Darren McFadden and Felix Jones drew the NFL scouts to campus, then Marcus Monk and Marcus Harrison turned their heads. McFadden and Jones didn't run 40s -- opting to keep their times from the NFL combine earlier this month -- but Monk did and for the good.
"I got him in 4.4-flat and 4.43," said one NFL scout of his hand timed 40-yard dash time for Monk. "He helped himself today. He helped himself alot."
ESPN pro expert commentator Chris Mortensen also confirmed Monk's fast time. There were uncomfirmed sources that some hand held clocks had Monk's first 40-yard dash as slightly under 4.4-flat.
"That's not a surprise to run a fast time on this surface," another NFL source said. "This is a notoriously fast surface here, a track surface, not a football surface. So you should run a little quicker here. But Monk did very well."
Monk didn't need to know his time to feel good about his day.
"I felt strong and fast," he said. "I felt like I had a good day. I don't really care what the time is. I just know it was a good day. I caught the ball, ran all the drills and my knee and legs felt good. I've worked hard lifting weights and it feels good to be back. I think I'm back now. I felt like I showed everyone that today. I feel blessed. I give thanks to the Lord."
Mortensen said Monk is rising in the eyes of the NFL teams. He might have been undrafted before a good showing both on the field and in interviews at the combine and might be even higher after Tuesday's pro day in Walker Pavilion.
"He ran 4.59 and 4.6 at the combine and that answered a lot of questions on him with the teams," Mortensen said. "He didn't even need to run today. But for him to run in the 4.4s and low 4.4s today that will create a buzz. Now they will go back and look at his freshman and sophomore game tapes and do a little more research.
"Of course, he did great in his interviews at the combine. He's a great character guy. That doesn't surprise you guys here (in the media at Arkansas)."
Mortensen said Harrison was the other Hog to help himself the most.
"There aren't a lot of defensive linemen and the way he moved today in all of the drills and agility runs, that helps him a lot," Mortensen said. "He might be a first-round pick. His off-the-field stuff hurts him some, but if a lot of the other defensive linemen go early he might go in the first round, too.
"The other guy who helped himself today might have been Fred Bledsoe. He really moved well. Now, that's good and bad for him. Some questions are going to be asked about Fred now -- why he wasn't more of a big-time player in his time at Arkansas. What happened? He'll have to answer that himself, too, after today. Fred really had a good day."
Mortensen credited McFadden and Jones for a large showing of NFL coaches and bosses. General managers from the Carolina Panthers, New York Jets and New York Giants were on hand, along with Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith.
"This was a pretty decent crowd," Mortensen said. "That's due in large part to Darren and Felix. After the combine, they didn't have to do anything today. But with them here, with the teams knowing they would be here, there were a lot of scouts. Some teams had position coaches and scouts, two people here to watch. That means Darren and Felix got their teammates some looks."
Both McFadden and Jones did the cone drills and position drills for the scouts. Both said they felt like they did fine. McFadden was not happy that he only did the bench press 13 times. Felix smiled when told that because that means he won with his 15 lifts.
"We always compete," Jones said. "I felt like I did pretty good there, but you can always try to work on that."
McFadden wasn't happy and vowed to improve his bench over the coming weeks. He said, "That's one thing I need some work on."
Fullback Peyton Hillis wasn't so pleased about any aspects of his workout. He noted two dropped passes in position drills. He said he slipped and fell a couple of times, too.
"This was a bad day for me, a bad day and a bad day to have it," he said. "I ran a bad 40. I did everything bad. I'm not too happy."
That wasn't the way one scout looked at it.
"I didn't see anything Peyton did to hurt himself," he said. "And, today is just a blip as far as gathering data. I've seen his film. I saw tape of that Alabama game as a freshman. You want to question Peyton Hillis, pop in the LSU game from Baton Rouge just a few weeks ago. You doubt him after that? Nope. He's a player. There are a lot of teams that will want him. He's got some skills that you just crave, blocking and catching and making smart, tough runs. He returned punts. How many fullbacks return punts.
"If he's disappointed, then that's fine. I don't think those that have seen Peyton play are disappointed in anything he does. He will be taken late in the first day, early in the second. He may have dropped a pass, but no one questions his hands. No one."
Hillis said, "I just think I didn't show anything. I don't know, maybe it was having to do things right after Darren and Felix. They are All-Americans and they are tough to follow. I didn't do well following them today, that's for sure. I don't know where I fit right now. I'm just not happy."
Monk, Harrison Sparkle for Scouts
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