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February 28, 2011

2011 NFL Combine: Numbers, Measurements and Test Results: Defense

Notable 2011 NFL Combine results and first impression notes:

*note: Heights measured in eighths i.e. 6001 = 6’0’’ 1/8 or 6024 = 6’2’’ ½

*note: Reps = 225-pound bench reps. 40 = 40-yard dash. BJ = Broad Jump. Vert = Vertical Leap. 3C = Three-Cone Drill. 20S = 20 yard shuttle time

Defensive End:

Da’Quan Bowers, Clemson:

6033, 280 – 22 Reps

Not working out at the combine. Not great strength for his size.

Robert Quinn, North Carolina:

6040, 265 – 22 Reps – 4.70 (40) – 9’8’’ BJ – 34 Vert – 7.13 3C

Will rise up a lot of draft boards, even after not playing in a year because of a UNC suspension. An athletic freak, who may remind some of a young Jevon Kearse. Good bend around bags.

Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue:

6037, 267 – 31 Reps4.71 (40) – 10’2’’ BJ – 33.5 Vert7.18 3C

Moves like he can be playing linebacker in the fall. Excellent burst off the line, best in the defensive line group 7. Excellent strength for his size, with 31 reps. Kerrigan may persuade a few teams to look at him as an outside linebacker now, a team like San Diego in the mid first. A four quarter player.

J.J. Watt, Wisconsin:

6053, 290 – 34 Reps – 4.84 (40) – 10’ BJ – 37 Vert – 6.88 3C – 4.21 20S

Carries his 290-pounds very well. Projects best in a 3-4 because of his size, but played exceptionally well in the Badgers 4-3 scheme. Quick with good bend through punch drills. Great three-cone time, a drill I love for defensive linemen.

Defensive Tackle:

Marcell Dareus, Alabama:

6031, 319 – 24 Reps – 4.92 (40)

Dareus moved very well for a 319-pounder. Struggled some moving through bags, got off balance with too much weight forward. Real nice hip work, could flip and rotate with ease. Great bend and change of direction. A powerful player, who in some scouts minds is the best defensive tackle. I can’t disagree, I'd take Dareus over Fairley.

Nick Fairley, Auburn:

6037, 291 – 4.87 (40) – 7.14 3C

Real nice get off. A bit sloppy with his pop on the bags, but got up and down quick. Showed he’s got good bend and start up quickness with one of the top three-cone times for defensive tackles. Didn't stand out as much as some scouts were hoping for. May not have shown enough to warrent a No. 1 selection.

Outside Linebacker:

Von Miller, Texas A&M:

6025, 246 – 4.53 (40)10’6’’ BJ37 Vert6.70 3C4.06

Weighed in at the Senior Bowl at 237-pounds, so has put on nine pounds since then. Blazed through the 40-yard dash, in the 4.4 range unofficially, even with the added weight. Really an impressive prospect. Has a chance to go within the top five of the draft. Incredibly smooth, there’s no wasted movement. Went a little fast through the bag drill, got off balance with his shoulders out of place. Tremendous acceleration when turning hips in pass drill.

Akeem Ayers, UCLA:

6024, 254 – 4.80 (40) – 9’8’’ BJ – 4.28 20S

Didn’t run as fast as most scouts were expecting, but he’s also one of the heaviest guys in the group. Exceptional job working through the bags. Great feet, kept his head and eyes up. Great hips and change of direction in the pass drill. Real good job catching the ball. Projects as the No. 1 4-3 linebacker. Some scouts don’t see him going within the top 15, but I’m real high on Ayers. I like the way he moves, drops into coverage with ease, just a natural athlete. Strong guy who can rush a bit, as well.

Inside Linebacker:

Martez Wilson, Illinois:

6036, 250 – 23 Reps – 4.49 (40) – 10’4’’ BJ – 36 Vert – 7.04 3C – 4.28

Many knew Wilson would impress, but the 40-time was even a bit of a surprise. A very dynamic player, capable of playing a lot of different linebacker spots at the next level. A physically imposing player. Tight hips, with some good feet. Has some good bend at the waist, stays low.

