Combine kicks off draft process for 6 'Canes

Six Hurricanes were invited to the annual NFL Draft Combine this week and all have questions that need to be answered.

The meat market that is the National Football League's annual Draft Combine event kicked off Thursday with the arrival of special teamers, offensive linemen, and tight ends. Throughout the next week, players will be poked, prodded and put to the test by NFL evaluators and personnel in what is the most important weekend of many of these fresh-out-of-college players. Draft stock can be made or broken here which hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions at stake for these young men with simply the running of a poor forty time or three less reps of 225 pounds on the bench press.

Six University of Miami student-athletes will arrive throughout the week of February 20th to 26th. The headliners of the group are defensive ends Calais Campbell and safety Kenny Phillips. Both are considered first round NFL Draft choices by most pundits, however, both have to answer some pressing questions.

Campbell (6-foot-8, 280 pounds) is in the midst of a position battle with three other defense ends that stood out at the college level for the third defensive end off the board. They include Clemson's Philip Merling, Florida's Derrick Harvey, and Southern Cal's Lawrence Jackson. He must answer questions pertaining to a disappointing season statistically in which he played twice as many snaps from sophomore season, but was half as productive only recording six sacks and 12 tackles for loss with his 50 tackles. Scouts will also look into his strength and first-step quickness that would give scouts a better idea if he can be a potential premier defense end that his make up would suggest. Good efforts versus the elite tackles on hand would do tremendous things for Campbell, who is seemingly a forgotten man.

Phillips (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) has been the mark of a few pundits scrutiny over the past few weeks leading up to the combine. Few scouts have been reported as saying Phillips is overrated – that his billing as the draft's top safety and comparisons former Washington Redskin Sean Taylor and current Baltimore Raven Ed Reed are without merit. Phillips will need to prove his athleticism is on par with the expectations. Phillips was considered the best player on a ‘Canes defense that finished 33rd nationally. He recorded 82 tackles and two interceptions while being named an All-ACC second teamer.

A host of five other Hurricanes will take part including linebacker Tavares Gooden. Gooden (6-foot-2, 245 pounds) is coming off a season that involved a position change to the middle linebacker and the most productive of his career, recording over 100 tackles. Gooden possesses a blend very good timed speed, field speed, motor and a body made for the linebacker position. He will have questions that needed to be answered, line any other player at the combine. For Gooden, it is during drills that he will need to show improved linebacker instincts. Gooden is the lone prospect of the six invited to the combine with the most to gain. If he shows scouts a reason to believe he could develop into a starting linebacker with his blend of skills and attributes, he could shoot up boards into the second round. He is currently considered a third round talent by most pundits.

Wide receiver Darnell Jenkins, cornerback Glenn Sharpe, and quarterback Kyle Wright will join the star defensive trio of the ‘Canes at the draft. Jenkins (5-foot-11, 188 pounds) will be looked at as a slot receiver in the NFL and potential mid-late round draft choice. He was considered the ‘Canes Most Valuable Player for the year after catching 31 balls for 619 yards (20 ypc) and two touchdowns.

Two players will go into the combine with an attempt to erase four years of disappointing results, for various reasons.

Sharpe (6-foot, 187 pounds) has had an oft-injured career at the University, however, he has the presumed athleticism and long arms NFL scouts love in a cornerback. He could put behind the years of oft-injured play with a great combine in which he'll be able to showcase his timed speed and strength as well as cornerback skills as he'll be put against some of the elite wide receivers in the country in one-on-one drills.

Wright (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) is another player whose career didn't go as planned, however he could easily open some eyes by showing off his athleticism and arm at the combine. If he does that, scouts may be willing to overlook a career in which he only completed 59% of his passes while throwing only 38 touchdowns to 31 interceptions.

Here is a run down and schedule of events for Hurricanes players throughout the Combine week. The following dates are important for those following the Miami Hurricane players through the process.

Kyle Wright

Darnell Jenkins

~ Wright will be weighed and measured on February 22nd and will participate in workouts and drills on February 24th. Jenkins will be weighed and measured on February 22nd. They will participate in workouts and skill drills on February 24th. Wright will be in group 5, camp while Jenkins will be in group 5, camp 29.

*Calais Campbell

Tavares Gooden

~ Both Campbell and Gooden will be weighed and measured on February 23rd. They will participate in workouts and skill drills on February 25th. Campbell will be part of groups 7, camp 8 while Gooden will be in group 9, camp 10.

Glenn Sharpe

*Kenny Phillips

~ Both Sharpe and Phillips will be weighed in and measured on February 24th. They will participate in workouts and skill drills on February 26th. Sharpe is placed in group 11, camp 39 and Phillips in group 11, camp 33.

Stay tuned to CanesTime.com for the latest on all of the Hurricanes that are entering the 2008 NFL Draft Combine.

*denotes underclassman


Canes Time Top Stories