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Posted: Sunday February 22, 2009 4:55PM; Updated: Tuesday February 24, 2009 9:40AM
Don Banks Don Banks >
INSIDE THE NFL

Snap Judgments: QBs at combine

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• One of the bigger combine sub-plots centers on top-rated cornerback Malcolm Jenkins and how fast he runs here on Tuesday. There's debate within the NFL whether Jenkins is fast enough to play cornerback in the league, or if he'll have to shift to safety to compensate for his lack of speed.

"I've heard all the speculation about how I'm going to run,'' Jenkins said Sunday. "Wherever it came from, it definitely snowballed. If I run slow, I'm going to be a safety. It's not something I'm worried about. It's all up to how I run and I'm really confident in what I'm going to do with that.''

The expectations are that Jenkins will be in the 4.5 range, but he said he's confident he can beat that number and put himself firmly into the cornerback bin in this year's draft.

"If you watch my film, I might not look as fast as some other guys, but I'm going to come out here and perform and do what I've been doing for four years,'' Jenkins said. "There's nothing to hide. It's funny to me, because you play and you've got four years of playing cornerback, and you think you're doing well, and it's like none of that means anything. Everybody has something to prove.''

• Talk about anticlimactic. With great fanfare, Michael Crabtree was ushered into the media room Sunday morning to give a statement about his stress fracture injury, after which no questions were allowed.

The statement lasted a good 15 seconds or so, meaning he's no Bill Belichick in my book.

"It's an old injury I've been having,'' Crabtree said. "I've never had any pain in it. I will run my 40, and after I do that, I will have surgery. I'm looking forward to going to the next level.''

All of which we knew Saturday night, once the NFL Network's Adam Schefter reported it.

• It doesn't really seem like the Combine without the University of Miami having a first-round prospect. The Hurricanes don't even have a first-day prospect this year, a startling fact for a program that has had at least one player picked in the first round for 14 consecutive years, a streak that began in 1995 with Warren Sapp's selection by Tampa Bay.

But times have changed, and Miami's first-round streak was almost snapped last year, when safety Kenny Phillips was the final pick of the first round, No. 31 by the Giants. Cornerback Bruce Johnson is the only UM prospect here this weekend, and he's considered a candidate to be selected in the middle rounds of the draft.

• New Jets head coach Rex Ryan admitted this week that he's taking on 2008 first-round pick Vernon Gholston as his own personal project of sorts. Gholston was easily the biggest miss of last year's first round, giving the Jets virtually nothing as a rookie after being taken sixth overall. The former Ohio State linebacker-defensive end looked absolutely lost for much of the season, and was not even making New York's game-day active roster by year's end.

"He's the type of physical presence you look for, and what's happened in the past is in the past,'' Ryan said this week. "We focus on our future and what's in front of us. I can tell you this: Vernon's been working out already. Vernon Gholston wants to be an outstanding football player, and he's showing a great passion for it. I would anticipate Vernon having a big year for us.''

What else is Ryan supposed to say, right? But with a defensive-oriented resume like Ryan has, you can't dismiss his reclamation project efforts with Gholston.

"We've got to get the most out of all our guys,'' Ryan said. "If that means I'm going to take a bigger turn at him, maybe that's factual. That might be a true statement.''

• Boil it all down and the situation within the Giants organization seems to be this: general manager Jerry Reese and quarterback Eli Manning definitely want Plaxico Burress back if he manages to avoid jail time for his self-inflicted gunshot wound, and head coach Tom Coughlin pretty clearly is willing to move on without his troubled and distraction-creating top receiver.

All things being equal, I'd put my money on Reese and Manning's viewpoint to win out, providing Burress gives the Giants no further reasons to get annoyed with him. Such as agent Drew Rosenhaus trying to shop him around the league in a trade without the Giants' permission.

• Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew ran a disappointing 4.87 on Saturday, but it's not as if scouts really saw the Cowboys star as a pass-catching talent who is capable of challenging a defense vertically. Pettigrew's forte is his blocking ability, and he was expected to be an underneath option in an NFL passing game.

Pettigrew might not crack the top 15 as first expected, but his bad 40 time won't cost him his first-round status or his billing as the draft's best overall tight end grade.

 
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