Colin McCarthy, Miami (Fla.):

6013, 238 – 23 Reps – 4.65 (40) – 9’11’’ BJ – 36.5 Vert – 6.93 3C – 4.20 20S

Had a really nice Senior Bowl game. A guy that doesn’t pass the eye test, but is a playmaker come game day. Turned in two nice runs within the 4.6 range. Kept his eyes up through drills, quick feet, but crossed them a bit. Quick back-peddle, natural pass catching ability. Turned in a great workout for someone scouts weren’t expecting it from. A lot more athletic than many thought.


Patrick Peterson, LSU:

6002, 219 – 15 Reps – 4.34 (40)10’6’’ BJ38 Vert – 6.58 3C4.07 20S

Absolute unbelievable athlete. Excelled in every event at the combine. An explosive player, and technically sound. Real quick in and out of his breaks. Rounded off some of his turns. Displays natural athleticism. Had good

Prince Amukamara, Nebraska:

6000, 206 – 4.43 (40) – 10’8’’ BJ – 38 Vert – 4.08 20S

Ran far better than expected. The biggest question mark heading into the combine was his speed, Amukamara answered that Tuesday. Turn and run very quick. Had some stiffness at times in his turns, but Amukamara has shown on tape, he can turn and run with anyone.

Brandon Harris, Miami (Fla.):

5094, 191 – 4.45 (40) – 6.77 3C

Very fluid and very polished. Excellent feet, without any wasted movement in his breaks. Had Deon Sanders raving all day. Stayed very low with his back peddle and turned in some of the best breaks on the ball. Only had three college interceptions, but showed good ball skills, attacked the ball in the air.


Raheem Moore, UCLA:

5116, 202 – 11 Reps – 4.62 (40)9’7’’ BJ – 35 Vert – 6.98 3C – 3.96 20S

Real nice hip flexibility, turned and ran very well. A natural ball hawk. Good breaks, had some corner skills in him. Very nice flexibility and bend in his breaks. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Moore sneak into the late first. Real impressive. Had 10 interceptions at UCLA, and showed great ball skills at the combine.

For more resuls, check the:

2011 NFL Combine Numbers Page: Defense

For offensive numbers, check the:

2011 NFL Combine Numbers Page: Offense

February 26, 2011

2011 NFL Combine: Numbers, Measurements and Test Results:

Notable 2011 NFL Combine results and first impression notes:

*note: Heights measured in eighths i.e. 6001 = 6’0’’ 1/8 or 6024 = 6’2’’ ½

*note: Reps = 225-pound bench reps. 40 = 40-yard dash. BJ = Broad Jump. Vert = Vertical Leap.

3C = Three-Cone Drill. 20S = 20 yard shuttle time


Blaine Gabbert, Missouri:

6043, 234 – 4.62 (40) – 10’ BJ – 33.5 Vert – 6.84 3C

Ideal quarterback size, Good frame. Too bad he won't be throwing at the Combine. Gabbert is on the Bengals radar, as he’s scheduled to meet with Cincinnati’s staff. Still have to question Gabbert’s decision not to throw, with so many quarterbacks throwing at the event this year. A far more athletic player than most were expecting from Gabbert.

Ryan Mallett, Arkansas:

6066, 253

Skinny for his near 6-foot-7 frame, Mallett also had a meltdown at the podium in front of the media Saturday, and walked off. He got upset about some drug rumor questions. Another not good thing for Mallett. Has shown spot on accuracy at times. The ball gets out of his hands extremely quick, with Brett Favre like velocity, but his throwing motion is a bit slow. The best deep ball in the group, throws it with ease.

Cam Newton, Auburn:

6050, 248 – 4.59 (40)10’6’’ BJ – 35 Vert – 6.92 3C

Exactly what was expected. Along with Gabbert, Newton is also scheduled to meet with the Bengals. Huge broad jump, the biggest at the 2010 combine was a 9’6’’. The speed was right around where most thought, at 250-pounds, the 4.6 range is fine. Footwork still needs some work, hasn’t done a lot of under center work. Had a couple accuracy problems at times, over threw the out routes.

Jake Locker, Washington:

6024, 231 – 4.59 (40)10’ BJ – 35 Vert – 6.77 3C

Good build for Locker, at 231-pounds. Locker has the size and athleticism to make it in the NFL. Very technically sound, looked very good in the quarterback-wideout drills. Has the best footwork of all the quarterbacks. Has been the best quarterback throwing, even with a few accuracy struggles.

