Sun Devils Fare Well in NFL Combine

Another session of the famed "meat market" has come and gone, with the annual NFL Scouting Combine recently concluding inside Indianapolis' RCA Dome, where the top prospects eligible for the 2008 NFL Draft were out to strut their stuff in front of representatives from all 32 NFL teams as the football world prepares for the next class of college athletes to ascend to the professional level.

Following an excellent 10-3 season which resulted in a share of the 2007 Pacific-10 Conference Championship, the Arizona State Sun Devils sent five prospects to this year's combine, including safety Josh Barrett, linebacker Robert James, center Mike Pollak, running back Ryan Torain and cornerback Justin Tryon.

The Sun Devils figure to harvest one of the school's largest crop of draft selections in the recent years, as all five players that attended the combine are legitimate prospects, and ASU hasn't produced four or more draft selections since 2002 when the Devils had a quartet of offensive linemen taken, including Levi Jones (first round, 10th selection to Cincinnati), Scott Peters (fourth round, 124th selection to Philadelphia), Travis Scott (fourth round, 130th selection to St. Louis) and Kyle Kosier (seventh round, 248th selection to San Francisco).

ASU has supplied three players in two drafts since then, occurring in 2003 and 2005, while two Sun Devils were taken in the 2004, 2006 and 2007 drafts.

Each of the five invitees has represented ASU in tremendous fashion on and off the field during his Sun Devil career and looks to do what's necessary to elevate his game from playing Saturdays in Sun Devil Stadium to being on display Sundays around the NFL world.

Of the group, perhaps the most consistent performer during his Sun Devil career and in scouting evaluation has been Pollak, who followed up a solid Senior Bowl performance with an excellent combine.

The 2007 first-team All-Pac-10 selection and ASU graduate was one of the most well-rounded and athletic interior linemen at the camp, placing in the top-10 among offensive linemen in four events. Pollak has the ability to play either guard or center at the NFL level, having done so with excellent results during his college career.

A product of nearby Corona del Sol High School in Tempe, Pollak has long been one of ASU's strongest and most physically imposing players, but that power is certainly not at the sake of elite level athleticism.

Perhaps Pollak's greatest asset is his versatility, which was on display with a 4.47-second 20-yard shuttle time, the fastest among all offensive linemen at the camp. He also officially clocked a 5.02-second electronically-timed 40-yard dash; good enough for third among the big nasties, while placing fifth with a 9-foot, two-inch broad jump and ranked eighth with a 7.49-second three-cone drill.

Pollak also checked out very well at his positional drills to complete an above-average overall performance, leading evaluators to believe he has the potential to be a first-day selection (keeping in mind this year's draft will feature only the first two rounds on day one).

Josh Barrett has been a player that Sun Devil fans have eagerly anticipated to see perform at the NFL combine due to his tremendous athleticism, and "JB" did not disappoint.

Stories of Barrett's sub-4.3 second 40-yard speed and tales of his post-practice foot races with teammates have made followers anxious as to what the Reno, Nev., product could do when the money was really on the line.

One of the "workout warriors" of the combine, Barrett clocked a 4.35 40-yard dash, the fastest of all safeties – all while measuring nearly 6-2 and weighing 223 pounds. The second-largest safety at the combine only by half an inch and six pounds, Barrett's numbers are staggering when considering that the next-fastest safety was Michael Grant of Arkansas, running in 4.37 seconds, but measuring 5-10, 186 pounds, four inches shorter and nearly 40 pounds lighter than Barrett.

Barrett also measured out at 32 1/8-inches in arm length with a 9 1/8-inch hand measurement.

The main knock on the Sun Devil alum has been his injury history and a rough patch with consistency during his senior season, but the 2006 ASU Most Valuable Defensive Player of the Year is as athletically gifted as any defensive back in this year's stock and has the added luxury of being a special teams monster.

Recent ASU graduate Justin Tryon had a solid exhibition and provides an intriguing combination of strength and athleticism, completing 21 bench press repetitions, the second-most among cornerbacks.

Measuring slightly over 5-9 and weighing 190 pounds, "JT" ran the 40-yard dash in 4.50 seconds, a time which placed him in the middle of the field of his position at that drill. Tryon also recorded measurements of 31 ½ inches in arm length and 8 5/8 inches in hand size.

Tryon has progressively legitimized himself as an NFL prospect since his arrival to ASU from the College of the Canyons in 2006, and judging by his play on the gridiron as a lock-down cornerback and excellent kick returner, couple with his track and field background, one can't help but think he may be able to improve his recorded speed when ASU's Pro Day comes around on Mar. 7 and further improve his pro potential.

Much like Pollak, Tryon has excelled since the conclusion of ASU's season, performing very well at the East-West Shrine Game after an excellent senior season in 2007 which saw Tryon earn Second-Team All-Pac-10 distinction.

Star running back Ryan Torain made his first public athletic appearance since a season-ending foot injury suffered in October sidelined him for the remainder of his senior season. Perhaps feeling some rust from the layover, he ran a 4.64 second 40-yard dash while measuring a hair under 6-1 and weighing 222 pounds.

As any Sun Devil fan will tell you, NFL scouts need only watch film from the 18 games Torain appeared in wearing maroon and gold to see his tremendous potential, and a solid Pro Day session in March on campus would help boost his stock.

Torain was impressive in other areas at the Combine, finishing seventh among running backs with a 34-inch vertical leap while measuring 32 ½ inches in arm length with a 10-inch hand measurement.

Reigning Sun Devil Most Valuable Defensive Player of the Year and 2007 First-Team All-Pac-10 selection Robert James participated in the combine; however he suffered an injury while running the 40-yard dash and did not complete the event for an official time.

A December graduate of ASU, James officially measured 5-10 ½ at 219 pounds with 32 3/8-inch arms and 9 ½-inch hands, and will look to rebound at ASU's Pro Day to help increase his NFL draft projection. Similar to Torain, "The Beast" is a player whose performances speak for themselves; he's a versatile, intense and tenacious athlete that simply leaves all that he has between the sidelines during each and every game he plays.

ASU will host a private one-day Pro Day on Friday, Mar. 7 at 8 a.m., at which the five Sun Devils invited to the NFL Combine will be on display once again for scouts, as well as other players to have recently exhausted their eligibility such as wide receiver/kick returner Rudy Burgess, offensive lineman Brandon Rodd, defensive tackle Michael Marquardt, tight end Brent Miller and others.

The seven-round NFL Draft will be held April 26-27 inside New York City's Radio City Music Hall.

Joe Healey is a 2006 graduate of Arizona State University and will be a guest contributor to Devils Digest during the 2007 football season. He currently writes for ASU's Maroon and Gold Illustrated and his work has also been featured in Sun Devil football media guides and other official team publications.

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