Penn State Combine Preview

What to expect out of the former Nittany Lions as they look to prove themselves to the NFL scouts in Indianapolis.

The 2009 NFL Combine officially kicked off in Indianapolis Thursday. But most of the players are slated to arrive Friday and the serious testing is due to get underway Saturday.

Eight former Penn State players are taking part in the combine this year. Here is a breakdown of what to look for from each of them:

Deon Butler (WR)
Great hands and route-running ability. Will be a smash hit in interviews. Look for him to run between 4.4 and 4.5 in the 40 and to test very well in agility drills. There are clear questions about his size. Entering the combine, he had the look of a late-round pick or free agent. Has a chance to improve on that.

Gerald Cadogan (OL)
Good size and good strength. Expect him to log between 25 and 30 reps at 225. Looked a bit stiff at times at Penn State, so you can bet scouts will be keeping a close eye on that, especially on the kick-slide drill. Another player who figures to shine in interviews and on the Wonderlic. At this point, we think he's a solid mid-round pick.

Maurice Evans (DE)
In our view, this is the one Penn Stater who can help himself the most with a strong combine showing. Right now he projects as a late-round pick due to well-documented off-field issues. We're told he also posted stunningly poor combine-style running numbers at PSU's underclassmen Pro Day last spring, particularly in the 40. A good measuring stick for whether he has turned things around is if he goes lower than 4.8 in the 40 in Indianapolis. He better step up on the interview front, too, especially when the tough questions come.

Aaron Maybin (DE)
He is telling folks he's ready to hit it out of the park in Indy and we believe him. Look for him to check in north of 250 pounds and to run the 40 in about 4.6. He'll also excel in interviews. From this angle, his speed and brains are both givens. Exactly how far north of 250 he is will help dictate whether he is a late first-round pick or a top-15 selection. We are also anxious to see if he works out with the linebackers at all, particularly on pass drops. He will kill it in the D-end position drills.

Jordan Norwood (WR)
We're going on record now as saying Norwood will blow people away in the agility tests (3-cone, short shuttle and position drills). He was one of the best EVER in these things at Penn State. Like Butler, he'll run between 4.4 and 4.5 in the 40. Also like Butler, he is a great route runner and pass-catcher but will have questions about his size. We also wonder how he'll come across in interviews because -- and this is usually a positive -- he has never been comfortable with self-promotion. People view him as a free-agent type now but we think he works his way into the draft.

Lydell Sargeant (CB)
He's playing with house money now because nobody we've talked to expects him to be drafted. Will interview well and look for him to turn a 40 in the 4.5 to 4.55 range. But his size (or lack thereof) is going to be one of the biggest issues in Indianapolis, and we're not sure how he can improve on that. We're also anxious to see how he does in DB recovery drills, because we felt that was a weakness at Penn State.

A.Q. Shipley (C)
Speaking of a lack of size, everyone seems to be hung up on Shipley's height (6-1). He won't improve on that this weekend. But he'll prove he is strong by benching 225 more than 30 times. And we're told he's bettered his conditioning from his senior season, where it was sometimes difficult to stay down at 300 pounds. That ought to translate into a 5.1 (or so) 40. He'll also do well in interviews. Right now, we're guessing he is a fourth-round pick. He has a chance to improve on that in Indy. But we're thinking moving up into the third round will be more a matter of timing; that is to say the right team needing a smart, reliable and versatile backup center.

Derrick Williams (WR)
He'll run the 40 between 4.4 and 4.5 He'll be smart. He'll be a bit stronger than some anticipate. Physically and mentally, scouts already know what they'll be getting from Williams. The key is is going to be more about proving himself as a capable, consistent pass-catcher. Yes, he has a chance to be a solid return man and occasional ball-carrier at the next level. But his primary position will be wideout, so he must show he is completely comfortable there. Right now we view him as a third-round pick with a chance to move up a round if he can sell himself as a consistent receiver.

NOTES: We are guessing Lion guard Rich Ohrnberger, who was not invited to the combine, will be drafted before at least three PSU players who were invited. .... Penn State's Pro Day is March 18. We expect free safety Anthony Scirrotto to turn heads with his agility numbers and strong safety Mark Rubin to post all-around eye-popping numbers.


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