Running Back:

Mark Ingram, Alabama:

5091, 215 – 21 Reps4.58 (40) – 9’10’’ BJ

Down at least 10 pounds from Alabama. Ingram gets in and out of cuts very quick. Ingram has some of the best feet in the draft. Doesn’t need great speed because of his running style, turned in times within the 4.5 and 4.6 range. As expected, did very well in bad drills, made really nice cuts. Did everything he needed to on Sunday.

Mikel Leshoure, Illinois:

5115, 227 – 4.59 (40) – 38 Vert – 10’2’’ BJ6.82 3C

Right around the size that was expected for Leshoure. A bruising back that didn’t necessarily need a great 40-time to hold his position in the draft. Leshoure had a lead on being the second running back selected, but that lead shrunk Sunday.

Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech:

5093, 212 – 4.61 (40) – 40 Vert10’3’’ BJ – 6.96 3C – 4.18 20S

Shorter than expected, but Williams is a physical runner for 5-foot-9. Has great lateral quickness, as well. Did excellent work through the bags. Caught the ball well, did a lot to show he can be an every down player.

Wide Receiver:

AJ Green, Georgia:

6035, 211 – 18 Reps – 4.50 (40) – 10’6’’ BJ

Skinny build. But still managed 18 reps. Met with the Bengals staff on Saturday. Very fluid in his routes. Hasn’t done anything to no warrant being the No. 1 wideout taken.

Julio Jones, Alabama:

6026, 220 – 17 Reps – 4.39 (40) – 11’3’’ BJ – 38.5 Vert – 6.66 3C

Had the second biggest wingspan at just over 81 inches. Very impressive speed for 220-pounds. With an unofficial 4.39 40, it’d almost be a surprise if Jones lasts until the Rams at pick No. 14. Has been the combine’s most impressive wideout thus far. Amazing broad jump from Jones. One of the best in the event’s history.

Leonard Hankerson, Miami (Fla.):

6014, 209 – 4.43 (40) – 36 Vert

Up in weight from the Senior Bowl, with solid frame. Hankerson has met with the Ravens, who could be thinking of Hankerson in the first, or hoping he falls in the second. Had a couple drops in the gauntlet, but no coach or scout takes that drill seriously , the whole drill is drops. One of the more NFL ready wideouts in the group. Has some concentration problems at times, but very polished and clean in and out of routes.

Tight End:

Kyle Rudolph, Notre Dame:

6061, 259

Not working out at the combine because of hamstring injuries that ended his season short.

D.J. Williams, Arkansas:

6021, 245 – 20 Reps – 4.67 (40) – 9’3’’ BJ – 33’ Vert -

Has kept pretty much under the radar at the combine. Was fluid in routes, didn’t break his speed or focus. Probably showed the best pass catching ability of the tight ends.

Offensive Line:

Nate Solder (OT), Colorado:

6081, 319 – 22 Reps 5.05 (40) – 9’2’’ BJ32 Vert – 4.34 20S 7.44 3C

Solder measured in quite well at 6-foot-8 as expected, but his 21 reps show his weakness. He's a past tight end, and it appears he's kept his tight end strength. Not good news for Solder. Solder looks like a guy who’s going to need some work and fine tuning once he gets into the league. He runs well, but he needs to clean up his game and improve his strength.

Anthony Castonzo (OT), Boston College:

6070, 317 – 28 Reps – 5.23 (40) – 8’9’’ BJ – 4.40 20S – 7.25 3C

Looks very athletic. Looked the best in the kick-slide drill of all the group one linemen. Could add some weight based on how he moves and carries weight on 6-foot-7 frame. May be the best offensive tackle in the draft with the solid performance, as he’s shown he does all the little things of the position very well. His upside, however, isn’t as high as Solder.

For more NFL Combine offensive player results, check the:

2011 NFL Combine Numbers Page

For defensive numbers, check the:

2011 NFL Combine Numbers Page: Defense

February 25, 2011

First Quarter Hail Mary...2/25

"...where completion is considered unlikely"

Mack Brown shuts down the public

The rebuilding process at the University of Texas will be kept silent from some of the most curious and loyal fans in sports. Head coach Mack Brown has closed all of the team’s practices from the public, in an attempt to keep out all distractions from his team, staff and himself.

Some practices have been closed to the public in the past, but in light of the 5-7 season for the Longhorns last year, Brown has decided to close the shed on all practices this spring. Brown told the associated press:

"I don't want our players and our coaches trying to please other people to start practice. We've got a lot to do," Brown said. "I don't want media, I don't want people in the stands, I don't want autographs. Nothing right now. This is only about getting better."

