Every year, the NFL combine helps aspiring gridiron stars vault themselves up draft boards and ensure big paydays down the road. But for all the prospects who watch their draft stock rise in late February, there are just as many who see their own stock take a serious plunge.
Below are our top ten risers and fallers of the 2008 NFL combine.
Top Ten Risers
10. Chris Williams (Offensive Tackle, Vanderbilt) Concerns about Williams' strength were silenced a little when he posted 22 reps on the bench—not an amazing performance but fair. However, he shows great burst out of his stance, has good flexibility and looked the most natural of any offensive tackles including Jake Long in the change of direction drills.
(Pre Combine Projection: Mid/Late First Round--Post Combine Projection: Early/Mid First Round)
9. Marcus Howard (Outside Linebacker, Georgia) Howard demonstrated quick twitch skills out of his stance and is a natural fluid athlete with good pass rushing abilities. He posted the top forty time of the linebackers and looks like a perfect fit as an attacking 3-4 outside linebacker.
(Pre Combine Projection: Late Third, Early Fourth Round--Post Combine Projection: Late Second, Early Third Round)
8. Jeremy Zuttah (Tackle/Guard, Rutgers) Zuttah produced some of the best numbers in the bench press (35) and forty (4.99 seconds) of all offensive lineman. A position change from tackle to guard looks like his best fit; he's a bit stiff in space and has a tendency to play too high. But a position change inside could really help his chances of becoming a solid pro.
(Pre Combine Projection: Mid/Late Sixth Round--Post Combine Projection: Late Fourth/Early Fifth Round)
7. Devin Thomas (Wide Receiver, Michigan State) A big, physical target with a great second gear, Thomas blazed the forty with a time of 4.34. He showed great ball awareness in position drills and really has the long arms and big hands to extend and make catches away from his body.
(Pre Combine Projection: Mid Second Round--Post Combine Projection: Late First Round)
6. Dexter Jackson (Wide Receiver, Appalachian State) Jackson was the fastest receiver of the combine, posting an untouchable 4.28 forty and possessing good power and muscular development in the legs. An absolute burner who was explosive in and out of his routes during drills on Sunday, Jackson is now really shooting up draft boards.
(Pre Combine Projection: Early/Mid Fifth Round--Post Combine Projection: Late Third Round)
5. Wesley Woodyard (Linebacker, Kentucky) The star of the linebackers Monday, Woodyard is a quick-twitch explosive athlete who really gets started quickly. He plays low and closes very quickly, has decent lateral mobility but needs to move laterally more quietly.
(Pre Combine Projection: Fourth/Fifth Round--Post Combine Projection: Late Third Round)
4. Dustin Keller (H-Back, Purdue) The Purdue product looked every bit the part physically, running the fastest forty (4.55) of all tight ends. He had one of the highest vertical jumps as well. He looks like he can definitely help a team in the passing game. He struggles holding the point of attack as a blocker, but Keller is in the Dallas Clark mold as a receiver.
(Pre Combine Projection: Mid/Late Third Round--Post Combine Projection: Mid Second Round)
3. Chris Johnson (Running Back, East Carolina) One of the most explosive players in the country proved it with a 4.24 forty time. A two-stepper who explodes out of his stance, Johnson is the top-rated senior running back and is really starting to move up draft boards.
(Pre Combine Projection: Mid/Late Second Round--Post Combine Projection: Early Second/ Late First Round)
2. Josh Barrett (Safety, Arizona State) An All-Combine First Team Selection, at 6-foot-2, 225 pounds Barrett ran a 4.35 and posted 17 reps on the bench. He didn't look real fluid laterally during team drills but definitely made some noise Tuesday.
(Pre Combine Projection: Early/Mid Fifth Round--Post Combine Projection: Late Third/Early Fourth Round)
1. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Cornerback, Tennessee State) Rodgers-Cromartie displayed some of the quickest feet I have seen in a while. He also displayed great explosion and gets up to full speed instantly. An explosive jumper with good ball skills, he is really shooting up the draft boards and made himself a ton of money Tuesday.
