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NFL Combine results: Offensive line winners and losers in the bench press, 40-yard dash, and other workouts

There’s plenty of offensive line talent in this draft. How’d they fare in combine drills?

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Offensive linemen usually aren’t the biggest draw at the NFL Combine, but this year’s draft features a talented class. We learned much more about them from their performance in combine drills on Thursday and Friday.

Mocking the Draft’s Dan Kadar had 11 different offensive linemen penciled in to be drafted early in his recent two-round mock. The linemen’s performance in drills this week — particularly the bench press, broad jump, and vertical — might change everything.

Winners

Some players boosted their stock at the combine. UCLA’s Kolton Miller is rated as a second- or third-round tackle prospect, but he set a new record with a 10’1 broad jump. Miller also ran an impressive 4.98 40 and posted a 29.5 vertical, which is a little over an inch better than the historical average.

Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson’s draft stock was already red hot heading into the combine, and his workouts confirmed why he’s one of draft’s most coveted interior linemen in years. Nelson did 35 reps on the bench press, second best among his position group. He didn’t run the 40 because of a hamstring issue. However, the rest of his workout numbers were impressive enough to keep him at the top of draft boards this year.

Pitt tackle Brian O’Neill — and SB Nation’s 2016 Piesman Trophy winner — led the field with a 4.80 time in the 40. Sure, a 40-yard dash isn’t everything to an offensive lineman, but his athleticism and past performance will get him plenty of looks.

Losers

Other players saw their reputations take a hit. Oklahoma’s Orlando Brown has been universally considered a first-round prospect, but he may see his stock plummet after posting some of the worst numbers of the week in the 40-yard dash, the bench press, and the vertical.

Ohio State center Billy Price suffered an “incomplete” pectoral tear during the bench press. He’s considered by some to be the top center prospect in the draft this year, so we’ll have to see just how much this hurts his draft stock. He reportedly plans to be ready for training camp.

The combine isn’t just about the drills. Players also have a chance to make an impression with teams in interviews, and they’ll run through a full gamut of medical and psychological tests. But the drills are the most fun part for fans to follow. Here are the most notable performances.

40-yard dash

Who helped themselves:

  • Any time one of the big guys runs a sub-5.0 40, it’s impressive. West Georgia’s Desmond Harrison helped himself with an official 4.9 time:
  • Will Hernandez of UTEP, an interior lineman, really showed off his speed despite his large size at 327 pounds with an official 5.15.
  • Oregon’s Tyrell Crosby also impressed with his 5.23 time in the 40. He’s considered to be one of the best offensive tackles in the class, and his 40-time shows off his athleticism.
  • Kolton Miller’s tape was inconsistent, according to NFL Network’s Mike Mayock on the combine broadcast. But he’s putting on a show during drills. He ran a 4.98 unofficial to add to his record-setting broad jump and his above-average vertical.

Here’s a look at the top times from the 40:

Who didn’t help themselves:

  • Oklahoma’s Orlando Brown ran an official 5.85. He’s one of the best offensive linemen in the class, but most linemen ran in the early 5.0s in 2017. Mike Mayock called it a “historically bad time.”

Here’s some context to Brown’s 40 time:

  • Quenton Nelson didn’t run the 40 because of a hamstring tweak. It probably won’t hurt him much, but it doesn’t help him, either. But the 40 is the only drill he’ll miss.

See the full results for the 40-yard dash here.

Broad jump

Who helped themselves:

Top performers:

  • Kolton Miller got off to a good start with a remarkable 10’1 official.
  • Quenton Nelson jumped an 8’9 official. That may seem low compared to Miller’s record-setting broad jump, but it’s above the historical average for guards of 8’5.
  • Braden Smith had a 9’5 vertical, which ends up being one of the best of the day.
  • Connor Williams was just behind Smith at 9’4.

See the full results for the broad jump here.

Vertical jump

Who helped themselves:

Top performers:

  • Kolton Miller made a solid impression yet again with an unofficial 31.5” vertical. The average for a tackle is 28.4”. Miller’s currently projected as a second or third-round pick, but his showing at the combine may well change that.
  • Connor Williams is projected as a first or second rounder and his 34” vertical helps solidify that.
  • Braden Smith was tied for the best bench press on Thursday, and he crushed it in the vertical, too, with a 33.5” jump.
  • UCLA’s Scott Quessenberry tied with Smith with 33.5” in the vertical.

Who didn’t help themselves:

It has not been a good combine for Orlando Brown. He posted a 19.5” vertical. He was the only offensive lineman to leap for less than 20”.

See the full results for the vertical jump here.

Bench press

Who helped themselves:

  • Quenton Nelson out of Notre Dame put up 35 reps of 225 pounds. That ties the highest number from last year, and it’s well above last year’s average of 26 reps for guards. This helps cement Nelson’s spot as this year’s top guard prospect.

After the bench press, Nelson also impressed by saying he wants to dominate his opponents and “take their will away to play the game.” Nelson has only met with two teams so far, the Giants and Packers, per SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano.

  • Auburn tackle Braden Smith matched Nelson at 35 reps. This should boost Smith’s stock. He’s currently projected as a third- or fourth-round prospect.
  • Will Hernandez, an interior line prospect out of UTEP, blew the bench press out of the water with a whopping 37 reps. Hernandez is projected as a late first or early second-round prospect, and these results may push him toward the high end of those projections.
  • Colby Gossett may be getting more interest from teams after his 32-rep performance. Gossett’s projected as potentially a Day 3 prospect, but turning in one of the best showings of the day on the bench helps his cause.

Here’s a look at the top performers:

Who didn’t help themselves:

  • Tackle Orlando Brown, who’s coming off the board at No. 12 in Dan Kadar’s latest mock draft, hurt his stock with 14 reps. That’s significantly below average for a tackle and will be a red flag on his functional strength.
  • Tyrell Crosby is projected to go as early as the second round, but he didn’t do himself any favors with just 17 bench press reps.
  • Billy Price out of Ohio State, an elite center prospect this year, was injured just three reps into the bench press and was unable to finish. Price’s body of work in college should keep his stock from falling too much, but the severity of the injury will probably negatively impact him on draft day:

In talking to the media Friday, Price downplayed the injury:

See the full results for the bench press here.

Three-cone drill

Who helped themselves:

  • Brian O’Neill continued to show off his athleticism with the best three-cone time of 7.14 seconds.
  • James Daniels out of Iowa was second with a time of 7.29.
  • Kolton Miller also carried on his excellent combine performance with the third-best time of 7.34.

See the full results for the three-cone here.