In anticipation of next week’s NFL Draft, I’ve explored one of the most important questions in player evaluation: to what extent does Combine testing matter? In my two previous articles, I detailed the most important measurements for offensive skill position players and cornerbacks. This article examines the importance of NFL Combine testing and measurements for the Jets’ most dire positional need: Offensive Tackle (OT).
The methodology employed in the two previous articles is also utilized here. I’ve aggregated Combine (and when necessary, Pro Day) measurements from OTs who have made the Pro Bowl in the previous three seasons. Interestingly, the key principle in evaluating combined performance for OTs is nearly identical to that of evaluating tight ends: all testing matters. Although the top 13 OTs are league-average in terms of height and weight, they test better in nearly every category than league-average OTs.
Average of Pro Bowl OT Testing:
Arm Length: 70th Percentile
40 yard dash: 89th Percentile
10 yard split: 79th Percentile
Speed Score: 99.1
Broad Jump: 71st Percentile
3 Cone: 69th Percentile
Vertical Jump: 69th Percentile
20 Yard Shuttle: 71st Percentile
While there were notable outliers such as Orlando Brown who, with the exception of arm length, didn’t have measurements above the 25th percentile in any of the 9 events in which he participated, the vast majority of top tier OTs are top tier athletes. In fact, several of the elite OTs—including Terron Armstead and Lane Johnson— tested above the 95th percentile in multiple events. Given the clear correlation between impressive testing and success in the NFL, it’s worth examining how this should affect the New York Jets’ draft strategy.
TOP 4 OTs
The consensus top 4 OTs—Mekhi Becton, Andrew Thomas, Jedrick Wills, and Tristan Wirfs—possess a range of good to elite Combine measurements. The most elite tester was Tristan Wirfs, who set a Combine record in the vertical jump (36.5”) and tied Kolton Miller’s record of 10’1” in the broad jump. Wirfs also had highly impressive times in the 3 cone, 20 yard shuttle, and 40 yard dash. The other impressive tester, Mekhi Becton, did not participate in many events, but ran a blazing 5.1 second 40 yard dash, which is all the more impressive given his weight of 364 lbs. Although Wirfs and Becton were the focus of headlines, Jedrick Wills and Andrew Thomas had strong Combine performances as well. Wills recorded a 34.5” vertical jump (97 PCTL), a 9’5” broad jump (93 PCTL), and a 5.05 second 40 yard dash (89 PCTL). For Andrew Thomas, the most impressive takeaway was not his timed measurements, but rather his incredible arm length (95 PCTL). Combine measurements merely reaffirmed why these four prospects are the clear-cut top 4 OTs in this year’s draft and likely reinforced perceptions of each player. The Jets would be lucky if any of them fell to the 11th pick.
Ezra Cleveland, Boise State
Prospect Strengths: 4.93 40 yard dash, 30 bench press reps, 30” vertical jump, 7.26 3 cone
Matt Peart, UCONN
Prospect Strengths: 5.06 50 yard dash, 9’5” broad jump, 365/8 arms
Peart was an impressive tester at the Combine, but the biggest revelation was his arm length (99 PCTL). Peart’s mobility makes him a good fit for a zone blocking scheme. While he is technically unrefined, Peart is an intriguing developmental tackle candidate with a high ceiling in the NFL. That being said, the Jets aren’t a great fit unless the team declines to pick an OT at 11, in which case Peart would make sense in the 3rd round.
Hakeem Adeniji, Kansas
Prospect Strengths: 34” vertical jump, 9’7” broad jump
MID-LATE Day 3
Jack Driscoll, Auburn
Prospect Strengths: 5.02 40 yard dash, 9’6” broad jump, 29.5” vertical jump
Jack Driscoll has flown under the radar during the Draft process, but performed surprisingly well at the Combine. Driscoll played RT at Auburn and has guard/tackle versatility in a zone scheme. He needs to add strength, but if he does, I have confidence that Driscoll can be a quality lineman in a zone blocking scheme. Depending on how Days 1 and 2 of the Draft unfold, Driscoll may be a good Day 3 fit for the Jets.