Tampa Bay Buccaneers

What to Watch at the 2019 NFL Combine: Running Backs & Offensive Linemen Take the Field 

Here are a few guys to keep an eye on during the first day of on-field drills as running backs and offensive linemen are put to the test, along with special teams participants and kickers.


The on-field portion of the NFL Scouting Combine kicks off with a group consisting of running backs and offensive linemen today. Special teams participants and kickers will also be put through the wringer, but if we're being honest – those aren't the exciting drills.

You're here for the vertical jump; for the 40-yard dash, etc. I'm particularly here for the big-man 40, which includes those blockers up front that will be taking the field today. You can keep your 4.4 freaks of nature. Give me a 310-pound guard that runs a sub-five. It doesn't happen often but it's so fun when it does. Did you know Bucs' guard Ali Marpet ran a 4.98 at 307 pounds back in 2015? You do now.

On that note, here are a few guys to look out for as offensive linemen and running backs take part in the on-field portion of this year's NFL Scouting Combine:

Offensive Linemen

T Andre Dillard, Washington St.

Dillard will be looking to solidify himself as top-tier talent and that he can make the transition to NFL offensive tackle. There has been a lot of buzz around the Pac-12 prospect but there are question marks surrounding him that could be answered with a strong Combine showing.

T Dalton Risner, Kansas St.

Plenty of teams need offensive line help and in a class that isn't as deep as years past, guys like Risner will be looking to prove they have first-round talent. Risner turned a lot of heads at the Senior Bowl with his physicality – even going up against cream-of-the-crop talent he maybe wasn't used to in the Big 12. How he tests at the Combine could be the tipping point to solidify Risner in the first round.

T Jawaan Taylor, Florida

It's a toss-up between these next two guys as to who is the best tackle talent in the draft. Both went up against premium talent in the SEC and proved themselves in the college ranks. Taylor is a junior, and Florida native, who started 12 of 13 games for the Gators in 2018. He was part of a unit which allowed just 18 sacks over the course of the season.

T Jonah Williams, Alabama

Touted as one of the best offensive linemen in this year's draft, it's been said that Williams could make the switch to guard at the NFL level. The former Tide tackle has National Championship experience under his belt as a part of two championship teams in 2016 and 2017. Williams started as a true freshman in 2016 and after his junior year is a projected instant starter by NFL.com with a grade of 6.30. His combine testing should only reinforce that projection and maybe give more clues as to which positions he translates best to at the next level.

G Beau Benzschawel, Wisconsin

This is a guy that was at the Senior Bowl and probably didn't make the impression he'd like to have made during the week of practices. He's 6'5 and 316 pounds as a guard, which should set him up to be very effective on the interior at the next level. The combine will be a chance at redemption for the Wisconsin guard whose stock is waning a bit after garnering buzz prior to Mobile.

G Cody Ford, Oklahoma

Ford is probably the highest-graded guard in the draft and a first-round prospect for a team needing to shore up the interior of its line. There aren't really any questions that need to be answered about a guy who also has an instant-starter grade on NFL.com, but it'll be interesting if he sets himself apart from the rest of his position group during combine testing.

G Dru Samia, Oklahoma

Samia looked good in the Senior Bowl and has experience blocking for quarterbacks of a smaller stature in college. Before Kyler Murray, it was Baker Mayfield in the pocket at Oklahoma and Samia stood up to the test. Now, to see if he stands up to Combine tests.

Running Backs

Elijah Holyfield, Georgia

If his last name sounds familiar, it's because he's indeed the son of infamous boxer Evander Holyfield and trust me, he looks it. All that mass though may not translate at the next level for a running back so it'll be interesting to see how he tests at the combine. Given his name, I don't know that he could be called a sleeper, but if he does well in Indy, he could show up on some second or third round boards.

Josh Jacobs, Alabama

Jacobs is definitely the best running back prospect in this year's draft class so all NFL staffs will be looking for at the combine is affirmation of what they've already evaluated about the Alabama-product on film. The junior back led the Tide in rushing yards for 2018 and totaled 15 touchdowns, including a kick return.

David Montgomery, Iowa State

If you think that Jacobs is the only first-round talent in this year's running back class, this guy will be the one looking to change your mind. Montgomery is a big back, standing at 5'11 and weighing in at 216 pounds, which is a lot of mass attacking gaps. Safe to say, he should fare pretty well in the bench press for his position group but it'll be interesting to see how much speed accompanies his strength.

Ryquell Armstead, Temple

This was a guy that stood out at the Senior Bowl to me for how physical of a runner he was. He just simply refused to go down, even when up against big-time talent he hadn't necessarily faced in college. That and I think the Temple significance has slowly seeped over to my desk from the coaching side of the building with so many coaches having either played or coached with Coach Arians during his very first head coaching gig at Temple in the 1980s. I think Armstead left Mobile catching the attention of some media types and the combine will be a chance to build on his rising stock.

Trayveon Williams, Texas A&M

This is a guy who's been described to me as an even better player off the field than on it – and he's a darn good player on it. Williams started all 12 games for the Aggies during his junior season in 2018, amassing 1,524 yards and 15 touchdowns and earning All-SEC honors. The downside here is his 5'9 frame, but he can prove that more of a non-factor this weekend in Indy.

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