All the usual suspects have arrived in Indianapolis for the 2010 NFL Combine this weekend and each promising player will be poked, prodded, and interviewed sufficiently before even hitting the carpet for their workouts. Boston College may not necessarily be the first school that comes to mind for producing NFL talent but with 25 players in the league in 2009, three consecutive first round draft picks (including two top 10 selections); you can be assured that the scouts love the kids BC churns out.
Center Matt Tennant and Linebacker Mike McLaughlin earned invites to the combine and will look to improve upon their stock after having noteworthy weeks at the Senior Bowl last month. A consistent team that runs a pro style offense and possesses a stalwart defense is an excellent breeding ground for players to make it to the next level. Let’s take a look at these two standouts:
It should be noted that BC, often referred to as “O-Line U”, had eight different offensive lineman drafted in the last decade, two of them in the first round. Tennant came to BC by way of Cincinnati powerhouse Archbishop Moeller high school and proceeded to start his last 41 games at center for the Eagles. The only senior on the Eagles’ offensive line, Tennant was named team captain for his senior campaign and led the way for RB Montel Harris’ breakout season in which he topped 1,400 rushing yards and recorded eight 100-yard contests. At 6’5”, 300 pounds, he may be considered tall for his position but he is nimble enough at his lighter weight to keep in front of any oncoming blockers.
He was solid all during Senior Bowl week during drills and will likely be a strong addition to any team, even if he is not elite at this point. Only six centers were drafted in 2009, we often see the position filled by converted guards, but Tennant is pure at the position. He will likely need to add some bulk to his frame in order to be a star in the league but many said the same about former BC center Tom Nalen and he fashioned an All-Pro, Super-Bowl winning career for himself in Denver.
Analysis: Teams looking for a center will not reach on Tennant so he is a mid-to-late round selection in April’s draft. His pedigree and game tape speak for themselves so the combine will solidify his status and could even push him up a round or two but don’t expect him to fly up draft boards based on anything that happens in Indy this weekend.
As the defensive captain for the last two seasons at Boston College, inside linebacker Mike McLaughlin set the tone for a defense that ranked in the top 20 in scoring defense both seasons. Considering this defense included NFL players B.J. Raji, Ron Brace, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Robert Francois, and All-American Mark Herzlich it is no small feat that he earned that type of respect. Known as a very vocal leader, he impressed at Senior Bowl week with his ability to run the defense as well as showing the versatility to be a long snapper when called upon.
His senior campaign at Chestnut Hill was hampered somewhat by a ruptured Achilles suffered during an offseason workout. He came back from the injury after missing the first three contests to contribute in the middle and on special teams throughout the remainder of the season. At 6’0”, 240 lbs, “Mac” may not have the elite athleticism of some linebackers but as you can see in this clip at the 13-second mark, he can certainly hold his own: http://bit.ly/a25jFl
Analysis: BC linebackers have found their way in the NFL for a long time and McLaughlin should be no different. He is a tireless worker who will be fighting his way for a starting job in the league for the next several seasons. His versatility on special teams—and long-snapping if he chooses to do so—will be an asset for any team in the league. Expect a mid-round selection for McLaughlin but if he runs well at the combine next week then his stock will absolutely be on the upswing.