Thursday combine notes – TE’s and OL measure up

February 20th, 2014 | Written by Rob Staton

Why do college teams embellish the truth?

I’ve never understood this.

One of the best things about the combine is simply getting the facts on height and weight.

Cornerbacks listed at 6-1 suddenly drop to 5-11. Expect Justin Gilbert to get that treatment. Johnny Manziel’s going to struggle to crack 6-0, even though he’s listed at a very generous 6-1.

Today the offensive linemen and tight ends were weighed and measured. Kudos to @ThePatton for putting together this spreadsheet for the tight ends…

Troy Niklas is 6-6 and 270lbs. It’ll be very interesting to see how he performs with that massive size.

When I saw how big he was, I immediately thought back to this 66-yard touchdown he scored against Temple:

I know it’s only Temple, but look at the way he moves in the second level. If he comes out all guns blazing in Saturday’s work out, be prepared for the hype factor to go through the roof.

At 270lbs he’s built like a third offensive tackle. When that third offensive tackle can run a seam route down the field for a touchdown, that guy is going to be popular among NFL teams.

I wouldn’t mind but there’s barely any body fat on that frame either.

Niklas also had the second longest arms among TE’s. He has ten inch hands.

He mentioned during his interview he’s struggling with an unspecified ‘strain’ but still intends to work out.

How is he as a pass catcher? The video below details all his 2012 and 2013 targets. This isn’t just a highlight reel, it includes drops:

Austin Seferian-Jenkins has shed some weight for the combine, which is good to see. He was listed at 6-6, 276lbs by ESPN during the 2013 season. He came in at just under 6-6 and 262lbs in Indianapolis.

Let’s see if the weight-loss leads to a positive work out. He can really help his stock by running well here. The late first round isn’t totally out of the question, but he needs to compare favourably to the likes of Jace Amaro — who is almost identical in size.

Another stat worth monitoring with ASJ — according to @FantasyDouche he coverted 38 red zone targets into 19 touchdowns at Washington. That’s the kind of production Seattle currently lacks in that area.

Keep an eye on Fresno State’s Marcel Jensen too. He’s someone we talked about during the season. His best football is going to come at the next level.

At 6-4 and 250lbs, Eric Ebron looked more like a big receiver than a tight end. And that’s exactly what he’s going to be drafted to be. You can see his combine interview here.

Walter Football has the offensive line measurements from earlier.

Over the last five drafts, the average size of an offensive tackle is 6-5 and 315lbs — with 34 1/8 inch arms.

Now look at these…

Cyrus Kouandjio — 6-6, 322lbs with 35 5/8 inch arms

Greg Robinson — 6-5, 332lbs with 35 inch arms

Taylor Lewan — 6-7, 309lbs with 33 7/8 inch arms

Morgan Moses — 6-6, 314lbs with 35 3/8 inch arms

Antonio Richardson — 6-6, 336lbs with 35 inch arms

This is a draft filled with monster offensive tackles, completely hammering the five year average in terms of size.

A player like Jake Matthews will look at these numbers and get sweaty palms. He’s only 6-5, 308lbs with 33 3/8 inch arms. That’s decidedly average in comparison.

Stanford guard David Yankey is 6-5, 315lbs and has 34 inch arms. Very similar.

Unless he separates himself during work outs, I’m not sure Matthews’ tape will be enough to make him the first tackle off the board. Luke Joeckel was usurped by Eric Fisher last year because Fisher was just a better athlete with greater upside.

Robinson, Lewan, Kouandjio — these players are more than capable of jumping to the front of the draft.

Morgan Moses has also dropped considerable weight since the Senior Bowl, probably on the recommendation of the NFL teams he talked to in Mobile.

If the players listed above move well at that size, this is going to be some draft for offensive linemen in round one.

Elsewhere today…

— Jermiah Attaochu will not work due to an injured hamstring.

— Steelers GM Kevin Colbert said the 2014 draft class might be the most immature group he’s seen. He started by saying it’s the deepest class he’d evaluated, before dropping that little bombshell. Very interesting.

— Minnesota GM Rick Spielman also referred to the depth of the draft, saying you can find instant starters in rounds three and four.

Tony Pauline says Aaron Donald is expected to bench 30 reps at the combine and run a 4.7. If he manages that, say hello to the top-15. Incredible player.

Tomorrow the quarterbacks, receivers and running backs will be weighed and measured.

Away from the combine, the big news of the day involved the salary cap.

Reports are saying it’ll be increased by 5% to $130m.