He does however hope fans will show up when they are welcome back. In an interesting note, Brown did say all positions are open in spring practice, including quarterback, where junior Garrett Gilbert returns. Gilbert, the once highly touted recruit, threw just 10 touchdowns to 17 interceptions last year.

Who’s the best trick shot quarterback?

Forget trick shot basketball heaves and dunk contests, trick shot quarterback throws are more popular than a Charlie Sheen story on TMZ right now.

The original trick shot quarterback, UConn junior Johnny McEntee, has stated a hot trend in sports with his five minutes of fame and amazing throws throughout the UConn workout complex. Since McEntee, though, there have been others to attempt.

Monmouth College quarterback Alex Tanney has had his time in the spotlight, including, like McEntee, a guest spot on ESPN’s First and Ten. Tanney’s video is impressive and may even have McEntee beat.

Tanney hasn’t been the only challenger to McEntree. Daron Bryden, an 8-year old from Manchester Conn., produced his own trick video. Bryden can sling it too. It’s only 30 seconds, but what were you doing at 8-years old?

Who needs five star recruits anymore?

Every year, the hype and obsession with how many stars are next to a recruits name on the never ending list of recruiting sites seems to grow. The last four years, the No. 1 recruit in the nation has held out his decision, almost in attempt to bring on the spotlight.

When those five star recruits make it to college, though, they’re not always the ones keeping the headlines. Fresh starts and being overlooked can go a long way in motivating a player.

SI writer Andy Staples breaks down his annual All Two-Star team in his latest column. Highlighting the group is Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden, Oregon State wideout James Rodgers and TCU linebacker Tank Carder.

A little insurance never hurts

You insure your house, you car, your boat, even your health. Why not insure that health on the football field? In an effort to make sure he’s never a poor man, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck has taken out a $5 million insurance policy on himself, in case he suffers a career ending injury this fall.

Not a bad move really by Luck. The projected No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft, turned down his opportunity to cash in on millions, to return to Stanford for his degree and another shot at a title. This way, he’s still guaranteed a pretty pay check one way or the other.

Luck isn’t the first player to take out a policy on their football health. Miami running back Willis McGahee actually became one of the first when he took out a $2 million policy just before the 2002 National Championship. As it turns out, McGahee almost ended up needing the money, going down in the game with a completely blown out knee. McGahee turned down the policy, and quickly recovered to become the first running back drafted that same year, though.

Hopefully Luck won’t need to make the same decision.

NFL Combine measurements coming in

Workouts for players attending the 2011 NFL Combine in Indianapolis this week won’t start until Saturday, Feb. 26, but the measurements of the offensive line and skill players are starting to roll in.

*note: combine heights are measured in eighths i.e. 6001 = 6’0’’ 1/8 or 6024 = 6’2’’ ½

Blaine Gabbert – 6043, 234-pounds. Ryan Mallett – 6066, 253. Cam Newton – 6050, 248. Mark Ingram – 5091, 215. AJ Green – 6035, 211. Julio Jones – 6026, 220. Jonathan Baldwin – 6043, 228. Torrey Smith – 6007, 204.

As for the offensive linemen and tight end notes from yesterday. TCU offensive tackle Marcus Cannon weighed in at a whopping 358-pounds. The best news came from USC offensive tackle Tyron Smith, who weighed in 307-pounds, up from the reported 285 he was at USC. Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph checked in at 6064, 259-pounds.

Villanova offensive tackle Ben Ijalana has been forced to drop from the combine, due to a sports hernia injury. The Chicago Bears met with Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi, while the Browns met with LSU offensive tackle Joseph Barksdale.

*Check back to my 2011 NFL Combine Numbers page for more measurements later.

February 24, 2011

College Football Report - Spring Previews and Early Predictions: ACC

The Atlantic Coast Conference:

Virginia Tech 11-3, Florida State 10-4, Maryland 9-4, NC State 9-4, North Carolina 8-5, Miami (FL 7-6, Boston College 7-6, Clemson 6-7, Georgia Tech 6-7, Virginia 4-8, Wake Forest 3-9, Duke 3-9

Reasons to be excited: It’s a new year and a fresh start for the ACC. The conferences high expectations and lofty goals set when the ACC expanded in 2004 have yet to be met, as every year the conference seems to be struggling for respect. It’s yet another season for the ACC to turn critics into believers and work towards becoming a top two or three conference, or at the least one that can compete with the SEC.

