NBC Sports Washington's NFL Combine preview includes player profiles starting with an offensive lineman target for the Redskins' left guard need.
The NFL Combine begins this week in Indianapolis with wall-to-wall televised coverage. Dalton Risner knows you won’t be watching him.
Cameras capture those electric passers, runners, receivers and slick defenders. Offensive linemen, even All-American’s like the Kansas State standout, receive the flyover state treatment.
That’s fine with Risner. Monitor the three-time All-Big 12 performer regardless.
The versatile lineman with star potential at multiple positions said his goodbyes to Manhattan (Kansas) and McDonald’s in preparation for the professional game. Now he intends to put on quite the show before decision-makers from all 32 NFL teams.
“I’m excited for the Combine. I think I’m going to tear it up, man,” Risner told NBC Sports Washington. “I’m a lot more athletic than people think. I’m anxious to go out there and get after it, but I’m also aware a lot of (the drills) probably won’t be aired or posted (online). That’s what being an offensive lineman is about."
Draft evaluators know about the 6-foot-5, 310-pounder who grew up playing center, dominated at right tackle for the Wildcats and might swing inside on Sunday’s. Several mock drafts project Risner into the back half of the first round. The Redskins, holding the 15th and 46th overall selections, have a gaping hole at left guard.
If the Colorado native meets his personal expectations, a first-round grade becomes universal.
“I’ve seen a couple of (mentions) where people are unsure about my athleticism even after a Senior Bowl where I went after top defensive ends and more than held my own,” Risner told NBC Sports Washington. “I just feel like I’m a lot more athletic than people know. I fully plan on being in the top three, if not the best at the 40, the 3-cone drill, stuff like that.
“I’m going to get after it and let some of the training pay off.”
Some discount the Combine’s importance because of the emphasis on athleticism over skill. For that faction, Risner recommends you watch his game film. Professional and armchair scouts will see a run blocking mauler and a pass protector designed to snuff out power rushers.
Risner’s regular-season matchup against Mississippi State edge rusher Montez Sweat pitted two heralded prospects. NBC Sports Washington’s latest 2019 NFL mock draft slots Sweat to the Redskins at 15 and the Vikings selecting Risner with the 18th overall pick.
Risner controlling Sweat pic.twitter.com/NrMBw6H7vA— Billy M (@BillyM_91) February 7, 2019
“That’s one of the games I told NFL coaches to go watch,” Risner said of Kansas State’s Sept. 10 meeting with Sweat’s Mississippi State. “That’s one of my better films. It’s just two guys going at it.”
Risner and the edge rusher also squared off during last month’s Senior Bowl.
“Montez Sweat is a great player," Risner said. "[In September] he got me on some plays, I got him on some plays."
The lineman wants you to watch the tape regardless. Risner – and others – believe he gave better than he got.
Risner’s confidence bloomed in the 2016 regular season opener against another star defensive lineman. After just two months of practice, Risner made his first-ever start at right tackle against Stanford’s Solomon Thomas.
The redshirt sophomore held the pass rusher without a sack or pass pressure. The following April Thomas was selected third overall in the 2017 NFL Draft.
“After that game, I kind of looked myself in the mirror and thought, ‘OK, I proved to myself I can do this. This NFL thing is possible,’” Risner reflected. “That was a pretty good moment.”
Kansas State’s 2018 season ended without a bowl game appearance. Risner gave himself a week off to “say my goodbyes to Manhattan, Kansas” and then headed to Anaheim, Calif. to train with other draft prospects under the guidance of former NFL offensive linemen Pat Harlow.
With far more food options in Southern California than Eastern Kansas, Risner ramped up his discipline on and off the field.
“Man, it’s really tough driving by the Golden Arches and you know there’s a Double Quarter Pounder in there waiting for you, bro,” he said through a hearty laugh. “It’s tough. It’s tough.”
Even though he moved on from college, Risner isn’t leaving Kansas State behind. The “man of faith” started “The RisnerUp Foundation” to provide support to children, and their families dealing with difficult situations. “I want to leave a legacy,” Risner said.
The next step toward creating a professional legacy comes at the Combine. Determining where he plays, meaning team and position, comes later.
“I’m comfortable (playing) anywhere -- and I mean that,” Risner said. “I’m pretty sure I’m not a left tackle in the NFL, I understand that. I can play right tackle. I proved that at the Senior Bowl. I proved that for three years at Kansas State. I also believe I can play inside.”
For any doubters or those wishing to make their own assessment on Risner’s form, there’s one to make shore up your opinion during Combine week: Watch him, when you can.
Our Redskins Talk Podcast crew will be in Indianapolis all week for the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine and will be streaming a live show every day. Click here to learn more about how to watch.
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