Let’s say you’re coming into a job interview, and not just any job interview, one that’s worth seven figures at least, probably eight. Would you, say, wear your unwashed pajamas while coming in unshaven and unshowered, then crack open a brew, put your feet up on your potential boss’ desk before commenting on how hot his wife is?
If you answered yes to all that, then there was an NFL Combine performance for you. We’re going to take a look at the offensive tackles who managed to raise their stock at the 2018 NFL Combine and who took a look at their stock and thought they were making to much, so they tanked. As before, we’re going to be using Relative Athletic Scores for the measurements with splits projected.
Winner by ridiculousness: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
You could be forgiven if you weren’t familiar with Kolton Miller prior to the Combine. Though he has connections to Detroit through their newly hired offensive line assistant, Hank Fraley, who he met with at the Combine. Miller came in with the expectation that he would struggle with the athletic testing, but boy did he ever blow those expectations out of the water. Already a potential early-round prospect, Miller posted one of the best Combines of all time athletically, putting his name on the map for anyone who didn’t already know it and raising eyebrows for those who did.
Loser by ridiculousness: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
I gave a very exaggerated example of how to bomb a job interview in the opening paragraph, and now you get to see who I was referring to. Orlando Brown was considered the top offensive line prospects and a near unanimous first-round prospect coming into the Combine. He will not leave the Combine that way. With the worst 40 time, vertical, broad jump, and short shuttle of all time at the Combine, Brown put his name into everyone’s scouting notebook in the worst possible way.
That was all just the measurements, as he was chastised by coaches during drills for ‘loafing’ and wasn’t impressive at all any time he saw the field. I don’t think I’ve seen a prospect do as much damage to their draft stock since Vontaze Burfict, a prospect who once blamed the player he punched in the face for being punched in the face.
Winner by rising expectations: Brian O’Neill, OT, Pittsburgh
This draft class has been really weird when it comes to offensive tackles. Lions fans have mostly been insulated from it since the team likely has their future left tackle locked in with Taylor Decker and their right tackle locked in for at least the interim in Rick Wagner. So no concerns if you weren’t aware of the lack of consensus among draft experts.
One player that has gotten some rising buzz as the top offensive tackle in the class is Brian O’Neill from Pittsburgh. O’Neill comes prepackaged with some concerns about his technique, but he put to bed any thoughts that he wasn’t athletic enough to play the position. Measuring out in the elite range in more than half of his measurements, O’Neill put up an elite Combine and put himself on the map as an elite athlete worthy of early round consideration.
Loser by letdown, Jamarco Jones, Ohio State
While you can look at the overall score and claim that Jamarco Jones had a worse Combine than Orlando Brown did, that doesn’t really tell the whole story. Jamarco Jones didn’t bomb the Combine like Brown did, but coming in the bottom 15th percentile in nearly every measurement is only marginally better than coming in bottom 1th percentile. Yes, I know 1th isn’t a thing, but Orlando Brown makes me think of new terms.
Jamarco Jones is an undersized tackle to begin with, and you expect undersized tackles to do well in their measurements to make up for that size differential. As it is, Jones did nothing to make teams think he’s athletic enough to compete in the NFL, and may have pushed his status as far as Day 2 to undrafted without a second thought.
Winner by spite, Connor Williams, OT, Texas
Connor Williams started the draft process as one of the most highly touted offensive tackle prospects in recent memory. People were even mocking him first overall. Yet he played through injury all year and had to deal with the constant criticism of being a Texas tackle who was expected to do well. He struggled enough that some were ready to label him as a guard as late as the first day of the combine, especially where he measured in below average size for an offensive tackle.
He went out and measured as an elite athlete at tackle, however, and is going to make teams think twice before considering him an interior line prospect only. In fact, you could see Williams playing both positions in his rookie season as a team looks to utilize his skills in the best way possible, but his Combine helped keep that lack of a defined position from moving him to Day 2 or 3.
Loser by letdown: Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan
One of the most under-the-radar prospects of the 2018 draft class coming into the season was Western Michigan’s Chukwuma Okorafor. That underrated aspect was thankfully washed away as he put together a very promising 2017 season. Unfortunately, his Combine may have undone some of that projection, as it’s extremely rare that an offensive tackle who measures like Okorafor did does well in the NFL. He may have pushed himself out of first-round consideration, and while I’m not yet ready to write him off, he might be in “Could he play Guard?” contention.