Scouting combine gets under way with OL and TE workouts
Mike Pouncey erased any doubt that he's the draft's premier lineman
Ray Dominguez improved his draft stock and drew praise after his workout
One of the top OL prospects, Derek Sherrod hurt his status with a poor workout
The first full day of activity at the combine kicked off on Saturday as the offensive linemen and tight ends took to the field at Lucas Oil Stadium to showcase their skills. Several prospects at both positions looked good and gave NFL decision makers plenty to think about. Here's a breakdown of the risers and sliders.Mike Pouncey/OL/Florida: Pouncey did not participate in the bench press, much to the dismay of scouts, but looked terrific in drills. His times in the 40-yard dash were reasonable as both clocked under 5.2 seconds. During the positional drills Pouncey showed power, quickness and solid footwork. Any doubts that Pouncey is the premiere offensive guard in April's draft were eliminated Saturday based on his combine performance.
Danny Watkins/OL/Baylor: Watkins capitalized on a solid Senior Bowl performance with a good combine workout as he continues to move north on draft boards. Watkins completed 25 reps on the bench and was terrific in drills. He was fluid in his hips and feet, moved well about the field and showed the ability to cover a large amount of area in pass protection drills.
Jordan Cameron/TE/USC: Rarely mentioned by scouts when the season started, Cameron has established himself as one of the best tight ends available in April's draft and Saturday further drove home the point. Weighing 254 pounds, Cameron completed 23 reps on the bench then averaged 4.6 seconds in the 40. His pass catching workout was outstanding as Cameron ran effective routes, displayed terrific coordination and caught just about everything thrown in his direction.
Nate Solder/OT/Colorado: Except for the bench press, where he completed only 21 reps, Solder was the best athlete amongst the offensive linemen. He moved his 6-foot, 8-inch, 319 pound frame across forty yards in times as fast as 4.91-seconds. He looked like a tight end moving around the field during drills and stood out in every aspect. Solder still needs work on his game yet he's a prospect that oozes upside potential.
Marcus Cannon/OL/TCU: Cannon looked impressive from the get-go, weighing in at 358 pounds, almost 20 less than his playing weight last season. He then completed 33 repetitions on the bench, a solid number. Cannon easily moved around the field during drills for such a large man, displaying a smooth style. Many questioned Cannon's ability to stay at the all-important left tackle position at the next level, the spot he held down for TCU in 2010. NFL coaches are bound to give Cannon a chance at the position after what they witnessed on Saturday.
Ray Dominguez/OL/Arkansas: Dominguez was overshadowed by teammate DeMarcus Love for most of his Arkansas career, but the tables may be turning. The versatile college tackle looked outstanding in drills as he was quick, explosive and athletic. In fact, Dominguez leaves the combine receiving some of the highest praise of the entire offensive line group.
Gabe Carimi/OT/Wisconsin: Carimi again answered the challenge after his terrific performance during the Senior Bowl. His 29 completed repetitions on the bench was a solid number, considering his arm length measured 35 inches. He was faster than expected, dipping under 5.2 in the 40. Later in the drills, Carimi showed a variety of skill. His footwork was smooth in pass protection and he looked strong in run blocking drills. At this point, it is very hard to rationalize Carimi falling out of the draft's top 32 selections.
Rob Housler/TE/Florida Atlantic: Little by little, Housler, who sat out the 2009 season, has been inching up draft boards and his combine performance will continue to push him north. Housler completed a commendable 22 reps on the bench after measuring in at 6-5 and 248. He then clocked faster than any other tight end in the 40, hitting a low time of 4.53. Housler's pass-catching workout was almost pristine as he showed terrific quickness, the ability to make the deep reception and displayed strong, reliable hands.
Rodney Hudson/C/Florida State: The former Seminoles guard was asked to simulate the center position today and he did not skip a beat. Hudson showed his patented foot quickness and movement skills yet looked stronger than expected. His bench press total of 27 repetitions was a testament to this.
David Arkin/OL/Missouri State: Arkin did what a small school lineman needs to do at the combine -- he looked like he belonged on the field. Arkin completed 25 reps on the bench, a solid number. Though his 40-yard times were nothing outstanding, the college tackle looked athletic and quick during the drill session. Arkin's footwork in pass blocking drills really stood out.
Ryan Bartholomew/C/Syracuse: Bartholomew looked good in all facets of his workout. He completed 34 reps on the bench, tops among the offensive linemen, and his 40-yard times averaged in the 5.10 range. During the drills Bartholomew looked athletic, strong and also displayed good movement skills.
Julius Thomas/TE/Portland State: The former college basketball player has shown steady progress since his promising performance during Shrine Week. Thomas ran both his 40's in the low 4.6 area then caught the ball well in drills. He's showing much better consistency on the field.
Derek Sherrod/OT/Mississippi State: Scouts gushed over Sherrod all season long yet the left tackle prospect did not look anything special at the combine. In fact, Sherrod looked marginally athletic and lumbered around the field during drills.
Isaiah Thompson/OL/Houston: The former defensive lineman made a successful transition to guard this season and gave scouts a reason for hope. On Saturday, Thompson showed he has a long ways to go. His 40-yard times (5.8 area) were the slowest of the day. His bench press total of 23 repetitions did not stand out either. To his credit Thompson worked hard the entire session.
Notes: After looking impressive in weigh-ins at 307 with arms that measured more than 36 inches, then completing 29 repititions on the bench press, offensive tackle Tyron Smith chose not to participate in any more of the combine. He'll let his surgically repaired meniscus wait another month then perform for scouts at the USC pro day at the end of March.
On the flip side was Orlando Franklin of Miami. The senior underwent surgery on his knee in January yet participated in the workout Saturday. Franklin looked good in the early going, timing 5.15 in the 40, but struggled in pass protection drills.