Panthers making some noise at combine

Larry Fitzgerald may be the biggest name among the former players for the University of Pittsburgh at the NFL Combine, but he's not the Panther making the biggest splash. That honor belongs to Lousaka Polite, who moved to the head of the 2004 fullback class with an impressive workout on Sunday.

Every NFL team is looking for an impact player. WR Larry Fitzgerald certainly will be one and thus among the first 5 players drafted this April, in fact some team such as the Arizona Cardinals (one of two teams reportedly high on Fitzgerald) may move up and make him the first pick overall. Fitzgerald will wait until after the NFL Combine to perform for NFL scouts, but the rest of the former Pitt Panthers in the 2004 draft must make an impression in Indianapolis this week.

FB Lousaka Polite also is an impact player, but in a different sense from Fitzgerald. Polite will make his mark tattooing his helmet on the chest of opposing linebackers. Polite grabbed the attention of NFL scouts at the combine on Sunday by running a faster than expected 40-yard dash. Polite was clocked at 4.61 seconds on his first run and 4.67 seconds in his other heat. That tied him with Troy Flemming for the fastest fullback at the combine. Such speed would be considered good for a tailback prospect.

QB Rod Rutherford is having a bit more trouble than Polite in distinguishing himself. A better than average crop of quarterbacks is making it tough for any athlete to stand out. As a result, some teams seem more interested in Rutherford as a receiver. Rutherford ran the 40 in 4.75 seconds, third fastest among QBs running at the combine. Relative to the other quarterbacks, Rutherford's athleticism looks impressive. Some teams may value him at QB for that very reason. His 40 time is merely pedestrian when compared to the 4.3 speed of some of the wide outs. While Rutherford is on record stating he'd prefer to play at QB in the NFL, he did say he would be willing to try wide receiver.

"Defensive end" Claude Harriott will give outside linebacker a try. Harriott is too small, weighing in at just 250 pounds, to demand even a second-day look this April at defensive end. His workout at linebacker will be key. He will need to show a strong burst of speed and a knack for playing in space. The transition from DE to OLB is not easy and Harriott will have his work cut out for him.

Tight end Kris Wilson will have to do something special to stand out given that he's the shortest TE at the combine at a shade under 6'2". Wilson may be able to establish himself as a backup fullback, but the best he can hope for is to prove his value on special teams.

The tale of the tape is still out on most of these players, the full combine results will not be known until next week. P Andy Lee and RB Brandon Miree will surely garner some interest, at the very least as undrafted free agents (UDFAs).

Stay tuned as news trickles in on which NFL teams are interested in former Panthers.

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