The offensive lineman, running backs, and special teamers took the field at the NFL Combine Friday. There were a number of impressive performances.
For the Jaguars, improving the interior of their offensive line should be a priority this offseason. They've already got Brandon Linder, who is a Pro Bowl type player, and can play center or guard. But beyond that the Jaguars have some work to do. Their 2017 starters at guard were serviceable, but if this offensive line and offense as a whole wants to take the next step then getting some hogs in the middle will be key.
The good news for the Jaguars is that this draft class is loaded with talent at both center and guard.
The Jaguars offensive line coach, Pat Flaherty, was able to work up close and personal with these players during their on field work Friday, so he will be able to hand pick guys that he likes based on being able to actually work with these kids. It's a big advantage for the Jaguars to have their guy getting hands on work with these players.
Let's take a look at three interior offensive lineman that stood out on Friday.
Will Hernandez, Guard. UTEP - He might be the biggest riser from the end of the college season to now. Hernandez will likely play at around 330 lbs. He's an absolute mauler at guard. If he were a couple inches taller he could potentially be a tackle because of his elite athleticism, but because he is only 6'2'' and has 32" arms he projects to be a road grader at guard. He had a fantastic combine. Hernandez ran a 5.14 40 yard dash, which for his size is absolutely amazing. He also looked very comfortable in the mirror drills, displaying his balance and foot quickness. So, he has good movement, but how strong is he? Well, he put up 37 reps in the bench press. Hernandez looks like a complete prospect at guard. While he may be best suited for a gap blocking scheme, he should still be able to thrive in a zone blocking scheme like the one the Jaguars run. If the Jaguars want this guy they'll likely have to pull the trigger in the first round.
James Daniels, Center. Iowa - Daniels may have had the best day of anyone on Friday. One word to describe him = Smooth. Everything he does on the field looks effortless. His footwork, balance, and quickness were put on display in the mirror drills. Daniels' biggest question is his strength. He was able to put up 21 reps on the bench press, which indicates he has the strength to compete at the next level. But in the Jaguars zone blocking scheme pure strength is less important than technique and athleticism. At 6'4'' and 306 lbs. Daniels is on the leaner side but should be able to play center or guard at a high level in the Jaguars scheme. He MIGHT be available in the second round for the Jaguars.
Braden Smith, Guard. Auburn - The Jaguars may have missed out on Kevin Zeitler in free agency last year, but according to NFL.com's Lance Zierlein Smith compares favorably to Zeitler. Smith was one of the more impressive guards at the combine Friday. He tested extremely well from an athleticism and strength stand point. He put up 35 reps on the bench, jumped 33.5" in the vertical, and ran a 5.21 second 40 yard dash. At Auburn Smith handled some of the most talented defensive fronts in America and at 6'6'' and 306 lbs. Smith would add a physical element to the Jaguars offensive line. He needs to work on his recognition and awareness moving forward, but could develop into a solid starting offensive lineman and will likely be available in the middle rounds.
The Jaguars could very easily wind up with one or maybe even two of these guys come late April.
Stay tuned for more!
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