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2020 NFL Scouting Combine: Highlights from the offensive line and running back workouts

Did any of the offensive tackles separate themselves?

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NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Friday at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine was highlighted on the calendar of every New York Giants fan. Friday saw the offensive line and running bac position groups take the field in Indy, and it was the former group that Giants’ fans have circled.

Not only do Giants fans want their team to find a long term answer at one of their offensive tackle positions, but the team also needs a long-term answer at center and developmental talent for the offensive interior. This was the Giants’ chance to see all of the top prospects at the same time, on the same field, in the same conditions, doing the same drills. And if one thing was proven, it is that the top of this offensive tackle class is absolutely stacked.

And as usual, the ‘Chris and Joe Show’ offered our reaction immediately after the drills ended.

The Big 4 show out

If anyone was hoping that the Scouting Combine would help give some separation at the top of the offensive tackle depth chart, they were disappointed. Of course, the flip side of that coin is that all four of the top offensive tackles had tremendous days on the field and there is an argument for any of them to be the top offensive tackle.

So viewed from that perspective, the Giants almost can’t miss if they select one.

Mekhi Becton

  • Weighed in at 358 before 40
  • 1.77 second 10-yard split

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see Becton in position drills, as he his combine ended after the 40-yard dash with a tight hamstring. So we weren’t able to compare Becton to Wirfs, Wills, or Thomas on the field in position drills, which could have really helped sort the top four tackles.

Still, seeing a 360-pound offensive lineman run a 5.1 is impressive, and seeing him post a 10-yard split that is as good as most defensive ends is just impressive.

Holy Tristan Wirfs

  • 320 pounds
  • 36.5 vertical
  • 10-1 broad jump (Combine record)
  • 1.69 10-yard split, 4.85 40-yard dash

We knew that Wirfs was going to be an explosive linear athlete, but this was still an incredible workout. Wirfs had the fastest 40-yard dash, had one of the best vertical jumps for an OL in combine history, the best broad jump in combine history, finished fifth in 3-cone drill and eighth in short shuttle.

Wirfs movement skills also moved very well in the position drills, with little wasted motion, clean feet, and good knee bend on every drill. Anyone who thought he was a guard coming in to Friday should be rethinking that assessment.

Andrew Thomas

  • 36 1/8-inch arms
  • 4.66 second short shuttle
  • 7.58 second 3-cone drill

Thomas might not have stood out in the 40 like Becton and Wirfs did, but he definitely showed off his movement skills in the 3-cone and short shuttle.

But where Thomas really showed off was on the field in the position drills. His movements were precise and controlled, with quick feet and great ankle flexibility to make sure he was able to keep a wide base and maintain full contact with the ground.

Wirfs, Becton, and Wills might have stolen the show with the measurable events, but Thomas reminded everyone why he is in the thick of the conversation for OT 1 with his work in the positional drills.

Jedrick Wills Jr. bringing the thunder

Wills had himself a good workout, though his 5.05 second 40-yard dash and 34.6-inch vertical aren’t quite as impressive with Wirfs putting up the numbers he did. We knew that Wills was an athletic blocker with good movement skill and explosive traits, so him putting up good numbers was expected.

But what WAS impressive was how Wills hit the bags in the position drills. Each of the top tackles hit the bags well, but Wills hit them like he didn’t like them.

That kind of violence in a punch is going to get coaches’ attention.

Ezra Cleveland

If Cleveland didn’t already have the attention of scouts, coaches, and GMs, he got their attention in Indy. His measurements weren’t particularly impressive at 6-foot-6, 311 pounds, with 33 3/8 inch arms and 9-inch hands (good thing he isn’t a quarterback).

But what is impressive is his athleticism. Cleveland held the top time on the 40-yard dash for the first group with a 4.93 second run, which was tops for all OL until Tristan Wirfs came along. He does have the top overall time on the 3-cone with a great 7.26 seconds and the short shuttle with a 4.46 second time — both of which were the best among all OL by a solid .2 of a second.

Cleveland backed up his athletic numbers with good work in the field drills, showing quick, smooth feet, good agility, and obvious movement skills. He made himself some money on Friday.

Interior linemen showing up

Shane Lemieux

Lemieux is one of the top guards in the draft, and could be the top guard on many draft boards. He’s experienced, powerful, and nasty blocker who is solid in both pass protection and run blocking. That much we knew from watching his tape.

But its what showed up in Lemieux’s position drills that land him on this list. He was remarkably smooth in his movement drills with quick feet, little wasted motion, good bend and balance. Lemieux is regarded as a power blocker, but he might have the best feet of any guard in the draft and looks like he can play in any blocking scheme

Cesar Ruiz

Ruiz might have cemented himself as the top center in the draft. Ruiz had a good workout, posting the fourth-best short shuttle of any lineman on the property and a good 5.08 second 40-yard dash. But like Lemieux, it was Ruiz’s work in the position drills that really stood out. Other centers performed well, but Ruiz made the the drills look almost effortless as he moved around the field.

He showed good power as a blocker on tape, but the Combine gave him a chance to show off his movement skills. The fact that Lloyd Cushenberry III pulled up lame in the 40-yard dash and Tyler Biadasz did not work out gave Ruiz a chance to shine.

Running backs

Jonathan Taylor giving D’Andre Swift competition

D’Andre Swift was widely considered the top running back coming in to the Combine, but he will likely have some competition from Jonathan Taylor from Wisconsin.

Swift is quick and smooth with the ball in his hands, showing great balance and vision as a runner. He’s a good athlete with all the tools to be a productive athlete in the NFL.

There might have been the perception that Taylor is something of a lumbering grinder of a running back who got his yardage through volume. He those notions to rest with an impressive workout, highlighted by a blazing 4.39 second 40 yard dash that was one hundredth of a second faster than the run Saquon Barkley put down in 2018.

If there wasn’t a debate in war rooms over the top running back in the draft before Friday, there should be one now.

Cam Akers is a smooth mover

  • 4.47 second 40-yard dash
  • 35.5 inch vertical jump
  • 10-foot-2 broad jump

If there is an award for the sweetest feet at the Combine, Florida State’s Cam Akers wins it for the running backs. Akers had good numbers at the measurable portions of the night, but it was his feet in the position drills that caught everyone’s attention. He is amazingly smooth with the ball in his hands.

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