INDIANAPOLIS — Last weekend the Central Coast sent their first football player to participate in the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis in former Paso Robles Bearcat tight end Josh Oliver and he popped off the screen running fast and making plays.
The bright lights, camera crews and endless lines of coaches and scouts asking questions might have overwhelmed someone from a small town like Paso Robles but Oliver has grown used to it after his experience in the Senior Bowl two weeks ago and was able to relax and perform well.
“It wasn’t too bad, I was somewhat used to it from the Senior Bowl,” Oliver said. “And that aspect of things, all the interviews and stuff and just always having cameras around and scouts and coaches and stuff. That aspect wasn’t too overwhelming for me. It was kind of the same format too as far as sleep goes, you get very little sleep, had a lot of meetings and a lot of stuff to do.”
If the 6-foot-5-inch, 249-pounder was tired, he didn't show it. One of the top things scouts said they wanted to see from the San Jose State prospect was a fast time in the 40-yard dash which was reported to be in 4.8-second range. Not only did Oliver run faster, but he also ran the third fastest time out of all the tight ends in the combine posting a 4.63 officially.
“I did everything I wanted to,” he said. “I came out and competed and tested to the best of my abilities. I was relaxed, which I wanted to come in and do and everything went well.”
His arms measured 33 ½ inches and his hands are big enough to block out the sun measuring 10 ¾ inches. Oliver showed off those big hands in his breakout moment when he was running receiving drills with the quarterbacks. With his curly hair bouncing back and forth Oliver started on the hash in a three-point stance and ran a go route out to the numbers. At the top of his route, the former Bearcat looked back to see the ball thrown behind him and with the grace of a figure skater spun around a full 360 degrees and plucked the ball out of the air with one hand and kept going without missing a step or losing his balance.
“One of the coaches asked me if I had something on my glove,” he said in an interview on Tuesday. “And I said no that’s just my 10 6/8th hands.”
Speed is not something that comes out of the North County very often, our blue-collar community relates more to strength and grit and Oliver showed plenty of that as well as he was certainly one of the strongest tight ends in attendance. Oliver posted the second-most bench press reps of 225 pounds at 22.
While the on-the-field production at the combine is what everyone sees on TV, behind the scenes this is the first time that many coaches and scouts get to meet with their potential draft picks and ask them questions. Every year there are reports that surface exposing some of the absolutely ridiculous things that coaches ask or say, this year it was reported that the Seattle Seahawks opened their meeting with cornerback Lonnie Johnson with a 15-second staring contest.
“I met with pretty much every tight ends coach of all 32 teams,” Oliver said. “I talked to the people that had the staring contest but I didn’t get one. I didn’t get too many weird questions everything was pretty straight forward for me, it wasn’t too bad I had a pretty good experience.”
The next step for the pride of Paso Robles will be to continue his training as he prepares for his Pro-Day which will be at San Jose State on Wednesday, March 20. A Pro-Day is a lot like the combine except it is in the comfort of your own backyard. Oliver will be doing many of the same drills he did this past weekend but the biggest difference will be in the ball drills where he will have his quarterback throwing to him rather than someone he just met.