The Best Was Saved For Last

Amid the sound of melting ice sliding off the roof of the RCA Dome as well as name after name of player who would not run the forty-yard dash during workouts, the 2003 NFL combine ended here today in Indianapolis.

Fortunately for league scouts and talent evaluators, the best was saved for last as the final group of defensive backs offered several superlative performances.

The morning started off with the linebackers continuing this years' combine theme as E.J. Henderson, Terry Pierce and Boss Bailey chose not to take part in the physical tests.

But as was the case with yesterday's receiver workout, the highlight of the session was a small school prospect; Chaun Thompson of West Texas A&M. Timed faster then any linebacker who ran, Thompson showed scouts tremendous athleticism and was very effective afterwards during the drill segment. High on their list of "sleepers," scouts were already impressed with Thompson after he totaled 29 repetitions of 225-pounds on the bench press the day before.

At one point someone asked aloud, "where is West Texas A&M," only to have an associate pull a pocket map from his briefcase in the middle of the proceedings and inform everyone the school is located in Canyon, Texas, just south of Amarillo. Humor aside, Thompson moved into the draft's first day with his results Monday morning.

Oregon State's Nick Barnett also had a quality session, as did another Pac Ten player, Lance Briggs of Arizona. For the most part the linebackers displayed a good amount of speed and those that took to the turf today served themselves well.

The defensive backs began their session around noon and the last group of cornerbacks, one highlighted by the big names from the position, left people talking.

Kansas State star Terence Newman stayed true to his word and worked out, even after facing down questions about a previous shoulder injury, which required an MRI over the weekend. Newman was fast, clocking a pair of 40-times that averaged 4.40 on stopwatches, but the champion sprinter failed to live up to the legendary times many expected from him.

Washington State's Marcus Trufant continued his tear in the off-season posting two hand-held times under 4.50 seconds and again displayed great cover techniques during the drill segment. Andre Woolfolk seems to be righting the ship as the former Oklahoma star put together a solid session, something needed after a poor performance at the Senior Bowl.

Even with all that, the star of the day was Oregon State's Dennis Weathersby. Not known to be "fleet of foot", the All American torched the track, twice running under 4.39 on most watches. A large cover corner who some project to safety, today's workout was best summed up by one prominent general manager who called it "huge." The end result could see Weathersby moving into the first round.

Conversely Monday saw TCU linebacker LaMarcus McDonald struggle to run faster than 5.00 in the forty and Michigan State safety Thomas Wright have difficulty getting under the 4.80 barrier.

All things considered this was another successful combine as scouts went away feeling many of their question had been answered. This year's extended format stretched testing sessions to a four-day period, rather then the cramped 72-hours teams previously were allotted to measure and time future professionals. Only 68% of the invitees took to the RCA Dome and ran starting Friday, meaning almost one-third passed up the opportunity, holding out for personnel workouts to display their talents.

What will be the final outcome from this years' combine? We'll find out in eight weeks when the cards are brought to the podium and the names announced during the NFL Draft!

Note to Premium Subscribers: After a one day rest tomorrow in which we will update our Pro-Date schedule, we will start posting large reports on all the practice sessions from the past four days at the combine.

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