2015 NFL Scouting Combine Workouts, Day One Review


Feb 20, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions tight end Jesse James catches a pass during the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

While the NFL Scouting Combine technically began Tuesday, today saw the first round of Combine workouts. Offensive linemen, tight ends and specialists performed all or part of their workout today, while defensive linemen were measured and weighed. Here are some takaways from today’s Combine action.

1. Cameron Erving & Jesse James are Freaks

Cameron Erving and Jesse James, two players I included in my series of pre-Combine reports, both came to the Combine ready to impress scouts with their physical ability today and it showed. Erving, the highly regarded offensive lineman out of Florida State who projects best as a center for the Raiders, put on a stellar performance in the key measurable drills. Despite his incredibly long 34 1/8″ arm length, he put up 30 reps in the bench press, showing he has well above average upper-body strength for the position. He also managed a 111″ (9’4″) broad jump, good enough for fourth-best among offensive linemen, showcasing his explosive lower body. He ran a 5.15 second 40 yard dash (10th best among OL’s), a 7.48 second 3-cone drill (3rd best) and a 4.63 second 20-yard shuttle (tied for 12th best), showing he has good speed and quick feet at his size.

Penn State’s Jesse James also showed his incredible athletic ability in the measurable drills. Measuring in at a massive 6’7″ with a solid 261 pound frame to go with it, he impressed early in the day by putting up 26 bench press reps (tied for 2nd among TE’s) and an astounding 121″ broad jump, which was the highest number recorded by any player today. After showing his upper body strength and lower body explosiveness, he showed off his incredible leaping ability by recording a 37.5″ vertical – second best among TE’s, just a half inch below a player five inches shorter than him. He ran a decent 40 (4.83), and showed well in the 20-yard shuttle run (4.5 seconds) as well.

While the two are both impressive athletes with great size, the similarities stopped there for the pair. James, like most of the tight ends in this Combine, struggled a bit in the position drills, showing that he is still a very raw player who will need time to develop, as his game tape and scouting reports suggested. Erving, meanwhile, performed well in his positional drills, showing the polished footwork, body control and technique that had scouts and analysts singing his praises. Both players definitely helped their draft stock.

More from Las Vegas Raiders Draft

2. Hroniss Grasu and Reese Dismukes Disappointed

The other two potential fits I saw for the Raiders at center this year – Oregon’s Grasu and Auburn’s Dismukes – were disappointing in their workouts. Grasu chose not to run or bench or really work out at all, apparently hoping his tape speaks for him. Dismukes might have benefited from the same decision: he put up underwhelming numbers in his measurable events, and was not overly impressive in position drills

Grasu may have gone to the Combine simply to be interviewed by teams and complete a medical evaluation. He has a lot of very strong game tape that shows his great technique, quick feet and great speed, and he’s been the starter in Oregon’s blur offense for four years now. There wasn’t much he could do at the Combine except maybe run a flukey bad 40 or expose his potential lack of upper-body strength and hurt his draft stock.

Dismukes, who was supposed to be the poor man’s Hroniss Grasu, instead showed that not only is he small (for an NFL center), but he makes up for it by having a weak upper body (23 reps on the bench) and being pretty slow (5.31 second 40, 8.14 second 3-cone drill, 4.7 second 20-yard shuttle). He did have a strong showing in the broad jump, but his value overall plummeted today.

3. Who the Hell is Ali Marpet?

I had not heard the name Ali Marpet before today. Coming out of Division III’s Hobart & William Smith College, the small-school product showed today that he has all the physical tools you’d want in an NFL center. He had the fastest 40 time among offensive linemen today, clocking in at an impressive 4.98. He was also a top performer in the shuttle run and the 3-cone drill. Measuring 6’4″ and 307 pounds with 33 3/8″ arms, he has a very good frame to be an NFL center or zone-scheme guard to go along with the ideal speed and light feet.

What may have impressed the most was the way he utilized all 307 pounds of his frame to generate impressive showings in the bench and broad jump. At 30 reps in the bench and a 108″ broad jump, he showed great upper body push and lower body explosiveness that he’ll need, as NFL players are going to be a lot stronger than his Division III opponents.

Marpet also preformed well in the position drills, and he may find himself the fastest climber in this draft overall after today’s performance. His name may not have even made it to the ears of a number of NFL GM’s, but he’s likely climbing up a lot of draft boards as I write this.

4. Dante Fowler is still 261 Pounds

In part 1 of my breakdown of defensive linemen in this combine, I opined that Dante Fowler may have bulked up in the offseason in preparation for the Combine. He did not. The Florida pass rusher, who can play as either a 7/9-tech 4-3 end or a 3-4 rush linebacker, weighed in still at his svelte 261 pounds.

Live Feed

Re-signing Dante Fowler ensures Cowboys will have insane DE depth again
Re-signing Dante Fowler ensures Cowboys will have insane DE depth again /

The Landry Hat

  • Ranking every player on the Cowboys free agency boardFanSided
  • 4 free-agent defensive ends the Carolina Panthers should target in 2023Cat Crave
  • 3 Cowboys players who could be one-and-done in 2023The Landry Hat
  • 5 game-changing moments that led to the Cowboys loss against the EaglesThe Landry Hat
  • Breaking down the 3 Cowboys DE options opposite DeMarcus LawrenceThe Landry Hat
  • At 261 pounds, Fowler is going to fit best as an edge rusher, and may not be an every-down player or a 5-tech type player, at least early. Fowler played at closer to 270 pounds in 2013, and if he had bulked back up to that weight he could potentially fit at a 5-tech if he could show good strength. At 261, he is going to run the risk of being labeled a “tweener” by some scouts and teams.

    5. Raiders Want a Big Wideout

    The Raiders have apparently interviewed both Louisville’s Devante Parker and Michigan’s Devin Funchess, both large, strong wideouts who may not necessarily be burners. With many experts penciling in Alabama’s Amari Cooper for the Raiders #4 overall pick, Reggie McKenzie may have other ideas.

    Parker and Funchess are both massive bodies at the wideout position: Parker is 6’3″ and 209 and Funchess is 6’4″ and 232 – practically a tight end. There are a number of other big bodied wideouts in the draft the Raiders may be looking at as well. West Virginia’s Kevin White, another potential first round pick, measured 6’3″ and 215 pounds and showed incredible upper-body strength today in his bench press, with 23 reps (the same as Auburn C Reese Dismukes). Dorial Green-Beckham, who last played for Missouri but has had a string of off-field issues, was the beast of the WR group at 6’5″ and 237 pounds. It will be interesting to follow the wideout group tomorrow for the rest of their workout to get a glimpse of the speed and leaping ability of these receivers.

    Tomorrow, wideouts and quarterbacks will be put through their remaining measurable drills and position workouts, and I’m sure some players will climb the board and surprise while others may see their stock falling. Tomorrow will also see defensive linemen and linebackers attempt the bench press, which will really start to separate men from boys in that position group. With the Raiders looking to add players in both these groups, it’ll be a big one to watch.