Breakout player(s): The Hurricanes have produced some pretty prominent running backs over the years with Edgerrine James, Clinton Portis, Frank Gore and Willis McGahee to name a few. Sophomore running back Lamar Miller has a chance to join that list next season. In a run happy Al Golden offense, Miller will take on the lead role. The Canes were 4-1 in games Miller had at least 11 carries, with the lone loss in a 163 yard performance against Virginia Tech. With NC State All-American linebacker Nate Irving graduated, a new face will emerge as the leader of the Wolfpack defense. Expect it to be linebacker Audie Cole. As a junior, Cole was often the next man to the ball behind Irving, posting 86 stops and five sacks.

Get to work on: Building the non-conference rep. The ACC was downright awful against non-conference teams in 2010, losing key games to start the year. The ACC failed to cash in on wins in early matchups against Oklahoma, Ohio State, Auburn, Boise State, LSU and even James Madison. The reason the ACC doesn’t get a whole lot of respect is because of its continuous non-conference dismay. They’ll get their chance again in 2011 with early games scheduled against Northwestern, Auburn, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Ohio State and Kansas State. At least they don’t back away from a challenge.

What to look for: A number of quarterbacks will be handed the starting reins right away in spring practice, including Tevin Washington at Georgia Tech, EJ Manuel at FSU, Tajh Boyd at Clemson, Mike Glennon at NC State and Logan Thomas at Virginia Tech. Sometimes a little competition is a good thing, though. With all being new starters in 2011, some early growing pains may come in spring camp with nobody pushing them from behind for their fresh new spots.

Quarterback competitions: While some teams have quarterbacks in waiting, a couple others have open competitions this spring. North Carolina has a battle lined up between probable starter Bryn Renner, freshman Marquis Williams and junior Braden Hanson. Virginia’s shakes up between sophomore Ross Metheny and redshirt freshman Michael Rocco. Miami’s seems to be the most interesting, though. Two year starter Jacory Harris will get competition from sophomore Stephen Morris, who started three games last season. The smart money is on Harris, now a senior, winning the job with Morris pushing him, but Morris can sling the rock with the best of them.

Bold Prediction: New Miami head coach Al Golden will lead Miami to its first ACC Championship appearance. Miami has had an immense amount of talent on their team for years now, what the ‘Canes were lacking under head coach Randy Shannon, however, was discipline and energy. Golden has already brought both to Miami in a short time frame. Expect the ‘Canes to play with a lot more fire than they've shown in years past. The skill sets and both lines are stacked and one of the two quarterbacks will be ready to lead. Miami even catches a break in the schedule with Terrelle Pryor and the Ohio State five having to sit out the Sept. 17 meeting.

How they’ll finish: It’s hard to put a finger on who’s going to compete every year in the ACC. Maryland was a good example of that last season, going from a two win team in 2009 to a 9-4 finish in 2010. Maryland should again have a fairly strong team, lead by new head coach Randy Edsall. Clemson looks to be another year or two away from making a step towards the top, though. Don’t expect a whole lot of improvement out of Wake Forest, as well. Behind Mike Glennon at quarterback, North Carolina State has a good shot to compete with Florida State for the Atlantic, but FSU is too loaded of a team not to make it back to the ACC Championship. In the Coastal division, Miami will take advantage of turnaround seasons at Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and North Carolina, as they squeeze their way into the title spot for the Coastal division. Virginia will improve by at least a couple of wins, though. The ACC will finally get what they’ve always wanted with an FSU vs. Miami matchup in the championship game. In the end, the Seminoles appear ahead of Miami. CHAMP: Florida State

First Quarter Hail Mary...2/24

"...where completion is considered unlikely"

Lane Kiffin: The man who keeps on giving

USC head coach Lane Kiffin may be long gone from Tennessee, but apparently he’s left a few parting gifts for the Vols program to clean up.

Along with current head basketball coach, Bruce Pearl, Kiffin received a notice revealing that he committed recruiting violations and failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance of NCAA rules.

The NCAA gave Tennessee officials a list of a dozen rules violations; Kiffin received a separate list, because he’s now at USC. Tennessee now has until May 21 to respond, after which the NCAA would respond to Tennessee’s at a meeting on June 10-11.

