49ers see Cromartie, others shine at Pro Days
FLORIDA STATE More than 25 Florida State players utilized the day's happenings to showcase their individual skills to a plethora of personnel from every NFL team that totaled more than 100. Included in the crowd were New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton, Cleveland Browns coach Romeo Crennel, New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin, new St. Louis Rams coach Scott Linehan and Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears. Cleveland general manager Phil Saveage also was on hand. Two standout defenders, in particular, had the entire crowd buzzing. Cromartie and Sims used the spotlight to steal the show, and, in doing so, answered whatever questions remained about their respective games. Cromartie is a big, rangy cornerback prospect in which the 49ers are highly interested. Sims is a highly-regarded outside linebacker in which the 49ers also might have some interest. Sims, who elected to forego his senior season and enter the NFL Draft, has had to deal with questions about his size and coverage skills. Wowing scouts with his 4.47 40-yard dash and stellar performance in the position drills, the Tallahassee native did his part in answering those inquiries. "I think I did pretty well," said Sims, who currently weighs 234 pounds and is hoping to be 240 upon entering the league. The knock on Sims is that he stands barely 6-foot. "I showed (the scouts) that I can move pretty well in coverage and everything. I think I showed that I can catch the ball. I came here today telling myself that I wasn't going to drop any balls and I did that." While Sims had a junior season to display the skills necessary to warrant a high pick in the April draft, Cromartie didn't have that luxury, missing the entire 2005 campaign while rehabbing a knee. Despite more than a year without any actual in-game experience, NFL scouts have been drooling over the 6-foot-2 speedster based on his tremendous upside and some mock drafts have him being selected late in the first round. Cromartie may have solidified that lofty projection with a time of 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash, a 42-inch vertical jump, an excellent showing in punt-return drills and an even better showing in defensive back drills. "I think I did pretty good out there but obviously I want to always do better," Cromartie said. "We will just have to see what all this does for me on draft day. I am pretty confident though." In addition to Cromartie and Sims, defensive linemen Bunkley, who is expected to be one of the first defensive tackles taken in the draft, and Wimbley impressed scouts. Both players are high on the list of prospects the 49ers are considering in the draft. Wimbley, a standout defensive end for the 'Noles for four years, pulled double-duty working out with the defensive linemen and the linebackers. "I am hearing about half and half," Wimbley said about what position he is projected at in the NFL. "I am hearing D-line some and outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. I don't mind playing either one. I am fine at either one." With as many as four former Seminoles staring down an actual opportunity to be selected in the first round, many others like Leon Washington and A.J. Nicholson spent the day trying to raise their stock in the draft's middle rounds. Others spent the day simply looking for a chance. Former Seminole wide receiver Chauncey Stovall, who last played for the Tribe in 2004, used the event to display his desire for a free-agent opportunity. Recent graduates such as fullbacks James Coleman and B.J. Dean and tight ends Matt Henshaw and Donnie Carter also gave strong performances in their bid towards possible late selections. "I understand that I am not going to be picked in the draft's top four rounds but I am still working my butt off," Coleman said. "All I need is a foot in the door and I will do whatever I have to do once I am there." Now that Pro Day is complete, many NFL-hopeful former Seminoles will continue to work out in preparation for the pro ranks. For some of the lucky ones, trips to meet with certain teams and tour the given facilities are on the horizon as well. "I am real excited about this opportunity," Sims said. "It's a dream come true." PENN STATE Penn State's Pro Day featured several Nittany Lions who are slam dunks to be drafted, but walk-on receiver Ethan Kilmer shined in the spotlight. Kilmer and 17 of his 2005 senior teammates tested in the Lasch Building and at Holuba Hall. Also on hand was former Penn Stater Lavon Chisley, who was suspended from the team for his senior season in '05. Just about every NFL team was represented, as were scouts from the CFL and Arena League. Well-known faces in the crowd included Matt Millen, Herman Edwards, Carl Petersen, Jerry Angelo and Bill Cowher. Several former Lions stopped by to see what was cooking, too, including current NFL players Robbie Gould and Rich Gardner. What did everyone see? Well, a source for Scout.com was on hand for the morning session, which included measurements and the bench press for 18 players (quarterback Michael Robinson delayed lifting until after throwing later in the day). No big shockers on the measurements, other than defensive end Tamba Hali coming in at 263 pounds, about 12 pounds lighter than he was at the NFL Combine. The longest arms belonged to another D-end, Chisley (35-3/8) and the biggest hands to Hali (10-7/8). In the bench, Kilmer began to get noticed when he uncorked 19 reps of 225, a terrific number for a wideout. By comparison, defensive end Matthew Rice did 19 and Hali did 18. Offensive linemen Tyler Reed (29), Charles Rush (28) and Lance Antolick (27) did the most. The afternoon session was closed to all media. But Kilmer once again stole the show, uncorking a 4.38-second 40-yard dash, a 41-inch vertical leap and 10-foot, 10-inch broad jump. Once scout pulled Kilmer aside to talk after his performance in the bench press. By the time he was finished in the afternoon, Kilmer was the talk of the event. Said a source close to the program: "Three scouts were huddled up comparing notes and one said, ‘Seriously, this guy was a walk-on?' - he really impressed a lot of people." Kilmer had a key touchdown catch in the Orange Bowl win over Florida State and finished the 2005 season with 15 grabs for 236 yards and three scores. He was also a special-teams cover ace, making 23 tackles. WYOMING Seven NFL teams made their way to Wyoming's Pro Day. The star of the show was cornerback Derrick Martin, who significantly improved his combine time, clocking a 4.40 on a fast surface. Martin, who has been climbing up draft boards recently, is being hotly pursued by the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens, among other teams. Another player catching the Ravens' fancy was receiver Jovon Bouknight. Running a pedestrian 4.75 at the combine, Bouknight broke the 4.55 barrier. Several on hand said his performance was good enough to move the large receiver/punt returner into the draft's first day. Quarterback Corey Bramlet turned some heads with his workout. Measuring 6'4.5"/222lbs, Bramlet ran his 40s in 4.69/4.71. Sources from the Cowboys program are convinced Bramlet possesses the tools to be a third passer at the next level. TENNESSEE For the most part, the top Volunteers available in the April draft ran at last month's combine, except for two. Running back Gerald Riggs Jr. clocked a 4.5 40 while weighing 229 pounds. The talented ball carrier, who did not run at the combine because of a bad ankle, also completed 15 repetitions on the bench. There have been several red flags thrown up about Riggs' past and many suspect he will drop far into the draft. After being snubbed by the combine, offensive tackle Albert Toeaina had something to prove yesterday. Weighing 328 pounds - 10 pounds lighter than he weighed at the Senior Bowl - Toeaina ran a very fast 40 and was timed between 4.80-and-4.94 by scouts on hand after completing 36 reps on the bench. Many were awed by his performance and Toeaina is being heavily pursued by the Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Green bay Packers and Tennessee Titans.
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