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Discipline of Steel
02-22-2009, 03:01 PM
Looks like combine results are a good predictor of success at the NFL level.

http://www.profootballweekly.com/PFW/NF ... 022209.htm (http://www.profootballweekly.com/PFW/NFLDraft/Scouting+Combine/2009/arkush022209.htm)

Working it all out

How top performers in '08 Combine workouts fared as rookies

By Dan Arkush
Feb. 22, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS — And they're off!

The early 2009 Combine workout results have been posted, and you can bet your bottom dollar that the top talent evaluators from every NFL team took notice of the numbers registered by South Carolina’s Jared Cook, who was cooking on all cylinders Saturday when he set the pace in the vertical-leap, bench-press and broad-jump categories.

Same goes for Nebraska’s Lydon Murtha, the top dog among offensive linemen in the three-cone drills and 20-yard shuttles.
Although these accomplishments are not a sure signal that Cook and Murtha are destined for top-of-the-line gridiron success, they certainly figure to put them on a faster track, since more often than not it would appear the NFL Scouting Combine’s workout warriors end up working out just fine at the pro level.

With that thought in mind, ProFootballWeekly.com recaps just how well the top performer at each position at the 2008 Combine did in his recently completed rookie campaign:

QUARTERBACK (Joe Flacco / Delaware) — The best efforts in each drill were widespread. San Diego QB Josh Johnson was the only signalcaller with top numbers in multiple categories (40-yard dash, vertical leap), but Flacco’s pacesetting effort in the cone drill (6.82) spearheaded a solid overall workout performance that no doubt influenced the Ravens’ decision to make him the 18th overall selection in the ’08 draft. Showing a lot more mobility than many draft evaluators expected, Flacco quickly proved it wasn’t a fluke, with a 38-yard TD rumble in Baltimore’s season-opening victory over Cincinnati. He never looked back, leading the Ravens to an unlikely playoff berth with the poise of a seasoned veteran.

RUNNING BACK (Chris Johnson / East Carolina) — We’re going with Johnson on the strength of his top 4.26 40-time, which set the table for his surprising first-round selection by the Titans as the 24th overall pick. Johnson went on to earn a Pro Bowl berth after finishing third in the AFC in rushing with 1,229 yards and 10 total TDs. Oregon’s Jonathan Stewart, one of two first-round selections by Carolina, who also went on to have a strong rookie season while sharing the Panthers’ rushing load with DeAngelo Williams, could have just as easily been dubbed the top Combine performer at his position, posting the best results in the bench-press and vertical-leap categories.

FULLBACK (Jacob Hester / LSU) — Registering the top scores in the 40-yard dash and 20-yard shuttle, the undersized Hester was selected in the third round by San Diego and went on to become a solid lead blocker and special-teams performer who took on a more prominent role after LaDainian Tomlinson was hurt and Darren Sproles was called upon to pick up the slack.

CENTER (Mike Pollak / Arizona State) — Pollak stood out among Combine centers with the best performances in four categories — bench press, 40-yard dash, broad jump and 20-yard shuttle. Drafted in the second round by the Colts, he made a seamless transition to the guard position, cracking the starting lineup in each of the 13 games in which he played.

OFFENSIVE GUARD (Branden Albert / Virginia) — After managing the best numbers in the vertical leap, broad jump and 20-yard shuttle, Albert was the Chiefs’ second first-round selection at the 15th spot. Overcoming foot and arm injuries in the preseason, he stepped right in as the starting left tackle and did a very respectable job, allowing only 4½ sacks, with no holds and only one false start.

OFFENSIVE TACKLE (Jake Long / Michigan) — After polishing off a Combine-best 37 bench-press reps at his position and posting solid overall cumbers, it didn’t take long at all for the top pick of the ’08 draft to establish himself as a legitimate force at left tackle for the Dolphins. Long was instrumental in the Dolphins’ stunning resurgence last season, doing a great job of protecting Chad Pennington’s blind side from Day One.

TIGHT END (Justin Keller / Purdue) — Nobody generated more workout buzz last year than Keller, who finished in first place at his position in the 40, vertical leap, broad jump and 20-yard shuttle. Drafted near the bottom of the first round by the Jets, he went to have an uneven rookie campaign. But he opened some eyes with a midseason surge.

WIDE RECEIVER (Eddie Royal / Virginia Tech) — After pumping out a pacesetting 24 bench reps and doing well overall, he proved to be a royal steal for the Broncos as their second-round selection. Royal burst out of the chute like a bat out of hell and finished the season as Denver’s second-leading receiver with 91 catches for 980 yards and five TDs. He also cranked out 740 total yards on kickoff returns and had 11 rushes for 109 yards.

DEFENSIVE END (Vernon Gholston / Ohio State) — It remains to be seen whether Gholston becomes Mike Mamula Jr., but after excelling with the top efforts in the bench press, vertical leap and broad jump at the Combine, which led to him being selected sixth overall by the Jets, Gholston turned out to be a major rookie disappointment relegated to backup duty. There are some talent evaluators who believe new Jets head coach Rex Ryan could turn around Gholston by just turning him loose in a far less complicated scheme than the one used by Eric Mangini in ’08.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE (Jason Jones / Eastern Michigan) — A clear-cut Combine stud with the top performances in the 40, broad jump, 20-yard shuttle and cone drill, Jones didn’t disappoint after being selected in the second round by the Titans. Jones showed enough to make the Titans seriously consider allowing Albert Haynesworth to move on to greener pastures via free agency. His 3½-sack effort in place of Haynesworth in Tennessee’s Week 16 win over Pittsburgh was one of the ’08 season’s best individual performances.

INSDIDE LINEBACKER (Jerod Mayo / Tennessee) — After looking impressive in all the workouts, especially his position-leading 4.55 40-time, Mayo more than justified his first-round selection by New England with an outstanding rookie campaign. He proved himself to be a cornerstone defender — which could be just what the doctor ordered for a Patriots team that will have 22 free agents in 2009.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (Stanford Keglar / Purdue) — Yet another workout warrior drafted by the Titans, who one would have to think put considerable stock in Combine workouts based on this rundown. Keglar displayed flashes after being drafted in the fourth round. He was a man against boys in last year’s OLB drills, registering the top efforts in the bench press, 20-yard shuttle, 60-yard shuttle and cone drill.

CORNERBACK (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie / Tennessee State) — “DRC” put on a show in Indy last season, registering the best efforts in five of the seven CB drills. He came on like gangbusters as his rookie season wore on, leading the Cardinals with four interceptions and 23 passes defensed, and earned rave reviews for his coverage against top receivers Roddy White and Steve Smith in the playoffs en route to the Super Bowl.

STRONG SAFETY (Tyrell Jackson / Arkansas State) — The best performer in the bench-rep and broad jump, Johnson was drafted in the second round by the Vikings and proved more than worthy of becoming Darren Sharper’s successor in seven starts last season.

FREE SAFETY (David Roach / TCU) — Roach wasn’t drafted despite the top efforts in the vertical leap, broad jump and 60-yard shuttle. But he was signed by the Rams and earned a third-string spot on the roster at strong safety behind the now-departed Corey Chavous and Todd Johnson, in addition to contributing on special teams.