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Few recent combine stars have become productive NFL players

Discussion in 'NFL Draft' started by boltmanbz, Feb 20, 2008.

  1. boltmanbz

    boltmanbz Well-Known Member

    Oct 16, 2006

    Rookie safety Eric Weddle (No. 32) shows off his vertical leap after making an interception in a San Diego Chargers' playoff victory at Indianapolis in January. Weddle is one of the few scouting combine stars paying immediate dividends for his team.

    NFL hopefuls routinely bolster their draft status through feats of speed, strength and agility.

    In recent seasons, cornerbacks Dunta Robinson and Carlos Rogers strengthened their standing as top-10 draft choices by impressing teams at the annual scouting combine.

    Since 2000, Terence Newman, Vernon Davis, LaRon Landry, Troy Williamson, Haloti Ngata, Brodrick Bunkley and Tye Hill were also among those who tested well enough in specific areas to help secure spots early in their draft classes.

    Yet, while NFL teams contend players weaken their draft stock when they refuse to work out at the combine, a memorable performance there can fail to produce desired results.

    Top Combine Performances
    Want to see the best numbers in various combine drills since 2000? ESPN.com researcher Ryan McCrystal has the breakdowns.

    Seventeen of the 128 very best combine performers since 2000 went undrafted. Twelve of them never played in an NFL game. Forty-three weren't in the NFL last season. Ninety-five have started fewer than half of their potential regular-season games since they shined at the combine.

    Forty-yard dash times and bench-press results are sure to command attention as the 2008 combine workouts start Friday. But the fates of the leading workout warriors show why the NFL also invests so much in background checks, medical exams, intelligence tests, interviews and old-fashioned scouting.

    ESPN.com, using records available at nfldraftscout.com, analyzed the 25 best combine performers in six key categories since 2000: 40-yard dash, 10-yard split, vertical jump, 20-yard shuttle, three-cone drill and bench press. The performances show how important -- and unimportant -- raw ability can be:

    The best of the best

    Nine players rank first or tied for first since 2000 among all combine participants in the six categories.

    Gym dandies (since 2000)

    According to nfldraftscout.com, these are the nine combine performers who rank first or tied for first in the 40-yard dash, 225-pound bench press, three-cone agility drills, 20-yard shuttle drill, vertical jump and 10-yard split:
    Name Pos. College Year Event Result
    Jerome Mathis WR Hampton 2005 40-yard dash 4.28 sec.
    Leif Larsen DT UTEP 2000 Bench press 45 reps
    *Mike Kudla DE Ohio State 2006 Bench press 45 reps
    *Sedrick Curry CB Texas A&M 2000 Three-cone drill 6.45 sec.
    Kevin Kasper WR Iowa 2001 20-yard shuttle 3.73 sec.
    Gerald Sensabaugh FS UNC 2005 Vertical jump 46 inches
    Aundrae Allison WR East Carolina 2007 10-yd. split 1.43 sec.
    Marcus McCauley CB Fresno St. 2007 10-yd. split 1.43 sec.
    Eric Weddle S Utah 2007 10-yd. split 1.43 sec.

    None of the nine was drafted higher than San Diego Chargers safety Eric Weddle, who went 37th overall in 2007 after needing only 1.43 seconds to cover the first 10 yards of his 40-yard dash.

    Former Fresno State cornerback Marcus McCauley, another 2007 combine participant, is the only player since 2000 to match Weddle's time over 10 yards. Minnesota drafted him 72nd overall. McCauley started nine games as a rookie.

    Hampton receiver Jerome Mathis, whose 4.28-second showing in the 40 stands as the best at any combine since 2000, went 114th overall to Houston in 2005. Thanks largely to injuries, he has more known arrests (one, this week, for allegedly choking his pregnant common-law wife) than NFL starts (zero).

    The other top performances belong to players who have combined to start 25 of a possible 464 regular-season games in the NFL.

    Defensive backs lead the way

    Of the 128 players who provided the 25 best performances since 2000, 53 were defensive backs. Thirty-one were receivers. Twelve were defensive linemen.

    Running backs and offensive linemen accounted for 10 apiece. Nine were linebackers. Two were quarterbacks (Randy Fasani and Josh McCown account for two of the top 25 performances in the 20-yard shuttle).

    Davis, whose 42-inch vertical jump helped him get drafted sixth overall by San Francisco in 2006, is the only tight end.

    Mile-high performers

    Two players since 2000 rank among the top 25 in three categories. The Denver Broncos drafted both of them.

    Former Maryland cornerback Domonique Foxworth, chosen 97th overall in 2005, ranks 18th in the 20-yard shuttle (3.89), 20th in the 40-yard dash (4.34) and 21st in the 10-yard split (1.48). He has started 18 games in three seasons, picking off three passes.

    Former Iowa receiver Kevin Kasper, chosen 190th overall in 2001, ranks first in the 20-yard shuttle (3.73), fifth in vertical jump (43 ½ inches) and seventh in the three-cone agility drill (6.56). He has started nine NFL games but has struggled to hold down a roster spot.

    The 65 percent club

    Twenty-two of the top 128 combine performers since 2000 have started more than 65 percent of their possible regular-season games since their performances in Indianapolis.

    Twelve of the 22 were defensive backs, including Houston's Robinson, who ranks among the top 25 in the 40-yard dash (4.34) and 20-yard shuttle (3.78). Six of the remaining 11 defensive backs also excelled in those categories. Three others ranked among the best in 10-yard splits. Two ranked high in the vertical jump.

    Bench press appeared to be a strong indicator for defensive tackles who rank among the top 25. Ngata, Igor Olshansky, Vince Wilfork and Gabe Watson managed at least 36 repetitions of 225 pounds. All four have started at least 65 percent of their regular-season NFL games.

    This list of 22 consistent starters featured three receivers, including two -- Chris Chambers and Santana Moss -- who rank among the 25 best since 2000 in more than one category.

    Chambers, drafted 52nd overall by Miami in 2001, holds the third-best vertical jump (45 inches) and 18th-best time in the 40 (4.33). Moss, chosen 16th overall by Washington, also in 2001, ranks sixth in the 40 (4.31) and 12th in the vertical jump (42 inches).

    The Pro Bowlers
    Six of the combine's 128 highest achievers since 2000 have appeared in Pro Bowls.

    Chambers, Moss and return specialist Dante' Hall rank among the top 25 in two categories apiece. Hall holds the fourth-best mark in the 20-yard shuttle (3.82) and the 14th best time in the three-cone drill (6.62).

    Newman, drafted fifth overall by Dallas in 2003, holds the fifth-best 20-yard shuttle time (3.83).

    Former Iowa safety Bob Sanders, chosen 44th overall by Indianapolis in 2004, ranks tied for 22nd with a 41½-inch vertical jump.

    Wilfork, chosen 24th overall by New England in 2004, made his Pro Bowl debut this month.

    Mike Sando covers the NFL for ESPN.com.

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