Posted: Saturday February 26, 2005 8:12PM; Updated: Sunday February 27, 2005 10:52AM
Maurice Clarett may have run himself out of the draft by averaging 4.77 in his two 40-yard dashes.
INDIANAPOLIS -- This just in: It appears Maurice Clarett has false-started once again on his prospective NFL career. The question of the day at the NFL Scouting Combine was whether the controversial former Ohio State running back ran himself off everyone's draft board with his painfully slow 40-yard dash times.
In his two cracks at the 40 on Saturday at the RCA Dome, Clarett false-started, then ran a glacier-like 4.82 and followed it up with a slightly improved 4.72. Those times were both unofficial, but were said to represent the "consensus clock,'' which is the average of four different combine timing devices. Scouts from other teams timed him anywhere from 4.75 to 4.9.
What wasn't unofficial was the buzz that Clarett's poor showing produced within the halls of the Indiana Convention Center, where NFL coaches and personnel officials reacted to the news with withering reviews of Clarett's plummeting draft standing. If there ever was a chance Clarett could crack the draft's first day and be selected in the opening three rounds, those dreams took less than five seconds to disappear.
Said one veteran personnel man: "He may not even get drafted now. No, he'll probably still get drafted, but it'll be by someone who has a compensatory pick to burn in the seventh round. But the truth is, he was a second-day pick even if he ran a 4.48. The guy just stepped on so many toes here last year.''
Said another league personnel veteran: "Well, that takes care of that. He'll go in the seventh round if he's lucky. He should be a collegiate free agent at this point. If anybody drafts him now, it's just because they really wanted to in the first place.''
Several head coaches we queried about Clarett's 40 times begged off answering, offering up various versions of the motto, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.''
Making matters worse for Clarett, after his disappointing 40 times he pulled on his gray combine sweatshirt and left the field, having done nothing more than run, and take part in the vertical leap and broad jump drills. That despite saying on Thursday that he planned to participate in all running back drills.
In a post-workout interview with the NFL Network, Clarett seemed to sense just how much damage his slow 40s had done to his flagging draft hopes.
"It was a tough day for me,'' Clarett said. "To be working so hard and so long on those drills and then to kind of mess it up, it's extremely frustrating. To do this, it kind of put me in the tank a little bit. I can't really explain it. To take this much time on this and still mess it up, after getting up at 5 a.m. some days, that's what is most frustrating. I had a year to work on this.''
Taking a back to the drawing board approach, Clarett said he would hold a pro day workout after all, scheduling it for March 8 at Ohio State. On Thursday, Clarett had said he would not conduct a pro day workout, choosing instead to do all his drill work at the combine.