Wisconsin's Erasmus James is one of 20 players trying out at different positions.
Of the 18 running backs on hand, 14 of them ran. Marion Barber from Minnesota worked out but didn't run, and RBs Cedric Benson (Texas), Ciatrick Fason (Florida) and Frank Gore (Miami) aren't doing any of the workouts.
Everyone waited with baited breath to see how these running backs did, and they didn't disappoint. Two of them -- Notre Dame's Ryan Grant and West Virginia's Kay-Jay Harris -- clocked in at under 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Three more -- Auburn Ronnie Brown, Michigan State's DeAndra Cobb and Wisconsin's Anthony Davis ran a 4.4 or under. Brown especially helped himself out with his times.
Another name making waves is J.J. Arrington of Cal. When I look at him, I see a carbon copy of former Raiders first-round pick Napoleon Kaufman. Now Kaufman may have been a little taller, but otherwise they're exactly the same.
And then there's Maurice Clarett, formerly of Ohio State. My times on Clarett in the 40 were between 4.75 and 4.85. I consider those reliable times. While some may consider that bad news, the redeeming quality is that his quickness could negate those times if he does well in the shuttle drill. Speed is important, but quickness ranks right up there with it. He will not work out March 8 at Ohio State's Pro Day, and will instead work out at a later date in March.
RATING THE ROAD GRATERS
There were 31 players in the first group of offensive linemen. Of the 31, 27 of them ran. Of the four that did not run, two were medically excused, one player left the combine (Virginia's Elton Brown) and one player chose to work out at his Pro Day (Florida State's Alex Barron).
In the second group, 21 of 30 linemen ran. Seven of them could not run for medical reasons, and one (Miami's Chris Myers) chose to run at his Pro Day.
Some coaches value how an offensive lineman runs the 40-yard dash while others focus more on other activities. It is worth noting that four linemen ran times of under 5.0 seconds. They are Nebraska's Richie Incognito, Washington's Khalif Barnes, Maryland's C.J. Brooks and North Dakota State's Rob Hunt, who ran under 5.0 twice. Not many folks from North Dakota State can do that. Hunt stood in at 6-foot-3 3/4 and weighed 301 pounds.
Incognito is quite an offensive lineman, and he's got quite a last name. His ancestors came to America from Italy and couldn't speak a word of english. They get to Ellis Island and the people who work with immigrants couldn't communicate with them. So for their last name, they wrote "Incognito." The rest is history, and this young man is certainly not "going incognito" at the combine. He's got lots of player personnel buzzing about him.
ALL IN THE FAMILY
At the combine, we give the prospects NFL.com questionnaire sheets to fill out with their names, information, etc. One of the things we ask for are interesting stories that they want to share with the world. This helps us come up with the great feature stories you can only find here.
Harvard quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick told us something interesting about himself: He may have gone to Harvard, but he grew up in Gilbert, Ariz. His older brother, Jason, was a swimming captain and is a record holder at Notre Dame. His younger brother, Shawn, will play at Northern Arizona next year as a tight end. His girlfriend is an All-American soccer player at Harvard. He says his athletic ability comes from his Mom, who was an all-state badminton player in high school. How's that for inside information? This kind of stuff would make any NFL head coach do a double take.
DOUBLE YOUR PLEASURE
There are 20 players here who are trying out at multiple positions. That's a good thing because if you can prove to the scouts that you are versatile and athletic, you can improve your draft position. It also says something about the desire these kids have to play in the National Football League -- they want it so bad they'll play anywhere they can.
Here is an up-to-date list of the 20 players trying out at different positions. Eighteen of them are defensive linemen also working out as a linebacker:
Jonathan Babineaux, Iowa
Vincent Burns, Kentucky
Dan Cody, Oklahoma
Trent Cole, Cincinnati
Chauncey Davis, Florida State
Andre Frazier, Cincinnati
Johnathan Goddard, Marshall
Erasmus James, Wisconsin
Khari Long, Baylor
David McMillan, Kansas
Shawne Merriman, Maryland
Eric Moore, Florida State
David Pollack, Georgia
Ryan Riddle, Cal
matt Roth, Iowa
Justin Tuck, Notre Dame
Demarcus Ware, Troy
Jonathan Welsh, Wisconsin
And two are other players at other positions:
Matt Jones, Arkansas (QB and WR)
Antonio Perkins, Oklahoma (DB and WR)