David Seigerman

Combine Storylines: Sam Speaks

Created on Feb. 23, 2014 5:56 AM EST

Top-Tier Tackles Dominate

The story of the 2013 NFL Draft was the tackles.

Eric Fisher went first overall, followed by Luke Joeckel. Lane Johnson went fourth, and D.J. Fluker went 11th. It was as strong a showing as could be for tackles at the top of the draft. It was considered, at the time, one of the great crops of tackle talent we've seen.

That distinction might not last more than a year.

The top three tackles in the 2014 NFL Draft -- Texas A&M's Jake Matthews, Auburn's Greg Robinson and Michigan's Talor Lewan -- all project to be better than the first three of last year's class. And the fourth, Notre Dame's Zack Martin, is on par with any of last year's first four. 

While scouts already were impressed by the top-tier of tackles coming into the Combine, they had to come away from Saturday's workout postively enthralled. Matthews, the most technically sound and NFL-ready of the bunch, had a strong showing. He did nothing to suggest he's not worthy of a top-3 overall pick.

Robinson was even better in the drills, posting 32 reps on the bench press on Friday, then running a 4.92 40 at 332 pounds and recording a broad jump of 9 feet-5 inches. He proved he was every bit the remarkable athlete he appeared to be out front of Auburn's record-setting running game.

And yet neither of those guys could match what Lewan's overall body of work from the last two days: 4.87 in the 40, 9-9 in the broad jump on Saturday, 29 reps on Friday. 

"My job doesn't give me highlights," said Lewan at his press conference.

Maybe not, but Lewan certainly highlighted himself during his time in Indianapolis.

In my latest two-round mock draft, I have Matthews going to the Rams at No. 2, Robinson to the Falcons at No. 6 and Lewan going to the Bucs at No. 7. All three are top-10 talents, even if they don't come off the board as quickly as the top three did a year ago.

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