TOM MELTON, Birthday Boy
The 2012 NFL Combine was held in Indianapolis, Ind. this week. Hundreds of the nation’s best football players participated in drills, lifted weights and interviewed with all 32 NFL teams over the course of the week. The combine will be finished on Tuesday, but Sunday provided a lot of entertainment because the quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers ran the 40-yard dash and participated in other workouts while defensive linemen and linebackers participated in the bench press.
There were two particularly electrifying performances by the reigning Heisman trophy winner Robert Griffin III of Baylor and Stephen Hill, a lesser known wide receiver from Georgia Tech. Griffin ran an official 4.41 40-yard dash time which is extremely fast for any player, but particularly for a quarterback prospect. In fact, it is the fastest 40-yard dash time for any quarterback since Michael Vick ran a 4.33 in the 40-yard dash in 2001. Griffin is widely considered an elite prospect and figures to be a near lock to go in the top three selections once the NFL Draft rolls around.
Hill doesn’t have a Heisman trophy to his name like Griffin does but he definitely made himself some money this week, particularly on Sunday. He ran a 4.36 40-yard dash which is incredibly fast, especially because he measured in at six foot four inches, 215 pounds. He also looked very good in the “gauntlet” which consists of running the entire length of the field while numerous people throw passes to the participant in short succession to test their hands, concentration and reaction skills. Hill may not go in the first round, but he has a lot of potential thanks to his combination of size, explosiveness and hands. Because he played in a triple option offense at Georgia Tech he is raw and needs to be developed, but plenty of teams will be intrigued by his potential on draft day.
Michael Floyd, the somewhat controversial wide receiver from Notre Dame, also had a good workout at the combine. He ran a 4.47 40-yard dash which was faster than most projected him to run and should help boost his stock. Floyd, Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State and Kendall Wright of Baylor are all jockeying for position and all three have a chance to be the first wide receiver drafted in April, so Floyd’s impressive showing was critical for him. Andrew Luck, the likely number one pick from Stanford, was impressive as well. He ran a 4.67-40 yard dash and he measured in at six feet four inches, 234 pounds.
Wisconsin favorite Russell Wilson had a good showing at the combine as he ran a 4.55 40-yard dash and inexplicably measured in at five feet eleven inches despite measuring in at five feet ten and a half inches at the Senior Bowl in January. The former star Northern Illinois quarterback Chandler Harnish measured in at six feet two inches, 219 pounds and ran a 4.76 40-yard dash. Those aren’t amazing statistical measurements, but he figures to be drafted in April despite his lack of flashy times.
Speaking of flashy times, there were some fast 40-yard dash times from the running backs this year. The fastest was Lamar Miller of Miami who ran a 4.4 flat, LaMichael James of Oregon ran a 4.45, and despite promising me and many other media members that he was going to run in the 4.2 range at the Senior Bowl, Chris Rainey of Florida ran a 4.45 in the 40-yard dash.
There were a few very impressive bench press totals. David Molk, a center from Michigan, recorded 41 reps of 225 pounds on Saturday, and on Sunday Dontari Poe, a defensive tackle from Memphis, recorded 44 reps.
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