Originally a $3-4m increase was expected. This would represent a $7m jump.

This significantly improves Seattle’s chances of re-signing Michael Bennett and Golden Tate, while also retaining some of the clubs other free agents.

With an extra $7m in cap room and cuts to be expected (Sidney Rice, possibly Zach Miller and Chris Clemons), life just became a little easier for the Seahawks. Especially with Earl Thomas almost certainly receiving an extension this off-season.

In his combine press conference today, John Schneider essentially ruled out using the franchise tag on Bennett. It’s probably unnecessary given today’s news on the cap. Tagging Bennett as a defensive tackle (contentious) would incur a $9.6m cost.

Schneider was interviewed by the NFL Network. You can see it here.

36 Responses to “Thursday combine notes – TE’s and OL measure up”

  1. Colin says:

    That salary cap news is huge. Great chance of getting back Bennett and Tate.

  2. red says:

    Crockett Gilmore nice measurables tall long arms big hands. People said he performed well at senior bowl.

  3. Stuart says:

    I don’t understand either why players list different height/weight than their actual for college. It might be that with a more desirable number the player thinks he might get more GM looks during their college career just because of that?

    Will Johnny Football come in under 6’? Who cares especially since Russell has shattered the height myth.

    Side note, yesterday my wife gave me an awesome gift. It was Seahawk coins from the Super Bowl that she ordered from QVC. They are so cool! One has Seattle blah blah NFC Champions and the other one says Seattle blah blah Super Bowl VIII Champions.

    She told me that one day they could be really valuable, I told her that day is right now and for the rest of my life, we did it guys, Super Bowl VIII Champions!!!

    Would it be weird if I was buried with them when I die or should I pass them along to my son?

  4. CC says:

    The elite players are fun, but I like watching the not so well known players to see what they can do. For TE – I like Gilmore, but I could see Seattle picking up a TE in the lower rounds – guys like Grimble – you know Petey knows about him – and Rodgers. Different types of players, but I’d like to see what they can do.

    Love the extra cap space – this continues to be the Seahawks year!! Take that cap and get the guys signed. I really want to see Earl and Sherm extended as well. I bet if Sherm gets more money than any other CB not named Revis, he’d take it – is that around $11m a year? With the cuts that we know are coming, we should be able to get this done.

  5. Attyla the Hawk says:

    This draft really looks like an epic OL year. Last year had a lot of headliner talent but it kind of dropped off a cliff by then. Of course a lot of the tier 2 guys ended up being outstanding talents — just not generating much in the way of draft position.

    This year, it looks much deeper and with significant quality. Good starter quality players well into round 3.

    And yes, Fisher leapfrogged Joeckel, but ultimately it appeared quickly that Joeckel was the better pick, even though his season was cut short by injury early in the year. Fisher looks like he’ll be the Irvin of the 2013 draft.

    • Colin says:

      I think that’s a fairly knee jerk reaction, personally. It’s one season. I don’t think you can really assess how good or not good someone is until they’ve played 3 seasons.

  6. JC says:

    I’m guessing “immature” referred more to the age of the participants, given the record number of underclassmen that declared.

  7. Ben2 says:

    Do we have any compensatory picks picks this year or are we likely to get any?

    • Michael M. says:

      I don’t think we lost anyone noteworthy enough to warrant compensation. If we do get anything it would probably be a 7th rounder. So, you know… Probably a starter during our next Superbowl victory.

      • Michael M. says:

        just did 5 seconds of research. Apparently the comp picks are awarded based on the “net loss” taken by the team, and accounts not only for players lost via free agency, but also player signed. With the Seahawks losing no one of any consequence, while acquiring Bennett and Avril, I would be stunned if we even got the Mr. Irrelevant pick.

    • Rob Staton says:

      I doubt we’ll get any.

  8. Michael M. says:

    Rob, Speaking of compensatory picks; is there a well defined system that determines compensation? Is is based purely on past performance, or does the size of the contract or other factors play a role as well? Thanks.

  9. Kenny Sloth says:

    Cornelius Lucas IV of Kansas State showed up with 36 3/4 inch arms. His tape is garbo, though. Would love to see him at Guard.

    • Michael M. says:

      Is arm length important for a guard? I know it helps a bunch if you’re playing tackle, and it certainly can’t hurt anywhere along the line, but is it something people specifically look at when evaluating guards?

