INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 27: Offensive lineman Bruce Campbell of Maryland runs during practice drills during the NFL Scouting Combine presented by Under Armour at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 27, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)
Scouting Combine winners and losers
No touchdowns were scored, fumbles recovered, tackles made or field goals kicked. But that doesn't mean top pro prospects were just sitting around last week.
And it doesn't mean there weren't men keeping score at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
College Football News tracked the winners (like Notre Dame's Golden Tate, pictured) and losers of the annual pre-NFL Draft workouts.
Winner: Bruce Campbell, Maryland OT
Everyone knew the guy could run and was going to look like a dream, but yeeeeeesh.
Fine, so in today’s day and age the natural reaction is to throw the red challenge flag any time an athlete does something that no human being has ever accomplished, and Maryland is known for cranking out freaks of nature (cough, Shawne Merriman, cough), but all skepticism and reasonable questions aside, Campbell’s workout will be talked about as long as there is a Combine. Now the question is whether or not the guy can produce on the field.
Campbell ran a 4.85 in the 40, benched a tremendous 34 reps of 225 pounds, and he looked ripped. But can he actually play? He didn’t have a great career, struggled with his durability, isn’t much of a run blocker, and doesn’t have the raw bulk to be a bulldozer of a NFL run blocking left tackle, but guys this big and so perfect don’t come around all that often.
At least since Tony Mandarich.
Winner: Tim Tebow, Florida QB
The momentum has shifted the other way for the much-maligned Gator legend. At first, there were some (Tony Dungy, Jacksonville Jaguar owner Wayne Weaver) who were thinking Tebow deserved to be taken among the top players in the draft. And then reality came down like a hammer as the scouting types correctly pointed out that the guy couldn’t throw at an NFL level. That’s why it was a great PR move, and generally accepted as fine, that Tebow was going to wait until his Pro Day to unleash the new style in order to get more time to work on his motion. Meanwhile, he did everything else right.
No one was expecting a special 40 time (he ran a 4.72), and even though he wasn’t a blazer, the wheels started spinning again as far as options for what he could become after the rest of his impressive workout. He looked huge, athletic and cut. And, of course, he killed it in the interview process.
Winner: Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan QB
For LeFevour, it was like the dubious distinction of being the thinnest woman in an Oprah audience. No one else looked good.
Coming off a great run at the Senior Bowl, complete with game MVP honors, LeFevour, arguably the greatest MAC player of all-time, had a chance to be the star of stars before turning off the scouts by deciding to wait for his Pro Day to throw as he continues to work on operating from under center. But he did everything else right.
One of his biggest positives is his athleticism, and he didn’t disappoint by running a 4.66 in the 40 and finishing behind only Tim Tebow in the shuttle and cone drills. But more than anything else, LeFevour won because the other quarterbacks were so mediocre and has made his Pro Day in Mount Pleasant appointment viewing for anyone looking for a new franchise quarterback,
Winner: Golden Tate, Notre Dame WR
In today’s day and age of huge, athletic targets like Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald, the 5-10, 199-pound Biletnikoff winner needed to rock in Indianapolis to become a sure-thing first-round prospect, and now he might be the No. 2 receiver taken after, most likely, Oklahoma State’s Dez Bryant.
Quickness was never a concern but he had to prove he could move in a straight line. Question answered. His 4.42 wasn’t blazing, but it was more than good enough considering how good he looked on the field throughout his career. He is naturally fluid, gets great separation, and is the most talented yards-after-catch prospect in the draft. And now, after his 40, it’ll be a shocker if he lasts past the 20th pick.
Winner: C.J. Spiller, Clemson RB
It was a good week for big-name running backs. Of course there are still major on-field question marks about the top prospects, but workout-wise, they showed up and were fantastic.
Spiller has had durability issues and isn’t likely going to be a 25-carry back on a regular basis, but for those teams looking at him as a dangerous 15-touch threat who could be a gamebreaker, the 4.37 40 was exactly what everyone was looking for. Throw in the solid 18 reps on the bench and Spiller did nothing but solidify himself as the No. 1 running back on many draft boards.
Winner: Jahvid Best, California RB
Best has even more injury concerns after suffering a scary neck injury midway through last season, but workout-wise he blew everyone away with his wheels blazing a 4.35 40 while flying through the rest of the drills effortlessly both as a runner and a receiver. The 18 reps of 225 pounds showed that his strength is there following his injury.
