2020 NFL Combine Preview: Running Backs and Offensive Linemen

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Sep 21, 2019; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles running back Cam Akers (3) runs for a touchdown against Louisville Cardinals defensive back Cornelius Sturghill (6) during the second half at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 NFL Scouting Combine is about to get underway in Indianapolis. Prospects will undergo medicals, interviews, and of course, the on field drills. On deck in the lineup are the offensive linemen and running backs. I’ll be posting these positional previews as they are scheduled to go during the on field drills. Who will stand out among these position groups at the 2020 NFL Combine? In case you missed it, here’s my preview for the quarterbacks, wide receivers, and tight ends

RB

Cam Akers FSU Sports Info Bill Pearce web t670

1. Cam Akers 5’10 217 Florida State Junior

Akers might be the most unheralded “big name” at the running back position due to the immense talent in front of him and the horrifically poor FSU offensive line. He wasn’t done any favors by that terrible OL at any point in his college career. The fact that he produced over 1,000 yards in 2019 in the mishmash of the Taggart offense is borderline miraculous. Akers is physical in between the tackles type of runner with a ton of elusiveness. A former high school quarterback so he was deployed as a wildcat QB by FSU in certain situations and probably was the best QB on the roster. The film in 2018 won’t wow you but the 2019 tape will. Expect him to have a monster 2020 NFL Combine. Projected 40 time: 4.45.

2. Eno Benjamin 5’8 207 Arizona State Junior

– Benjamin has been one of the best running backs in the Pac-12 with his vision and instincts for the position. He impressed a ton of people that were kind of off the bandwagon with an immense closing stretch of 2019 and a great Senior Bowl. I expect him to test decently at the Combine as he isn’t the best athlete out there. Projected 40 time: 4.55

3. A.J. Dillon 6’0 247 Junior Boston College

– Dillon had a down junior season much like his Golden Eagles teammates. He’s listed at 250 so the weight may be an issue at the next level because he isn’t exactly Derrick Henry. There are still flashes of some wiggle in his game but he’s built like a truck. The 2020 NFL Combine will be very important to him. Projected 40 time: 4.65

4. Salvon Ahmed 5’10 197 Washington Junior

– Ahmed is a runner that has virtually no strength in his game. He’s more of a speed type of back. He’s an effective pass catching option out of the backfield as well. Ahmed declared as a junior after spending much of his Huskies career injured or ineffective. However, when healthy, he can be a useful change of pace back. The new Huskies OC isn’t the most highly thought of and they have to replace Jacob Eason so that might have played a role in Ahmed leaving. Projected 40 time: 4.42

5. JaMychal Hasty 5’8 205 Baylor Senior

– Hasty is probably the most underrated running back in this year’s class due to his size and Baylor WR Denzel Mims getting all the hype. It’s true that he’s undersized but he packs a ton of explosiveness in his frame. Expect him to have a great Combine experience. Projected 40 time: 4.36

6. Joshua Kelley 5’10 212 UCLA RS Senior

– Kelley is being slept on in this running back class due to the talent above him not only in the Pac-12 but overall. He’s a lot more physical in between the tackles than I gave him credit for. He had a good Senior Bowl and look for him to expound on it further in Indianapolis. Projected 40 time: 4.54

7. Anthony McFarland 5’8 208 Maryland RS Sophomore

– McFarland coming out was somewhat of a surprise given the talent in this year’s class but it can reasoned that he didn’t want to be in College Park any longer for free. He’s a prime candidate to be a breakout star in Indy due to his small stature and athleticism. He has been asked to receiver drills as well as RB drills. Projected 40 time: 4.44

8. Zack Moss 5’9 223 Utah Senior

– Moss has been the best running back in the Pac-12 bar none for the past couple of years ago. He has NFL level instincts and IQ for the position. Regrettably, he had to pull out from the Senior Bowl due to injury so the medical will be key for him. He would fit a ZBS perfectly. Projected 40 time: 4.55

9. James Robinson 5’9 219 Illinois State Senior

– Robinson is a lesser known name in the scouting world due to the relative anonymity of being at Illinois State. He has some talent to work with however as he put up pretty good statistics albeit against lesser competition. Not the best athlete but gets by with just enough. Could be something to look for during the latter stages of Day 3. Projected 40 time: 4.60

10. Patrick Taylor Jr 6’1 217 Memphis Senior

– Taylor was part of a high powered Tigers rushing attack that led to an AAC championship. He’s one of the bigger running backs in the class. An unfortunate injury during the Shrine Bowl week held him of the event. He also had an injury during the season so the medical file is rather concerning. I really like his game when he’s healthy. He will need to test well to prove the doubters wrong at the NFL Combine. Projected 40 time: 4.58

11. Darius Anderson 5’10 208 TCU Senior

– Anderson had an outstanding Senior Bowl process but was overshadowed a bit much like his counterpart at Baylor with the presence of star wide receiver Jalen Reagor. He’s a shifty change of pace back that can take any run for a score from anywhere. Projected 40 time: 4.46

12. J.J Taylor 5’5 185 Arizona RS Junior

– When I see the tape, I think of Darren Sproles. Of course, Sproles is a bit bigger than Taylor at this stage but the comp is an apt one. At worst, he’s a gadget and returner type of player at the next level. He will need to add some weight to stick though. Projected 40 time: 4.42

OT

1. Trey Adams 6’8 318 Washington Senior

– Adams has an extensive medical history plus a not so good senior season tape so he has multiple factors against him. He has positional versatility though so there’s that. He has played both left and right tackle in his college career. Projected 10-yard time: 1.9