Kiffin and assistants are accused of improper phone calls to football recruits. Kiffin is also charged with failing to monitor his staff.

Attorney finally agrees to take Auburn case

Apparently fourth time’s a charm for Harvey Updyke Jr. The alleged Toomer’s Corner tree prisoner has found an attorney to take his case.

Glennon Threatt Jr., a Birmingham attorney, has agreed to take the defense of Updyke Jr. Threatt was the fourth man Updyke went through, with court-appointed attorneys Jerry Hauser and Philip Tyler pulling out, as well as Jerry Blevins.

Threatt said in a statement: “I expect this case to be a lot of fun.”

Fun as in putting a crazy man behind bars, I hope. Meanwhile at Toomer’s Corner, workers dug 18 inches deep replacing the poisoned soil, in an effort to save the trees. The incident has brought a lot of hostility from Auburn fans, including slashing of Updyke’s car tires at store parking lot.

Way too early Heisman watch

Because Heisman talk never gets old, website has released its early list of front runners for the most glamorous piece of rust in college football.

The list includes 22 names to keep an eye on for the start of the 2011 season, but like recent years have proven; the winner probably isn’t on the list.

Obvious front runners include: Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, Oregon running back LaMichael James, OK State wideout Justin Blackmon and Boise quarterback Kellen Moore.

I like a few sleepers on the list, like Wisconsin running back Montee Ball, Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones and Auburn running back Michael Dyer.

Threet decides to hang up the cleats

Arizona State senior quarterback Steven Threet has decided to put his football career on the shelf due to recent concussions and ongoing concussion symptoms.

With four concussions in five years, including two last seasons, Threet will call it quits. Headaches and trouble sleeping still lingers for Threet, who sustained his last concussion Nov. 26 against UCLA.

A former Michigan transfer, Threat committed to Georgia Tech out of high school before heading back to his home state team, Michigan, in 2007. Last year, his first eligible season with the Sun Devils, Threet passed for 2,534 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also had 16 interceptions in nine starts.

His replacement, Brock Osweiler, started the last two games for the Sun Devils last season, while Threet sat out. Both games were ASU wins.

You’re going the wrong way!

The first thing that came to my mind when I heard Utah linebacker Timote Nai Fotu had been pulled over and arrested a few days ago for DUI, was that it was just another instance of a player messing up in a long list to come in the college football offseason.

Then I found out how he was pulled over, and the first thing that came to mind was the hilarious scene of Plains Trains and Automobiles when actor John Candy is heading in the wrong direction on the freeway.

That’s because Nai Fotu was heading in the wrong direction, as well.

Nai Fotu indeed messed up and by no means is a DUI arrest a laughing matter, but how great would it had been if when told he was going the wrong way by the cop, Nai Fotu then responded ‘how the hell do you know where I’m going?’

February 23, 2011

College Football Report - 2011 NFL Combine Storylines to Watch:

The NFL Combine is finally here. The seven day NFL scouting event kicks off Wednesday, when the first group of players report to Indianapolis for check in.

The first players headed to Lucas Oil Stadium will be groups of offensive lineman, tight ends and special teams players, which includes kickers, punters and long snappers.

Day two, groups of wideouts, quarterbacks and running backs will arrive. Day three, defensive lineman and linebackers will report and on day four, the final arrival day, defensive backs will arrive.

On the first day players arrive, participants will perform pre-workout medical exams, including x-rays, followed by interviews with NFL team personnel who would like to speak to individual players.

On day two, measurements of the players are recorded, including heights and weights, then more physical exams, as well as psych exams and NFL interviews. On day three, the NFLPA will meet with players.

The workouts begin on day four. Timing stations are set up, as well as skill drills. Players are broken into position groups, and in some cases where there are several players, multiple groups within their positions are made.

Following player workouts, participants are allowed to then leave the event.

Combine participants, more than 330 players from all divisions of NCAA football, will participate in drills that include: the bench press, 40-yard dash, broad jump, vertical jump, 3-cone drill, and three variations of the shuttle run. Prospects are not required to participate in all events.

Every year, media, a few scouts and NFL fans often drool over the 40-yard dash times and bench press numbers, but they're not particularly the drills I look forward to the most every year at the combine. Personally, I like to keep an eye on the offensive and defensive linemen’s vertical jump and broad jumps numbers. The drills show lower body explosion, and while they may not be as high of numbers as the defensive backs and wideouts, the numbers are more pivotal in evaluating players.

