Max Tuerk will see limited action at the 2016 NFL Combine as he recovers from his season-ending knee injury, but he’ll still have the opportunity to impress scouts in Indianapolis.
Under different circumstances Max Tuerk might be USC’s most highly ranked prospect for the 2016 NFL Draft, but his injury trouble has scuppered that possibility. Still, the versatile lineman can use the the NFL Combine as a stepping stone towards improving his stock, post-injury.
What did he do at USC?
As a true freshman, Tuerk earned the starting left tackle job halfway through the year, becoming the first true freshman to ever start at that position. With five starts under his belt and regular use as a back up before that, Tuerk was named a first team Freshman All-American and an All-Pac-12 honorable mention.
In 2013 he proved his versatility by shifting inside to play guard, once more taking home All-Pac-12 honorable mention recognition.
As a junior Tuerk changed positions again to center. Despite an unusual snapping technique, he was named USC’s Offensive Lineman of the Year and an All-Pac-12 first teamer.
Tuerk was pegged as a candidate for national awards at center as he began his senior season at the position. However, the second-year captain tore his ACL against Washington and missed the remainder of the season. He was still named USC’s Most Inspirational Player.
All told, Tuerk started a game at four of the five positions on the line, right guard was the only spot he didn’t fill.
What’s his current draft stock?
NFL.com’s Mike Mayock listed Tuerk as the No. 3 center available in this draft. Though he’s being evaluated as a center, his versatility is an advantage as scouts seem to think he could also be deployed at guard or tackle.
Still, the consensus given his injury concern is that Tuerk will be a Day 2 pick.
CBSSports.com projects Tuerk in the fourth or fifth round as a potential bargain pick. According to Rob Rang, “Tuerk has a relatively lean, athletic build which leaves him vulnerable to shorter, more powerful run-stuffers. He’s smart, athletic and tough, however, projecting as a future starter.”
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein called Tuerk an “athletic, but undersized center who gives tremendous pound-for-pound effort on every rep,” citing concerns about the player’s build and ability to bulk up for his position. At 6-foot-6, 285 pounds he has played at well below weight for average NFL centers.
ESPN cites the same concerns but gives Tuerk exceptional marks for intangibles like awareness and recognition.
What can he improve at the Combine?
Tuerk’s knee injury will limit him in physical drills at the Combine but there are other ways for him to make an impression with scouts.
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First and foremost, medical evaluation will let team doctors see how his recovery is coming along. He’ll also have the opportunity to interview with teams, an aspect of the Combine which may be the most important, especially at a position which has so many mental requirements.
“I won’t be able to do any of the running stuff at the Combine or any of the drills but I’ll be able to do the bench press and the interviews. The goal is to have a Pro Day in late April,” Tuerk told NFLDraftScout.com.
Participating in the bench press will give Tuerk the chance to show scouts his strength relative to his size, but USC’s Pro Day will be the big proving ground.