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Stud, Steady, Sleeper: Offensive Linemen and Tight Ends

Posted Feb 22, 2014

Saturday is the on-field workout portion of the Combine for offensive linemen and tight ends. Every year the Combine workouts produce players who breakout with sensational performances (studs), players who impress by being as good as advertised (steady) and players who quietly go about their business but don’t garner much acclaim (sleeper).

Here’s a look at one player from each of those categories in the offensive line and tight end groups…

Stud

OT Jake Matthews (Texas A&M): Had Matthews entered the NFL draft last season he may have been an early first-round pick. At 6-5, 308 pounds, Matthews possesses the rare blend of plus-size and plus-athleticism for an offensive tackle and it’s hard to find any scout who doubt’s his ability to perform at a standout level in the NFL.

TE Eric Ebron (North Carolina): More and more we are seeing pass-catching tight ends who pose mismatch problems for defenses become a prominent element in NFL offenses. Ebron is exactly this type of tight end. Scouts will criticize his in-line blocking ability and will note he could bulk up and add strength, but offensive coordinators and quarterbacks will overlook those weaknesses for the chance to add his playmaking ability to the arsenal. Expect Ebron to test extremely well on the field at the Combine.

Steady

OT Zach Martin (Notre Dame): Easily the most impressive offensive lineman to me at this year’s Senior Bowl, Martin, who started all 52 games he played at Notre Dame, has near-perfect technique and posture and was rarely given trouble going against college defensive ends. At 6-4, 308 pounds, though, some are questioning if Martin will be a better fit playing guard in the NFL despite his lack of experience playing the position in college.

TE Arthur Lynch (Georgia): Georgia’s “Most Improved Player” award winner in 2012 and a first-team All-SEC selection in 2013, Lynch possesses prototypical size for a NFL tight end and was a solid performer at this year’s Senior Bowl while going against some of the country’s top players. He is willing to stick his nose in there and block, but needs to improve at the point of attack to be a consistent player in the NFL.

Sleeper

OG Chris Watt (Notre Dame): While teammate Zach Martin starred under the spotlight as Notre Dame’s starting left tackle, Watt was as reliable while playing inside at left guard as a three-year starter for the Irish. A smart and tough blocker with good fundamentals and solid technique, Watt won’t blow you – or any blockers – away with his athleticism, but he’s lauded for a blue-collar work ethic and NFL Network’s Mike Mayock says he can come in and win a starting role as a mid-round pick.

TE Xavier Grimble (USC): Many are questioning Grimble’s decision to forego his senior season, but after injuries led to a lackluster junior campaign and with many wondering why he didn’t reach expectations at USC, I can see why Grimble is anxious to enter the draft and improve his draft stock at the Combine. He is athletic and should test well in this environment.

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