Combine dashes help improve prospects' chancesPosted: Monday February 24, 2003 7:08 PM
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Southern California's Justin Fargas turned heads with a faster-than-expected time in the 40-yard dash, while Middle Tennessee State's Dwone Hicks turned off NFL scouts by not running at all.
The distinctions will become more apparent as teams begin rating the 323 players who attended the league's annual combine.
Some players, like Fargas, will see their grades improve after Monday's final workouts. Others, like Hicks, could fall completely out of the draft.
"If I was a running back, I would have killed myself to work out here, like Justin Fargas," Houston general manager Charlie Casserly said. "Do you know how many people are going to go back and think, 'He has heart, he's been productive -- and look at that time.' You've got to weigh the injury history, but he helped himself here."
Several other players joined Fargas in doing that.
Two top defensive ends from Miami, Jerome McDougle and Andrew Williams, helped themselves by running in the 4.6s on Saturday. Times can vary slightly, depending on which team's stopwatch is used.
Kansas State cornerback Terence Newman, like McDougle, was one of the few top prospects who decided to run and helped solidify his status with timings in the mid-4.3 range Monday.
Newman's performance might have been expected, since he twice won the Big 12 title in the 100-meter dash. The surprises came from people such as South Florida linebacker Kawika Mitchell, who was listed last year at 6-foot-2, 255 pounds and ran in the 4.7 range.
"He's a big guy, but he can run," New York Jets head coach Herman Edwards said.
Fargas, however, could have been the biggest winner of weeklong combine, despite concerns about a badly broken right leg during his freshman season.
While only 13 of the 32 running backs invited actually ran, Fargas didn't hesitate. By running in the 4.3s twice on what many players consider a slow RCA Dome surface, Fargas demonstrated he was fit, and that his impressive senior season was no fluke.
His showing probably will elevate his ranking in a below-average crop of running backs.
"It surprised me," said Detroit Lions president Matt Millen. "That's a pretty good time. I think he helped himself, but I think he helped himself more at the Senior Bowl than he did here."
Other players were not as fortunate.
Iowa State quarterback Seneca Wallace decided not to work out at any other position, prompting Casserly to suggest Wallace consider playing in Canada if he wanted to be a pro quarterback.
Another player who struggled was Miami quarterback Ken Dorsey, whose workout did not impress team executives and scouts.
But the player who might have hurt himself the most was Hicks, a 5-foot-11, 224-pound running back who gained 1,011 yards with 11 touchdowns last year.
Hicks did not play in the Senior Bowl, where some small-school players got noticed, and he chose not to run at the combine, gambling instead that scouts would show up for a personal workout where he may post a faster time.
But Hicks may not get that chance.
"Hey, there's only so many days in the spring, and I'm not traveling to Middle Tennessee State," said Casserly, whose team may be looking to draft a running back. "I doubt many offensive coordinators will go there, either."