The NFL combine is underway as we get into players filing in, getting measured and for some, beginning tests. There will be tons of nuggets and measurements coming out over the next few days and a great place to keep track of numbers is Mockdraftable, which puts numbers up against historical data at all the positions. While there may not be a ton of information coming out of the first day of the combine, with only a few guys getting measured, it is still worth noting these running back and offensive linemen measurements.
It's hard to pick winners and losers purely based on measurements, but it is naive to think that the NFL does not at least strongly consider players' measurables when forming a draft board. So, when a highly thought of prospect like Christian McCaffrey comes in as small as he did, it will raise red flags for a lot of NFL teams. Historically there is little data to suggest there is a direct correlation between size and injury for running backs and I am not sure anyone expected McCaffrey to come in at 220 pounds either, so I'm not sure I am massively concerned. When I wrote about McCaffrey, I said he reminded me a lot of Brian Westbrook. Westbrook was about 5'9" and 200 pounds at the combine whereas McCaffrey is 5'11" and 202. So McCaffrey is a bit skinnier (lower BMI), but they both measured below average from a height perspective. So, while I am not worried about this affecting McCaffrey's NFL projection, it could affect where he is drafted. To offset poor measurements, he will need to test very well, but with all that sneaky athletic ability, he is bound to surprise people.
While McCaffrey may have "lost" the measurements for running backs, Leonard Fournette and Samaje Perine definitely won. Fournette came in at a massive 6'0" and 240 pounds and Samaje Perine measured a similarly hulking 5'11" and 233 pounds. How big is that? Well, both have a higher BMI than 6'3", 247 pound Derrick Henry. I would count this as a big win for these backs just because they are power-oriented backs on tape and have the size to back up their style. With both due to have impressive combines, the hype should continue to build for both backs among NFL teams.
The measurements for offensive linemen did not yield many huge surprises. Forrest Lamp's short arms may cause NFL teams to want him at guard despite years of high level play at the the tackle position. While this potential stubbornness from the league is a bit asinine considering how good Lamp has been at tackle, it could push Lamp down into the second day where he would be a massive steal for any NFL team. A big winner is probably Cam Robinson. Robinson is a top ten talent in this class who has strangely not getting the deserved hype in the draft process. However, having top level measurements is the beginning of what will be a pivotal next few days for him. Expect media people to talk about him more and more as a potential high first round pick.
So measurements are a bit boring, honestly. So what is there to look for on day two of the NFL combine?
- Mike Williams' combine matters. The Clemson star is many people's pick or the top receiver in the class and it is not hard to see why so many people love him. Williams is a strong receiver who wins jump balls and plays aggressive football before, during and after the catch. I am a bit more hesitant on anointing Williams due to medicals, inconsistent hands and lack of consistent separation. For receivers whose games are predicated on jump balls, being well built is historically important. On the other hand the numbers are against taller, leaner receivers succeeding in the NFL. Williams being measuring at 6-3 and 220 pounds is incredibly good news for him and fits perfectly with his style of play. Surprisingly, Corey Davis came in under 210, but he has been dealing with an ankle injury that has likely affected training.
- The medicals for what many believe to be the top three receivers will be important. Mike Williams had a severe neck injury in his past, John Ross had a leg injury that kept him out of the 2015 season and while Corey Davis' ankle injury is less severe, it is worth monitoring. Considering how all three played in 2016, there should be less worry, but unfortunately these things have a way of lingering.
- While the Bench Press probably has the least correlation to the field, it is still fun to see who does the best on it. While I am sure some offensive linemen will take the cake, I bet Samaje Perine gives the test a run for its money. Perine had legendary weight room strength at Oklahoma and considering he's built like a can of soup, it is hard not to believe how strong he is. With short, 30 inch arms, it's not like the bar travels very far. Like I said, it has little application, but it would be awesome to see the former Sooner bowling ball break the combine bench record for running backs, which is Jerick McKinnon's 32 reps.
- Do any pieces of information come out about Dalvin Cook? With the medical examination yesterday and formal interviews today, the most important questions with Dalvin Cook should be given some light in the next few days of media coverage. Teams and fans alike want to know about his shoulder and, more importantly for many, who he is off the field. Cook has a past that is mired by serious transgressions as a teenager and he will need to prove that those things are far in the past. While word out of Florida State is that he is a totally changed person, it will be important to see if he interviews well. Also, how much concern does that shoulder injury convey? Hopefully not a lot.
- Be on the lookout for late round tight end measurements. Toledo's Michael Roberts is one of my favorite players in this class and has legit starter potential at tight end. He had a strong week at the Senior Bowl and today could be the beginning of a fortuitous couple of days for the former Rocket who scored 16 touchdowns last season.