One week to go: Prelude to the NFL Combine
Gerris Wilkerson of Georgia Tech has attracted the attention of several teams because of his potential to play several linebacker spots. Physical enough to handle the middle spot he manned at Georgia Tech, NFL teams also think Wilkerson has the athleticism for the weak-side position or can grow into a strong-side linebacker. The 49ers like versatile linebackers who can fit into their 3-4 system, and Wilkerson appears to meet those qualifications. Kansas product Charles Gordon is moving up charts and several teams feel he is the best pure cornerback in the draft. Sources we spoke with are concerned with the footwork of Virginia Tech's Jimmy Williams and wonder if Michael Huff can make the transition to full-time cornerback. Gordon will weigh in between 182-185 pounds at the combine and run his 40 in the 4.50 area. The 49ers have expressed interest in both Williams and Huff, so they'll be taking a close look at Gordon at the combine. Another defensive back on a straight shot north is safety Daniel Bullocks. Coming off a tremendous Senior Bowl, at least two teams have Bullocks rated as a top-three safety ahead of USC star Darnell Bing. One of those teams is the Atlanta Falcons, hot on the trail of the Nebraska senior. Atlanta was poised to draft Bullocks' brother Josh last year, but lost out to the Saints. They will consider the sibling in Round 2. The New England Patriots used their initial two selections on players from Fresno State last year. A third, cornerback Richard Marshall, could be next. The team, in need of cover corners, has spent a lot of time with Marshall lately. The junior expects to run under 4.4-seconds at the combine. Some wondered why John Walker of USC was invited to the combine. Barely a starter for one season, Walker bounced around between receiver and the defensive backfield before finally settling at cornerback. A wrist injury put him on the sidelines for a while but Walker's athleticism has scouts drooling. A chiseled 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, those familiar with the Trojan program told us Walker was the second-fastest player on the team. Besides a swift time at the combine, Walker expects to touch the tape near 40 inches in the vertical jump. The Dallas Cowboys have been concentrating on several offensive linemen. One is Charles Spencer of Pittsburgh. The athletic Spencer impressed the team at the Senior Bowl and it doesn't hurt the Cowboys had success with another Pitt lineman last season, tackle Rob Petitti. Spencer is weighing close to 335 pounds and expects to run 5.15-seconds at the combine after completing close to 30 reps on the bench. Another blocker Dallas has been closely inspecting is Willie Colon of Hofstra. Colon has been moving up charts after a terrific senior campaign and caught the interest of several teams. Miami is a second franchise considering Colon as offensive line coach Hudson Hauck was sent to interview the offensive guard. Like Spencer, Florida State Kamerion Wimbley is another prospect building off a good performance in Mobile. The 246-pounder is looking to break 4.7 seconds in the 40 at the combine. While some teams consider Wimbley a defensive end, others are looking at him as a pass rushing linebacker in a 3-4 alignment, the 49ers included among them. The Cleveland Browns are showing even more interest in Wimbley.We reported several times from the field of the Senior Bowl that Browns scouts were interviewing Wimbley and there has been no let-up in interest by the franchise. Sources have told us Phil Savage is very interested in Wimbley, though the team does not expect him to be available in Round 2. Who will be the workout warrior at the combine? It could well be Miami-Ohio linebacker Terna Nande. Missing significant time with a lacerated liver last season, Nande is fully healthy and expects to put up big numbers in the RCA Dome. How big? Besides running under 4.5 seconds in the 40 and vertical-jumping higher than 40 inches, Nande hopes to make a run at the combine record on the bench press or at the very least complete 40 reps. Nande's college teammate, receiver Martin Nance, has been running well and hopes to clock in the low 4.4s a week from Sunday. Taking a page from former college teammate Khalif Barnes - who posted a terrific combine last year - Washington offensive tackle Joe Toledo is looking fit these days. Weighing near 340 pounds, Toledo has turned in times under 5.0 during his workouts. There were false rumors that USC quarterback Matt Leinart was floating the idea he would not play for the New Orleans Saints if they draft him. We hear Leinart has no problem playing in the Crescent City if the franchise uses the overall No. 2 pick on him. Leinart is unlikely to throw at the combine, preferring his Pro Day at USC on April 2nd, which is expected to draw scouts, coaches and general managers from all 32 teams. After first saying he would throw at the combine, Vince Young is now backtracking and stating he may just interview in Indianapolis. Why the change of heart? Sources in Houston have told us Young's throwing is not going well at all. We were alerted last week that Young wanted special privileges from trainers leading up to the combine, which he did not receive. Most of Young's targets at his pre-combine workouts have been former high school teammates. The practice pass catchers are dropping almost all the passes thrown in their direction. Their poor route running and timing has not helped Young, either.
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