INDIANAPOLIS -- There's still a long way to go before we're done with the scouting combine, but with the first day of team drills in the books on Saturday, we can start to get a sense of who's making a move up the boards based on pure performance. Here are a couple of players who really impressed us today, and three more who will need to figure a few things out.
Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
It's something you hear at every scouting combine once or twice: "There's no way a man that big should be able to move that fast." And so it was for Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson, who measured in at the combine at 6-foot-4-1/2-inches and 332 pounds, and blew everyone away with his 40-yard dashes.
The second-ranked offensive tackle in this draft class behind Texas A&M's Jake Matthews ran unofficial 4.88 and 4.84 40-yard dashes. Those results became official at 4.92. More importantly, Robinson's 10-yard splits -- the timed distance between his starting point and the first 10 yards of his run -- clocked in at 1.69 and 1.68. For linemen, 10-yard splits are more important that 40-yard times, because they tend to indicate how quickly he gets off the snap and up to full speed. By comparison, last year's top tackles ran 10-yard splits of 1.83 (Luke Joeckel at 6-6 and 306 pounds) and 1.72 (Eric Fisher at 6-7 and 306 pounds).
Robinson also bench-pressed 225 pounds 32 times, a commendable total given his 35-inch arms, and he looked quick and strong in positional drills. When you watch his tape, Robinson shows more raw power than Matthews or any other elite tackle in this class. He's not quite as developed -- a byproduct of the fact that he started playing his current position in his junior year of high school -- but some NFL team is going to get a smart, coachable player with all kinds of physical potential when they take him.
Xavier Su'a-Filo, OG, UCLA
Many believe that Stanford's David Yankey is the best guard in this draft class. But the more I watch Su'a-Filo, the more I think he'll be the better player over time. Certain players just hit the game with a specific and effective nasty streak, and that's what he's got. In addition, Su'a-Filo has tremendous versatility, having played both tackle and guard for the Bruins through entire seasons. He could probably be a right tackle in the NFL, but I'd prefer him as a gap guard who could also play zone. He's a pure finisher who seems determined to play right to (and sometimes through) the whistle. On Saturday, Su'a-Filo ran an official 5.04 40, one of the fastest times of the day. He also impressed at the podium this week with his intelligence and confidence.
“Honestly, I don’t watch a whole lot of guys who kind of remind me of me," he said when asked which NFL players he watches and tries to learn from. "I watch a lot of the guys I try to pattern my game after. I watch a lot of Logan Mankins, left guard from the New England Patriots. I think Logan, he was a high draft pick, but he’s physical. He’s a badass, he started from day one in New England, and I love how nasty he is. There's something about his game that I really try to implement. Other guys like [49ers guard] Mike Iupati and [Redskins tackle] Trent Williams are really mean and nasty like that, and that’s what I’m trying to be like.”
So far, so good. And Su'a-Filo isn't just a mauler -- he's light on his feet, and he's developing technique at an impressive level. He appears to be a first-round talent, and few players have been more fun for me to watch this year.
Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
Back from combine workout. Bills scout commented earlier, "Cyrus Kouandjio say goodbye to round one"...sluggish, slow & totally unprepared.
— Tony Pauline (@TonyPauline) February 22, 2014
It was not a good day for Kouandjio. He ran a 5.59 40, one of the lowest times on the day, but the real blow came later, when Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported that several teams had failed Kouandjio on his medicals due to an arthritic knee as the result of a failed surgery. He has had decent agility for his size (6-7, 322 pounds), but given the fact that Greg Robinson has those same basic dimensions and performed on a much higher level, it's fair to wonder if the second-round grade some analysts have given Kouandjio is about to drop precipitously.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
Seferian-Jenkins was planning to run all the drills on Saturday, but a last-minute medical issue stopped that process. For a player who will have to answer questions about the DUI he was arrested for in March 2013 (when he was more than twice over the state of Washington's legal limit) and a relatively disappointing 2013 season, any lack of ability to show what he can do in this environment can't help at all.
"I think it's pretty well-documented that I had a DUI," he said this week. "People might say I have character issues. It was one incident, and you can look through my history. I'm not perfect. Last time I checked, no one is perfect. Like I said, it was a learning lesson, and I learned it. It was one incident, and that doesn't change who I am, and I think people in Seattle and Tacoma know who I am as a person of character, and I don't think I'm a character risk or a character issue at all.''
Seferian-Jenkins is an interesting player. He was thought by many to be a first-round prospect before the 2013 season, but an ankle injury slowed his potential, and he dropped from 69 catches for 852 yards in 2012 to 36 for 450 in 2013. He did up his touchdown total from seven to eight, but in a tight-end class dominated by Eric Ebron and Jace Amaro, it seems that Seferian-Jenkins could be the odd man out, unless he really blows it up at his pro day.
Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
From a pure tape standpoint, there's no doubt that Hageman impresses. Who wouldn't want a 6-6, 318-pound lineman who can play multiple positions and drives through blocks on a regular basis? But during his media session on Saturday ... well, one hopes that Hageman will show more of a schematic awareness with the teams that sit him down and ask him about possible fits. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock linked Hageman to the Patriots, which makes sense in some ways, but Hageman didn't really link up to the NFL's advanced concepts.
“Defensively, really not educated, just overall it’s 32 teams and it’s a lot to take in, but obviously I’m pretty sure they either run a 3-4 or a 4-3," Hageman said. "I’m capable of obviously playing both positions or whatever. Just the fact if I ever have a chance to play for New England, I’ll be ready.”
He did have an acute awareness of his own game, so maybe the lack of NFL scheme savvy won't be a big deal.
“If I’m able to play a loose five [technique] and go one-on-one against a tackle and just get penetration, that’s one of the things I like to do," he said. "But if coaches want me to play a zero technique or they want me to play a three, I’m definitely able to do that as well.”
He also had an interesting answer when asked about his inconsistency on the field.
“I’ve just got to stop thinking," he said. "Obviously, playing defensive tackle for three years, I’ve developed flaws. When it comes to that, it’s definitely overthinking. And then when I overthink, I feel like I’m not doing something right. I’m always freezing up. So I feel like once I get a better sense of just educating myself on D-tackle and just what to look for on the O-line, I’ll be able to stop thinking and just play.” Education will be the key for Hageman, in many ways.