Former Missouri offensive tackle Mitch Morse probably did himself a favor Friday with a strong performance at the NFL Combine.
Morse — a 6-foot-5, 305-pound native of Austin — projects as a guard at the next level based on his arm length (32 1/4 inches), which is deemed less than ideal for an NFL tackle by evaluators.
That shouldn’t be a problem for Morse, who started his career as an interior lineman with the Tigers.
He was MU’s starting center at the beginning of 2012 before settling at right tackle, where started the final three games that season and all 14 in 2013.
Morse shifted to left tackle as a senior and again started 14 games despite suffering a broken left index finger, which required surgery, against Texas A&M.
There’s a good chance his stock is revised up after proving to be one of the top athletes among offensive linemen at the Combine.
A total of 52 offensive linemen were invited to the NFL’s annual meat market at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, but not all of them participating in drills and some only participated in a handful of drills.
Morse posted 36 reps, the second-most among offensive-line prospects, in the bench press on Thursday. Only Ereck Flowers of Miami (Fla.) benched 225 pounds more reps than Morse.
As testing resumed Friday, Morse tied with Pittsburgh’s T.J. Clemmings for the eighth-fastest 40-yard dash time (5.14 seconds) and also tied for eighth with a vertical jump of 31 inches.
Morse’s 112-inch broad jump — that’s 9 feet, 4 inches — was tied for the fourth-best mark among Combine participants.
His 20-yard shuttle time (4.50) ranked third among offensive linemen and his three-cone drill time (7.60) ranked seventh.
There’s little doubt that Morse — who is as thoughtful, levelheaded and mature off the field as he at times physically dominant on it — will do well in the interview process.
▪ Besides Morse (read about his numbers here), on-field work at the NFL Combine also got underway Friday for two other players with Missouri ties, including Dorial Green-Beckham.
He started his testing with 13 reps in the bench press. It’s an OK mark, but probably falls shy of expectations for a player his size* (6 feet 5, 237 pounds).
* By the way, and this struck me as incredible (though maybe it shouldn’t since both are 6 feet 5), Green-Beckham’s arms (32 1/2 inches) are longer than Morse’s (32 1/4) and his hands (9 inches vs. Morse’s 9 1/4) are almost as big spread from thumb to pinkie.
Only 11 of the 31 receivers who participated in the bench had fewer reps.
Green-Beckham already has a reputation as a sloppy route-runner and, if it’s perceived he lacks the strength to shed press coverage at the line, that will hurt his evaluation.
Of course, Green-Beckham’s 40-yard dash time, including the 10- and 20-yard splits, and his vertical/broad jumps along with the shuttle run and the gauntlet can buoy that evaluation on Saturday.
▪ Finally, return specialist/running back/slot receiver Marcus Murphy put up 11 reps, which was the fewest among running backs.
Of course, nobody is drafting Murphy for his bench press anyway. It’s the 40-yard dash (and its splits) along with the agility drills that matter most for the Tigers’ all-time leader in return touchdowns.