With the NFL Scouting Combine in the books, scouting departments, prospects and fans alike will begin to ready themselves for the run-up to the draft in late April. But before the Combine is too distant a memory, let's take a look back at which players helped themselves the most during Combine week with Bloghead's All-Combine team.
Quarterback - While Cameron Newton impressed with his athleticism and Ryan Mallett threw the ball as good as any quarterback in Indianapolis, Florida State's Christian Ponderlooked the part of the complete package. At 6-2, 229, Ponder has NFL size and athleticism, evidenced by his 4.65 40-yard dash. He also threw the ball extremely well in front of scouts and reportedly impressed teams in the interview room as well. The biggest question mark on Ponder is probably the shoulder and forearm injuries that plagued him in his last two seasons as a Seminole, but after the Combine, there are whispers that Ponder could end up going as high as the late first round.
Running back - While Maryland's Da'Rel Scott ran the fastest 40-yard dash time of any offensive player (4.34), he's expected to be little more than a change-of-pace back at the next level. The real impressive performance from a speedy running back was put in by Kentucky's Derrick Locke, who ran both of his 40's sub-4.4 and showed the lateral agility in drills needed to succeed at the next level. Locker is being talked about as this year's Dexter McCluster and could find himself coming off the board somewhere in day two.
Running back - In lieu of a fullback, we'll go with Nebraska'sRoy Helu, who followed up a strong 2010 campaign with top performances in the 20- and 60-yard shuttle, as well as the 3-cone drill. Helu also ran faster than expected in the 40-yard dash and is said to have opened eyes during the drills.
Tight end - Nevada's Virgil Green was the most athletically gifted tight end to work out in Indianapolis, but that was the expectation. Southern California's Jordan Cameron, however, opened eyes with his raw ability and put himself in the mix to be one of the first players selected in what is considered a relatively weak tight end crop. Cameron, a former basketball player, looked good in the pass-catching drills, which backed up his best-in-class performances in the 3-cone drill and the shuttles.
Wide receiver- How could you not go with Alabama's Julio Jones? The surefire first-round pick ran a 4.39 40-yard dash, had a ridiculous 11'3" broad jump, best among any prospect in Indianapolis, and more than looked the part in drills. And oh yeah, he did it all with what turned out to be a fractured bone in his foot.
Wide receiver- The second receiver spot goes to Miami (FL)'s Leonard Hankerson, who continued his strong offseason after his standout performance in the Senior Bowl. Scouts knew that Hankerson, 6-2, 209, has NFL-caliber hands, can catch the ball in traffic and uses his body well. But to project to be more than a possession receiver, Hankerson had to show up athletically, which he did, running a 4.43 40-yard dash, tied for fourth best at the position.
Offensive tackle - Can you give a top spot to a player who didn't even work out on the field? When you impress enough just with measurements you can, and so Tyron Smithof Southern California gets one tackle spot after weighing in at 6-5, 307. Smith, who was thought to have a slight frame, has put on weight since the end of his season and is said to be carrying it well. Perhaps even more impressive is the monster length of his arms, about 36 1/2 inches. Smith will likely be the first tackle drafted come April.
Offensive tackle - It's tough to make sense of the trio of tackles behind Smith in Gabe Carimi, Nate Solder and Anthony Castonzo. The three will likely be jockeying for position until draft day and there won't be a consensus order even then. But the one who made the most of the Combine workouts was Castonzo, who looked the most fluid in drills and is said to have been very impressive in the interview room.
Offensive guard- A beast at 6-5, 358, TCU'sMarcus Cannonplayed tackle in college and could project as a right tackle. However, most indications are that Cannon will slot to guard, where he has a chance to be special. Cannon put up 33 bench press reps, one fewer than the best among his position, and looked to carry his weight well in drills. The prevailing thought at the moment is that Cannon is a likely second-rounder.
Offensive guard - With a nod to Baylor's Danny Watkins and Georgia's Clint Boling, the second guard spot goes to the player considered the top of the interior line class, Florida's Mike Pouncey. Pouncey showed in the drills why he's so highly thought of and why he's likely to come off the board somewhere in the back end of the first round.
Center - This one's a runaway, with the previously unheard of Ryan Bartholomew from Syracuse taking home the prize on the heels of his 34 bench press reps, best among offensive linemen, and 4.97 40-yard dash, second-best among offensive linemen. Bartholomew, 6-1, 302, coupled those performances with a solid showing in the position drills and moved himself as much up the board as any player in Indianapolis.
Check back later for the defensive side of the ball.
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 10:49 a.m., March 2