Hawk flies at Pro Day; 49ers look at top LBs

Ohio State will flood the NFL with several prospects during the April draft. The Buckeyes hosted their annual Pro Day yesterday, and the 49ers had representatives among the more than 100 NFL scouts and coaches that were in attendance. We have comments from Bobby Carpenter, Nick Mangold, Rob Sims, and Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau - a former Buckeye - who talks about linebacker A.J. Hawk and other top LB prospects that are being considered by the 49ers and other teams.

Ohio State held its annual Pro Day at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. The Buckeyes – who set the all-time record with 14 draft picks in 2004 – could have upwards of 12 players drafted this year, and many in Rounds 1-3 on the first day. In fact, some are predicting there could be as many as five OSU players selected in the first round, with the 49ers taking aim at Hawk as one of the prospects the team is considering with the No. 6 overall pick.

Here are some unofficial 40 times from the Pro Day:

--- Santonio Holmes: 4.28.

--- A.J. Hawk: Low 4.4s (heard as low as 4.38).

--- Bobby Carpenter: High 4.5s.

--- Anthony Schlegel: 4.64 (fastest), 4.71 (average).

--- Anthony Gonzalez: 4.35.

LeBeau was one of the more high-profile coaches in attendance. The entire Detroit Lions staff, including general manager Matt Millen and offensive coordinator Mike Martz, also was in attendance.

LeBeau won a national championship for the Buckeyes in 1957 under Woody Hayes as a running back/defensive back. So, he is no stranger to the surroundings at Ohio State.

The former Cincinnati Bengals head coach was impressed with what he saw from OSU's defensive players.

"I naturally concentrated on the defense and they all did well," LeBeau said. "It was well run as always and I thought the athletes did well."

LeBeau was asked specifically about the linebackers. Strongman Mike Kudla, who played defensive end at Ohio State, is projected as a possible linebacker in some systems at the pro level.

"I think you could take all three of these guys and it would be a pretty decent set of young linebackers," he said. "They did a good job. And of course they did a good job of playing during the season."

There have been rumblings that the Super Bowl champions are strongly considering taking Carpenter with their first-round pick.

"He looked like he was 100 percent to me," LeBeau said. "I think they said he was about 90 percent. If he's got more than that, he's pretty good."

LeBeau also commented on Hawk's 40 times in the low 4.4s, one reported at 4.38.

"I would say that he's fast enough," LeBeau said with a grin. "I don't think he will have any problems."

Some scouts might consider the WHAC to be a "fast track." LeBeau was asked if he puts much stock into the idea that some places are faster surfaces than others.

"Well, not really," he said. "Because 100 yards is 100 yards, and 40 yards is 40 yards. And you know that they've been running on these surfaces for several years. And we can pretty much equate them across the country with people. That's one good thing about doing similar exercises over a number of years. You've got a good database that you can at least compare these guys. And it doesn't really mean that much until you find out how they can play. But you do have a starting point."

LeBeau was asked what position he thinks Kudla will play at the next level.

"I don't know," he said. "I think he's got a real good chance to be a good player though. He's real competitive and I think he's a fine athlete. I just think he has to find his best spot. I think he would do well in a system like ours because he can do a little of both. He can play down and he's agile enough to drop. He's a guy that I think would do well in that type of system."

Kudla would likely be a linebacker in the Steelers' 3-4 system, a system for which the 49ers also are attempting to find linebackers for in the draft.

"I think he probably would be, yes," LeBeau said.

Carpenter would also be a good fit as a 3-4 'backer who can come off the edge, or drop in coverage, and the 49ers would consider if he slips late into the first day of the draft.

"Yeah, you are going to see him do that and I also think he would do well in a system like ours," LeBeau said.

Nick Mangold did not run on Thursday, but did clock a 5.0 flat at the combine in Indianapolis last month. Donte Whitner was clocked at 4.45 at the combine. Kudla tied the all-time record with 45 bench reps (225 pounds) at the combine.

Here is a detailed look with interviews of the Pro Days experienced by top prospects Carpenter, Mangold and Sims:

BOBBY CARPENTER

For Carpenter, it was his first full-fledged workout since breaking his leg early in Ohio State's 25-21 win at Michigan on Nov. 19.

"I think it went well," Carpenter said. "Everybody who I saw ran fast and looked fast in our drills. Looked pretty athletic. I was happy with how I did."

Carpenter was asked to reveal his times from Thursday.

"It's tough," he said. "There is a bunch of different stuff. My 40 was 4.5, my pro agility was 4.2 something, my three-cone was a 6.8 something. So, I was happy with how I did. The biggest thing was we looked good in the linebacker drills – all three of us. That was definitely exciting."

Carpenter was not as relaxed as he would have liked to have been.

"I was a little nervous," he said. "I didn't run my 40 as well as I would have hoped to. I think some of that might have been to do with a little nerves. It's something that you dream about your whole life: getting a chance to run in front of the pro scouts."

But overall, Carpenter looked good considering he is just a few months removed from a serious injury.

"I'm feeling pretty good," Carpenter said. "It's tough. I didn't get to train as much as I would have liked to. It's still not 100 percent, but I think these guys were impressed. They said if I did this not at 100 percent they would like to see what I could do fully healed. I was satisfied with what I did. I knew coming in that I wouldn't be as good as I could be, but I just wanted to get to a point where I could impress some people."