Winner: Ryan Mathews, Fresno State RB
Mathews, the home-run hitting Fresno State star, is bigger than Jahvid Best and C.J. Spiller, checking in at close to 6 feet and 218 pounds, and he also showed off the necessary straight-line speed with a 4.41. Questions about his receiving ability were answered, at least a little bit, looking like a natural grabbing the ball.
Loser: Jevan Snead, Mississippi QB
Only Colonel Reb, the controversial mascot who was voted out by the Ole Miss students, had a rougher week than QB Jevan Snead and RB Dexter McCluster.
After an extremely disappointing year, Snead, who at one time last offseason was considered skilled enough to be a sleeper for a top 10 draft slot, didn’t do anything to impress. It was a shocker when he chose to forgo his senior season to come out after throwing for just 2,632 yards and 20 touchdowns with 20 interceptions, but family financial issues necessitated the move. He wasn’t a total disaster in Indy as the ball zipped out of his hands on the basic throwing drills, but he didn’t do anything to improve his stock with sloppy mechanics, mediocre athleticism, and no special NFL skills.
Loser: Dexter McCluster, Mississippi RB
At only 5-9 and 172 pounds, McCluster was seen as a potential weapon who at worst could handle the ball a few key times a game, sort of like a poor man’s Reggie Bush, and at best could’ve grown into a Chris Johnson-like breakout player with the same raw skills.
And then came the workout. The 4.55 40, compared to the rest of the pack, was a complete and utter disaster. However, he threw up 20 lifts on the bench and showed off his quickness in the cone drills, but he came up with nothing as a receiver. If he had come up with a 4.4 in the 40 he would’ve been a fringe second rounder, but now it might be tough for many to find him a regular role.
Losers: Second-tier quarterbacks
Penn State’s Daryll Clark (pictured) is built like a fullback, and he occasionally threw like one, too. West Virginia’s Jarrett Brown did the most to help himself, but he didn’t stand out enough to overcome his inconstant play. Appalachian State’s Armanti Edwards proved he’s not an NFL QB in any way, shape or form, and Oregon State’s Sean Canfield showed off a pop-gun for an arm.
There were bright spots. Fordham’s John Skelton is big, strong, and showed off a big-time arm and surprising quickness. Oklahoma State’s Zac Robinson had a surprisingly nice arm and did enough to warrant a long look as a backup, Troy’s Levi Brown created a buzz with his strength and the drive on his throws, and Western Michigan’s Tim Hiller was an athletic shocker.
Loser: Tony Pike, Cincinnati QB
Wit most of the star QB prospects either out or not doing a full workout, this was Pike’s Combine to own. It wasn’t Sugar Bowl vs. Florida ugly, but he did absolutely nothing to stand out.
He appeared too thin even at 223 pounds on his 6-6 frame, showed mediocre athleticism, and was nothing special throwing the ball. While he was ultra-accurate and tremendously productive at Cincinnati, it was time to see if those skills might translate into a pro-style, NFL offense and he ended up spraying his throws a bit too much, didn’t throw tight spirals, and the ball never seemed to explode off his hands. He changed up his throwing motion a bit over the last few weeks and will still get more workouts to show what he can do, but his time in Indy proved that he’s more of a project than a starter-ready prospect.
Loser: Ciron Black, LSU OT
Black, a massive 6-4, 327 pound blocker, was considered a potential franchise tackle early in his LSU career. He had the bulk and he had the talent, but he needed to progress and he needed to improve. Instead, he struggled way too much with his consistency, didn’t grow into an elite all-around blocker, and finished with an underwhelming senior year.
With a chance to show that he deserves a longer look as a tackle at the next level, he bombed by coming up with a mere 23 reps on the bench and looking like a stick in the mud in the athleticism drills. One of the slowest players in the Combine, he also showed no foot quickness and lumbered through the drills. No longer considered a tackle prospect, he’s mainly a guard from here on.
Loser: Brandon LaFell, LSU WR
LaFell has been in the discussion of the top receiver prospects for the last few years, but his decent, not great senior season meant he needed to light up Lucas Oil Stadium like a Christmas tree. The 4.60 40 was glacier slow, he wasn’t quick or athletic compared to the top receivers, and he was sloppy in the pass catching drills. Overall he was decent, but there was a time he was considered a possible top 15 overall prospect and now he might be lucky to go in the second round.
Loser: Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech RB
The toughest scouting task over the last few years is to figure out how spread players might fit into an NFL system. This year, trying to evaluate Dwyer, a superstar in Georgia Tech’s option running attack, is one of the biggest jobs in the draft. He’s a big, 229-pound runner who looks great on film when he’s getting the ball on the move, but does his open- field speed translate to a pro-style attack?
