Niners keeping close eye on CB Cromartie

With just two weeks to go before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, players are hard at work preparing to perform in front of scouts on the turf of the RCA Dome. At the same time, NFL franchises are beginning to target certain prospects, with the 49ers keeping close tabs on an exciting cornerback prospect, Florida State's Antonio Cromartie.

Several players are beginning to build a buzz, including a pair of juniors.

Sources have told the TFY Draft Preview that Cromartie has been given a clean bill of health and will be 100 percent for the combine. In fact, backing up an earlier story, Cromartie was ready to play in the Fiesta Bowl against Penn State, but that decision was nixed by Seminoles' coaches.

Cromartie - an outstanding professional prospect - is training hard in Georgia. The rangy 6-foot-3, 207-pound product recently clocked a 4.31 in the 40-yard dash and threw up almost 25 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press. The 49ers are one of several teams that are monitoring Cromartie closely. Others known to be hot on the trail of the Florida State prospect are the New York Giants, Atlanta Falcons and Miami Dolphins.

The Kansas City Chiefs, however, appear to be the organization hottest on Cromartie's trail. After speaking with him at the Senior Bowl, where Cromartie introduced himself to coaches on hand, the Chiefs have already scheduled a post-combine one-on-one interview with the shutdown corner.

Brian Calhoun is the other underclassman getting a lot of play. Calhoun has weighed in near 202 pounds recently, alleviating some concerns of scouts who thought he was lighter. The shifty back from Wisconsin is also running in the low 4.3s and has garnered the interest of several teams, including the 49ers.

The New York Jets and Green Bay Packers, a pair of squads who need backs, also are closely following Calhoun. As are the Indianapolis Colts, who are likely to lose Edgerrin James to free agency. There has been some talk in the Colts camp of possibly trading down into the early part of round two then grabbing Calhoun.

Calhoun's Badger teammate, receiver Brandon Williams, has also gotten a lot of pre-draft looks. Williams, who is running his 40 in a time of 4.46 on grass, was interviewed by 16 different teams at the East-West Shrine Game in mid-January. Recently Tampa Bay, Kansas City and the Steelers have spoken with him. Pittsburgh is looking at Williams as a possible replacement for Antwan Randle-El, who could be lost to free agency next month.

Abeline Christian's Daniael Manning is hard at work in Houston preparing himself for the combine. The defensive back\return specialist is working out at the same facility as Texas junior Vince Young. Checking in at 205 pounds, Manning's pre-combine 40 times have been under 4.40 seconds.

Once again, the Chiefs have been active scouting Manning, whom they consider a safety in the NFL. The Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills also like Manning, though they prefer him at cornerback. All three teams feel that, as a rookie in the NFL, Manning will positively impact as a kick returner.

Manning will work out at the combine yet is also hoping to participate in a Pro Day at one of the Lone Star State's bigger schools. The rules dictate that, as a division II player, Manning can take part in a Pro Day anywhere in the state of his school, Texas. The hopes are he will work out at the Longhorn pro-day, which will give him the most visibility and surround him with the best talent.


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