Christmas time for NFL Scouts, the 2009 NFL Combine, took place this past week as it does annually in Indianapolis. Overrated, boring, unimportant--call it what you will, this is a crucial point for NFL prospects trying to prove their worth. As always, there are winners and losers, and this year was no different.
• Pat White/QB WVU: While there are still concerns about White's transition to the pros, he certainly helped his cause at the Combine this past weekend. As most scouts assumed, White ran the fastest 40 time of all quarterbacks, a very impressive 4.49. That was faster than guys like Malcolm Jenkins and Kenny Britt. White reportedly threw the ball very well in his workout drills. The former WVU star has a good shot to go in the late-second to early-third round.
• Andre Brown/RB NC State: While guys like Chris Wells and Knowshon Moreno failed to impress, Brown stepped up to the plate. A pretty good sized back, coming in at 6'0" 224 pounds, he ran a 4.49 40, fourth-best of all running backs. The fact that he doesn't have a lot of wear and tear can also be viewed as appealing to scouts; Brown has just under 500 carries in his college career. At this point, he should go in round three.
• Darrius Heyward-Bey/WR Maryland: Probably the biggest winner of the event, Bey wowed most when he ran a blistering 40 time, a 4.3 flat. If it were up to me, I'd approach Bey with caution. He has the speed, but his route-running and hands are questionable. In theory, he could go as high as No. 7 to the Raiders--Al Davis loves burners--but a mid-to-late first round grade is more likely.
• Tiquan Underwood/WR Rutgers: Another WR who flashed his speed, Underwood ran a 4.41 40. He continued to show his athleticism by posting a 41'5" vertical and 10'9" in the broad jump, and he ran a 6.62 in the three-cone shuttle. Those results were second, tied for first, and first, respectively.
• Jared Cook/TE South Carolina: Scouting reports anointed him as an athletic receiving tight end, and he only fueled those reports at the Combine. Running a 4.50, extremely fast for a tight end, he also put up a 41-inch vertical and a 10'3" broad jump. Cook is making a strong case for being picked over Brandon Pettigrew.
• Jason Smith/OT Baylor: Athletic enough to play left tackle, he also showed strength by repping 225 pounds 33 times. The fact that Andre Smith's Combine weekend was a total debacle helped Smith as well. He has a legitimate shot to go No. 1 overall.
• Vontae Davis/CB Illinois: It's not so much that he did spectacular, rather, his stock was helped by others doing worse. Don't get me wrong, Davis ran a respectable 40 time (4.49) but his main competitor to be the first corner off the board, Malcolm Jenkins out of OSU, only ran a 4.55 and could be drafted as a safety.
• Chris Wells and Knowshown Moreno/RB: Both fell into similar trouble: poor 40 times. Wells ran a 4.59, and even though he is a big back, he was expected to run in the 4.4's. Moreno wasn't expected to run as fast, but turned in a pretty poor time (4.6 flat). They will still be first-round picks, but better times at their Pro Days would be a big help.
• Brandon Pettigrew/TE Oklahoma St: He isn't going to be a huge receiving threat, but a 4.85 40 always hurts for the No. 1 tight end on the board. As mentioned earlier, Jared Cook quickly closed the gap between him.
• Andre Smith/OT Alabama: Arguably the biggest loser, Smith did not even workout, which usually isn't a big deal for a top prospect--provided you tell someone that you're not going to workout and plan to leave. Oops. Smith disappeared Saturday and his whereabouts were unknown for awhile. Smith went home to train with his personal trainer, saying that he was not prepared for the Combine. He had nearly two months to prepare; this certainly doesn't help his work ethic and maturity issues. From a possible top pick, he's more likely to go in the mid-first round.
• Larry English/DE Northern Illinois: His stock was on the rise before the Combine, but he struggled at Indy. Projected to be a 3-4 OLB, he ran a very slow 4.90. That won't cut it at OLB. He also weighed in at 6'2" 255 and only did 24 reps on the bench press, making him a little small and a little weak to stay as a 4-3 DE. English fits the mold of a tweener.
• Clint Sintim/OLB Virginia: I was a big fan of Sintim coming into the Combine. I loved his pass rushing ability (20 total sacks his junior and senior year), and I still do, but a 4.8 40 time isn't going to help his cause. His stock just dipped a round or two.
• Malcolm Jenkins/CB Ohio St.: As I said previously, Jenkins was banking on having to run well at the Combine in order to keep his stock up. Unfourtunately for him, that didn't happen. Jenkins ran a 4.55. Some say he is a potential candidate to play safety in the NFL because of this questionable speed. If that proves to be the case, Jenkins could fall to the late-first round.