Redskins.com's Stephen Czarda and Jake Kring-Schreifels bring you five takeaways from the first day of the NFL Scouting Combine on Thursday in Indianapolis.
1. The Redskins have met with two of this year’s top running back prospects.
The first group of players to speak to the media at the 2017 NFL Combine in Indianapolis was the running backs. Of the NFL hopefuls that spoke about being in the dream position of being selected in the draft were Christian McCaffrey of Stanford and Dalvin Cook of Florida State.
Both said they had spoken to the Redskins while in Indianapolis along with a handful of other teams.
McCaffrey said his goal is to show “as much as I can do.” In early mock drafts, he’s been considered a late first-round pick.
“I don't think there's anyone else that can do all the things I can as far as running between the tackles, outside pass protect, play X, Z, slot and do a lot of things in the return game as well,” McCaffrey said. “I think that's what sets me apart.”
While McCaffrey experienced a breakout sophomore season in 2015 when he rushed for more than 2,000 yards and backed it up with a 1,600-yard season as a junior, he feels like he’s being slightly underestimated right now.
"I play with a chip on my shoulder always," McCaffrey said. "So I feel like a lot of people don't give me credit for my skills and talents and that's just the way it is, but I also don't really care too much.
“That's just the way it is. But I also don't really care too much. I don't feel like I'm crazy disrespected. I have a chip on my shoulder at all times. That's been my whole life.”
Cook, meanwhile, wasn’t shy to come out and say he’s the best running back in this year’s group.
It’s probably one of the best you done seen yet and I think what separates me is I can do it all,” Cook said. “I can stay on the field all three downs and I’m just a do-it-all back and I just feel like I am the best back in this class.”
2. Ryan Ramczyk says his hip surgery recovery is going positively.Ramczyk has had a unique path to NFL Combine. He only played one season of Division-1 football last year with Wisconsin after nearly quitting the game altogether after high school. He enrolled at Winona State, never played there and missed the next season, before moving to Madison Area and Mid-State Technical Colleges, eventually transferring to Wisconsin-Madison.
He had an extremely productive year in 2016 – the 6-foot-6, 314 pounder earned All-Big Ten honors – but he suffered a hip injury at the end of the season, which forced him to have surgery. In the eight weeks since his operation, Ramcyzk says everything is positive in his projected five-month recovery time, in which he hopes to be back for a team’s OTAs.
“It cuts into, obviously, the lower body, I can’t do any agility drills or heavy squats or anything like that,” Ramczyk said of hos workouts. “I’m still training upper body fully and getting some cardio, I can do cardio, so it’s a good process.’’
Because of the surgery, he will only be doing the bench press in Indianapoli. In interviews, teams have asked if he’s been open to playing every position along the line, but they also know that tackle is his primary strength.
“Going into the NFL it’s a huge jump, you’re playing against the best players in the world, so I don’t think it’s easy for anyone to adjust,” he said. “You’ve got to just put that work in, compete every day and make the most of it.’’
3. Forrest Lamp believes he can play any position along the offensive line.
While the offensive linemen in this year’s class may not be as strong as years past – at least at the top of the draft – Lamp is regarded as the best guard free to be selected.
Check out photos of Forrest Lamp, offensive lineman out of Western Kentucky University.
But the Western Kentucky product believes he can also play tackle and center in the NFL. In fact, he played tackle all throughout his college career.
“There are teams that told me I’d play tackle. There are teams that told me I’d play guard,” Lamp said. “There’s teams that told me I’d play just center because of my arms. Some teams believe more in ability than just numbers. It all depends on the team.”
Lamp has also been visiting a facility down in Florida recently to help him work on his snapping ability in case he’s asked to play center some, too.
“I’ve never played any games at center, but just after practice snapping and down where I am training at XPE they’ve been teaching me how to snap a little bit,” Lamp said.
Expected to be a top pick in this year’s draft, Lamp’s coming out party came in September when he helped subdue a potent Alabama pass rush.
“Everybody says the Alabama front, all three of those guys, are going to get drafted in the first round,” Lamp said. “So if I can block those guys, why couldn’t I block anybody?”
4. Cam Robinson benefited greatly from Jonathan Allen.Playing for Nick Saban at the University of Alabama has its perks thanks to the immense pool of talent he recruits each year.
Robinson, considered one of the top offensive tackles in the current draft class, told the media on Thursday that lining up against teammate and defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, projected to be a top-five draft pick, prepared him greatly for the NFL.
“The most difficult thing to handle about Jon — He’s extremely quick. He can do some things with his off-the-ball explosion,” Robinson said. “His hand quickness. His first step. All that. The way he jumps off the screen, it may kind of surprise you at times. To be as big as he is, he’s really quick.
“Practices were honestly harder than Saturdays were.”
Robinson said he doesn’t lean too heavily on his accomplishments against previous college players that have gone on to play in the NFL. As last season’s Outland trophy winner, the left tackle should be first-round pick, as there has only been one Outland winner that hasn’t been drafted on the first day.
“I believe in what I’ve put on film for the past three years,” he said. “I think I’ve put it on film and I don’t have to talk much more about it.”
5. Leonard Fournette thinks his numbers from LSU speak for themselves.
Like Christian McCaffrey, Fournette had a similar beginning and end to his college career.
During his sophomore season in 2015, Fournette shattered records, as the New Orleans native rushed for 1,953 yards and 22 touchdowns en route to consensus first-team All-American honors and being named All-SEC first-team as well.
Fournette rushed for at least 100 yards 10 different times during the year and had three consecutive 200-yard games against Auburn, Syracuse and Eastern Michigan and reached 1,000 rushing yards in just five games. He is one of only 10 players in Division I history to reach that feat.
Despite returning for his junior season in 2016 and remaining one of the most productive running backs in the country, Fournette elected to sit out the Tigers’ Citrus Bowl appearance against Louisville.
“It was a hard decision for me to sit out, and my coach asking me and telling me to make the right decision for your future,” Fournette said. “I cried like a girl. It was one of the hardest decisions I had to make besides committing to a school.”
Still, Fournette remains one of the best prospects in this year’s draft and could be the first running back taken.
The New Orleans native isn’t so much concerned about where he’s taken as long as he can have his NFL dream come true.
“I’m not going to put everything on me because there are a lot of great running backs here,” Fournette said. “It’s not my decision. I know my talent and hard work is going to pay off and show for itself.”