Luke Joeckel and Barrett Jones have the neatly trimmed hair, the clean-cut faces, the All-American pedigrees and have paved the way for Heisman Trophy winners during their highly decorated careers.
Eric Fisher wants to show everyone that Central Michigan has prepared him just as well for the NFL as any of the perennial powerhouse programs.
D.J. Fluker makes people laugh off the field and grimace on it, and Kyle Long will spend this weekend trying to convince NFL scouts he can add another chapter to the family’s NFL legacy.
Here are some of the Offensive Linemen with the most to prove this weekend
Lane Johnson, Oklahoma: Johnson really had a great showing at the Senor Bowl and has a chance to become the third tackle taken. Johnson is a great athlete, going back to his junior college days, where he actually played quarterback and tight end. After moving on to Oklahoma he was quickly moved to the offensive line and has made the most of the switch. Lane is a very humble kid and is always looking to improve. He can use the Combine to show scouts that he can compete against the very best while playing on the outside. He has good feet and can be that “dancing bear” that every team is looking for at the tackle position; we could be looking at Johnson rising up draft boards.
Menelik Watson, Florida State: After finishing out his Noles season as a relatively unknown prospect, Watson continues to climb up draft boards everywhere. Scouts love to see relatively unknown players have impressive days at the Combine. An impressive time in the 40-yard dash will certainly turn a lot of heads, especially from such a big guy. He will likely also have an impressive vertical leap due to his background as a college basketball player. There are two things that might turn teams away from Watson. First, the lack of experience is a problem for teams who expect him to understand all of the aspects of the game right away. Second, he will be 23 years old after being drafted. While that’s not old in any sense, his age combined with inexperience could be a red flag to a team. Watson is such an athletic freak that many teams will look past that and look at him like a malleable piece of clay to develop.
Kyle Long, Oregon: The son of the legendary lineman Howie Long and brother of first round draft pick Chris Long, now Kyle is trying to add to the legacy. Long did not practice much of the week during the Senior Bowl so seeing him during the weekend will be something that will drive him up boards. I’m confident he will work out well. Long is light on his feet and a pretty decent athlete. Again, like Watson, he is an unknown and will need to show well.
Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina: One of the best guards that you will see, Cooper is a fantastic combination of athleticism and strength. Cooper wants to be the top guard taken and after 35 reps of 225 pounds, Cooper is giving scouts a reason to take him ahead of Chance Warmack of Alabama, who is being heralded as the top offensive lineman in the entire class. Cooper will not run a blazing time but will be good enough to possibly overtake Warmack.
Dallas Thomas, Tennessee: Dallas Thomas has been all over the line at Tennessee. He is great rotational guy and will give great depth to any team who would select him. His athleticism will not be in question, but his durability will. Thomas wants to prove he can be a full time starter on a team and looks to answer that question as well as a few more about the Tennessee program
Larry Warford, Kentucky: Warford, to the casual fan, is a rising player. For NFL scouts and general managers, he is a road-plowing lineman who has impressed all year. Warford had great bench numbers with 28 reps of 225 pounds. If he runs a decent 40 time he will cement his spot as a top 20-25 pick.
Barrett Jones, Alabama: Injuries plagued Jones throughout the Tide’s championship season, but he continued to fight on, winning that national title and now fighting for a spot in this year’s top 100. Jones won’t impress you physically but is one of the smartest players in the draft. If all checks out with the medical, Jones will be a good late second- to third-round pick. Many have him a late first but that is perhaps pushing him up a bit too high. Jones has no off-field issues, so the interviews won’t hurt him and will more than likely help him even more in solidifying what scouts and GM’s already know.