Saturday is the first real action of the 2013 NFL combine and many of us are excited. Even though it's not the "big day" because the skill position players aren't going today, it's a day that is important. Here are some names to watch out for in today's workout,s as well as a quick recap of who helped themselves with the weigh-ins and bench presses on Friday.
You can watch the action on NFL Network. coverage began at 9 a.m.
[Related: More about Saturday's combine schedule]
Recap and who to watch
I'm going to combine my recap and who to watch here.
North Carolina offensive linemen, Jonathan Cooper, is ninth overall on my big board and he has already helped himself a lot this week. He was considered too light and small, but Cooper measured in at 6-foot-2, 311 pounds with 33.08-inch arms and was second in the bench press for offensive linemen with 35. The big questions about Cooper all had to do with his size and strength. If the added weight doesn't effect his movement, he could end up being one of two guards selected in the top 20, which is unheard of in today's NFL.
Chance Warmack was only six pounds heavier than Cooper, and did not bench press. Tony Pauline of draftinsider.net has reported that there are a number of teams who actually prefer Cooper over Warmack, and that's not that hard to believe for me. Everyone has been on Cooper all year and during the pre-draft process because he's been on a high profile team and dominated in the BCS National Championship game, but Cooper has been a top 10 player for me all season.
Alabama offensive linemen, D.J. Fluker, the player I mocked to the Giants in my first mock draft, has the longest arms in the draft (and some of the longest arms on the planet I'd imagine) when his arm length measured in at 36.68. He was also the heaviest linemen here at 339 pounds (down close to 20 pounds from the Senior Bowl). Before his workout buzz remained that he could be a top 20 pick and is close to a lock for the first round. Anything other than a miserable performance today and Fluker will remain one of my top predictions on who the Giants WILL draft on draft night (not who I think they should). Fluker did only manage 21 reps on the bench press.
Roger Gaines (6-6, 334 pounds, 36.28-inch arms and 28 reps) and Jamal Johnson-Webb (6-5, 313 pounds, 35.68-incharms and 17 reps), hailing from Tennessee State and Alabama A & M, respectively, got people's attention with their long arms. Gaines with his 28 reps on the bench with his long arms is especially impressive. I have no idea who these guys are, but the fact that they got invited to the combine is a good sign. These are maybe the two guys I'm most interested in watching today.
Oklahoma offensive tackle Lane Johnson has been connected to the Giants via @nfldraftscout measured in at 6-6, 303 pounds, 28 bench press reps and 35.08-inch arms. Johnson should put on a show today with his athleticism.
Cal offensive linemen Brian Schwenke is a guy who impressed me from what I could see at the Pro-Bowl. Schwenke measured in at 6-3, 314 pounds with 31 bench press reps and 32.08-inch arms. The Giants aren't necessarily in the market for a center, but this guys is the one who intrigues me the most. He has pretty ideal size for a center, and if he shows off any sort of athleticism today I'll make him my No. 3 ranked center behind Travis Frederick of Wisconsin and Barrett Jones of Alabama.
Brian Winters of Kent State did nine reps on the bench press. I haven't seen that he got hurt anywhere so I would probably just cross him right off the list of Giants potential targets.
Menelik Watson of Florida State measured in at a respectable 6-5, 310 pounds with 34.08-inch arms. He's another player who could put on a show today.
Cooper, Watson, and Lane Johnson are the three guys I would say have the state set to wow the media and get some buzz.
I haven't done anything on tight ends, but this is a really intriguing group. This might be the best tight end ground to enter the league in a while. I don't think tight end is a priority for the Giants, but if Martellus Bennett leaves in free agency it's a position they are likely to address somewhere, be that the draft or free agency.
Michigan State Dion Sims is expected to test pretty well. He measured in at 6-5, 262 pounds. Sims was not used much at Michigan State, but is a mid-round player that could provide some of the best bang for buck.
Cincinnati Travis Kelce is the most intriguing tight end in the whole bunch, measured in at 6-5, 255 pounds, but he's a very gifted athlete and should test very well. The Giants took another freak tight end out of Cincinnati last year when they selected Adrian Robinson, Kelce could be this year's version of Robinson.
UCLA Joseph Fauria is 6-7, 259 pounds, and looks athletic on film. He also has huge hands at 10.78 inches. He's not much of a blocker, but he's a really intriguing receiving option especially in the red-zone. I'm interested to see Fauria's 40 yard dash, but more importantly his acceleration. Faruia is the type of size and athlete the Giants might feel they could coach up into a useful blocker and pass catcher.
Rice's Vance McDonald 6-4, 267 pounds (31 reps, 34.38-inch arms, and 10.18-inch hands) had maybe the best weigh-in of the bunch. Good size, big hands, strong upper body. McDonald is the "hot" tight end right now. I think after the combine it might be Kelce, but Mcdonald is a big name right now. From what I saw of the Senior Bowl practice, the man can't catch a cold. I'm interested in watching his hands. McDonald blew everyone out of the water in bench press reps. The second most were from Stanford Cardinal Zach Ertz, but Ertz only has 31.68-inch arms (Which is T-rex-ish for a guy who is 6-5) which makes benching much easier. Ertz's arm length will be a concern for many teams. If you hadn't already I'd cross him off the list of potential Giants targets in round one. I mean it's not a lock they won't be interested in him, but Reese has mentioned length as something they look for in players a thousand times
Florida's Jordan Reed is an intriguing player, but throw him in the Travis Beckum class. He measured in at 236 pounds.
Tyler Eifert's 6-6, 250 is nice, but not the 9.18-inch hands (third smallest for tight ends).
Lastly, watch San Diego State Gavin Escobar. There is a lot of buzz about him. He could end up as a top three tight end selected in the NFL Draft.