Ced, D.J., Others Work Out For The NFL Scouts

Nine former Longhorn players put their skills on display for a herd of NFL scouts Wednesday afternoon at the weight room at Moncrief-Neuhaus and the Bubble at Frank Denius Fields. But with Derrick Johnson's participation limited (he lifted and did some drill work but did not run after already turning in an impressive performance in the 40 at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis in February), the anticipation centered around Cedric Benson.

Benson, who did not run at the Combine, acquitted himself well in Austin, clocking in at from 4.51 to 4.59 in the 40 according to NFL.com. [Note: due to UT's media rules for the event, which prohibit the release of specific performances by the Longhorns working out, the figures used in this article are either directly from the player or from NFL.com, which is not restricted in its use of the data. Scout.com's TheNFLexperts.com is reporting that individual team times on Benson all came in at 4.61 or worse.] NFL.com's numbers on Benson are slightly slower than the Combine numbers turned in by other top backs Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams of Auburn, who ran 4.48 and 4.40, respectively in Indianapolis, but Gil Brandt, former VP of personnel for the Dallas Cowboys and current NFL.com Senior Analyst, said that might be comparing "apples to oranges."

"It's faster at Indianapolis than it is here," Brandt said. "(NFL teams) also look at this surface and this is not as fast a surface as they have in Indianapolis so they'll adjust the times."

Plus, Brandt said, 40 time is not everything.

"I've been around this for 40 years," he said. "As an example, Cedric ran a better time than Emmitt Smith, and Emmitt Smith is pretty good... I also think a guy like Curtis Martin did not really run as good as (Benson) did today. Times are important. Everybody wants fast guys, but... I think the other thing is it's how a player plays in the fourth quarter and from past history Benson plays pretty well in the fourth quarter."

But, Brandt said, Benson probably should have taken the opportunity to run both in Indy and in Austin.

"I have a hard time understanding if you have two chances to win the lottery rather than one, you don't run," Brandt said. "Unfortunately, his agent (Eugene and Scott) Parker I guess told him not to run."

Benson measured in at 5-10 3/8 and 225 pounds (up three pounds since he was measured in Indianapolis) with a long jump of 9-foot-8 and a 33-inch vertical jump. He lifted the 225-pound strength bar 18 times.

Going into the Combine, Benson was considered by many to be the top tailback prospect in the Draft, but the performances in Indianapolis by the Auburn duo moved Brown and in some estimates Williams past the Texas senior toward the top of the Draft. It's too early to tell whether Benson's performance today will change that dynamic, but the good news is, at least three teams slated to pick in the top eight -- Miami (2nd pick), Tampa Bay (5th pick) and Arizona (8th pick) -- desperately need RB help, so all three backs should go very high.

Recent rumblings have Derrick Johnson slipping a bit on some teams' Draft boards because of questions about his physicality and ability to take on blocks, but he at least showed a good bit of strength Wednesday with his 21 strength bar reps. "I'm really proud of that," D.J. said.

Johnson measured in at 6-3 2/8 and 243 pounds (up a pound from Indianapolis measurement). In Indy, he ran two 40s in the low to mid 4.5s.

Cleveland (3rd pick), Tennessee (6th pick) and Tampa Bay (5th pick) are the teams showing the most interest, Johnson said, although there are "eight or nine teams" actively looking at him.

D.J. has been working out in Houston at Plex Sports & Rehab but said he will spend the next month till the April 23 Draft working out in Austin. If invited by the League, he will spend Draft Day in New York. Otherwise, he said he'll watch from his home in Waco.

The player who may have done the most for his NFL efforts, at least according to Brandt, is Bo Scaife. The six-year Texas TE ran a 4.79 and a 4.81 40, besting his mid-4.8s times in Indy. Those improved times, particularly on a slow track, plus a 31-inch vertical could alleviate some of the fears about his (thrice operated upon) knees.

"I think Bo Scaife came out here and really helped himself from what he did in Indianapolis," Brandt said. "I think he did very well."

Scaife measured in at 6-2 4/8 and 252 pounds (up seven pounds from his Indianapolis measurement).

Will Matthews ran for the scouts for the first time (he participated in the Combine but did not run due to a minor injury) and turned in 4.81 and 4.79 40s. The FB measured in at 6-1 4/8 and 241 pounds (down seven pounds from his Indianapolis measurement) and had a 10-foot-6 in the long jump, a 35-inch vertical and 18 strength bar reps.

Phillip Geiggar had his first pro audition since playing in the Hula Bowl. He measured in at 5-10 and 191 pounds (UT listed him at 5-11, 205) and had a 10-foot-2 long jump, a 36-inch vertical jump and 18 strength bar reps. Geiggar participated in the 40 but we were unable to verify his times.

Chance Mock, wanting to get in his QB work before attempting any 40s, was scheduled to run (if the scouts wanted him to) after he had worked out with Benson, Matthews and Scaife in various passing drills.

"Chance Mock is a guy who can play at an NFL level but just happened to be here when Vince Young was playing," Mack Brown said.

Mock measured in at 6-1 1/8 (he was listed by UT as 6-2) and 221 pounds.

WR Tony Jeffery, K Dusty Mangum and former safety/linebacker Lee Jackson, who played for the Horns from 1998-2002, also participated in Pro Timing Day. Mangum did not run and Jeffery and Jackson's times were not released. A source close to the situation said all three are NFL longshots.

OL Jason Glynn and DT Stevie Lee, who attended the event but did not participate, have decided against pursuing an NFL career.

"At spring practice we're trying to find replacements for (Cedric and D.J.) and you can't," Brown said. "It's a prideful day for us. You'd like to see Chance have an opportunity to play for somebody because he's good enough and just didn't have that opportunity because of Vince. Will Matthews is a big strong good player. Tony Jeffery stayed behind those other three receivers for a little while. You start looking at Phillip Geiggar, he ran in the 4.5s and is really fast and a good player for us who hasn't gotten a lot of publicity. Bo Scaife overcoming three knee operations and staying six years and becoming the second-leading tight end receiver in school history. Those guys have helped us get back to the top 10 on a consistent basis and we sure hope everything works out for them."

A whole bevy of Longhorn underclassmen took all or some of the event, including probable future NFLers Vince Young, Michael Huff, Rod Wright, Larry Dibbles, Justin Blalock and Jonathan Scott. At least one future Horn, OL Charlie Tanner, also dropped in. And the talent wasn't limited to guys trying to make it to the League.

"Marcus Tubbs, Leonard Davis, Cory Redding," Brown listed off some of the familiar faces, "that's fun and to see all of our younger guys come out and cheer for the older ones, what a neat thing for them and it's just a good day and it makes it fun and that's part of the family atmosphere we talk about and part of what's important for Texas football."


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