(Pre Combine Projection: Late First Round--Post Combine Projection: Early/Mid First Round)
Top Ten Fallers
10. Calais Campbell (Defensive End, Miami) Campbell has a massive frame with long arms, but he posted a 5.06 forty time. He has decent bend in his stance, but he's not much of a quick twitch guy off the snap and proved that he can only play DE in a 4-3.
(Pre Combine Projection: Mid/Late First Round--Post Combine Projection: Early/Mid Second Round)
9. Frank Okam (Defensive Tackle, Texas) Okam looked fat at the combine, coming in at 345 lbs. He was slow and didn't show the burst. He needs to lose 25 plus pounds. It's an absolute shame; he has so much talent and athleticism but lacks disciple and motor.
(Pre Combine Projection: Mid/Late Third Round--Post Combine Projection: Early/Mid Fifth Round)
8. Aqib Talib (Cornerback, Kansas) Talib ran a solid 4.49 time in the forty but really looked stiff during position drills. A waist-bender who has trouble bending at the knees and doesn't have a real compact back-pedal, Talib struggled turning and running smoothly and had a tendency to lose his body control.
(Pre Combine Projection: Mid First Round--Post Combine Projection: Late First/ Early Second Round)
7. Mike Hart (Running Back, Michigan) A sub-par time in the forty was expected, but Hart's lack of balance and quickness in the position drills, which were supposed to be his strong suit, is baffling.
(Pre Combine Projection: Mid/Late Third Round--Post Combine Projection: Mid/Late Fourth Round)
6. Brandon Flowers (Cornerback, Virginia Tech) Scouts want to see speed from undersized corners, and 4.58 isn't that kind of speed. Flowers showed a good vertical jump and looked fluid in position drills, but he wasn't real explosive out of his breaks Tuesday.
(Pre Combine Projection: Late First/Early Second Round--Post Combine Projection: Early Third Round)
5. Simeon Castille (Safety, Alabama) Castille looked very smooth and fluid during position drills on Tuesday. He is a natural bender who gets in and out of his breaks low and with good burst. But his pedestrian 4.80 forty time leaves a lot to be desired.
(Pre Combine Projection: Late Second Round--Post Combine Projection: Mid/Late Fourth Round)
4. Jeff Otah (Offensive Tackle, Pittsburgh) Scouts knew Otah wasn't a great athlete, but posting a 5.55 forty time really makes you wonder about his athletic ability. He showed decent foot quickness and looked fair moving laterally, but he had a tendency to get way too upright. It looks like playing LT in the NFL is starting to look out of the question.
(Pre Combine Projection: Mid First Round--Post Combine Projection: Early/Mid Second Round)
3. John Carlson (Tight End, Notre Dame) I realize it's all about game speed but the 4.96 forty time could slide Carlson into the second day. He looked stiff and small throughout the day but did do a better job catching the ball in position drills.
(Pre Combine Projection: Early/Mid Second Round--Post Combine Projection: Late Third/Early Fourth Round)
2. Mario Manningham (Wide Receiver, Michigan) For someone who was expected to be one of the most explosive receivers at the combine, Manningham really failed to live up to expectations, posting a 4.61 forty. He will really need to do better at his pro day to halt his fall down draft boards.
(Pre Combine Projection: Mid/Late First Round--Post Combine Projection: Late Second/Early Third Round)
1. Ali Highsmith (Outside Linebacker, LSU) Highsmith posted a terrible forty time of 5.04, and for someone as quick on tape as he is, that's really a head-scratcher. He did better in position drills, but at times he played too fast and out of control. He isn't a natural bender and at times loses balance.
(Pre Combine Projection: Late First Round--Post Combine Projection: Early Third Round)
Wes Bunting has been mentored by some of the brightest minds in NFL scouting, names such as GMJR President and former Cleveland Browns scout Russ Lande, former Coordinator of the Year Marc Trestman, 31-year NFL and college football scout Joe Butler and Sports Xchange President and longtime NFL scout Frank Cooney.
2008 Combine: Top 10 Risers and Fallers
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