Who is going to be the fastest player at the combine next week?
It could be Kansas State wide receiver/return specialist Yamon Figurs. Figures is expected to broach the high 4.2's when he runs the forty, a magical barrier these days. Prior to his senior season, scouts timed Figures at 4.26 but rounded that number up to 4.34 because of the fast surface he ran on.
Though Kansas State had a tough time getting their passing offense in gear last season, Figures did carve up a talented Texas secondary during the Wildcats upset victory over the Longhorns.
Not far behind Figures could be UNLV cornerback Eric Wright, who has been consistently clocked in the low 4.3's recently. Sources have told us Wright's reputation as a guy with a bad attitude is completely off base. In fact, we have been told that for the past month that Wright has been working hard and shows up everyday with a great attitude.
After being dismissed from the USC program, Wright transferred to UNLV and declared for the draft, despite playing in just seven games in his only season in the program, which raised several red-flags.
Wyoming safety John Wendling has also been running some fast times recently. Looking the part at 220-pounds, Wendling has been clocked in the mid 4.3's and a time closer to 4.30 at the combine would not be a surprise to anyone.
Weighing 338-pounds, Soliai has steadily run his 40's under 5.00-seconds, getting as low as 4.92 on several occasions. He is expected to complete over thirty reps on the bench this weekend.
Why is a talent of this magnitude not rated as high as some would think?
In a nutshell, smarts, or lack thereof. Soliai did not have the grades to enter a I-A program out of high-school and was forced to attend junior college. There is a concern that the terrific results he will turn in during the physical testing at the Combine will be offset by a poor Wonderlic score.
Adam Carriker is expected to continue his upward movement on draft boards. Recently weighing in at 295-pounds, Carriker has consistently run under 4.9-seconds in the forty and has completed as many as 33-reps on the bench. Factor in a 34-inch vertical jump and some terrific pro-shuttle times and Carriker looks primed for a major combine performance.
Interviews are another area where the Nebraska defensive lineman will stand out with the NFL decision makers on hand. Known for his work ethic, sources have told us Carriker is always, "the first one into the training facility and the last one to leave."
Carriker's college teammate Stewart Bradley has also looked sharp recently. Coming off a good performance at the Senior Bowl, the outside linebacker has been consistently running in the low 4.6's at a weight of 255-pounds.
On the other side of the line of scrimmage, Joe Staley should be as athletic as advertised next week. Recently running his forty's in the mid-4.7's and completing near 30-reps on the bench, many feel good Combine numbers could push the Central Michigan left tackle into the first round.
Another fast offensive tackle should be small-school prospect Allen Barbe of Missouri Southern State University. In recent conversations, the coaching staff at MSSU have told us they fully expect Barbe to run in the low 4.8's at 305-pounds.
Coming into the season Manny Ramirez of Texas Tech was one of the highest rated guards in the nation. Yet a terrible senior season followed by a lackluster performance at the Senior Bowl took a lot of the shine off his star.
But there is more than meets the eye with this story.
As a junior, Ramirez complained about pain in his knee. Upon examination, the Texas Tech medical staff determined is was nothing more than tendonitis. It turned out to be a misdiagnosis.
Upon further evaluation last month, the injury was reclassified as a torn patella tendon, which Ramirez played through during his senior campaign. The result was the formation of bone spurs in his knee and surgery was performed to repair all the damage.
Presently rehabilitating his surgically repaired knee, Ramirez will not workout at the combine and is unlikely to be able to take part in any pro-day or individual workouts before the draft.