Sunday's top Combine performers

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Adam Caplan

Adam Caplan is our newest NFL reporter/insider at He has spent the past 10 seasons covering the league, specializing in player personnel, injuries and contracts.


Sunday marked the second day of full workouts at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine.

Let's take a look at who stole the show.

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Top five performances

1. Ryan Mallett/QB/Arkansas — Other than Cam Newton, no other quarterback had as much to prove as Mallett coming into Sunday’s events.

The strong-armed passer showed why he has one of the best arms available in the draft.

Mallett threw the ball with relative ease during the entire throwing session. He clearly can make any NFL throw.

Being this was my 10th Combine, I can recall only a few better performances from a throwing standpoint over the years (Joe Flacco and Jay Cutler come to mind), so Mallett certainly helped himself Sunday. What he needs to do now is get with a strong media coach to help him interview better.

2. Julio Jones/WR/Alabama — I came in thinking he’s a 4.5 (in the 40-yard dash), but Jones posted an unexpected 4.39, the fifth best time overall Sunday.

We also knew coming in that he had terrific pair of hands. They were on display for all of the NFL to see. He continued to snatch the ball out of the air. He also did well in the broad jump and bench press.

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Jones, who really helped himself, shouldn’t last past the draft's first 10 picks.

3. Edmond Gates/WR/Abilene Christian — The first thing probably out of most fans’ mouths was, “Who is this guy?”

Much like former Abilene Christian wide receiver Johnny Knox, Gates came into the Combine as a relative unknown, but he leaves having posted a blistering 4.37 40-yard dash time. He also put up a solid 40-inch vertical jump.

Gates was off to a great start during Senior Bowl week in January only to suffer a hamstring injury, so he’s back on the minds of the scouting community after his strong performances Sunday.

4. Stephen Paea/DT/Oregon State — Despite dealing with a torn meniscus which he suffered during Senior Bowl week, Paea wound up posting the bench press record of 49 reps at 225 pounds.


These Combine workout warriors have enchanted teams for big paydays.

The interior defensive lineman could have easily skipped working out because of his injury and worked out during his pro day, so give him credit for doing what he did.

Paea, according to personnel sources, was thought to be a rock solid second-round pick coming into the Combine, so it will be interesting if he moves up draft boards. His bench press performance shows that he has tremendous upper body strength.

5. Leonard Hankerson/WR/Miami (Fla.) — Hankerson was already thought to be one of the best senior wide receivers available. But his 4.43 40-yard dash time was a surprise considering he gets labeled so much as a possession wide receiver.

Hankerson, who also was impressive during Senior Bowl practices, helped solidify himself as a definite second-round pick.

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