Who was the hardest player to block in college football in 2014? On Wednesday, Chris Burke and Doug Farrar asked many of the offensive lineman on hand for this week's NFL combine just that question, and the prospects' responses varied widely.
INDIANAPOLIS—Who was the hardest player to block in college football in 2014?
On Wednesday, SI's Chris Burke and Doug Farrar asked many of the offensive lineman on hand for this week's NFL combine just that question, and the prospects' responses varied widely. The only player to receive multiple votes was Florida defensive end Dante Fowler, who is projected to be drafted before the first round is halfway over. Elsewhere, Missouri's vaunted defensive line pairing earned the respect of the Tigers' SEC brethren, and two defensive stars of last year's draft class left an impression no one from this year's class could top.
Read every prospect's answer below:
La'el Collins, OT, LSU: "[It was a challenge] to game plan against a guy like [Florida's] Dante Fowler—great pass-rusher, can cause a lot of problems. To look at him, break down his film, understand what he likes to do and then compete all game ... he's a high-caliber guy."
AJ Cann, G, South Carolina: "Loved playing against Clemson when I faced Grady Jarrett. Very good player. ... Smart player, physical. He gives it all he's got every down, and I love playing against players like that."
Austin Shepherd, OT, Alabama: "Markus Golden was probably the best player I played against all year. [He is a] relentless player."
Mitch Morse, OT, Missouri: "Dante Fowler. He's got an impressive motor, and at his size it's remarkable to see."
Brett Boyko, OT, UNLV: "[Utah State DE] B.J. Larsen. It was what he did, and also what their defense did—an outstanding defense with good linebackers to help him out. Just the way he played, with a lot of effort and hustle. You have to block him the whole play, which you try and do anyway, but there are a lot of guys who don't have that kind of effort on every play."
D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida: "Probably [Missouri DE] Shane Ray. He's the only person who's ever given me a two-sack game through my college career. He's just tenacious—he had a very good get-off with relentless effort."
Jeremiah Poutasi, OT, Utah: "I'll give it to my teammate, [outside linebacker] Nate Orchard. He's a tough guy, and I went up against him every day. He just came up with different moves every day. He's long and strong and fast, and that's everything you want in a defensive end right there.
Ali Marpet, OG, Hobart: "[Washington DT] Danny Shelton [at the Senior Bowl]. He was on the North squad, so I would go up against him in practice. He's a big body. You don't see a guy who's 330, 340, whatever he is. And if you do see someone that big, you don't see him with that sort of explosiveness. The combination of those things was the biggest jump. I think I struggled most of all with the quickness of some of the edge guys. Nate Orchard was a quick guy off the edge, and it was that first step that was the hardest. I got used to it by the third day. And in the game, I was fine."
Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford: "I'd say [former UCLA OLB] Anthony Barr. He's one of the hardest pass rushers to face. And my own teammate, Trent Murphy, was really tough to go against. With Barr, his athleticism and his get-off—he's just a really good player. Trent's the toughest player I've gone against. Just his tenacity and his work ethic -- he was so tough to go against in one-on-ones anytime in practice."
Laken Tomlinson, OG, Duke: "The toughest D-lineman I played against in my career was [former Pitt defensive tackle] Aaron Donald. He’s a really, really tough guy to block. Really quick, fast-twitch, powerful guy. He moves well for a big-bodied person.”