O-Line prospects turning heads at the Combine

Posted Mar 2, 2018

The Giants will look to improve their offensive line, with several marquee names at the Combine this week:

By the time the 2017 season came to an end, the Giants were down to three offensive tackles that were on their roster in training camp: Ereck Flowers (who was inactive with an injury in Week 17), Chad Wheeler and Adam Bisnowaty. Justin Pugh was on injured reserve and will be a free agent this offseason, and Bobby Hart was released before the final game.

The Giants will look for players to add to that position this offseason, whether in free agency or the draft. Considered a premium position, the cost in resources to acquire a good tackle is normally high. For that reason, all eyes are on the offensive tackles at the combine in Indianapolis this week.

Opinions vary greatly over who the top players at the position are, but three names that come up often for first round consideration are Texas’ Connor Williams, Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey and Oklahoma’s Orlando “Zeus” Brown.

Brown might be the biggest player attending the combine, measuring at just under 6’8 and 345 pounds. He checks all the boxes in terms of arm length that teams look for from their tackles. Son of former NFL offensive lineman Orlando Brown, he only bench pressed 225 pounds 14 times on Thursday.

“Personally, I didn’t stick to my routine, my breathing routine. That’s the lowest number I’ve done. I’ll re-do it at my pro day,” Brown said via Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. “Keeping it real, all my numbers will be held against me. I’m an offensive tackle and all my numbers are going to be compared to the other offensive tackles. That’s just the reality of it.”

McGlinchey also checks every box in terms of size and arm length and played in a pro-style system at Notre Dame next to standout guard Quenton Nelson. McGlinchey had 24 reps on the bench press and looked the part at the podium in the media center.

Notre Dame has developed good offensive linemen over the past decade, including Pro Bowler Zack Martin, Ronnie Stanley and Nick Martin.

“Well, I was 260 pounds at signing day and now I’m standing at almost 315, so a lot physically has changed about me,” McGlinchey said. “I knew I was going to play offensive tackle, but I wasn’t physically prepared to do it. I took a lot of lumps early on trying to get in the weight room, trying to get on the field and break into the mold of being a starter for (offensive line coach) Harry (Hiestand) and the Notre Dame offensive line. It took a long time, it took two years before I started my first game as a redshirt freshman, and I got beat up a lot, I made more mistakes than I can even count and that’s the reason why I’m here today is because of the way that I was pushed. I kind of came in — I didn’t have a whole lot of coaching, I graduated from a high school that had 30 guys on the varsity team and I played every position but defensive back because we needed to. So I needed to learn a lot about O-line, playing it the right way, doing things the right way and how to be a pro about it.”

Williams only started five games in his final season at Texas due to a left knee injury that did not require surgery. There were also some red flags over his arms measuring just 33 inches, which has some people thinking he might be a better fit at guard, a position he has never played before.

“Personally, if you asked me, I feel like I’m a tackle,” Williams said. “But I’m willing to play anywhere a team needs me.”

Other tackle prospects include Ohio State’s Jamarco Jones, UCLA’s Kolton Miller, Oregon’s Tyrell Crosby and Pittsburgh’s Brian O’Neill, all of whom could be had on day two or even day three. Every tackle prospect will be put through the ringer in both on-field drills and the interview process as teams figure out who can be effective on the NFL level.