2. Mekhi Becton 6’7 364 Louisville Junior

– Becton has been getting a lot of OT3 or even OT2 hype from the scouting world. Can he deliver on a promising junior campaign that elevated his stock at the NFL Combine? Projected 10-yard time: 1.9

3. Saahdiq Charles 6’4 321 LSU Junior

– Charles was the franchise left tackle for the national champion Tigers. I have questions about his frame though. He may have to kick inside to guard if his arm measurements dictate that. He also had some off the field issues so teams will question that during the interview process. Projected 10-yard split: 1.8

4. Jack Driscoll 6’4 306 Auburn RS Senior

– He was a graduate transfer in 2019 from UMASS. Started at right tackle for Auburn and played very well against some of the best pass rushers from the SEC. It will be interesting to see if he outperforms his counterpart Prince Tega-Wanogho. Projected 10 yard split: 1.8

5. Austin Jackson 6’4 322 USC Junior

– Arguably the best draft eligible tackle in the Pac-12. He’s been getting a lot of first round grades from a lot of folks but I just don’t see the mental side of it due to poor coaching. The physical tools are there. As it stands, he has Round 2 grade from me. Projected 10 yard split: 1.75

6. Charlie Heck 6’7 311 North Carolina RS Junior

– He’s simply a massive human being. Every bit of his listed measurements. Coming off a relatively so-so Senior Bowl in which he should’ve stood out more but didn’t for some reason. As it stands, he has a fourth round grade due to great senior film. Projected 10 yard split: 1.9

7. Hakeem Adeniji 6’4 302 Kansas Senior

– Adeniji had a huge Senior Bowl week and has parlayed that into some Round 3 talk if not higher. Personally, he gets a fourth round grade. I’m just not sure if he has the size to be a tackle at a listed 6’4 302. Projected 10 yard split: 1.9

8. Josh Jones 6’5 319 Houston RS Senior

– Jones has consistently been graded as a top five offensive tackle in this class. With good reason. He was that good in 2019. I have him graded out as OT3 on my board. Pretty much the only thing that Dana Holgerson didn’t screw up at Houston so far. Projected 10 yard split: 1.76

9. Calvin Throckmorton 6’5 317 Oregon RS Senior

– To put Throckmorton’s Senior Bowl effort charitably, cue up the at least you tried Bart Simpsons meme. He was dominated while playing left tackle but was a bit better on the interior. He was the Ducks’ most versatile lineman in that he played both tackle spots and center on occasion but his better fit is at guard due to the short arms thing. Projected 10 yard split: 1.95

10. Lucas Niang 6’6 317 TCU Senior

– 2019 was a wash for Niang as he was sidelined for the majority of the season with a hip issue. Just watch the 2018 tape to get a better grasp of what he is as a prospect. I still like him enough to grade him as OT5 even with the injury issues (which he will be questioned about by the NFL). Projected 10 yard split: 1.79

IOL

2020 NFL Combine

1. Shane Lemieux 6’3 318 Oregon RS Senior

– Still the best guard in the class even with missing the Senior Bowl due to injury. There’s not much else to say about his game. Has been a long time starter for the Ducks at left guard so one has to wonder if he’s stuck there or if he can move around. Projected 10 yard split: 1.95

2. Damien Lewis 6’2 327 LSU

– Lewis really elevated his stock in Mobile. It could be argued that he had the best week of any guard there. He moves to the second level so effortlessly and slides his feet so well. Projected 10 yard split: 1.9

3. Logan Stenberg 6’6 317 Kentucky RS Senior

– Stenberg was really good in Mobile and will look to carry over the effort to Indy this week. He has earned a Round 4 grade from me due to the depth of the guard class being what it is (i.e. good). Projected 10 yard split: 1.8

4. Jonah Jackson 6’3 306 Ohio State RS Senior

– The rising star of the iOL class after a dominant Senior Bowl week. It will be interesting to see if he betters that effort this week in Indy. Projected 10 yard slpit: 1.75

5. Ben Bartch 6’6 308 St. John’s (MN) Senior

– Bartch made a name for himself in Mobile with a very good week there. I think he projects as a guard at the next level so he’s placed in the iOL section. Ali Marpet 2.0? He more than held his own against much bigger competition. Projected 10 yard split: 1.9

6. Ben Bredeson 6’4 315 Michigan Senior

– Could be argued rather convincingly that he was the best guard in the class during the 2019 season. I wouldn’t have any disagreements there if someone broached the topic exiting the 2020 NFL combine. Projected 10 yard split: 1.8

7. Cesar Ruiz 6’2 307 Michigan Junior

– He has been getting a lot of love for the coveted C1 spot in the scouting world lately. No argument here from me. He’s that good of a prospect. I like his game a bunch but have him as a C2 on my board entering the 2020 NFL Combine. Projected 10 yard split: 1.85

8. Lloyd Cushenberry III 6’3 312 LSU RS Junior

– Cushenberry was the starting center for the Tigers. He was downright dominant in Mobile and should carry it over to Indy. He’s my C1 on the board Enough said. Can he repeat his Mobile effort at the 2020 NFL Combine? Projected 10 yard split: 1.8

9. Matt Hennessy 6’3 307 Temple RS Junior

– Hennessy did very well in Mobile, often competing with Lloyd Cushenberry III for best iOL honors. His stock is definitely on the rise and will be after the NFL Combine. I really like his game. Projected 10 yard split: 1.9

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