INDIANAPOLIS — The Patriots officially released right tackle Sebastian Vollmer on Friday, ending his tenure with the team after eight years and seven NFL seasons.
Vollmer, a native of Kaarst, Germany, who played at the University of Houston, did not play in 2016 because of shoulder and hip injuries, and may be forced to retire at age 32. He played in 88 games with 80 starts over seven seasons, coming into the league as a second-round draft pick. Vollmer started two Super Bowls for the Patriots, the loss to the Giants in Super Bowl XLVII and the victory over the Seahawks in XLIX.
Vollmer spent the entire season on the physically unable to perform list, and was replaced in the lineup by Marcus Cannon.
The fun part of the Combine began on Friday — the 40-yard dash and other athletic testing drills.
LSU star running back, Leonard Fournette, hopeful of becoming a top-10 pick, had a roller coaster of a day as he returns from an ankle injury that hampered him last season.
First he weighed in at 240 pounds earlier this week, about 5 pounds heavier than normal, which he attributed to “water weight.”
Fournette then recorded a 28.5-inch vertical leap on Friday, which was the third-lowest jump by any running back over the last four years. But Fournette came back with times of 4.51 and 4.52 seconds in the 40, an impressive showing for someone at 240 pounds.
Stanford star running back Christian McCaffrey, who has been linked to the Patriots with the 32nd pick in some mock drafts, ran a healthy 4.49 in the 40.
The top 40 times of the day went to North Carolina’s T.J. Logan (4.37) and Utah’s Joe Williams (4.41). On the other end of the spectrum, Southern Cal guard Damien Mama (6-4, 325 pounds) ran a 5.84.
In defense of QBs
This year’s quarterback class isn’t regarded as very strong, and the quarterback-needy teams at the top of the draft — the Browns, 49ers and Bears — may need some convincing to take a quarterback with one of the top three picks.
The quarterbacks regarded as the best of the class — Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer and UNC’s Mitchell Trubisky — defended themselves in their press conferences and made their case.
“Who’s to say this quarterback class can’t be one of the best?” Trubisky said. “Only the future will tell. I think there’s a lot of talented guys here and that’s what we’re here to show and hopefully it will throughout our careers.”
The knock on Trubisky is that he only started 13 games in his college career. He also is a bit undersized for a quarterback at 6 feet 3 inches, though he did clear an important threshold.
“I only have 13 starts but I played in 30 games,” he said. “I’ve come in off the bench and I’ve seen significant time. And just my abilities, I feel like I’m in a really good spot right now to take my game to the next level, and I feel really confident.”
Watson, who led Clemson to a dramatic national championship victory in January, has to shake off the perception that he ran a gimmick college offense and that he’s more of an athlete than a passer.
“One thing that translates to the NFL is winners,’’ said Watson, who was 33-3 at Clemson. “Being a quarterback, that’s one of the biggest things that’s being recognized is winning games. That’s all I’ve done.’’
And Kizer, the most prototypical quarterback at 6-4 and 230 pounds, struggled with consistency and accuracy in college. But 49ers GM John Lynch sounded as if he was ready to draft Kizer with the No. 2 overall pick after interviewing Kizer earlier in the week.
“This whole thing’s not about an interview, but if you were grading him on that alone, he blew the doors off it,” Lynch said. “He’s an impressive young man. His film’s very impressive. I think the same can be said of Deshaun Watson. You watch what he’s done, just putting a team on his shoulders and taking down a great champion. I think it’s a very talented draft class at that position, one we’re very excited about.”