The secret about the NFL combine is that for players, it’s not that fun. It’s a job interview, through and through, packed with days full of interviews, poking and prodding and testing.
But Missouri offensive lineman Connor McGovern wasn’t taking anything for granted. Truth is, given how far he’d come, he couldn’t have been having more fun at February’s combine.
“It’s not every day a kid from North Dakota gets to come to a place like this,” said McGovern, a three-year starter at Mizzou. “There happens to be two of us this year, which is pretty cool. I don’t know how many times that’s ever happened in the history of college football. It’s a blast. It’s been a lot of fun.”
McGovern, a native of Fargo, N.D., was referring to quarterback Carson Wentz, a surefire top-two pick who is a native of Bismarck, N.D.
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McGovern, for his part, is projected to go in the middle rounds by most draft analysts, but he hopes his versatility gets him extra looks. At 6-foot-4, 306 pounds and only 32 7/8 -inch arms, McGovern probably doesn’t have the length to stay at tackle, but the fact he’s played the position the last two years — on the right side in 2014 and the left side in 2015 — will only help his cause.
“Yeah, I think it helped, it shows that I’m versatile,” McGovern said. “I know I’m not the world’s best left tackle, but I can play it. If a team needs me to finish a game or play one game at left tackle, I can do it. It’s not my preferred position, but I feel confident that I can play that position.”
McGovern’s preferred position is guard, where he can line up in a phone booth, so to speak, and use his power to control defenders. McGovern possesses outstanding weight-room strength; according to NFL.com, he broke the University of Missouri record with six squats of 690 pounds, and he credits his father, Keith, for turning him on to the weights as a youth.
“I enjoy the weight room — it’s something that I’ve grown up with and I enjoy,” McGovern said. “It’s fun having a dad because he gets it — he gets what I’m talking about. There are some kids who are into weight lifting or sports, and their dads were never into weight lifting stuff. Me and my dad can sit and if I hit a big lift or something, I’ll send him the video or send him a text and he gets all excited about it. It’s awesome.”
All the work he’s put in to this point paid off at the combine, too; he pumped out 33 reps on the bench press, the second-most of the 45 offensive linemen who were in attendance.
McGovern stated beforehand that he actually wanted to hit 40 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. But given how much he seemed to be enjoying the moment, it’s hard to imagine he was too disappointed with his 33 reps as he took another step toward his NFL dream.
“It’s a whole experience,” McGovern said. The days are “long, but it’s fun.”
Inside the 2016 NFL draft: offensive guards and center
Chiefs’ needs: The Chiefs should be set at center with 2015 second-round pick Mitch Morse and Zach Fulton, who emerged as a very good reserve option. Things are a little less settled at guard, when Jah Reid and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif figure to get first crack at the starting positions, at least as things currently stand. The Chiefs could still stand to upgrade the position. Young developmental players like Jarrod Pughsley and Michael Liedtke remain in the fold.
Sleeper: USC’s Max Tuerk has plus athleticism for a center and experience playing guard, too. His ability to work in space and pull would be a welcome addition to almost any offense.
▪ Evan Boehm, Missouri, 6-2, 309: Lee’s Summit West graduate was a four-year starter at center in the Southeastern Conference.
▪ Luke Hayes, Kansas State, 6-6, 295: Two-year starter at right guard for the Wildcats.
▪ Connor McGovern, Missouri, 6-4, 300: Three-year starter spent last season at left tackle but might have to move inside to guard in the NFL.
▪ Boston Stiverson, Kansas State, 6-4, 312: Two-year starter at left guard for the Wildcats.
▪ Cody Whitehair, Kansas State, 6-4, 301: Four-year starter and team captain who started 41 straight games to end his career.