Combine review: Which prospects helped, hurt themselves the most
Pat White did enough to keep himself listed as a QB on draft boards
Andre Smith will be a future model of what not to do at the combine
Aaron Curry went from top linebacker to possibly draft's top player
The NFL's annual pilgrimage to Indianapolis for the scouting combine is complete for 2009. Scouts, coaches and general managers will now crisscross the map to attend pro-day workouts at schools across the nation. The impressions from this year's combine have left their mark as a number players moved up or down draft boards based on their performance. Here's a look at who helped himself and hurt himself most at every position.
HELPED: Pat White/West Virginia -- White did what a quarterback is supposed to do at the combine by displaying accuracy, arm strength and consistency making the required NFL passes. At the very least White's combine performance is forcing NFL decision makers to keep him in the quarterback equation moving towards April.
HURT: Josh Freeman/Kansas State -- Scouts questioned Freeman's decision to enter the draft after a very mediocre junior season in '08. His combine workout did nothing to quell that criticism. Freeman showed the physical tools to play at the next level yet his erratic passing and inaccurate throws were not the makings of a top 45 prospect.
HELPED: Ian Johnson/Boise State -- Johnson did not have a mind blowing workout at the combine yet was very solid and ranked in the top 10 of just about every category for the running backs. He came out a big winner as scouts no longer feel Johnson is simply a third down back or situational runner. Johnson, who measured 5-foot-11 and 212 pounds before timing at 4.45 in the 40 and completing 26 reps on the bench, is now being viewed as a potential feature runner. This alone will improve his draft stock almost a full round.
HURT: Branden Ore/West Liberty State -- Ore, who was once a star at Virginia Tech, was characterized as a one-speed ball carrier coming into the combine. He struggled to break 4.7 seconds in the 40 as no one realized how slow that speed was.
HELPED: Johnny Knox/Abilene Christian -- Knox was little known before the combine outside of scouting circles yet he made a name for himself in Indianapolis. His 40 time of 4.3 seconds ranked with the elite receivers in this draft and his pass catching workout also stood out. His performance is reminiscent of recent small school pass catchers such as Jerome Simpson of Coastal Carolina and Appalachian State's Dexter Jackson. Both Simpson and Jackson were elevated into the second round based on their combine workout and Knox can expect the same.
HURT: Jaison Williams/Oregon -- Williams capped a poor senior season with a terrible combine performance. He was not only slow in the 40 (4.7) but also dropped a number of catchable passes during the workout.
HELPED: Jason Smith/Baylor -- Smith benefited from factors he controlled at the combine and those which he did not. His workout was terrific as the 309-pound tackle ran well and answered questions about his strength by completing 33 reps on the bench. Smith's work in the position drills was also effective and he established himself as one of this draft's more athletic linemen. Part of his rise also had to do with the shenanigans of the other Smith.
HURT: Andre Smith/Alabama -- His actions last week will be used by players moving forward on what not to do after being invited to the combine. Smith's playing skills are undiminished by his escapades at the combine. Yet the immaturity, selfishness and sheer stupidity he displayed in Indianapolis will make teams pause before using an early pick on Smith, a pick that will guarantee him millions of dollars.
HELPED: Connor Barwin/Cincinnati -- Barwin, a converted tight end, was barely on the radar screen of scouts before the season began. He turned in a dominant senior season in which he cemented himself as a top 60 choice then made his case to be a first rounder at the combine. Barwin finished in the top five of every workout category for the defensive linemen except one (bench press). Barwin proved to be a terrific football player last year and at Indianapolis also showed he's a great athlete. That's the stuff first round picks are made of.
HURT: Maurice Evans/Penn State -- Evans was once considered a big time NFL prospect. After his combine performance he may not even get drafted in April. He was short (6-foot-1.5), slow (5.0 in the 40) and not strong (17 reps on the bench).
HELPED: Aaron Curry/Wake Forest -- Curry was already the highest rated linebacker entering the combine, so how can he climb any higher? In a year where there's no single dominant prospect and in a draft which has many questions at the top, Curry may not only be the best player but the safest pick. His total workout on the turf of Lucas Oil Stadium was sensational in every way and Curry made his case for being the number one selection in April.
HURT: Rey Maualuga/USC -- The woes continue for a player many justifiably considered a top five pick entering the year. Maualuga was poorly conditioned at the Senior Bowl and was in no better physical shape at the combine. Scouts now wonder how naïve Maualuga may be to this entire process and are concerned it may carry over to the next level.
HELPED: Morgan Trent/Michigan -- Bettering the expectations placed upon you by NFL scouts is part of the game at the combine and Trent did a complete job of that on the final day. He was faster, stronger and more athletic than scouts ever thought. The feeling is Trent can play either cornerback or safety, a versatility you cannot place a price on in the age of salary cap football. Trent was a fringe top 100 choice after the season but his Senior Bowl and combine performances have pushed him into the draft's initial 60 picks.
HURT: Malcolm Jenkins/Ohio State -- Jenkins' story has been beaten like a dead horse since it first broke on SI.com. He can still be a quality player in the NFL but the facts are defensive backs who run 4.55 seconds in the 40 don't get selected in the draft's top eight selections, as many thought Jenkins would before the combine began.
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