Most are predicting that Carpenter will still be a first-rounder, despite the injury.

"That's not for me to decide. I would like to think so," Carpenter said. "We could get five guys in the first round and if I'm one of those guys, that's great."

Carpenter said his buddy Hawk put on a show for the scouts.

"A.J. did well, just like he did last year," Carpenter said. "I knew he was going to come in and run well. And he looked good in the drills like I said. I think he impressed everyone with how he did."

Carpenter, who currently weighs 254 pounds, was asked if OSU's pro day was more important for him than the other guys since he is coming off an injury.

"A little bit," he said. "I would say it's more important for me because I didn't work out at the combine. This was my only opportunity to come in and display my skills."

Carpenter was one of the top defensive players in the country in 2005 before he was hurt and the NFL scouts have the game film to prove it.

"I think a lot of it is based off game film and the numbers just re-affirm it," Carpenter said. "The football guys look at the game film and say, ‘This guy can do this and that,' and then they look at the numbers for justification."

NICK MANGOLD

Mangold is expected to be a first-round pick and the first center off the board. He was pleased with how he fared at the Pro Day.

"I think I did pretty well," Mangold said. "I didn't run. I just did position drills. I talked to a few people and there were no problems with it. We'll find out in the next couple of days."

Mangold was asked for his reaction to the reports that say he's the No. 1 center in the draft.

"I don't read the reports, so I don't really know," he said. "All the information I get is from my mom and she's told me since third grade that I was the best player out there. So, I know what I'm getting from her."

But it does make him feel good to be mentioned in such a positive light.

"Oh definitely," Mangold said. "When you're an offensive lineman, you don't get the opportunity to be taken in the top 10, unless you're a tackle. So when you hear stuff like, ‘You're the best center,' that's nice because that means you're the best at your position and it makes you feel good."

Mangold's 40 time at the combine was impressive … to everyone but him. He was hoping to run just a little bit better.

"I ran 4.96 when I was here," he said. "Did that last year (at pro day). Just didn't come out at the combine. I don't know why."

Mangold was a second-team All-Big Ten pick in 2005. But he had set a goal of being first-team all-conference.

"At first I was upset about it, but I've gotten past it," Mangold said. "It's the opinion of writers and what not. After a while I got over it and now I look at it and say, ‘I wish that would have happened.' But now we've got a new step to take."

Mangold was asked what it feels like to be on the verge of becoming a millionaire.

"I've got my fingers crossed. I hope so," he said. "It would be weird. You know, you grow up as a kid and hear about all the millionaires and what not and you're just living along. All of a sudden there's an opportunity and some potential … and it's just kind of weird and crazy."

ROB SIMS

For offensive lineman Rob Sims, things didn't go as well as he would have liked at Pro Day. But it wasn't really his fault. Sims was trying to compete on one good leg.

"I think I did OK," Sims said. "I think I was quick in the shuttle and the three-cone and that kind of stuff. I actually pulled a hamstring the last couple weeks and I've been fighting to get it back. When I tried to open it up on my 40, I kind of tweaked it again.

"So, it's disappointing, but luckily for linemen the 40 isn't the most important thing. I'm disappointed because I know I could have ran one of the best times in the country. That's the way it goes sometimes. But I looked good in my 10 and my 20. They were pretty decent times."

Sims seemed a bit down after his workout.

"I'm sad, because these are the things that I'm good at. Running and jumping," he said. "I still had a 30 for my vertical and the coaches said I looked quick, but I'm still disappointed in myself because I could have done better, or maybe prevented the hamstring or whatever.

"Me personally, I say I didn't do well because of what happened. But from talking to people like my agent and coaches, they thought I did real good on the offensive line stuff and I still looked quick. I'm glad I did everything else before I did my 40.

"So, I'm just looking for another opportunity to play football. And I know I'll get a shot somewhere. I played well at Ohio State and I've done too much. I've worked too hard."

Sims was the second-strongest player on OSU's team (behind Kudla) last season.

"I lifted at the combine and I think I did pretty well," Sims said. "I did 30 reps (of 225) on the bench and they took away three for maybe bouncing off my chest. So, 27 was still one of the highest."

Sims is another player that will be helped by his game films. He played in a lot of big games for the Buckeyes.

"I felt I kept getting better throughout the season," he said. "This was my first year playing guard of course and I think I went out there and kept learning and kept getting better and really ended up being one of the better guards in the country by the end of the year. I think (game film) is really important. They said going into the combine, 90 percent of what your grade is going to be is already finished. So, the other 10 percent is how you run and how you interview. I think I'm a pretty good interview. I don't know how you guys feel about it."

Sims thinks he will stay at guard in the NFL.

"I think initially I will," he said. "I think I've proven I can play tackle, starting three years here. So, if something happens, if somebody goes down, I think I'll be one of those guys that they say, ‘Get in there.' Also, I would like to learn center. I want to learn all the positions that I can. I just love football. Whatever they put in front of me, I'm going to do it."

Sims' father – Mickey Sims – played for the Cleveland Browns from 1977-79. Having a father that played in the league cannot hurt Sims' chances.

"I hope not," he said. "I know he's at home as pissed off as I am that I didn't get to run the 40. But I hope everything goes OK. I'm sure it will. I'm just worried right now, probably because my leg is throbbing. But I'll chill out for a couple days and feel OK."


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