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NFL Scouting Combine Watch: Zach Banner

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Zach Banner

Zach Banner

When you sit down to watch the NFL Scouting Combine next month, do not adjust your television. That's not the next WWE superstar on your screen. It's USC offensive lineman Zach Banner.

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Banner is a physical freak, standing 6-foot-8 and weighing in at 375 pounds — give or take what he had to eat that day. And yes, despite playing offensive tackle in college, he'll enter the draft as a guard — a very large guard.

The change in position stems from his ability to fire off the ball and simply move people backwards, just as he did against one of the best defensive lines in the nation in USC's win over Washington this past season. That skill trumps his average lateral movement, which would be a huge liability at the next level. That said, Banner is a terrific athlete for his size. He even played basketball for the Trojans as a freshman, though he never stepped on the count in a game.

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At the Combine, look for Banner to showcase any improvements in lateral quickness and agility whenever he gets the chance. This would obviously boost his draft stock, as teams may be more inclined to take him early because of his prior experience as an offensive tackle. I'd also keep an eye on his weight. Banner doesn't have much more room to put on any extra pounds, so coming in over his college playing weight could be a detractor for some teams. On the other hand, weighing in considerably lighter may signal to scouts and general managers that he's serious about physical conditioning and having a lasting impact on Sundays.

Adding to the allure of Banner is his NFL pedigree. He is the son of longtime Atlanta Falcon and Oakland Raider Lincoln Kennedy. His father had a similar, yet smaller build and was more than effective during his decade-long NFL career.

The Dallas Cowboys have reminded the world in recent years how easy it is to have an effective run game when you have a fantastic run-blocking offensive line. Any team look to replicate Dallas' success on that front is going to want to take a long look at Banner.

Right now, Banner is widely projected to be drafted early in the third round. A standout performance at the Combine could have teams flirting with him as an option in the latter part of the first round or early in the second.

— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo! and Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.