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Snap Judgments

Dorsey still a top 5 pick; Flacco, Mendenhall climbing

Posted: Sunday February 24, 2008 7:44PM; Updated: Monday February 25, 2008 9:37AM
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There are fewer injury concerns with Glenn Dorsey than there were last year with Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson.
There are fewer injury concerns with Glenn Dorsey than there were last year with Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson.

INDIANAPOLIS -- Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we wrap up "money day" -- when the quarterbacks, receivers and running backs all run and work out -- at the NFL Scouting Combine....

• While some NFL team doctors may find a 2006 stress fracture in the right tibia of LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey worrisome, it is not widely considered to be an injury that is expected to greatly alter his top-five draft projection. Dorsey's history with the injury is said to not be as big a concern as running back Adrian Peterson's shoulder/clavicle problem was within the league last year at this time.

Dorsey opted to not work out at the combine because he ceased preparing for it recently when his grandmother died. While NFL decision-makers take all injuries seriously when it comes to potential first-round picks, with the large financial stake that they require, league personnel men seem satisfied that Dorsey has successfully played despite the tibia issue for the past two seasons.

"When you're one of the top players people are looking for negatives," Dorsey said Sunday. "They're looking for anything. But I played four years. I played every game since I've been with LSU. Who doesn't get hurt during the year?"

One NFL club executive told me: "He's fine as far as we're concerned. He passed our physical. Our doctors have a good comfort level with Dorsey. He put on a dominating performance in the national championship game, and that was his most recent game. I don't think we're worried about him."

• Arkansas running back Darren McFadden had a superb Sunday and did nothing but strengthen his case for being the premier prospect in the 2008 draft. He did far more than just run well, although his 4.33 time in the 40-yard dash was eye-opening enough (early reports had him as quick as 4.27, but those proved to be inaccurate).

McFadden competed superbly in all facets of his workout, and showed himself to be a complete package. He wasn't just a sprinter showing off his great straight line speed on the playing surface of the RCA Dome. He caught the ball well, showed great explosiveness in everything he did, and impressed scouts with his enthusiasm and approach to his work.

While McFadden still may not go in the draft's top three due to the needs of the team picking up high, he showed himself to be an elite athlete who like Peterson last year may linger on the board longer than he deserves to.

• Contrast the way McFadden attacked his combine opportunity with the approach taken by the draft's consensus top-rated quarterback, Boston College's Matt Ryan. Nobody's saying that it has already hurt his status as a likely top three pick, but there's a sense among some NFL personnel men that Ryan seems to be trying to run out the clock in terms of the scouting season.

Ryan skipped the Senior Bowl last month, and then he was the only top-rated passer who opted not to throw for scouts in Indianapolis (he did all other drills). Instead he'll throw at his pro day workout at Boston College on March 18, where he said he'll be more comfortable working with his complement of Eagles receivers (The irony there is that he didn't have great receivers at BC).

Many feel that the choice not to throw at the combine wasn't Ryan's as much as it was that of his agent, the high-profile Tom Condon. Last year, another first-round quarterback/Condon client, Notre Dame's Brady Quinn, chose not to throw in Indy as well. You could make the case that the decision certainly didn't serve Quinn well come draft day, when he went into freefall, tumbling from the top 10 to No. 22 Cleveland.

"I just wanted to show the scouts what I'd be like in a game-type situation, with guys I know," said Ryan, who as expected turned in a middling time (4.96) in his 40-yard dash. "I can do that best at my pro day."

Although his pro day at Boston College will be well attended, it won't have a bigger audience than the one he passed up on Sunday, when about 700 league scouts were looking on. In the quarterback-starved NFL, maybe it won't wind up hurting Ryan's draft stock a bit. Then again, we're about a month into preparation for the draft, and NFL scouts still haven't seen him throw live since he last wore a Boston College uniform.

• Of the quarterbacks who did take the field and hum the pigskin around, nobody looked better than Delaware's Joe Flacco, whose impressive arm strength was on full display. Flacco, who worked out as part of the first quarterback grouping Sunday morning in the dome, showed good accuracy and the ability to adjust his passes to different receivers.

You can expect Flacco to keep moving up the draft board after his pace-setting combine performance, and I'm hearing that he's now considered a great bet to crack the lower portion of the first round.

"If you said to me before the season that Flacco would be drafted before (Louisville quarterback Brian) Brohm, I would have said you're nuts,'' one veteran AFC personnel man told me late Sunday afternoon. "But now I could definitely see it happening. I could see some team trying really hard to jump back into the late first round to take Flacco."

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