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Combine Thoughts: OL, TE, a dash of DL

Keller steals the show in TE workouts (Ben Drinkut, Purdue Exponent)

Why do I love college? Well, the education is nice, and the lifestyle is nicer, but I love college because I get the NFL Network here. I've tuned in to the draft prospect workouts all morning - keeping an eye on players that y'all mention frequently as potential fits for our Buffalo Bills - and for the most part, I haven't been disappointed. Today, O-Linemen and Tight Ends were working out, while defensive linemen and linebackers were weighing in.

The quick overview: I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to the linemen because, well, the Bills are pretty much set up front. You're going to hear a lot about the tremendous athleticism of this group of tight ends; these guys are flat-out freaks of nature. Finally, there are a couple of interesting tidbits from D-Line weigh-ins that you won't want to miss...

This, folks, was the Jake Long show. The Michigan tackle (who lifted well yesterday) solidified his status as a Top-5 pick, running well, lifting better and showing the type of athleticism that makes a franchise left tackle. Virginia guard Branden Albert also moved around well, and he probably solidified a first-round selection for himself. This draft, as most of you know, is deep in athleticism at tackle; therefore, when Pitt's Jeff Otah ran just under 5.6, he probably cost himself a half-round (at least). This is a deep group, so if the Bills are looking for some depth, it's there for the taking in the middle rounds.

Tight Ends
Last year, tight end Greg Olsen (who would later be a first-round draft pick of the Bears) threw together an outstanding Combine workout to boost his draft stock. Who did that this year? That would be Purdue's Dustin Keller. We knew that Keller was highly athletic, but when he ran a 4.53 and jumped 38", we saw a truly special athlete. But Keller wasn't the only solid performer at tight end, as Kellen Davis (4.58), Martellus Bennett (4.69), and Jacob Tamme (4.57) also ran extremely well, or at least better than expected. USC's Fred Davis did not run, but did positional drills, where he didn't blow anyone away - in fact, he dropped a few easy passes. Missouri's Martin Rucker did not work out.

What blows me away is the sheer depth of this position. We knew it was deep, but when guys like Brad Cottam (4.68), Gary Barnidge (4.63) and Craig Stevens (4.62) perform as well as they did, it only adds to what is already great depth. There were really only two disappointments at the position - Texas' Jermichael Finley only ran a 4.82 (though he looked very fluid in positional drills and was a bit more consistent than expected), and Notre Dame's John Carlson could only muster a 4.89. Carlson is a solid tight end, to be sure, but he may not have the athleticism to stretch the middle of the field like most of his draft mates.

Defensive linemen do not work out until Monday, but they weighed in today, and there were some surprises. Foremost among those is Florida DE Derrick Harvey, who is listed at 262 pounds at NFL Draft Countdown but weighed in at a whopping 291. If he can run well at that weight, he might just shoot past Vernon Gholston (266) as the top defensive end available.

For the inside men, several have bulked up from their listed weights: Sedrick Ellis is up to 309 from 285; Kentwan Balmer is up to 308 from 295; and Trevor Laws is up to 304 from 295. Again, these guys have not worked out yet, but they're already making waves. It's going to be very interesting to see how they run and perform in position drills on Monday, considering the Bills' needs on their interior defensive line.

Note: all 40 times listed are unofficial.

Stay tuned to Buffalo Rumblings for more Combine reports (wide receivers work out tomorrow), as well as a big announcement about future content on the site!

Update [2008-2-24 11:49:26 by Brian Galliford]: You gotta love NFL Network typos... or my general lack of reading comprehension. A correction to the Derrick Harvey weigh-in: he tipped the scales at 271 pounds. While I check my reading glasses, I'll maintain that it said 291 on NFLN yesterday... you can choose to believe me or not. :)