      • SeaMeat says:

        Yes. The reach or arm length of an NFL prospect is a key attribute to any position, especially to those playing along the line of scrimmage. However, at no position is a prospects reach more vital then at the offensive tackle spot.

    • SeaMeat says:

      WOW, that is some lenght.

  10. Phil says:

    I found the interview with Schneider to be interesting — he says that the Seahawks find the player interviews and the psychological testing to be more important than the on-field stuff. This led me to question how the interviews are handled. Am I right that the interviews are done one-on-one with one team and one player? If so, does the public know which players interviewed with which team? Looking back in time, do the Seahawks have a history of drafting guys that they have interviewed at the combine, or have they used the interviews as a “smoke screen” to deliberately lead other teams to think the Seahawks have an interest in a guy when in fact they really don’t.

    Another point that Schneider made — about this year’s off-season focus being about “taking care of our guys and our free agents” rather than addressing any specific team needs — was so close to what Carroll said in his post-season press conference that it makes me think that it’s more than just the standard BS coming from a GM who is headed into a lot of contract negotiations. I really believe that PC & JS are going to do all they can to find ways to hang on to “our guys” (e.g., Tate) and “our free agents” (e.g., Bennett). I guess this is another way of saying that I don’t see the Seahawks being a big buyer in this year’s free agency unless someone (Bennett?) has unreasonable demands and a replacement isn’t on hand or available in the draft. Another blogger reminded us recently that Washington has no State Income Tax (neither does Texas or Florida for that matter) so that means that a player leaving the Seahawks to go to a state with an income tax has to be getting an offer that is, say, 5 to 10% more than he would make as a Seahawk.

    • Kyle N says:

      It’s not always about income tax, but they have to figure I. Other extra expenses as well(e.g. Other taxes like sale and property, cost of living, not to mention desirability of the area).

    • Attyla the Hawk says:

      There are two portions to the interview process. Private interviews, and public interviews.

      Teams can privately interview up to 60 prospects. These interviews are capped at 15 minutes. Yes they can know which other teams are interviewing a particular player. With the low number of interview sessions, it really doesn’t make any sense to hold smoke screen sessions.

      The second format is more of an open podium style (without the podium). A prospect will field open questions from groups of personnel staff.

      Here is a very good link to the process:

      http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/new-england-patriots/post/_/id/4740047/inside-the-interviews-at-the-combine

  11. woofu says:

    5’113/4″ 207, 97/8 hands for Johnny Football. I would agree they list higher in NCAA because of scout attractions.

  12. SeaMeat says:

    I am interested to see how Niklas and ASJ run. Rob mentioned the size of Niklas is like having a third offensive tackle. I believe Niklas was considered a four-star recruit and was rated the 24th-best offensive tackle prospect in the nation by rivals. His Uncle, Bruce Mathews, played guard for ninteen seasons with the NFL and won pro-bowl honors fourteen times, I believe. Niklas has great NFL bloodline to go with his great size! Nicklas has a few other connections, family wise, to NFL players (a pretty good group of linebackers). He will blow up approaching draft day especially if he runs well. Seahawks could use this guy.

    A few months ago 2-3 round was touted, but he I would not be surprised if he was picked up end of the first or early in the 2nd based on his size, talent, upside, and perhaps even bloodline. I would be excited to see him as a Seahawk.

    He was also lineman of the year, selected by LA times. Still cool despite it was just the times.

    http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jan/04/sports/la-sp-0104-troy-niklas-lineman-20110104

    • SeaMeat says:

      Also to speak on Niklas’s blocking -Mike Mayock believes Notre Dame TE Troy Niklas “could be the best blocking tight end in the NFL in two or three years.”

  13. oz says:

    I like Niklas as much as ASJ, slightly more in some regards. I think he is a first rounder. I’ll bet the Patriots like him a lot too. He deos not have that much experience at TE as he was tried at DE early at ND. He has more power than ASJ.
    GO HAWKS

  14. oz says:

    Denham reminds me a lot of a guy named Sharpe who played for the Bronco’s. Hint,hint….

  15. RJ says:

    Sounds like a nice replacement for Zach Miller. With the extra cap space maybe we don’t need to cut him anymore? Sure would be nice to keep him with a restructured contract and cap hit around 3-4mil.

  16. hawkfaninMT says:

    So will the Hawks be waitning until March 11 before making any extensions or signings? I feel like the only road blocks to signing (re-signing) guys were the actual salary cap figure (done), and allowing them to test the market (hopefully it does not come to that)…

    Maybe I am just being impatient, but lets get some deals done!