The 3-cone drill is also another one of my favorites. Sometimes referred to as the L drill because of the arrangement of the cones, players accelerate off the starting line, drop to touch the first line, then again the start line and back out to weave around the cones.

It’s a pivotal drill for defensive linemen, defensive backs and wideouts. The 3-cone measures flexibility and fluidity of the players hips, as well as their acceleration and their change of direction skills, which are all pivotal requirements for each position.

For the 2011 combine, there’s quite a few storylines to pay attention to going in. Just like every year, they seem to focus around particularity the same positions and areas. Below is the top storylines to follow heading into the 2011 NFL combine:

1.) What teams are looking for a quarterback?

Within the top ten picks of the draft, seven teams could be looking for a quarterback. The Bills (No. 3 pick) are the latest team to show interest in a possible new passer. Others include Cincinnati (No. 4) Arizona (No. 5) San Francisco (No. 7) Tennessee (No. 8) Washington (No. 10) and I’m not yet ruling out Carolina, who has the first overall pick. Outside the top 10, both Minnesota and Seattle could select a single caller.

2.) Who will/won’t throw?

Every year, talk surrounds the quarterbacks. The biggest focus is always who will throw at the combine and who will wait until their pro day to throw for scouts. Auburn quarterback Cam Newton has already come out to say he will throw at the combine, as has Washington’s Jake Locker and Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett, the drafts other top quarterbacks. Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert, who may be the first quarterback selected, has declined to throw, which was confirmed by his agent Tuesday. Quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick of Nevada, Andy Dalton of TCU, Ricky Stanzi of Iowa and Christian Ponder of FSU will be full participants, which includes throwing. Alabama's Greg McElroy will be forced to sit out throwing drills with a hand injury sustained in the Senior Bowl.

3.) Who will blaze the fastest 40?

The excitement around the 40-yard dash never seems to die out. East Carolina running back Chris Johnson set the bar higher than ever in 2008 with a combine record 4.24 40 time. This year’s long candidate list of potential record setters and fastest players includes Kentucky running back Derrick Locke, LSU corner Patrick Peterson, Maryland wideout Torrey Smith, Virginia Tech corner Rashad Carmichael, Miami corner Demarcus Van Dyke, West Virginia running back Noel Devine and Fort Valley St. wideout Ricardo Lockett. All have been timed within the 4.3's, with Locke, Peterson, Carmichael and Van Dyke all in the 4.2 range. Another to watch is Nevada outside linebacker Dontay Moch, who has been reportedly timed at 4.25. It'd be a shock to see those numebers from Moch at the combine, but I can't doubt it just yet.

4.) Is there more than one first round running back?

Alabama running back Mark Ingram appears to be a near lock as a first round selection. Many mock drafts have the Tide product heading to the Dolphins or Patriots in the first. But will there be anyone who follows Ingram in the first? Illinois back Mikel LeShoure was a surprise early entry and has seen his stock rise greatly, with potential first round talk surrounding him. At 230-pounds, the biggest question surrounding LeShoure is his speed. The other possible candidate is Virginia Tech running back Ryan Williams, another early entry that came away with a first round grade from the draft committee.

5.) Small School guys to watch

There are a number of small school players who will walk into the combine as unknowns, but will leave as potential first round and mid round round picks. A few to keep an eye on are Villanova offensive lineman Ben Ijalana, Mount Union wideout Cecil Shorts III, Hampton defensive tackle Kendrick Ellis and West Texas A&M wideout Stephen Burton. I like Northern Iowa tight end Schuylar Oordt a lot, as well. In a weak tight end class, Oordt has a lot to gain at the combine. All have a chance to greatly improve their draft stock with impressive workouts.

6.) Defensive lineman separation

The 2011 defensive line class is one of the best in the history of the NFL Draft. Half of the entire first round could be dedicated to college defensive ends and tackles, with as many as six of the first 10 picks going to down lineman. Nine defensive ends and six defensive tackles could end up on day one. The top players include: Clemson end Da’Quan Bowers, Auburn tackle Nick Fairley, North Carolina end Robert Quinn, Cal end Cameron Jordan, Wisconsin end J.J. Watt and Alabama tackle Marcell Dareus. Hopefully the combine can help even out where the talented group will spread.

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