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McShay: Elite DBs live up to billing at combine

Discussion in 'NFL Draft' started by Concudan, Mar 1, 2007.

  1. Concudan

    Concudan Meh... Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 5, 2006
    Michigan CB Hall rises to occasion

    INDIANAPOLIS -- With the exception of quarterback, the top-rated prospect at each position participated in some or all of the workout portion at the 2007 combine.

    LSU safety LaRon Landry and Michigan cornerback Leon Hall carried on that remarkable trend in grand fashion during Tuesday's finale inside the RCA Dome. Landry showed up nearly 10 pounds heavier (213) than his typical playing weight yet still blazed both his 40-yard dash attempts in the 4.3-second range (4.35 and 4.37). Landry also finished near the top of the defensive back groups in the vertical jump (37½") and broad jump (10-3).

    Hall's workout was equally impressive. Under immense pressure to run well after getting beat deep a few months ago versus Ohio State's speedy receiver Ted Ginn Jr., Hall came up big with a 4.39 in his first 40-yard dash attempt. The 5-foot-11, 193-pound corner also posted outstanding marks in the vertical jump (37½"), broad jump (10-5), 20-yard shuttle (4.07) and 60-yard shuttle (11.62), which are all considered key drills in evaluating a cornerback's explosiveness and change-of-direction skill.

    While Landry and Hall confirmed their elite standing as the top two defensive backs in the 2007 class, Arkansas cornerback Chris Houston made a pitch to join them in the first round with his jaw-dropping all-round performance on Tuesday. In fact, no defensive back finished with more bench press reps (27) or turned in a faster 40-yard dash time (4.32) than Houston. Though he ran faster than expected, his performance on the bench actually might help him more because he's a diminutive corner (5-9, 185) who admittedly needs to improve his run-support skills. Houston still must improve his ability to shed blocks and wrap up ball carriers in the open field, but at least teams know he has the power to improve in those areas.

    As Houston improved his stock, Cal corner Daymeion Hughes' mirrored the Dow Jones' performance on Tuesday. Hughes ran both his 40 attempts in the 4.6-second area, which is a nightmare for any cornerback prospect -- let alone one of the top-rated pure cover corners in this year's class. There's no way he'll be able to turn and run with No. 1 receivers, meaning he'll have go to a team that primarily plays a Cover 2 scheme to be truly effective. If there's a silver lining here, Hughes has the ball skills and physical style of play to excel in that type of scheme, so he shouldn't drop out of the first day.

    Florida safety Reggie Nelson is another player whose value dipped because of a poor performance on the track. At first glance his best time of 4.48 in the 40-yard dash doesn't look awful. However, he's a 198-pound center fielder-type free safety who was being considered in the mid-to-late first round because of his range and playmaking skills in deep coverage. He ran another official 40 time in the 4.5-second area, which is where two different scouts I spoke with had him clocked on both of his attempts.

    Pittsburgh cornerback Darrelle Revis should be feeling a little uneasy with his decision not to work out. Hall and Houston wowed scouts with their performances, and Texas CB Aaron Ross also impressed with his times in the 40-yard dash (4.44) and three-cone (6.67). That makes Revis the only one of the top four cornerbacks to skip out. Because Revis is an early entry prospect, NFL teams already have too little information on him to base their evaluation on heading into April's draft. Now there is a great deal of pressure on him to have a strong performance at Pittsburgh's pro day on March 16.

    Texas safety Michael Griffin is wearing the 11 pounds he's added since the Senior Bowl well. Not only did he run the 40 in the 4.4s, he also turned in the third-fastest 20-yard shuttle time (4.10) of all of the defensive backs. The shuttle time should interest scouts just as much as the added bulk and quality top-end speed. Defensive coordinators value safeties who are versatile enough to match up with slot receivers because it gives them a great deal of freedom. The shuttle tests a prospect's ability to change directions quickly and it's a good indication of how well a player can match up in coverage.

    With the 2007 combine in the books, here's a look at the top five results from some of the workout stations:

    Top 5, 40-yard dash
    1. Kansas State WR Yamon Figurs -- 4.30
    2. Arkansas CB Chris Houston -- 4.32
    3. Washington State WR Jason Hill -- 4.32
    4. LSU DS LaRon Landry -- 4.35
    5. Georgia Tech WR Calvin Johnson -- 4.35

    Top 5, bench press
    1. N.C. State DT Tank Tyler -- 42 reps
    T-2. Texas OG/OT Justin Blalock -- 40
    T-2. Texas Tech G Manuel Ramirez -- 40
    T-4. Clemson G Nathan Bennett -- 34
    T-4. Clemson C Dustin Fry -- 34

    Top 5, vertical jump
    1. New Mexico OLB Quincy Black -- 41½"
    2. Boise State S Gerald Alexander -- 41"
    T-3. Tennessee CB Jonathan Wade -- 40½"
    T-3. Texas DE Brian Robison -- 40½"
    T-3. Notre Dame RB Darius Walker -- 40½"

    Top 5, broad jump
    1. Maine S Daren Stone -- 11'
    T-2. Fresno State CB Marcus McCauley -- 10'9"
    T-2. Wyoming S John Wendling -- 10'9"
    T-2. Tennessee State WR Mike Mason -- 10'9"
    T-5. Georgia Tech CB Kenny Scott -- 10'7"
    T-5. Baylor S C.J. Wilson -- 10'7"
    T-5. Arizona RB Chris Henry -- 10'7"
    T-5. Oklahoma RB Adrian Peterson -- 10'7"
    T-5. Oklahoma WR Paul Thompson -- 10'7"
    T-5. Illinois State WR Laurent Robinson -- 10'7"

    Top 5, 20-yard shuttle
    1. Oregon State S Sabby Piscitelli -- 3.90
    T-2. Michigan CB Leon Hall -- 4.07
    T-2. Mississippi OLB Rory Johnson -- 4.07
    T-4. Ohio State WR Anthony Gonzalez -- 4.08
    T-4. Boise State QB Jared Zabransky -- 4.08
    T-4. Tennessee State WR Mike Mason -- 4.08
    T-4. Northern Illinois RB Garrett Wolfe -- 4.08

    Top 5, ball speed for quarterbacks
    1. Toby Korrodi, Central Missouri State -- 63 mph
    2. John Beck, BYU -- 61.1 mph
    3. Troy Smith, Ohio State -- 58.5 mph
    4. Jeff Rowe, Nevada -- 57 mph
    5. Drew Stanton, Michigan State -- 55.7 mph

    Todd McShay is the director of college football scouting for Scouts Inc. He has been evaluating prospects for the NFL draft since 1998.

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