body fat, Jason Skuanec at 30.68% and Dwayne Pierce at 30.55%.

The best were Michael Collins at only 13.15% body fat, Ben Miller at 14.67%, Scott Peters at 14.48%.

The "big boys" results: Mike Williams, 24.28%, Bryant McKinnie, 20.54%, Toniu Fonoti, 19.82% and Andre Gurode, 19.47%.

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