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2008 Scouting Combine: Saturday

By: Roshan Bhagat

The Scouting Combine is in full swing. The first day of measurements, bench presses, interviews, and on the field events has begun. Offensive linemen and tight ends are just about done in Indy and will now start taking their flights out. With that in mind, who leaves richer and who leaves poorer?

Jake Long had a phenomenal weekend. He came in at 6í7 and 313 pounds. He was built very thick and didnít carry much fat on him. Long came off well in the interviews where he showed his personal side and talked about his tremendous work ethic and maturity. Even with his massive wingspan, he managed to bench press 225 pounds 37 times, an incredible number. He continued his success into Saturday where he put up a reasonable, 5.17 (unofficial) 40 yard dash. By participating and excelling in the full workout, Long will leave Indianapolis as a top three selection and a possibility to Miami.

As far as tackles are concerned, I also came away very impressed with Rutgers kid Jeremy Zuttah. He was considered as a possible late round selection, but has now assured himself a spot in the draft. Coming from a zone-blocking system, heíll fit in perfectly in that same system at the next level. Zuttah came out with the fastest 40 yard dash (4.99) and also put up 35 reps. With a little technique improvement, and further strengthening, he could become a starter in the league.

Of the interior linemen, I really like Donald Thomas, another Big East lineman from UCONN, who projects well to the zone-blocking system at the next level. At 6í3, 303 he ran a 5.00 (unofficial) and benched 28 times. He moves very well and looks like someone who could be a good value in the third round perhaps.

Finally, I also liked Mike Pollak, the center from Arizona State. Heís a technician who moves well. He finished near the top in every drill among his position, including a 5.02 official 40 and 29 reps. In a weak interior linemen class, expect Pollak to be selected among the top in his position.

Moving onto the tight ends, it was a few under the radar guys that took over the spotlight. First off was Tennesseeís Brad Cottam. Itís difficult to describe how big and massive this kid was. There was an immediate buzz after hearing 6í7 Ĺ, 270 pounds. Saturday he came out with a 4.63 40 and a 33 inch vertical leap and the buzz continued to grow. Hereís a kid who was injured for most of his career at Tennessee, but has blossomed as of late which could put him in day one in a talented class. The top run blocking tight end in the class also had a great day. That would be Calís Craig Stevens. At 6í3 ľ and 254 pounds, Stevens ran a 4.59 40 which could drastically improve his stock. If the demand is high enough, this yearís crop could break a record for day one tight ends selected.

Then thereís the undersized Dustin Keller who is the prototype for a workout warrior. Though only measuring in at 6í2, 242, Keller nearly sat atop in every event. He ran a 4.55 40 with a 38 inch vertical and 26 reps. On top of that, he beat the second tight end by eight inches in the broad jump (10í11Ē). With the production to match his Combine numbers, Purdueís tight end will fly up draft boards as a great receiving tight end that can also spend time split out wide.

Creating more controversy, the near consensus top two tight ends did nothing to help their case. Both Fred Davis and John Carlson disappointed. Fred Davis didnít run at the Combine citing injuries suffered at the Senior Bowl. He did go through the individual skills position drills and didnít look impressive. For a former wideout, he dropped many passes on the day. John Carlson, on the other hand, was a guy who many felt could stretch the field, but not break away. His unofficial 4.89 40 didnít help his case. However, when you watch the tapes of both of these guys, you can tell how well these guys can actually run the seam and catch the passes out in front of them. Iíll take a couple years of game tapes over a Combine any day.

Letís quickly preview Sundayís action where the quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers will hit the field.

We need to begin with the track meet at the top of the running back class. Darren McFadden, Jonathan Stewart, and Rashard Mendenhall will be running. So far Stewart and Mendenhall have looked tremendous in the weight room with 26 and 28 reps respectively. Sub 4.5 40ís would be impressive for either. Look for Stewart to challenge the 4.4 barrier which would have everyone in the house talking. Then look for two guys to challenge records, should they decide to run. These two would be Texasís Jamaal Charles and East Carolinaís Chris Johnson. Can these guys run in the 4.2ís or will they just be high 4.3 guys as we see every year. It should be an interesting day for fans and the scouts.

Itís also going to be a very big day for the wide receivers where there is no consensus number one receiver. Millions of dollars are on the line and so many people can come out of the day as the number one receiver. Iím looking to see how some of the bigger guys run. Malcolm Kelly has the potential to be the top receiver as early as 11 to Buffalo, but a bad 40 could put a fork in him. Then thereís Limas Sweed, who I feel is a mediocre receiver at best, but many like him. I also want to see James Hardy run who came in at a disappointing 6 feet 5 inches. Then thereís my favorite guy, Adarius Bowman. He had a poor Senior Bowl and isnít expected to run a great 40, but anything below 4.45 will tremendous help his stock. Expect something closer to 4.55-4.6 though.

Visit our page for an easy-to-read spreadsheet of measurements and numbers as they happen while the quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers hit center stage on Saturday.

Stay tuned to Footballís Future for a nightly wrap-up. You can also follow the Combine live with other draft enthusiasts around the world on our forums.


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