Plenty of focus on Pac-12 players as NFL Combine ramps up
It was a bustling Friday afternoon around Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis despite the fact that the NFL offseason is only a few weeks old. That, of course, means only one thing: the NFL Combine is under way. Though interviews, weigh-ins, medical tests and a number of other things had started two days earlier, workouts officially began Friday with offensive linemen and tight ends doing the bench press.
As Pac-12 football stars begin their transition to the pro game, Pac-12.com will provide continuous coverage of their journey to the NFL all the way through the draft. Here are a few news, notes and links from Friday's session at the combine to get things started.
- As always, be sure to check out Pac-12 Pro Central for all of the latest content.
- Terrific piece from Dennis Dodd about USC quarterback Matt Barkley (more below) and his time in Los Angeles coming to a close.
- CBSSports.com also provides a nice breakdown of the scheduling this week.
- UCLA wished its seniors good luck in Indy with an Instagram photo.
- Rated by numerous scouts as one of the top wide receivers in this year's draft, Cal's Keenan Allen arrived at the combine on Thursday but will not go through workouts or skills tests due to a knee injury. He is scheduled to participate in other activities at the event however, including interviews with various teams. Most have the talented pass-catcher going in the first round of the draft, but it seems that he'll have to run a 40-yard dash at some point to showcase his speed. Cal's Pro Day is Monday, March 11 and that seems to be where he'll end up running.
- Golden Bears offensive lineman Brian Schwenke took part in the bench press Friday, posting 31 reps of 225 pounds that wound up second at his position group (listed as center). He'll do on-field workouts and additional drills on the turf Saturday. Schwenke is ranked as ESPN's 16th-best offensive lineman in the draft.
- Other Cal players at the combine include running back C.J. Anderson (first workout is Saturday) and cornerbacks Marc Anthony and Steve Williams (workouts on Monday).
- Oregon's Dion Jordan has been labeled an athletic freak and he'll need to prove it at the combine, according to ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. The analyst also thinks Kenjon Barner could be a second-round pick if he shows off his sprinter's speed.
- With NFL offenses increasingly featuring a tight end as a pass catcher, it's no wonder there's a focus on the position heading into this year's draft. Stanford's Zach Ertz is a consensus top-two player at the spot and is drawing plenty of attention at the combine to see how he stacks up with Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert. As former pro scout and NFL.com columnist Daniel Jeremiah writes, Ertz passed the eye test (he had 24 reps on the bench press) and has the film to impress as well. The former Cardinal player is ranked as ESPN's top tight end this year.
- Other Pac-12 tight ends that participated in the bench press today: Colorado's Nick Kasa (22 reps), UCLA's Joseph Fauria (17 reps) and Stanford's Levine Toilolo (17 reps).
- Former USC offensive lineman Khaled Holmes was unable to finish on the bench press due to a strained pectoral muscle. As Orange County Register NFL writer Michael Lev noted on Twitter, that's not a great sign with durability questions surrounding the talented center.
- Holmes' teammate and close friend Matt Barkley had the most buzz around him Friday as he went through his media session and was measured. The good news was that he was measured over 6-foot-2, eliminating at least one of the knocks on the Trojans' former signal-caller. ESPN's Todd McShay noted that not only was he "safely" in the good height class, but he had a good weight (227 pounds) with bigger hands (10.1 inches) than expected.
Count at least one analyst that is convinced Barkley is the top quarterback in the draft this year. Though he isn't throwing due to a shoulder injury suffered against UCLA, meetings with top NFL brass seem to be the biggest reason why there's so much intrigue around Barkley this week.
And he's also a giant nerd, as he explains in this video from NFL.com.