The two players are Penn State inside linebackers Navorro Bowman and Sean Lee. Each has some accomplishments on his résumé, but it seems possible neither will live up to his hype.
Bowman (6-0, 242 at the NFL Combine) is actually viewed by some as an outside linebacker. He arrived at Penn State amid claims that he was the next star linebacker at the school that produced such dominant professionals as LaVar Arrington, Shane Conlon and, for those with longer memories, Jack Ham. He was productive, but not dominant. At the Combine, he proved to be an inch shorter and nine pounds heavier than Penn State had him listed.
But more importantly, Bowman has found himself in the wrong section of the newspaper when he got into an on-campus fight in 2007, and then admitted last year that he had smoked marijuana, for which he was subject to drug and alcohol testing and received a year of probation.
Bowman has been clocked in the high 4.7s in the 40-yard dash, suggesting that he is more talented as a football player than he is an elite athlete. For someone who has been projected to get chosen as high as the back end of the first round, that's just not fast enough. That speed has caused most teams to view him as an inside linebacker, where his size is merely adequate. The talent is there, but for someone to get picked that high — and receive the money that a high selection will garner — he has to be bigger and/or faster.
The better prospect is the less-heralded of the two. Lee (6-2, 236 at the Combine) missed the 2008 season with a knee injury, and then played through a strained knee this year, but still collected 86 tackles, 11 tackles-for-loss and a pair of sacks.
Lee also is expected to go fairly early, maybe in the second or third round. But many scouts have a couple of concerns: at 236 pounds, the concern is that he won't be able to hold up to the rigors of the inside position until he straps on some more weight; and the fact that he had significant knee injuries in back-to-back seasons raises questions about his durability.
Lee likely won't get picked as early as his more high-profile teammate, but both will get snapped up before the draft is half over. It's true that the Cowboys would like to find an heir apparent to Keith Brooking, but they have bigger needs, and the picks that would be required to select Bowman or Lee can be better spent on players at other positions.
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