Now there are question marks after he ran a mediocre 4.59 and broad jumped a running back low 8-11 (which measure explosiveness). Making matters worse was the way he lumbered a bit during quickness and passing drills. He’s not a natural receiver and he seemed to fight the ball on the easiest of plays. Had he been great in the workouts he would’ve been a sure first-rounder, but now he might plummet down into the middle rounds
Winner: Taylor Mays, USC safety
There was no question that Mays was going to come up with a great workout with everyone from USC to various insiders to Mays himself hinting that something special was coming, but he cranked out something special.
Mays didn’t come up with the sub-4.4 40 that he was predicting, and he didn’t hit the Chris Johnson-like 4.2 that the NFL Network unofficially timed, but fast is fast and his 4.43 was the best among all the defensive backs. Throw in his 6-3, 230-pound size, 24 reps on the bench, and an NBA-like 41-inch vertical, and his workout overshadowed all his other issues.
For a player of his skills, he had a good, not special career at USC, gambled too much when the ball was in the air, didn’t show any instincts, and didn’t come up with enough of the routine plays. But when a player can run and leap and lift like he can, and look silky-smooth doing it, coaches tend to perk up at the possibilities.
Winner: Eric Berry, Tennessee safety
Don’t go assuming Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy are the two best players in the draft by far. Berry, the Thorpe Award winner, couldn’t have come up with a better workout and now is firmly entrenched as a must-have playmaker who deserves to go in the top five overall.
Berry came up with a special college career as a peerless playmaker and a top tackler and leader, and the raw skills matched the reputation. The hype is now off the charts after tearing off a 4.4, leaping out of the stadium with a 10-10 broad jump, and with all doubts and questions about his size answered with an official measurement of just under 6-feet and 211 pounds. Basically, he looked the part of an elite, special safety who’ll be a star for years to come.
Winner: Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska DT
Just by showing up and competing in the workouts, Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy solidified their places somewhere among the top three overall picks.
Suh was all business, extremely focused, and was every bit as amazing as scouts could’ve hoped for. For a player of his 6-4, 307-pound size, running a sub-5 40, benching 225 pounds an impressive 32 times, and leaping a tremendous 35.5 inches confirmed that he deserves to be considered No. 1 overall.
Winner: Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma DT
McCoy wasn’t quite as impressive as Nebraska's Suh, checking in at a smaller 295 pounds, struggling with a pedestrian (for a defensive tackle) 23 reps on the bench, and not coming up with a Suh-like explosion on the vertical, leaping 30.5 inches. Even so, he was extremely quick, fluid, and proved that he’s a worth challenger for the top spot overall.
Winner: Jerry Hughes, TCU defensive end
The two top defensive playmakers on last year’s great Horned Frog team, DE Jerry Hughes and LB Daryl Washington, were stars of the Combine, too, with tremendous workouts that made them a whole bunch of money.
The big concern for Hughes was whether or not he could make the move from end to outside linebacker. At 6-2 and 255 pounds, he simply doesn’t have the size to be a regular 4-3 lineman. Question answered as he looked like a natural while flying around the cone and shuttle drills like a defensive back, running 4.69 40, and coming up with a solid 26 reps. With this workout he has become the type of prospect who can fit in almost any system, can fill a variety of needs, and can be an explosive game-changer no matter where he plays.
Winner: Daryl Washington, TCU linebacker
Washington had even more to prove than teammate Jerry Hughes. Looking a little smallish at a cut 6-2, 230 pounds, he needed to flash the athleticism and speed to match up with his ultra-productive body of work at the collegiate level, and he came through. The 17 reps were a little light, but he measured well with long arms at 34.5 inches, among the longest of all the linebacker prospects, and his fluid 4.66 40 helped him immensely. His hips were loose, he cut on a dime, and he looked as smooth as anyone on the field.
Winner: A.J. Jefferson, Fresno State CB
For those who say the Combine can’t boost a player’s stock all that much when the body of work isn’t all that great, Jefferson could be an interesting player to keep an eye on. He was fine at Fresno State, but he was hardly a special defensive back and made more noise over his career as returner.
Jefferson only got a full-time gig in the defensive secondary for a year, wasn’t consistent, didn’t have to lock up on too many top receiver prospects, and needs a ton of work. And then came the Combine, a 4.43 40, excellent movement, and the look of a prospect who could be a steal in the middle rounds and be used eventually as a premier nickel and dime back. In other words, the upside just got greater after an excellent workout.
