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NFL Combine: Thursday, February 22nd, Day One

By: Greg Davis

To open the NFL Combine on Thursday, linemen, tight ends, and special teams players arrived in Indianapolis and were put through various tests, including X-rays, Cybex testing, and team interviews. While on the whole, the day may be considered uneventful, several important aspects of player scouting are well underway. A player’s official size is significant to teams when they have to make difficult decisions among separate players with similar skill-sets.

Developments that stood out on Thursday:

Left tackle Joe Thomas—out of Wisconsin—is already expected to be off the board very early, but his presence on the first day may still help his stock. Thomas’ height was measured at 6’6”5/8ths and weight at 311 pounds. It’s quite obvious that the size is there, and for a lineman considered somewhat agile, those near the top looking for a tackle have to be excited at the prospects of acquiring such a potentially dominant player. During interviews, Thomas commented on his style of play by saying, “I think I’m a technician.” Teams like hearing that a player is not only physically talented, but also willing to learn and grow mentally. The Detroit Lions will draft second overall, and when asked how he would feel about being taken by the Lions, his response was, “I’d love to play for Detroit.”

Standout Penn State tackle Levi Brown measured in at 6’5”1/2 and 323 pounds, and is likely to be the next tackle off the board after Thomas. His size was never really in question, but Brown is slightly lighter than his team listed weight, and it may reflect that Brown is putting forth a concerted effort to be in the shape that NFL executives are looking for from a top draft pick.

At center, USC-product Ryan Kalil also garnered attention from several teams. Kalil was highly regarded at the college level, but some are questioning his size and talent for the next level. He measured 6’2”3/4 and weighed in at 299, almost ten pounds heavier than at the Senior Bowl, a fact that may help his cause more than hurt it. Kalil was considered impressive on the day, and he could be the top center selected in the April draft.

Tight end Greg Olsen is being called the best player at his position in this class, and his ties to Miami, as well as his physical play has been compared to that of current Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey. Olsen was known for his great size, and measuring in at 6’5”7/8 and 254 pounds has some teams smiling inside.

One player that may have a slim chance to jump over Olsen at the tight end position is Delaware’s Ben Patrick. Olsen will more than likely stay atop the pile, but scouts have called Patrick the next Vernon Davis-type. Patrick measured in 6’3”1/8 and 252, which is almost identical to Davis’ measurements, and his athletic ability has been labeled as “freakish” by some.

An interesting bit of information is that Chase Johnson, a lineman from Wyoming, stood 6’8”1/2, the tallest player to be measured.

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