Most talk of first two days surrounds medical examsPosted: Saturday March 02, 2002 11:37 PM
By Tony Pauline, TFY Draft Preview
INDIANAPOLIS -- The initial two days at the Combine have produced no startling performances and most of the talk has been of the medical exams and as usual, who is not going to work out at the RCA Dome.
The offensive linemen took a while to get off the snide on Friday as many were unable to finish their workouts due to flight schedules. Through the early morning hours of Saturday many of the top prospects were being shuttled between the RCA Dome and MRI facilities to have their joints checked for past injuries. One lineman had an MRI scheduled for early this morning and said he hoped to make it back in time to participate in the bench press and 40-yard dash.
The reasoning is simple: Organizations would rather invest several thousand now to make sure someone is healthy then go into a situation blind and end up losing millions on players with hidden injuries. Aaron Gibson (Lions-shoulder) Mitch Marrow (Panthers-back), and Michael Boireau (Vikings-eye) are all examples of prospects that were injured before they even arrived to the NFL and are what the teams here in Indianapolis are hoping to guard against.
Many of the top prospects did not heed the call of the NFLPA choosing instead to workout at their school’s Pro-Day rather then here in Indianapolis. In what has become an annual occurrence, none of the top prospects from the University of Miami have worked out and the only Hurricane that did participate, guard Martin Bibla, performed admirably on the bench press pushing up 35 repetitions but decided that was enough and did not to participate in any of the other tests.
Already, highly ranked defensive linemen such as Albert Haynesworth, Wendell Bryant and Kalimba Edwards have said they will not participate in Sunday’s workout, while wide receiver Ashley Lelie of Hawaii is complaining of a bad hamstring and is leaning towards sitting on the sidelines and waiting for his pro-day.
Thus far, the smartest-looking offensive lineman has been Mike Pearson of Florida. After raising eyebrows when he entered the draft after a poor junior campaign, Pearson turned in a solid workout completing 25 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press then posted two forty times in the low 5.0 range (5.05 and 5.08 to be exact). Pearson topped it off by looking tremendous during drills and may have pushed himself into the late part of the first round.
Several other linemen improved their stock with solid showings on Friday and Saturday including center Scott Peters of Arizona State, who, after throwing the bar on the bench press around like it was a hollow piece of wood (he completed 36 reps) went out and excelled in all the blocking drills. Another center, Melvin Fowler of Maryland, was solid as well and both these prospects could be heading for the draft’s first day.
What many expected to be a grand battle at the running back position fizzled after several poor performances. Boston College’s William Green lifted well on the bench press yesterday (27 reps) but turned in a pair of disappointing 40-times right around the 4.55 range. He then compounded the problem by not completing the workout or staying for the pass catching drills, which were critical for him. T.J. Duckett was said to be bothered by a groin strain and will wait until March 12 before he displays his wares for the scouts at Michigan State.
Deshaun Foster of UCLA ran admirably (4.57 range) but did not display the same hands out of the backfield as he did during the Senior Bowl. Small school product Lamar Gordon did not run as fast as hope (both clockings in the 4.50 range) and like Foster, was a little inconsistent catching the ball.
The running backs did offer a few surprises. Iowa fullback Jeremy Allen ran well then displayed the ability to make the long reception down the field with regularity. Demontray Carter of Troy State and Texas Tech’s Ricky Williams both blistered in the low 4.4-range and looked solid in the post-test drills.
Nebraska’s Eric Crouch had a rather inconsistent day. After starting off well with a pair of forty-times equal to both Carter and Williams, he was not effective running or catching the ball afterwards and seemed to take a while to get his feet underneath him. To his credit, Couch finished strong and will have more opportunities, as he will be working with the quarterbacks tomorrow and defensive backs Monday.
Josh Scobey of Kansas State was also fleet across the RCA Dome carpet on Saturday and ran a pair of blistering forty times.
Overall, no prospect made a big move into the early part of the draft based on the past two days. The hope Sunday is at least one quarterback will stand out and hopefully the receivers will offer something to brag about. It must be a strange year at the combine, we’ve yet to see any players from Florida State.