Five Players to Watch During Friday’s Combine Workout

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Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

The offensive linemen and running backs take to the field for the first workouts of the 2017 NFL Combine. Here are five players I’ll be watching.

1) Garett Bolles/T/Utah: I’ve mentioned Bolles' ascension up draft boards since the middle of December, and now its put-up-or-shut-up time. I expect excellent testing marks from Bolles, and he should be the premier blocker during position drills.  Watch how quick and smooth he looks during pass protection drills and how he moves around the field with ease. Presently graded as our No. 1 offensive tackle, a good workout could push Bolles into the draft’s top 12 picks.

2) Taylor Moton/OL/Western Michigan: In many ways Moton is the anti-Bolles; he lacks the agility and lateral quickness of Bolles but is bigger and much more powerful. Because of this, Moton’s shuttle and three-cone times will be closely inspected, as will his change of direction and footwork. It will help determine whether or not Moton is a small-area guard or has the ability to line up at right tackle on Sundays. Confirmation of the latter will seal him as a top-45 choice.

3) Isaac Asiata/G/Utah: Asiata is possibly the most underrated guard in the draft and someone I feel could be a day one starter as a rookie. He’s a powerful lineman who plays with a nasty attitude and I’ll be looking for much the same from him as I am from Moton. Can Asiata move laterally with any quickness? Does he need to stop and gather when he changes direction? Showing sufficient lateral quickness and change of direction means he’ll be able to line up in a zone-blocking system, which will enhance his attractiveness to teams.

4) Chris Carson/RB/Oklahoma State: Eyebrows were raised when Carson received an invitation to the combine, but I expect him to test through the roof. His marks will include a broad jump near 11 feet and a 40-yard dash in the low 4.5s at 220 pounds. Watch his footwork during position drills. Is it smooth and quick, or must Carson slow and gather trying to change direction?

5) Curtis Samuel/RB/Ohio State: During our Shrine Game coverage I mentioned there was talk of Samuel possibly sneaking into the late first round, and he’ll show why on Friday. He’s expected to be one of the fastest running backs on the turf at Lucas Oil Stadium and besides his quickness and ease of movement, I fully expect Samuel to be the best pass-catching deep threat from the running back group.

Notes:

  • While there’s been no official word as of yet, the talk here today is that receiver Mike Williams of Clemson is unlikely to run the 40 at the combine and will wait until Clemson's pro day.
  • Aviante Collins of TCU could end up as the fastest offensive lineman on Friday, as he’s expected to run in the low 4.8s.
  • Tight end Mike Roberts of Toledo won’t participate in the bench press at the combine due to a shoulder spasm suffered during training. It’s not a big deal and won’t hamper his running, jumping or pass catching during Saturday’s workout. As of last night, Roberts had official interviews completed with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Francisco 49ers. Roberts interviewed with the New York Jets during the Shrine Game then a week later at the Senior Bowl.
  • Tight end Eric Saubert of Drake, star of the Shrine Week, has been dealing with a bad hamstring for more than a month and is not expected to run on Saturday. I’m told he’ll to be good to go for his pro day later this month.