This year's Scouting Combine has been a rousing success and it started with the outstanding participation of the talented athletes who were invited. From a standpoint of the media, this was the largest body ever assembled for the event. Over 300 members of the media were present and they were all happy with what they got from the prospects.
Club personnel Jeff Foster, who runs the Combine, has done a tremendous job. All the coaches, scouts and the media were very pleased with what has transpired. At some time or another, all 32 head coaches were in Indy. Also present were owners from Dallas, Minnesota, Arizona, and Washington. This was happiest group we've ever had at the Combine.
FASTER AND BETTER
The linebackers group produced an unbelievable amount of fast guys. This might have been the fastest group ever. There were three prospects that ran under 4.5 in the 40-yard dash: Thomas Howard of UTEP (4.46), Jon Alston of Stanford (4.45) and Ernie Sims of Florida State (4.46).
Former Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk is an unbelievable player and competitor. What we saw him do in these drills were tremendous and he turned in a time 4.59. He was joined by three other athletes who also ran under 4.6: Brandon Johnson of Louisville (4.51), Miami's (Ohio) Tarna Nande (4.54) and Miami's (Fla.) Leon Williams (4.59)
A total of 38 linebackers were on the list to work out and 34 of them ran. Four other did not run because of medical reasons. Thirteen linebackers will also work out as defensive backs/safeties, most notably Chad Greenway of Iowa and Howard of UTEP.
The first group of defensive backs just finished running. Of the 30 players, 27 ran -- two were excused because of injury and one (Darnell Bing of Southern Cal) did not run but will do the position drills. Of the 30, four are going to work out at other positions, most notably Bing at linebacker and Miami's Devin Hester at wide receiver.
The group of defensive backs blistered the track. Two guys ran under 4.3 -- Tye Hill of Clemson and Tim Jennings of Georgia. Four posted times below 4.4: South Carolina's Johnathan Joseph (4.36), Texas' Michael Huff (4.36), Tennessee's Jason Allen (4.35) and Florida State's Antonio Cromartie (4.39). And five were just above 4.4: Nebraska's Daniel Bullocks (4.40), Howard's Antoine Bethea (4.40), Miami's Devin Hester (4.41), Baylor's Willie Andrew (4.45) and Texas' Cedric Griffin (4.46).
Jennings is the cousin of onetime Bucs and Jets cornerback Donnie Abraham. Tennessee defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz gives each player a grade based on their weight and build, giving them a "plus" if they look ripped, a "0" if normal and a "minus" if there's excess baggage. He didn't give a single minus to any defensive backs or linebackers.
There could have been two Landry brothers working out today. Dawan Landry, a safety at Georgia Tech, was here, but his younger brother LaRon decided to stay at LSU for his senior season. LaRon Landry, a free safety, made the All-SEC team in each of his first three seasons in Baton Rouge and was a third-team All-American in 2005.
Four of the 29 defensive backs in the second group chose not to run -- Anwar Phillips and Alan Zemaitis of Penn State, Ohio State's Ashton Youboty and Virginia Tech's Jimmy Williasm. Southern California's Justin Wyatt was medically excused.