With the NFL Combine winding down, we thought we'd take a look at how some of the participants from the local programs fared.
As of the time of the writing of this piece, the two most notable performances have come from Boston College guard Chris Lindstrom and UMass wide receiver Andy Isabella. From our perspective, both are off the board on Day 2 of the draft.
Let's start with Lindstrom. We know his film is dynamite, and one of the reasons he was so highly regarded in the first place was his ability to pull around and find moving targets to hit, which he did with regularity and consistency. With so much of a guard's value on his ability to do just that, any agility drill like the 40-yard dash or 3-cone drill will have a little extra weight.
Well, in those tests, Lindstrom passed with flying colors. His 4.91-second 40 was second-best among all offensive linemen, and his 7.61 3-cone was tied for sixth. Lindstrom's 25 bench press reps of 225 pounds were the only category where he fell outside of the top 10 for offensive linemen according to the tracker made available online by the league.
But Lindstrom's functional strength does not come off as a weakness on film. Combined with his stellar play, a terrific performance at the Senior Bowl, and another strong effort at the combine, the Shepherd Hill alum is making a case as the best guard in the class. If he's not the top one, he's very close, and that means he's either a first- or second-round pick, in our opinion.
The positional bias against guards going in the first round may hurt his chances being one of the first 32 chosen, as most teams would rather take a chance on a tackle. But if the success of Quenton Nelson from Notre Dame to the Indianapolis Colts means anything, it shows that picking up an elite guard can have a huge impact on the entire offensive line.
In our opinion, elite is exactly what Lindstrom is, and we feel we're not the only ones who feel that way.
As for Isabella, he needed to go to Indianapolis this week and show that his 40 time matched up with the film of him burning defensive backs all over the place. Thanks to some faulty clockwork, it looked as if he didn't, as his initial run was mistimed at 4.56.
However, the mistake was corrected, and his official time was listed at 4.31. That's blazing, and tied for best among all receivers. His 3-cone of 6.95 was sixth-best among receivers, and his 20-yard shuttle (4.15 seconds) was sixth.
At 5-feet, 9-inches, and 188 pounds, his size will still work against him compared to some of the other players at his position in this class. That said, it is hard to discount his overwhelming production when it is now combined with the objective testing that this is a player who will immediately be able to test secondaries deep with his elite speed.
A lot of prognosticators still have Isabella as a Day 3 selection, but we feel at least one NFL general manager will love the receiver's wheels enough to take him in the second or third round.
After those two, you have to look at what Boston College's Zach Allen did as a positive. Although he had a terrific senior season, his Senior Bowl week was not met with overwhelming praise, although he did not exactly hurt himself, either.
However, Allen was a top-six performer among defensive linemen in both the 3-cone and 20-yard shuttle drills, 11th in the 40, and tied for ninth in the vertical jump.
This is a very deep class for defensive linemen, both on the interior and among edge rushers. Where Allen can set himself apart is being a three-down player who makes his mark lining up in multiple spots. He'll likely be a Day 2 selection.
Allen's fellow edge rusher at BC, Wyatt Ray, did not jump off with a huge performance in any one category, but was solid in the quickness and agility testing. What will separate Ray from those he is going up against is his technique and production, as he made nine sacks with 11.5 tackles for loss this past season.
BC tight end Tommy Sweeney was overshadowed by a class of tight ends that has Iowa's Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson at the top of everyone's boards. Again, Sweeney's film is going to be what draws people's attention. A willing and able blocker, Sweeney also possesses the soft hands of someone who can make a difference there. There are better receivers, and there are better blockers, but Sweeney is one of the tops in the class in his ability to combine the two.
Eagles safeties Will Harris and Lukas Denis, and cornerback Hamp Cheevers were still testing when this was published.