NFL Combine Report: Impressive Players
by Trevor Whenham - 3/3/2010
With the NFL Combine now in the books we have a clearer picture of the upcoming NFL Draft. There is increasing debate about the significance of the Combine these days now that players don't always participate, and players are scouted early and more intensely. Still, a good performance helps a player get drafted, and a great performance can send a player rocketing up the draft boards. After watching a good portion of the Combine, here are 10 players that stood out for what I saw them do:
Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska - Suh obviously didn't have to climb way up the rankings - he's already at or near the top. He did exactly what he had to do, though - he showed slightly better than Gerald McCoy, and he looked explosive and powerful when called upon. The biggest risk was that Suh would damage his stellar reputation, and he certainly didn't do that.
Everson Griffen, DE, USC - Griffen needed to show up strong to secure second-round status, and he did. The guy is an athletic freak on the field, and he was an athletic freak at the Combine. He was powerful on the bench press, and very fast for his size - 4.65 seconds - in the 40. Griffen performed well enough to have his name called in the top half of the second round.
LaMarr Houston, DT, Texas - I think a guy who is 305 pounds - and looks bigger - shouldn't be running a 40 in 4.85 seconds. No one was talking about Houston coming into this season - he wasn't even a draft prospect - but a strong season coupled with a stellar offseason has him in third-round range.
James Starks, RB, Buffalo - Starks was very impressive two seasons ago, but last season was lost with a shoulder injury that required surgery. He needed to prove without a doubt that he was back and ready for action, and he really did. Fifteen bench presses with a bum shoulder is not at all bad, and his sub-4.5 second 40 time was better than expected. He was even better in the drills. Some team is going to get a steal when they pick Starks.
Ryan Mathews, RB, Fresno State - Mathews is moving up the board in a running back class full of questions. He was fast and strong, and incredibly impressive in drills. Mathews now has a very good look at the first round, and he almost certainly will be in the top 45.
Jacoby Ford, WR, Clemson - Every year there is a wide receiver who is so freakish at the Combine that he gets more attention than his play otherwise warrants. Call it Darrius Heyward-Bey syndrome. This year's version is Ford. Ford is the NCAA Champion in the 60m on the track, and he burned up the 40 at the Combine as well - 4.25 seconds. His routes were strong, and he didn't drop a ball, so he's going to get picked my some star-struck team earlier than a guy who had 779 yards receiving and six touchdowns last year probably should.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, SMU - Sanders owes June Jones a whole lot. Sanders has thrived under Jones, and is now legitimately a guy who could go in the first four rounds. He really strengthened that possibility with an incredibly strong Combine. He looked better than most of the top names - he looked like a pro.
Taylor Price, WR, Ohio - Price is an example of how important the offseason is for guys outside of the bright spotlight. Price was brilliant at the Senior Bowl, and even better at the Combine. He ran in the 4.40 range for the 40, and he was great in the drills. A guy who was a late-round pick at the end of the season is now a second round guy. Good story.
Russell Okung, T, Oklahoma State - Okung is arguably the best offensive lineman in the draft, and at the Combine he did enough to keep that argument alive. He lifted very well, ran an acceptable time, and was good in drills until a slight injury sidelined him. I saw enough from Okung to believe that he has a real future - or at least to affirm what I already believed.
Dennis Pitta, TE, BYU - Pitta stood out when you watched the explosive Cougars' offense, and he stood out this week for his measurables as well. He was stronger and faster than expected,and he continued to show the ball skills he has. Pitta is a long-term pro.
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