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NFL Combine Notes: Impressive G5 and FCS Offensive Linemen

The combine came and went, but several names improved their stock with their performances

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Practice Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

The 2023 NFL Draft is set for April 27 in Kansas City. Incredibly, the 2023 NFL Combine has already ended, but a handful of offensive linemen from the “lower” ranks of college football did themselves favors with their performances. We’ll review the other positions as we go, but it seems fitting to start with the big guys up front.

North Dakota State’s Cody Mauch was the highest graded performer by out of every prospect from outside the Power Five. Mauch’s athleticism has been a huge selling point for the Hankinson native since he moved into the trenches from a tight end spot in 2018. In the last month alone, over a dozen publications have predicted Mauch as a first-round selection, though a second-round choice certainly wouldn’t be too shabby for a guy that played nine-man football in high school.

RELATED: Cody Mauch Looks to Keep Pre-Draft Hype Going at NFL Combine

Eastern Michigan’s Sidy Sow, a Quebec native, was a two-time All-MAC selection for the Eagles. Per Pro Football Network, Sow’s testing numbers “rank him as a top-10 all-time athlete at offensive guard.” He may end up playing in his native country, but he turned the heads of more than a few NFL scouts last week.

Old Dominion’s Nick Saldiveri and Boise State’s John Ojukwu also had fairly positive days. While’s Lance Zierlien predicts that Ojukwu will likely move from tackle to an interior spot that won’t require him to win matchups in space as much, teams seem to be impressed with his size and strength enough for him to be a day three selection.

Saldiveri received a total grade of 6.10, which defines as “Good Backup With The Potential To Develop Into Starter.” Saldiveri was a three-year starter at Old Dominion, which certainly helps his case. He’s a projected sixth-round pick, but his performances at the Senior Bowl and at the combine have caused his stock to rise quite a bit over the last six weeks.

Let’s not forget Blake Freeland: BYU’s latest impressive offensive line prospect. At 6’8”, Freeland is one of the tallest linemen in the draft. As Zierlein noted, he might be a bit of project in terms of getting his strength up since he’s at a leverage disadvantage, but he had the highest athleticism score among tackles at the combine.