INDIANAPOLIS—The NFL Scouting Combine was turned up a notch on Sunday as the skill players in this year's draft class took the field at Lucas Oil Stadium, raising eyebrows of NFL personnel as running backs and receivers put their athleticism and speed on display and quarterbacks showed their accuracy and arm strength.
Maryland wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was clocked with the day's fastest time in the 40-yard dash at 4.30, tied for the second-fastest time among wide receivers at the combine since 2000 (Jerome Mathis, Hampton, 4.28; Yamon Figurs, Kansas State, 4.30). Virginia running back Cedric Peerman led all running backs with a time of 4.45. Jarett Dillard of Rice led all the offensive skill positions with a 42.5 vertical jump. West Virginia quarterback Pat White topped all the quarterbacks with a 4.55 40-yard dash and a 35-inch vertical jump.
The top 40-yard dash times for running backs were: Peerman (4.45), Ian Johnson, Boise State (4.46), Kory Sheets, Purdue (4.47), Andre Brown, N.C. State (4.49), Donald Brown, Connecticut (4.51). Tops among the receivers were: Heyward Bey (4.30), Mike Wallace, Mississippi (4.33), Johnny Knox, Abilene Christian (4.34), Deon Butler, Penn State (4.38), Mike Thomas, Arizona (4.40).
WORKOUT TIDBITS FROM SUNDAY
- White worked out as only a quarterback on Sunday but also plans on showcasing his skills as a receiver at his pro day.
- Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford ran the 40-yard dash in 4.81, third-fastest among the quarterbacks. Stafford did not throw on Sunday, deciding to wait until his pro day on campus.
- Florida wide receiver Percy Harvin was clocked at 4.41 in the 40-yard dash and ranked in the top five among receivers with 19 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. Florida's Louis Murphy ran a 4.43.
- Tony Fiammetta of Syracuse led all running backs with 30 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press while North Carolina's Brooks Foster led the wide receivers with 27 reps.
- Ball State quarterback Nate Davis is not the first quarterback in his family to make a name for himself. Nate's brother, Jose, played three seasons (1997-99) at Kent State and produced his best single-game numbers against Daunte Culpepper and Central Florida in 1997. Jose threw for 551 yards and six touchdowns in a 59-43 loss in Orlando. Nate ran a 4.97 in the 40-yard dash on Sunday. * Iowa running back Shonn Greene sat out the 2007 season and was working at McGregor's furniture store in 2007 while attending Kirkwood Community College in Iowa City. Greene rejoined the Hawkeyes in 2008 and rushed for 1,850 yards and 20 touchdowns and was named the Big Ten's Most Valuable Player. He decided to skip his senior season to enter the draft. * Rutgers wide receiver Kenny Britt finished with 14 career 100-yard receiving games, tied with Larry Fitzgerald (Pittsburgh) for the most in Big East history. * Missouri wide receiver Jeremy Maclin led the nation in all-purpose yards per game in 208, averaging 202.3 yards per game. In two seasons at Missouri, Maclin finished with 28 touchdowns before declaring for the draft following his sophomore season. * Penn State left tackle Gerald Cadogan is an accomplished trumpet player and has produced two CDs. Cadogan began singing in the choir at age four and has learned to play the trombone, guitar, piano and oboe over the years. He was known to grab his trumpet and play during halftime of his high school football games. * California center Alex Mack won the Draddy Award presented by the National Football Foundation, which gives him a $25,000 post-graduate scholarship. Mack received his bachelor's degree in legal studies with a 3.61 GPA after only three years. * Illinois defensive end Will Davis will have to give his mom a call following this week in Indianapolis to give her an update on his status. Davis' mom, Pearline-Davis Parkinson, doesn't have NFL Network where she is working. Parkinson serves as deputy minister of state for the African nation of Liberia. Parkinson was able to watch of couple of her son's games this season. * Illinois cornerback Vontae Davis is the brother of San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis.
WATKINS GOES WITH THE FLOW IN INDIANAPOLIS
Florida right tackle Jason Watkins arrived in Indianapolis fresh off another national championship for the Gators. With that behind him, he realizes it is time to now answer the critics of the Gators offense and how it prepares linemen for the NFL.
"We run the spread offense and that's kind of to show your power," Watkins said. "The chances that we had, we really finished off really well. That's been one of our downfalls that we had. People look at it and really don't understand it. That's where they get the judgement that we're inconsistent when really we're getting the job done. That's really why I'm at this combine, to show that I can do it."
Watkins didn't start playing football until his junior year of high school and played both left and right tackle at Florida. Of course, right tackle is the blindside of quarterback Tim Tebow.
"That's a plus for me because most of the teams only travel with seven or eight linemen," Watkins said. "So if you can play more than one position that's a plus for you. I'm pretty versatile and can move where I need to fit."
Watkins participated in all the drills and left Indianapolis knowing a little more about himself.
"We did an evaluation and they told me I had a shoulder injury," Watkins said. "I was like, 'Where did that come from? I don't remember that.' It was a contusion. I guess it was written down from the past in college, but I didn't remember it it'd been so long. It's crazy how they bring back everything from your freshman year, stuff you forgot."
FRANCHISE PLAYERS NAMED
Franchise player designations were used by 14 NFL teams in 2009. A club can designate one "franchise" player or one "transition" among its veteran free agents. There are no transition player designations this year. NFL free agency signing period begins on February 27. The salary offer by a player's club determines whether the franchise player designation is exclusive or non-exclusive.
An "exclusive" franchise player – not free to sign with another club – is offered a minimum of the average of the top five salaries at the player's position for the current year as of April 17, or 120 percent of the player's previous year's salary, or the average of the top five salaries at his position as of the end of last season – whichever of the three is greater. There are no exclusive franchise player designations this year.
If the player is offered a minimum of the average of the top five salaries of last season at his position, or 120 percent of the player's previous year's salary, he becomes a "non-exclusive" franchise player and can negotiate with other clubs. His old club can match a new club's offer, or receive two first-round draft choices if it decides not to match. The signing period for franchise players to sign with new clubs is February 27 until the Tuesday after the 10th week of the season (November 17).
Franchise players for 2009 are: LB Karlos Dansby (Arizona), P Michael Koenen (Atlanta), LB Terrell Suggs (Baltimore), DE Julius Peppers (Carolina), K Shayne Graham (Cincinnati), DB Dunta Robinson (Houston), QB Matt Cassel (New England), RB Brandon Jacobs (N.Y. Giants), T Max Starks (Pittsburgh), RB Darren Sproles (San Diego), DB Oshiomogho Atogwe (St. Louis), LB Leroy Hill (Seattle), WR Antonio Bryant (Tampa Bay), TE Bo Scaife (Tennessee).
DID YOU KNOW?
Jaguars offensive tackle Tony Pashos recorded 38 reps at 225 pounds on the bench press in 2003, the 11th-highest at the NFL Scouting Combine since 2000. The 38 reps would rank second in 2009 behind only Texas Tech's Louis Vasquez, who led the way this year with 39 reps.