Posted: Monday March 28, 2005 12:52PM; Updated: Monday March 28, 2005 12:52PM
Before the Combine, most experts had Cedric Benson rated as the top RB prospect in the draft.
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Another big week of pro-day workouts wrapped up on Friday with one of the most anticipated workouts of the scouting season: that of Texas running back Cedric Benson.
After skipping the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, the pressure was all on Benson, since the nation's other top running-back prospects (Auburn's Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams) turned in splendid Combine performances. For Benson to reclaim the top spot, he needed to notch good results.
Sadly, It didn't happen. The majority of scouts on hand timed Benson between 4.60 and 4.68 in the 40-yard dash, close to .2 of a second slower than Brown. His 20-yard shuttle times averaged 4.35 seconds, his three-cone times in the 7.55-range and his vertical jump measured 33 inches -- totals that were worse than those of the running backs who participated in the Combine.
Another highly rated prospect who pinned his hopes on a pro-day workout only to come away disappointed was Virginia OG Elton Brown. Brown snubbed NFL scouts earlier this year by leaving the Senior Bowl with a sprained MCL, then bypassed Combine workouts. Weighing in at 330 pounds last week, he was able only to complete 19 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press, turn in a 26.5-inch vertical jump and run one 40-yard dash in a time of 5.80 seconds. Like Benson, those marks were poor when compared with those of offensive linemen who took part in the Combine.
On the other side of the coin, two linebackers turned in positive performances and likely enhanced their draft stock.
Derrick Johnson of Texas followed up a brilliant display at the Combine by turning in impressive marks in all the positional drills last week during the Longhorns' pro day. He likely proved himself worthy of a top-10 selection in next month's draft. Virginia linebacker Darryl Blackstock also significantly improved his marks from Indianapolis. Clocking a pair of 40s around 4.60 seconds apiece, he was almost a full .15 seconds faster then his Combine times. Blackstock also impressed scouts with good work in the position drills.
A handful of draft-eligible Bulldogs turned in swift times at the Georgia pro day, though a fast track and strong wind aided the prospects. Safety Thomas Davis ran his 40-yard sprints in the 4.45 range, while receiver Fred Gibson was faster at 4.40. But Georgia's other wideout, Reggie Brown, was fastest, at 4.37.
Another NFL hopeful who significantly improved his draft rating was defensive lineman Tyler King of Connecticut. Measuring in at just under 6-feet-5 inches and 270 pounds, King flew across the Huskies' indoor track with 40 times of less than 4.80 seconds. He played in only six games during the '04 season, missing half the campaign with a broken leg -- that may have some bearing on his draft-day outcome.
Finally, Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell, the '04 SEC Offensive Player of the Year, continued his charge up draft boards. At 227 pounds, Campbell recorded a pair of 40s at 4.75 seconds and added a 38-inch vertical jump. But it was his passing workout that most impressed scouts. Campbell was on the money with all his throws and looked almost flawless throughout the session. And while some question his arm strength, Campbell answered any potential criticism by effortlessly firing the ball 60 yards down field during the workout.