INDIANAPOLIS – Kansas State offensive lineman Cody Whitehair is set to make the transition from left tackle to guard in the NFL.
While Whitehair admitted at the NFL Scouting Combine the move could require adjustment, he doesn’t believe a change of position will be an issue.
“Maybe just the physicality and the speed of it,” Whitehair said. “Coming from the Big 12, it is pretty fast, guys are strong, but this is a whole another level. But I think I can handle the transition very well.”
The native of Abilene, Kan., has experience at the position he projects to play at the next level, of course.
Whitehair showed versatility at K-State, playing left guard in his first two years of college before moving to left tackle the final two years.
“I think I can play both guard and tackle,” Whitehair said. “If somebody needed me to play center, as well, I feel like I can master that as well.”
The offensive lineman comes with plenty of draft hype following a decorated K-State career, capping off the 2015 season with first-team All-Big 12 honors as voted by the coaches and a second-team All-Big 12 selection by The Associated Press.
Whitehair, who measured 6-1, 301 pounds at the Combine, forecasts as a first- or second-round pick by NFLDraftScout.com and CBS Sports.
He posted the second-fastest time (7.31) time among offensive linemen at the Combine in the 3-cone drill, which measure’s the ability to change direction at a high speed, and the eighth-fastest time (4.58) among offensive linemen in the 20-yard shuttle, which measures lateral movement.
Both times reflect well on the position when considering interior offensive linemen are often called upon to pull and block defenders.
But Whitehair posted the second-lowest amount among offensive linemen at the Combine in the bench press of 225 pounds, an event that measures endurance, with 16 repetitions.
His performance in the bench press didn’t go unnoticed to draft analyst Mike Mayock of the NFL Network.
“I was disappointed that Whitehair had 16 reps,” Mayock said. “I think he’s a starting guard, and to come out here and have 16 reps at two and a quarter, that one I struggle with.”
Still, the draft analyst came away impressed with Whithair’s documented body of work in college.
“His tape is really good,” Mayock said. “The fact he didn’t have the strength on the bench bothers me a little bit, but he’s a smart, tough kid that can play guard.”
Mayock isn’t the only respected NFL Draft analyst to be captivated with the K-State product’s overall game.
Rob Rang, senior analyst with NFLDraftScout.com and CBS Sports, raved about Whitehair’s durability, toughness, intelligence and versatility, categorizing the offensive lineman as an “underrated athlete.”
Rang added he appreciated Whitehair’s decision to participate in the Senior Bowl, a college All-Star game held annually in January in Mobile, Ala.
“The competitiveness, to be a four-year starter and still want to go to the Senior Bowl, to me that speaks volumes,” Rang said. “Despite the fact that he played so much at left tackle knowing full well that he’s likely to be slid inside and welcoming that rather than the way some players are worried about that, he seems like he’s embracing that. I think that kind of speaks to the fact or the perception I have of him that this is a pro-ready player, mentally and physically. I think that’s pretty rare.”
For his part, Whitehair has a values system K-State coach Bill Snyder stresses the football team to lean on in preparation to play in the NFL in addition to physical skills.
“I feel like I can use what I learned at Kansas State to really be successful there in the league,” Whitehair said. “I feel like I’m a tough player, I’m a consistent player and I can help a team out.”
A prospective employer will also have an interchangeable player capable of playing numerous positions along the offensive line, an added bonus that should further boost his value in May’s draft.
“Anytime you can get a guy that can play multiple positions,” Whitehair said. “I think that helps them out down the road.”