Canada's Blake 'best value prospect'

Offensive linemen Philip Blake of Baylor (right) and Tony Bergstrom of Utah take part in a drill...

Offensive linemen Philip Blake of Baylor (right) and Tony Bergstrom of Utah take part in a drill during the 2012 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on Feb. 25, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images/AFP)

JOHN KRYK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:10 PM ET

INDIANAPOLIS - The draft stock of "The Big Canuck" continues to shoot up.

Toronto's Philip Blake, that is.

After the 54 offensive linemen invited to the NFL Scouting Combine had completed all seven on-field drills on Saturday, the NFL Network's lead talent analyst — Mike Mayock — named Blake the "best value" prospect of the day.

A 22-year-old centre from Baylor University, Blake grew up in Toronto. The 6-foot-2 3/4, 311-pounder didn't get his start in football until his last year of high school at Father Henry Carr Catholic Secondary School.

But, boy, did he ever turn heads at Lucas Oil Field on Saturday morning.

"I like the big Canuck," Mayock said. "I had a third- or fourth-round grade on him, and I believe that he's a starting centre in this league. I thought he did everything today that I hoped he would do, and he actually did a tad better in the measurables than I expected.

"From a value perspective — Philip Blake, you're my man."

Mayock had moved Blake into his Top 5 of interior linemen (guards and centres) only a few days ago, at No. 5. Sounds like Blake might keep rising.

The seven strength, speed and agility drills at the combine are: Bench press, 10-yard split, 40-yard dash, vertical jump, broad jump, three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle.

"He 'vert' almost 30 inches — really good," said Mayock in draft lingo.

And his lower-body strength is first-rate, Mayock said.

"The lower-body explosion — really, what I like about this kid is how stout he is. Like I said earlier, he squats the house."

On Saturday morning, one of Blake's teammates at Baylor — running back Terrance Ganaway, himself a combine invitee — said Blake might be a bit quiet off the field. But on the field, his leadership was as crucial to the Bears' great season as that of Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Robert Griffin III.

"We've known each other for a while," Galloway said. "Phil opens up and we talk about a lot of stuff. He's a great guy, hard worker. Sometimes you got to say (to someone), 'Hey, we gotta go work.' But not Phil.

"The only reason why we're so successful this year is because him, Robert Griffin and the linemen (were) in sync all year, and they played at a high level. We had a lot of young guys that were in new positions who had to step up for us, and Philip's leadership and experience helped out a lot."

On Thursday, Baylor head coach Art Briles, told QMI Agency that Blake is destined to make a mark in the NFL.

"He was a great player and a great leader for us, so he'll certainly transfer all that to the next level," Briles said. "Without any question he'll be a great professional.

"In our offence he has got to be the trendsetter up front. He's got to be a leader, he's got to be fast, he's got to be intelligent, and he's got to be on cue, because everything starts with him in our triple option.

"He called all the blocking up front. We run the zone and we run, of course, the man schemes. And he calls all the protection schemes. He's done a great job, because he also has to snap in the shotgun most of the time — so he's had a lot going through his mind on every snap, and he handled it all extremely well."

I met Blake on Thursday. Solid kid.

And he's not shy about his nationality. "I'm Canadian, and proud of it," he told the American NFL beat writers.

I've got to admit, it was sweet on Saturday to see this humble young man become the toast of the combine for a few hours.

"The famed Canada-to-Texas football pipeline," NFL Network host Rich Eisen cracked.

Damn straight.

PHILIP BLAKE'S DRILL RESULTS

Baylor, centre

6-foot-2 3/4, 311 pounds

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Bench press: 22 straight reps of 225 pounds

40-yard dash: 5.25 seconds

Vertical jump: 29.5"

Broad jump: 8' 9"

3-cone drill: 7.86 second

20-yard shuttle: 4.65 seconds

10-yard split: 1.76 seconds

john.kryk@sunmedia.ca

@JohnKryk

blogs.canoe.ca/KrykSlants


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