The signing of Sam Bradford almost guarantees that the Birds will select an offensive lineman with their first round draft pick this year. Drafting offensive linemen with your top picks was something Doug Pederson’s mentor Andy Reid made a habit of doing. I expect Pederson to emulate that model by selecting an offensive lineman, who will be able to start as a rookie.
While at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, I got a chance to get a good look at two offensive tackles, who could be the Birds pick with the 13th selection of the first round. I’m talking about Big Ten offensive tackles, Michigan State’s Jack Conklin and Ohio State’s Taylor Decker.
I thought Conklin was the more flexible of the two and his movement was smoother. He showed everybody at the NFL Scouting Combine that he’s a very good athlete for his size. He looked very good doing his slide step and looks very natural on the move.
The Spartan doesn’t look as good as Decker body wise, when it comes to body fat, but his quickness and body control is much more important. He showed good quickness and coordination in all the on field drills.
I think Conklin could play the left side or the right side, which is a compliment to his abilities. If the Birds were to select him, he could start off inside at guard this year, then slide outside to the right tackle position when current left tackle Jason Peters retires and right tackle Lane Johnson moves to left tackle.
Conklin is 6’6″308 with 35 inch arms, so he has that arm length, size and quickness to play the tackle position.
Conklin also completed 25 reps on the bench press after his arms measured 35 inches. His 3-cone time (7.63 seconds) and short shuttle (4.57 seconds) were both very good marks.
He ran the forty-yard dash in 4.98 seconds which is very good for an offensive tackle. He bench pressed 225 pounds 25 times.
Conklin is an aggressive and physical blocker, especially in the running game.
As for Decker, who was the tallest offensive tackle at the Combine at 6’7″, he was the “Big Ten Lineman of the Year” for the Ohio State Buckeyes as he opened holes for Ezekiel Elliot. He weighs 310 pounds and showed good quick feet during his field drills at the Combine. He’s got a basketball background, which will help him tremendously in shuffling to his right and his left to stay in front of the speedy NFL pass rushers.
The big fella benched press 225 pounds 20 times. His forty-yard was 5.23 seconds, which is nothing to write home about, but you don’t pay your tackles to run 40 yard dashes. He jumped 101.0″ on his standing broad jump and his 20-yard shuttle run was 4.76 seconds.
His arm length is only 33 3/4, which could make him a right tackle in the NFL, despite the fact that he played left tackle at Ohio State. The youngster plays high at times, which is understandable at 6’7″, but it could allow the powerful NFL defensive linemen to push him back into the quarterback or running back’s face.
Decker has tremendous potential and outstanding leadership qualities. The big fella also has a mean streak and he does a good job of finishing blocks. This is what you want at the tackle position. He’s been helped by getting the opportunity to battle Joey Bosa everyday.