- Coley Harvey, ESPN Cincinnati Bengals reporter
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The NFL combine officially kicks off Wednesday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, and I'll be there covering the event from a Cincinnati Bengals perspective.
So far this week we've looked at three key areas the Bengals will want to address during this draft process. There are others, too, though, and that's why these next few days are so important to helping determine the next direction the franchise goes. At the start of each day, we'll provide a quick run-down of what to expect as the team starts examining players it wants on its big board as we get closer to this year's draft.
Here are three things I'll have my eye on during Day 1 of the combine:
1. Sizing up the OL and TE prospects. Offensive linemen, tight ends, punters, kickers, one long-snapper and three smaller-school quarterbacks were the first to arrive to the combine Tuesday evening. On Wednesday, they'll get measured and go through medical evaluations before spending time conversing with media. They won't go on the field for actual workouts until Friday, but this first day gives them an opportunity to start showing the results of the training they've been part of since their college seasons ended. I'm looking to see if the heights and weights of certain offensive tackles and tight ends match up to what's currently out there. It'll also be interesting to talk to certain prospects to get a better understanding of their back stories, and to hear them describe their own styles of play. Teams did much of the same with them Tuesday night.
2. Who to watch? After getting a center last year (Russell Bodine, who had the most bench reps at the combine), the Bengals' primary offensive line concerns revolve around the tackle position. It's possible they evaluate tight ends, too, in what is seeming like the likely scenario that Jermaine Gresham isn't re-signed in free agency. If the Bengals have to replace him, the emphasis likely would be on adding more of a pass-catching tight end over a blocking specialist. Ryan Hewitt was a blocker whose versatility as an H-back impressed the Bengals last year. Signed as an undrafted free agent, he played a big role in the offense's success this past season.
So who are some tackles to watch? T.J. Clemmings (Pittsburgh), La'el Collins (LSU), Cameron Erving (Florida State), Ereck Flowers (Miami -- Florida), Cedric Ogbuehi (Texas A&M), Jake Fisher (Oregon). Here are a few tight ends: Maxx Williams (Minnesota), Clive Walford (Miami -- Florida), Nick O'Leary (FSU), Jeff Heuerman (Ohio State), Nick Boyle (Delaware).
3. Around the division. In addition to player evaluations, the combine provides a chance for representatives from nearly every team to address media. Only Marvin Lewis will take the podium for Cincinnati, and he won't do so until Thursday afternoon. Coaches and general managers from every other AFC North team will speak Wednesday, though. We'll keep our ears peeled for any interesting nuggets from the rest of the division.
Here are three things I'll have my eye from a Bengals' perspective on during Day 1 of the NFL scouting combine: