Four takeaways from Saturday’s combine drills

Saturday was the first day of combine on-field workouts. The offensive linemen and tight ends completed their interviews and bench press workouts on Friday; on Saturday, they resumed with 40-yard dashes, agility drills, and position drills.

There are always surprises at the combine, players who move up or down based on unusual or unexpected results. We’ve looked at four performances from yesterday to see how they compared to what the consensus and conventional wisdom expected, and how that might change our opinions of those players.

Eric Ebron

  • Surprise: Ebron ran his 40-yard dash in a 4.6, then sat out the position drills. He was seen icing his knee. Mike Mayock was disappointed– he expected Ebron to run a 4.5 and said he “plays at 4.5 speed.”
  • What we say: This shouldn’t affect his stock too much. Ebron clearly wasn’t right at the Combine, or he wouldn’t have sat out the rest of the day. A one-tenth of a second slow 40 time is easily attributed to that and not to some unforeseen athletic deficiency.

Taylor Lewan

  • Surprise: Lewan dominated the drills on Saturday, putting up the fastest 40 time among linemen (4.87), the best broad jump, third-best vertical jump, and fourth-best three-cone time among all offensive linemen.
  • What we say: We’ve been going against popular opinion for a while now, with Jake Matthews and Lewan as our #1 and #2 tackles, ahead of Greg Robinson. These drills only solidified our opinion: Not only does Lewan have more experience (and look great) pass-blocking, but he’s also confirmed that he has NFL strength and athleticism.

Greg Robinson

  • Surprise: It was no surprise that Robinson ran a fast 40 time. However, we didn’t think he looked very good in the position drills– he struggled to maintain his balance when changing direction, and he’s still not light on his feet the way a premier left tackle needs to be. (This was confirmed by his pedestrian times in the 3-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle.)
  • What we say: Well, that is what we say. Unlike other analysts who are falling over themselves to praise Robinson, we see a guy with a lot of natural athleticism but with poor footwork and who’s never been asked to pass-block like a traditional left tackle, who will have to be coached and developed in order to reach his potential. When you’re talking a position as important and that relies as much on technique and precision as left tackle, that’s not a chance we want to take, especially with Lewan demonstrating he’s every bit as athletic as Robinson. We’d still take Robinson in the first round, but with the understanding that he might not make it as a left tackle a significant percentage of the time.

Cyrus Kouandijo

  • Surprise: Kouandijo put up bad workout numbers– his low bench reps can be explained by his long arms, but he was slow in all the other drills as well. Rumors spread that he was poorly prepared. Worse, a story broke that he failed several teams’ physicals because of an arthritic knee that didn’t recover properly after surgery.
  • What we say: Uh oh. An Alabama tackle showing up unprepared to the Combine is nothing new– Andre Smith did it in 2009, and he was still drafted sixth overall, smartly counting on his tape and his pro day workouts to make the difference in scouts’ minds. What’s really concerning is Kouandijo’s knee condition: having a long-term health issue this young is a major red flag that will see him drop on boards. I expect him to be a late-3rd rounder now. (Remember, Da’Quan Bowers was talked about as a top-5 pick in 2011 before physicals revealed his knee problems and he fell all the way to the late 2nd.)

We’ll have some takeaways from Sunday’s combine drills as well once they complete. Sunday’s drills have been illuminating so far: The wide receiver group, in particular, might be the best we’ve ever seen in one draft.

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