Loser: Joe Haden, Florida CB
Haden was everyone’s No. 1 corner after a special career as the lockdown, tough-tackling corner. On film he’s dynamite, and it could be argued that he was one of college football’s best defensive backs over the last decade.
And then all his great accomplishments flew out the window in less than 10 seconds.
There’s no questioning that Haden is a great football prospect based on what he was able to do on the field, but after two disastrous 40-yard dashes, running an unofficial 4.57 and then an even more painful 4.58, his stock is plummeting.
A No. 1, erase the field, lock-down corner has to be a blazer, and it’s going to be hard for anyone to justify a big payday to a No. 2 corner or one with such a big question mark. Not helping the cause were a few stumbles in the quickness drills and a few other less-than-smooth moments throughout, but it’s not all doom and gloom with a Pro Day to make amends.
Loser: Carlos Dunlap, Florida DE
When you have character issues like Dunlap has, and if you’re trying to get a job that will pay you millions of dollars, you do everything possible to not seem like a guy who has a flaky, might-embarrass-the-club streak. Controversial Oregon RB LeGarrette Blount did that, going out of his way to show how his Boise State incident changed him for the positive, while Dunlap, who got suspended for a DUI and was a well-known knucklehead in the Gator program, reportedly did everything wrong.
He measured well, checking in at 6-6 and 277 pounds, ran well enough with a 4.71 40, and wasn’t awful stat-wise in the other drills, but he didn’t look fluid, didn’t cut as smoothly as an elite NFL pass rushing prospect should, and proved that he is almost certainly an end only. The idea of moving to outside linebacker might have been a possibility for some teams, but that’s gone now.
Loser: Navorro Bowman, Penn State LB
The ultra-productive Nittany Lion star was originally being talked about as possibly the first outside linebacker taken. On the field, he was a tremendous playmaker who got into the backfield on a regular basis and was the best defensive player on a team full of all-star defenders. But his workout hurt his stock and ended any thoughts that he’ll be taken in the top 15.
To be fair, the knock on him going in was that he might be too small and he might need time to adjust to his new weight. The strength was there with an excellent 26 reps on the bench, and while he satisfied the negatives about him possibly being too weak and too smallish to handle himself physically, it came at the expense of his stiffness and awkwardness. He bulked up to 242 pounds after playing far lighter throughout his career, and he didn’t look like the same athlete in any way running a disappointing 4.72 and lumbering through the quickness drills.
Loser: Marshay Green, Mississippi CB
Green had to make up for his lack of size, measuring in under 5-9 and a mere 180 pounds, by showing premier quickness and speed, and he didn’t do it with a horrendous 4.64 40.
Safety Kendrick Lewis, Green's teammate, had the reputation for being a great athlete, but he looked smallish measuring under 6-feet and 198 pounds. He was disastrous in the 40 running a 4.72 and lousy in the weight room with just 16 reps, but he and Green weren’t expected to be sure-thing next-level prospects. DE Greg Hardy is.
Loser: Greg Hardy, Mississippi DE
The former basketball player has a few knocks on him from durability to off-the-field concerns, but talent and athleticism were supposed to mask the issues. He jumped well with a 35-inch vertical, but he only came up with 21 reps and ran a 4.87 40. At 6-4 and 281 pounds the time might not seem that bad, but he’s supposed to be an athletic speed rusher with first-round potential. Not anymore.
Loser: Rolando McClain, Alabama LB
McClain, the Butkus Award winner, is the biggest question mark with grumblings and rumors flying around about 40 time concerns. It might be a case of too many people in the sewing circle spewing ideas, but now McClain has gone from a sure-thing first-rounder with peerless leadership skills and a flawless résumé, to a sure-thing first rounder with peerless leadership skills and a flawless résumé who has made his 40 time a big deal after not running due to a hamstring tweak. He measured a solid 6-3 and 254 pounds, and he lifted a just-fine 24 times on the bench, but he needs to be healthy next week for his Pro Day and he has to run well or he could slip a wee bit.
Loser: Brandon Spikes, Florida LB
Spikes has the 6-3, 249-pound size, and when he was healthy during the season he was playing at a high level (even though he wasn’t nearly as good as he was as a junior), but the worries about his lack of NFL athleticism have blown up into a full-blown panic attack. He didn’t run the 40, was stunningly unrefined and robotic in the agility drills, and he might quickly fall out of the first round after being projected as a top 10 prospect a year ago at this time. — College Football News