Our preparations for the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine are well under way.
The offensive line group will obviously be one of the most important for the New York Giants this year. The Giants only have one reliable answer on their line, and four question marks. They will likely need to pay attention to this entire draft class, not just the top of the depth chart, but also keenly looking for potential steals in the later rounds.
Obviously all eyes will be paying attention to the “Big 3” offensive linemen, Evan Neal (Alabama), Ikem Ekwonu (N.C. State), and Charles Cross (Mississippi State). But since everyone will already be watching them, I wanted to focus on a few more linemen who’s workouts will be worth watching.
Considering how deep this offensive line group is, it’s tough to narrow the list down to just seven prospects.
Tyler Linderbaum (C, Iowa)
Linderbaum is the top center in the draft, and I expect him to maintain that status through the Combine. He’s a great athlete and a former wrestler, so he’s definitely going to acquit himself well throughout his workout.
There are a few rough areas in his game — he was a defensive tackle when he came to Iowa, after all — and I’d like to see progress in the field drills.
And while I’m not particularly worried about his size, some teams would probably like to see Linderbaum weigh in at more than 300 pounds, preferably while keeping his movement skills intact.
Trevor Penning (OT, Northern Iowa)
If you’ve been keeping track of mock drafts, you’ve likely seen Trevor Penning’s steady rise in the media. He’s gone from being a guy who was considered a late day 2 or day 3 pick based on his small-school background, to a fringe first rounder. Now he’s being considered a borderline Top 10 selection after a strong week at the Senior Bowl.
Penning is big, athletic, and one of the nastiest blockers in this draft class. He’s one of the players who could really help himself with a good workout and a favorable comparison to the top players at his position group.
Kenyon Green (OG, Texas A&M)
Some how we’ve kinda just stopped talking about Kenyon Green. It kinda makes sense, given that he’s an underclassmen and the Shrine Bowl and Senior Bowl are our most recent exposures to college prospects. Also, Green is a guard, and they tend to fall by the wayside given the relative importance of tackles and centers.
But if we leave positional value aside, Green might be one of the cleanest prospects in this draft class. He has prototypical size, great athleticism, and very good technique. He’s a capable pass protector and a good run blocker. He’s scheme versatile, blocks with a nasty streak, and can be a Day 1 starter at either guard position and give you emergency depth at offensive tackle.
I’m looking to see Green remind everyone out here just how good he is.
Cole Strange (C, Tennessee - Chattanooga)
Strange has been one of the big risers on the OL this year. Writing his scouting report before the Senior Bowl, I wondered what his ultimate position would be at the NFL, and speculated that it could be center — eventually. I was very pleasantly surprised by just how well Strange handled the center position (for the first time ever) at the Senior Bowl, and I’m looking forward to seeing him alongside the top centers in the draft at the Combine.
I’m expecting Strange to test well, but the field drills are almost always more important for offensive linemen. Can he keep good hip and “pad” level while going through the drills? Can he consistently show the hand quickness to snap the ball and block a 0-technique?
Strange has the chance to continue to rocket up draft boards with a strong combine.
Bernhard Raimann (OT, Central Michigan)
The most important aspects of Raimann’s game won’t be tested (heavily) at the Combine. The few blocking drills will be important to his evaluation, as Raimann was only relatively recently converted to the offensive tackle position.
But more importantly, this is an opportunity for the Austrian end to impress with his athleticism. He is a former tight end, and he still showed those fluid movement skills on tape. Raimann will almost certainly put on a show in the measurable events, but just how well his movement skills compare to his peers in the field drills could figure heavily into his evaluation. He Raimann is just as fluid and natural a mover as Charles Cross, that could be a significant boost to his draft stock.
Darian Kinnard (OT/G, Kentucky)
How well Kinnard tests and moves in field drills could be vitally important to his draft stock. He played well at offensive tackle for Kentucky, but the big question is whether or not he will need to move inside to guard at the NFL level.
Not only will Kinnard’s athletic testing be important — his short shuttle and 3-cone drills in particular — but just how well he moves in the field drills could be key. Those drills don’t often look a lot like football, but they can expose stiffness in the ankles, knees, and hips. Likewise, they can expose issues with foot speed that can get tackles in trouble against athletic EDGE defenders.
Danial Faalele (OT, Minnesota)
We pretty much have to include Faalele in any list of players to watch, mostly because it’s almost impossible to not watch him. We already know that Faalele is massive, and massively powerful, but I’m looking to see just how massive he is at the combine. After weighing in at a surprisingly svelte-looking 387 pounds at the Senior Bowl, I want to see if Faalele comes in any lighter for the Combine.
Faalele’s size and power were on full display at Mobile, but his foot speed got him in trouble a few times. I wondered at the time if dropping 20 or 40 pounds and playing at “only” 360 or 340 pounds might help bring his speed up to par with the more elite offensive tackles. That’s obviously too much to lose in the the span of a month, but we might even be able to see a difference in Faalele if he weighs in the 370s.