INDIANAPOLIS – When the offensive linemen are weighed and measured at the NFL scouting combine, arm length has become almost as important as height and weight.
Among the top-rated tackles, Maryland’s Bruce Campbell drew high marks – or should that be long marks? – with 36½-inch arms, while there were some raised eyebrows because Iowa’s Bryan Bulaga checked in at “only” 33½. Oklahoma’s Russell Okung was at 36 inches, with Oklahoma’s Trent Williams at 34.
“The only question I have on him is his arm length, and I hate to bring it up,” Mike Mayock, draft analyst for the NFL Network, said of Bulaga.
Mayock then recalled Robert Gallery, a former first-round pick by the Oakland Raiders who started his career at tackle but was moved to guard because his 32-inch arms made it difficult for him to deal with speed pass rushers coming off the edge.
“Bulaga looks like he’s got short arms,” Mayock said, with the measuring tape supporting that assessment.
But, like everything else in the draft-evaluation process, this arm-length issue can be overblown. Short arms were the knock on Pete Kendall when the Seahawks made him the 21st pick overall in the 1996 draft – after trading down twice.
When Kendall stepped to the podium for his introductory news conference, he acknowledged the knock, let his arms hang at his sides and offered, “It’s not like I’m a fire hydrant.”
Kendall overcame his “deficiency” to start in the league for 13 seasons with the Seahawks (1996-2000), Arizona Cardinals (2001-03), New York Jets (2004-06) and Washington Redskins (2007-08). But then, he was a guard.