Day two of the Combine was all about the offensive linemen and running backs who went through the bench press and spoke with the media on Thursday.
I got to catch up with a bunch of the prospects and here are some of my overall thoughts and highlights from what the linemen spoke about throughout the day.
Humboldt State OT Alex Cappa
Cappa presented himself very well and I love his hair. I think he loves his hair, too, because he couldn’t stop touching it as he spoke. As a small school prospect, he says all you can do is play and if you play well teams will find you. That looks to be the case for Cappa who is a big name in Indianapolis. He says he’d love for any team to draft him, but he grew up a Raiders fan.
I'm most impressed by Alex Cappa's hair, but... pic.twitter.com/B5AbmB9dSO— Rebecca Toback (@Rebecca_Toback) March 1, 2018
Notre Dame G Quenton Nelson
Nelson came across as a genuinely impressive guy who is set on becoming an NFL star. He’s not expected to make it to pick No. 12 where the Bengals will be selecting in the first round, but if by chance he did, the team would pounce. Duke Tobin talked Nelson up on Tuesday as having the potential to play all five offensive line positions and on Wednesday he displayed his personality, too.
On what it feels like to put a defensive lineman on his back: It feels good, it’s a good feeling, there’s a lot of things on a football field that you can’t do in real life and that’s one of them.
On his mindset: As a blocker my mindset is being dominant. I want to dominate all my opponents and take their will away to play the game by each play and finishing them past the whistle. Yeah, I would consider myself a nasty player.
Quenton Nelson talking at the Combine. pic.twitter.com/XCplX9HQQi— Rebecca Toback (@Rebecca_Toback) March 1, 2018
Notre Dame OG Quenton Nelson effectively selling the importance of guard play:— Chase Goodbread (@ChaseGoodbread) March 1, 2018
"You have guys dominating the NFL right now in Aaron Donald, Geno Atkins, Fletcher Cox, that have been working on interior guys. You need guys to stop them. I'm one of those guys."#NFLCombine2018
Notre Dame OT Mike McGlinchey
From all the prospects I spoke with, I was most impressed by McGlinchey. He’s cousins with Matt Ryan and was telling stories about growing up together with the Falcons quarterback, joking around with the media, showing his charisma and came across as a true leader. He was a two time captain at Notre Dame and if the Bengals decide he’s worthy of pick No. 12, I think he’d be a great leader in the NFL and someone the team should be considering as an Andrew Whitworth (cough, Cedric Ogbuehi) replacement.
On how Quenton Nelson was in meeting rooms as a teammate: You’re probably not going to get a better teammate. He’s a phenomenal player, phenomenal person. Cares as much as anybody in the building, works as hard as anybody in the building and when he gets into the meeting room, when he steps across those white lines, he’s a different animal. And he showed that repeatedly throughout his career. Sky’s the limit for him too. His football knowledge, works extremely hard to be a student of the game like we all did, something that Harry preached very, very hard to us — we weren’t going to get on the field unless we bought into that. And he’s done a great job with that to put himself in the position that he’s in now.
On his favorite memory of family gatherings with Matt Ryan: So it was kind of funny, we all grew up down the shore in North Wildwood together, and when Matt got drafted, obviously doesn’t get to spend as much time down the shore with the family as he used to. So he came back, I think I was either a junior or senior in high school at the time, I was playing tight end and we all needed to work out. I had already committed to Notre Dame, so people knew who I was down at the shore, there were a lot of Irish Catholics down in the Philadelphia area, jersey shore that followed me around. We all went to a field — he needed to throw, I played tight end, I said I’ll go catch for you. So it was pretty cool for that. I was running routes for him and he was throwing the ball over my head and I was like, ‘what are you doing?’ and he’s like ‘that’s where Julio goes up and gets it.’ I said, alright, I’m not that guy. But it was really cool, we were in a local park and people started recognizing who we are — not really me at the time but knew who Matt was. He’s the most gracious guy ever, he knows that the things that football brings you are really, really special and stops and takes pictures, autographs with whoever, and that kind of respect, that kind of genuine appreciation for the people around you in this game is something I really valued from Matt too.
Mike McGlinchey on what he's learned from his Notre Dame teammates who are now in the NFL. pic.twitter.com/RrHUGAhGQ1— Rebecca Toback (@Rebecca_Toback) March 1, 2018
UCLA OT Kolton Miller
Miller has been mocked to the Bengals, notably by Mel Kiper in his latest mock draft. That pick didn’t go over great with some fans who feel he doesn’t have a high enough ceiling to be the No. 12 overall pick.
He couldn’t pin point his best asset, which actually came across a bit odd. Talk up your strengths, Kolton!
At the end of his time at the podium, he did just that. “I would say I’m competitive, tough, and I work well in space, I’m athletic. Those are the points I would try to sell,” Miller said when asked about his best asset.
UCLA OT Kolton Miller has been mocked to the Bengals. Here's some of what he had to say about his game. He says he's met with the Bills and Giants. Informally met with the Lions. pic.twitter.com/91DCyuxQLy— Rebecca Toback (@Rebecca_Toback) March 1, 2018
Texas OT Connor Williams
Another guy who has been mocked to the Bengals, Williams was asked some tough questions and answered them all with ease. He suffered an injury last season at Texas and though he was expected to miss 8-12 weeks he returned after seven and played in the final few games of the year for the Longhorns. He’s likely to be a first round pick and someone the Bengals consider. He tied for second to last among linemen who did the bench press with just 26 reps.
On how he would describe himself as a tackle: I believe I instill my will. I’m a finisher and I go to the whistle and at the same time, balance that with athleticism and 100 percent effort and you get somewhere with it.
Texas OT Connor Williams on his decision to sit out the bowl game. pic.twitter.com/4WzsbqF18N— Rebecca Toback (@Rebecca_Toback) March 1, 2018
Auburn OT Braden Smith
Smith did shot put in high school and I asked him about how those skills translate to the NFL. As Bengals fans know from Margus Hunt, there’s not a direct correlation between shot put excellence and football excellence, though Smith seems like a great prospect.