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Tyler Larsen, Utah State football vs. Nevada. Courtesy Utah State University
Utah NFL Prospect Combine Observations: Day One
First Published Feb 22 2014 07:45 pm • Last Updated Feb 25 2014 04:47 pm

Day one of the 2014 NFL Combine is in the books and several Utah prospects had their time to shine. The offensive linemen and tight ends worked out today, with a roster that included Utah tight ends Jake Murphy and Anthony Denham, Utah State center Tyler Larsen and Utah State tight end D.J. Tialavea. Here are a few observations on each prospect:

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1. Denham measured out at 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds with a 33 3⁄8-inch arm span and 10 1⁄5-inch hands. He was among the better tight ends in the 40-yard dash with a 4.77 second time, but his game tape may be the biggest issue with Denham. A larger wide receiver coming out of Utah, he caught only 24 passes in 2013 for 291 yards and two touchdowns and went over 100 yards receiving only once last season. He is currently projected to go undrafted, and his combine performance showed he’s most likely a fringe NFL player at best.

2. Murphy measured out at 6-4 and 249 pounds with a 31 3/4-inch arm span and 10-inch hands. His 40-yard dash time was in the middle of the pack at 4.79 seconds, but he showed up well in other drills, finishing in the top four of the three-cone drill with a time of 7.18 seconds and second in the 20-yard shuttle with a time of 4.27 seconds. Murphy will have questions to answer after he missed four games to injury last season, and he’s an older prospect at age 25, but he could still be drafted in the 7th round or at least be picked up as an undrafted free agent.

3. Tialavea measured out at 6-3 and 267 pounds with a 33 5⁄8-inch arm span and 9 1/4-inch hands. He sat out the drills at the combine and will most likely be a fringe prospect at best, filling the role of a fullback/tight end hybrid. All three tight ends will struggle to be drafted because of the sheer talent and depth at tight end in this draft.

4. Larsen may have had the best day of any Utah prospect and built on his strong showing at the Senior Bowl. He measured out at 6-4 and 313 pounds with a 31 1/2-inch arm span and 9 1/4-inch hands. Larsen was average in most drills, but showed his strength by benching 225 pounds 36 times, tied for second-best among all offensive line prospects. However, he also had the second-shortest arm measurement and second-smallest hand measurement of any offensive lineman, both big negatives for a position that requires long arms and larger hands to fend off charging defensive linemen. Still, Larsen is a fit for a zone-blocking team that puts a premium on smaller, quicker linemen, and his versatility to play guard or center will also help. He’s currently projected as a fifth- or sixth-round pick.

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Random note: Dixie State tight end Joe Don Duncan only participated in one drill, but he certainly made the most of it. Duncan benched 225 pounds more than any other tight end, with 35 reps.

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