Posted: Wednesday March 1, 2006 12:15PM; Updated: Wednesday March 1, 2006 1:54PM
By Tony Pauline, Special to SI.com
Big-name blockers and lesser-known players improved their stock during the offensive line workout.
A former tight end, Oklahoma's Chris Chester, was easily the top athlete on the floor of the RCA Dome. One of only two blockers to run a 40 under five seconds, Chester cemented himself as a top 75-selection.
The other lineman to break that mark was another former tight end, GuyWhimper of East Carolina. A late bloomer, Whimper came on late as a senior and continued to impress scouts at the combine.
USC lineman Winston Justice elevated his stock and cemented himself as a top-15 choice. Those on hand were impressed how he slid off the edge during pass-blocking drills.
Ohio State center Nick Mangold continued to improve and solidified a first-round standing with his performance.
As a group, none looked as impressive as the defensive linemen.
Defensive end Mario Williams is one of the top four players in this draft. After measuring in at 6-feet-7-inches, Williams ran a 4.75 and turned in an outstanding workout.
Williams' North Carolina State linemate, Manny Lawson, is now considered a lock for the fist round. At 6-5, 242 pounds, Lawson ran faster then most of the receivers, clocking a 4.45.
Florida State had a pair of impressive prospects who now grade out as mid-first round selections. Kamerion Wimbley was outstanding during the practice session after running a 4.64. Defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley also improved his draft stock.
MikeKudla's workout numbers were the talk of the combine after he ran a 4.73 and benched 225 pounds 46 times. The undersized Ohio State pass rusher (6-3, 265) showed great movement skills during defensive line and linebacker drills.
Two SEC stars, Parys Haralson from Tennessee and Alabama's MarkAnderson, also stood out.
Several linebackers turned in stellar performances, but none was more impressive than A.J. Hawk.
The former Ohio State Buckeye ran well and awed scouts during practice with his athleticism and explosion. Hawk was also a terrific interview, according several team sources, who also mentioned that his intensity and love of the game was infectious during private conversations.
Another Big Ten product, Chad Greenway, also had a solid combine. Though not as flashy as Hawk, the pride of Iowa was efficient during his entire workout.
Florida State's Ernie Sims was outstanding, running near a 4.5. The 231-pound Sims covered an exceptional amount of area on the field during drills.
UTEP's Thomas Howard improved his draft stock as did Terna Nande of Miami (Ohio).
Nande, who missed most of last season with a lacerated liver, completed 41 repetitions on the bench and ran a 4.52. Scouts left the combine vowing to reassess Nande based on his performance.
A trio of defensive backs elevated their draft stock with Michael Huff leading the way.
Huff was outstanding from start to finish. Running faster then expected, he clocked a 4.35 and left scouts in awe. Expect this Texas Longhorn to make a run toward the top seven.
After a standout performance at the Senior Bowl, Tye Hill of Clemson was once again stellar. Hill was faster then Huff, running a 4.31.
Finally, Daniel Bullocks is soaring up draft boards. The swift-moving, 212-pound Bullocks ran a 4.38 and was very impressive during the practice session. Scouts feel Daniel has better instincts and movement skills than his twin brother, Josh, a second-round pick of the New Orleans Saints in 2005 and now a starter.