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Combine Wrap: RG3, Poe riding wave into Pro Days

Posted on: February 29, 2012 1:03 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 1:06 pm
 

INDIANAPOLIS - More than 325 of the best draft prospects from across the nation descended upon Indianapolis in waves over the past week in search of that sizzling 40-yard dash, that superhuman bench press or a kangaroo-like vertical jump.

Scouts and armchair personnel evaluators now have thousands of data points to crunch into Excel sheets and obsess over into the wee hours of the night. But what is the tangible impact at the end of the day?

The vast majority of the workout numbers aren't really meaningful. NFL front offices aren't concerned about all the numbers in the middle of the pack. They're interested primarily in the extremes - the unofficial 4.33-second 40-yard thrown down by Central Florida cornerback Josh Robinson, the 44 bench reps hoisted by Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe and the all-around poor workout numbers put up by Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict.

Those are the performances that stick out and affect draft stocks.

Even more important were the on-field position drills and the private interviews with teams. That's where prospects can really make an impression with their aptitude and personality. It all gets thrown into a big melting pot along with their game film and other pre-draft events to create an overall body of work.

Heading into the elongated final pre-draft stretch that is the Pro Day season, here are the prospects who helped themselves the most at the Scouting Combine - and those who have some serious ground to make up between now and April 26.

RISERS
Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor: He didn't throw a pass at the Combine, but "RG3" was unquestionably the biggest star of the week. He measured in at 6-2, displayed a magnetic personality, ran the 40 faster than most of the wide receivers, running backs and cornerbacks in attendance ... and set the Rams up to restock their roster with the bounty they will inevitably land by dealing the No. 2 overall pick.

Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech: With several other notable wide receivers measuring in shorter or slower than expected, the 6-4, 215-pound Hill tied for the fastest time in the 40-yard dash (4.36) among all skill-position players, drawing comparisons to former Yellow Jacket teammate Demaryius Thomas, a first-round pick of the Denver Broncos in 2010.

Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College: Scouts chalked up Kuechly's staggering NCAA-record tackle numbers to instincts and reliable open-field tackling ability. But in posting a blistering 4.58-second time in the 40-yard dash and a 38-inch vertical, the 2011 Butkus Award winner proved he's a first-round caliber athlete who has the potential to be a three-down player capable of holding his own against athletic tight ends in coverage.

Chris Owusu, WR, Stanford: The most important tests at the Combine for Owusu were of the medical variety after his collegiate career was cut short by a series of frightening concussions. NFL teams won't get these results for a few weeks, but you can be sure they'll be checking them closely after the Stanford product proved among the fastest (4.36 seconds) and most explosive (40.5-inch vertical jump) of all the receivers tested.

Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis: No defensive lineman at the Combine showed a more exciting combination of size (6-4, 346), speed (4.98) and strength (44 reps on the 225-pound bench press, a 2012 Combine best) than Poe. Teams fully acknowledge he's raw, but one of them will gladly invest a first-round pick in his upside.

Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida: The underclassman entered the Combine a projected fourth-round pick by NFLDraftScout.com. Combine the 4.33 40 with a DB-best 133-inch broad jump and a 38-inch vertical and he's poised to surge leading up to the draft.

David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech: He posted the elite agility test numbers that everyone expected. But it was showing up to team interviews in a suit and tie that really caught the attention of teams. He reportedly wore a suit to class at Virginia Tech. In an NFL draft world where the competition is so tight, a seemingly small detail like that could be enough in a tight battle with Miami's Lamar Miller to be the No. 2 running back drafted.

FALLERS
Joe Adams, WR, Arkansas: At only 5-11, 179 pounds, he is a finesse receiver who relies on his agility and straight-line speed to get open. Expected to be one of the fastest players at any position tested this year, Adams' 4.55-second showing in the 40-yard dash suggests that Arkansas' spread offense inflated his big-play ability. 

Michael Brockers, DT, LSU: The underclassmen entered the Combine with as much buzz as any defensive player. Viewed as a playmaking interior lineman and ascending talent, he increased expectations by showing up with an extra few pounds he claimed was muscle mass that didn't affect his speed. But his pro day will be critical after poor workout numbers  that included an alarmingly-slow 5.36 40 - third-worst among all defensive linemen - a 26.5-inch vertical, a 105-inch broad jump and a 4.81-second short shuttle.

Vontaze Burfict, ILB, Arizona State: After characterizing himself as misunderstood, Burfict raised more than few eyebrows during interviews with the media by blaming the ASU coaching staff for his erratic play in 2011. He then proved much less athletic in drills than scouts had hoped, registering a 5.09 40 that finished dead last among linebackers tested in Indianapolis this year. 

Nick Foles, QB, Arizona: With the top-rated quarterbacks either unwilling or unable to throw at the Combine, scouts had hoped that the 6-5, 243-pound Foles would take advantage of the extra attention to put on a dazzling throwing performance. Instead, Foles' methodical delivery, slow feet and inaccuracy on deep passes could push him into Day Three (rounds 4-7) territory.

Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin: Regarded as the top center prospect in the draft entering the Combine, Konz surprised scouts with less than ideal strength (18 repetitions of 225 pounds). If he were to be drafted in the first round, it would be the first interior lineman with less than 20 repetitions to earn this distinction in the past five years.

Markus Zusevics, OT, Iowa: By tearing his pectoral muscle while performing in the bench press in front of scouts, Zusevics' stock could fall further than any other prospect tested at the Combine. The injury not only ended his Combine experience early, it puts into question his availability to play as a rookie.

Now it's on to the flurry of the Pro Day season, which kicks off at Missouri on Thursday and includes dozens of workouts across the country, culminating with McNeese State on April 6.

TOP COMBINE RESULTS
40-Yard dash (Unofficial)
1. Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida - 4.33
2. Travis Benjamin, WR, Miami - 4.36
    Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech - 4.36
    Chris Owusu, WR, Stanford - 4.36
5. Ron Brooks, CB, LSU - 4.37

225-POUND BENCH PRESS
1. Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis - 44
2. David Molk, OL, Michigan - 41
3. Loni Fangupo, DL, BYU - 36
    Ronnell Lewis, DE/OLB, Oklahoma - 36
    Mike Martin, DL, Michigan
    Kendall Reyes, DL, UConn - 36

VERTICAL JUMP
1. Kashif Moore, WR, UConn - 43.5
2. Jerrell Jackson, WR, Missouri - 41.0
    David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech - 41.0
4. Chris Owusu, WR, Stanford - 40.5
5. Justin Bethel, CB, Presbyterian - 39.5
    Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech - 39.5
    Mychal Kendricks, LB, Cal - 39.5
    Keshawn Martin, WR, Michigan St. - 39.5

BROAD JUMP
1. Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech - 133.0
2. Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida - 133.0
    David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech - 132.0
4. Justin Bethel, CB, Presbyterian - 131.0
    Michael Egnew, TE, Missouri - 131.0

3-CONE DRILL
1. Chris Rainey, RB, Florida - 6.50
2. Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida - 6.55
3. Terrence Frederick, CB, Texas A&M - 6.59
    Junior Hemingway, WR, Michigan - 6.59
5. Cody Sensabaugh, CB, Clemson - 6.60

--Derek Harper & Rob Rang contributed to this report.

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