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NFL Scouting Combine: Offensive lineman hit the podium as on-field workouts begin

Speed was the word of the day during the workouts

NFL: Scouting Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

INDIANAPOLIS — The Las Vegas Raiders offensive line is a massive question mark heading into the season. The decision on Alex Leatherwood sets the table for Josh McDaniels and his new staff with the direction they will be taking as we advance.

Could the Raiders look to the draft to enhance the offensive line? It is a possibility with the available talent, but it is an affluent area in free agency as well. The combine performances might help the Raiders fall in love with a prospect.

One of the herald players coming into the event was Trevor Penning from Northern Iowa. The FCS standout is known for his angry persona on the football field. He went viral for his brutal takedowns at the Senior Bowl, and the vicious mindset is all over his tape. Penning embraces it and takes pride in being a self-described "prick" on the football field.

"I think it's a huge, huge part of my game," Penning said. "You want to make the defender across from you feel it. You want him at the end of the day to be exhausted, [wanting] to go home, get on that flight and get the hell out of there."

Penning would have to move to the right tackle position if the Raiders wanted him at 22. Teams have asked players to make crazier changes, and his mentality is one that teams could fall in love with quickly.

The center position is a controversial topic for Raider Nation. Many opinions on Andre James's performance are based on PFF grades, but his film was inconsistent during the season. The Raiders could look to upgrade and find competition for James.

A player who could fill that void is the impressive Zion Johnson. Johnson was the best offensive lineman at the Senior Bowl with a rocked frame and charisma. His work ethic had scouts raving at his potential when he went 225 as a freshman to 315 as an NFL draft prospect.

"So I came into college at 225. I played my first season at 250 (at Davidson). That offseason I got up to 285. I was 295 when I got to Boston College. Most recently I was 316-320 (last season)"

Johnson played center at the Senior Bowl and constantly worked on his snaps after practice. He could be a player the Raiders admire for the selection at 22, and his versatility to play all over the line raises his value.

Other Combine news and notes

  • The start of the on-field events happened Thursday night with plenty of firepowers. Wide receivers put their speed on display, with an abundance of players hitting 4.3 in the 40-yard dash.
  • Christian Watson continued his fantastic week, hitting 4.36 in the 40 with a 38-inch vertical leap. His 11'4 broad jump was the sixth-best ever since 2006. At 6'4 208, if the Raiders want Watson, he is not getting past 22.
  • Treylon Burks' underwhelming performance will leave him disappointed, but Raider Nation excited. Burks ran a 4.50 forty-yard dash with a 33-inch vertical leap. He will attempt to bounce back at his pro day, but what was an afterthought is now a possibility for the Raiders.
  • Much Raiders Nation has believed Chris Olave was the man at No. 22, but he appears to be a top 15 pick after his outstanding performance.
  • Desmond Ridder has a chance to be the first quarterback off the board with his combine workout. Ridder ran a blazing 4.49 in the 40 and was tremendous throwing the football. Mix in his leadership qualities, and it will not be shocking to see Ridder go in the first round.