Posted by Walter
Five Up - Five guys who made a ton of money for themsevles at the combine (in no particular order)
5) Greg Olsen, TE Miami
Walter: Going into the combine it was a two horse race between he and Zach Miller to see who'd be the first of a very weak TE crop to be taken off the board. Not only did Olsen completely distance himself from Miller by running a 4.46, but he may have even boosted his draft position into the top 15 by proving that their is at least one elite level tight end in this draft. While Olsen's time was outstanding, he is a converted WR so it was not completely unexpected. His 23 bench press repetitions, however, is very solid for the position, let alone for a player as fast as he is.
Frazier: This guy showed that his production drop at Miami was a symptom of an awful, awful, atrocious offense. He blew away every other TE in the 40 (beating the next closest by a full 2-tenths). He also showed off more than respectable strength, and was good with his hands. He was totally overhyped last year at Miami, and then totally forgotten as his team slipped into offensive purgatory. I thought it was suicide coming out after such a disappointing year, but it was the right move. Olsen is clearly (CLEARLY) the cream of this TE crop, and his excellent combine showing means that he is a legit talent in his own right. Teams that weren't thinking TE may have to re-evaluate things, and while many expected him to slide all the way to the Bears, it looks like he'll probably be gone by then. He has the combine to thank for it.
4) Anthony Gonzalez, WR Ohio State
Walter: With all the hype on guys like Calvin Johnson and Robert Meachem, Gonzalez quietly put together an outstanding performance at the combine. With Tedd Ginn injured, Gonzalez finally was able to ply his trade outside the shadow of everyone's favorite speedster and showed that he has the chops to be an outstanding NFL wideout as well. Gonzalez blistered a very solid 4.4 in the 40, but his best performances came in the drills that emphasize quickness, and agility. Gonzalez's times in the short shuttle (4.08), 3 cone drill (6.54) and vertical jump (38') were amongst the best for any WR. These drills are essential to a guy like Gonzalez who projects best as a slot man in a West Coast scheme.
Frazier: Gonzalez showed way more athleticism than anyone gave him credit for. It was assumed that he was slow and awkward, and it's sad to say, but the light tone of his skin may have played a part in that perception. It also didn't help lining up across from a speedster like Ginn. Frankly, he has every chance to have a more productive career than Ginn. It is an incredibly deep WR draft, and so he desperately needed to have a good showing to keep his name in the mix. Well, he did that, and if he meets the needs of a team, he showed the skills to slip ahead of some of the bigger names.
3) Ryan Kalil, C USC
Walter: Hard as it may be to believe, Kalil was actually able to build on the momentum he created at the Senior Bowl. In Mobile Kalil showed us that he possessed the rate combination of power and speed for a center, and in Indy this past weekend he displayed just how powerful and fast he is. Kalil's sub 5.0 40 time (4.96) was somewhat hard to believe, especially after he was able to put up 34 reps of 225 in the bench press. By way of comparison, Tony Ugoh, considered by many to be one of the most athletic Tackles in the draft, wowed scouts by running a 5.06 and repping 225 32 times. Kalil is proving to be the best offensive line athlete in this draft not named Joe Thomas, and may do the unthinkable by getting picked in the top 15 as a center.
Frazier: He is very big, and very strong, and very athletic, and is going to be a solid center for a very, very long time. He'll get drafted and plug himself in on any line in the NFL for a decade. Kalil is from USC, which has an incredible tradition of o-linemen, and he has done them proud so far. Kalil has gone from "yeah, he's probably the best center, if we're dying for one, maybe we'll pick him up" to "this kid is better than the bum we've got, and the best player on the board right now, I don't care if it's top-20, we need him!" That equals millions of dollars. Congrats, kid.
2) Tim Crowder, DE Texas
Walter: Hey no surprise on my end. I have been hyping Crowder for weeks now as an underrated, and unheralded prospect in this draft. While he is not the physical specimen that someone like Adam Carriker is, Crowder has always been known as a big, strong, defensive end and someone you can anchor a defensive line with. At the combine, he proved that maybe it's a bit premature to say he's not Carriker's equal in terms of athletic ability. While Carriker is a full inch and a half taller, and 20 lbs. heavier than Crowder, the former Longhorn far outperformed his Nebraska counterpart by running a 4.69 (to Carriker's 4.9) and nearly repped 225 as many times (32 to Carriker's 33). I am not suggesting that Crowder has moved himself past Carriker. In fact, you could make every argument that Carriker's performance at the combine may have pushed him into the top 10 overall. But I am suggesting that perhaps now everybody else will take notice to what the323 has known all along: Tim Crowder is going to be a very good NFL player.
Frazier: It's rare that a big, athletic defensive lineman from Texas can fly under the radar. But after Crowder's slightly underwhelming season, he was the forgotten man for awhile. Then he started reminding people why he was making pre-season all-america lists. He was a solid preformer for the Longhorns, and has been showing people that he has the physical tools to excel at the next level. While he has been overshadowed by some excellent DE workouts, he has nothing to hang his head about. His own workout was excellent, and is going to make some NFL very, very happy.
1) Chris Houston, CB Arkansas
Walter: If you want to talk about guys who made themselves the most money at the combine, the list should start and end with Houston. Going into this past weekend, Houston was an afterthought when talking about potential first round CB talent (despite the fact that he absolutely locked down Dwayne Jarrett and Robert Meachem when they faced each other). After his other worldly combine performance, we're talking about Houston as a potential franchise CB. Houston everyone by blazing a 4.32 in the 40, and then before the collective jaws were even able to hit the floor, Houston pounded out 27 reps of 225 lbs. in the bench press. 27 REPS!!!! For comparison's sake, that is nearly 25% more reps than potential first round tackle Aaron Sears put up....and I doubt Sears can run the 40 in under 4.4 seconds. Houston's combine performance can be compared to what Vernon Davis did last year, and it could have a similar affect on his draft stock.
Frazier: Houston blew everyone away. Most teams don't even look at CB's until the 40 times are in, because speed is everything at that position. Then Houston blazed away a 4.32. Of course, he also showed that when he jams you, you stay jammed by hammering out 27 reps. Those are staggering numbers. Now, Houston gets a little forgotten because he got left on an island all year at Arkansas. They played lots of man coverage with very little safety help, so he did give up some big plays. But that's going to happen to any corner, no matter how good, when you ask him to be perfect on every play. But he did make a ton of big ones in college, and played against top competition all year. He also showed he's a physical freak. So now teams are looking at CB's finally, and the one they are looking at is Chris Houston. He was hard to miss.
Just for fun, here are three guys that may not have even been drafted but whose combine performances have all but locked up an NFL roster spot:
Derek Schouman, TE Boise State
Walter: I loved Schouman's soft hands and athleticism in the Bowl win over Oklahoma, but even I didn't expect the numbers he put up at the combine. His 4.74 40 is decent, but Schouman shocked everyone by putting up 27 bench reps, a 4.27 short shuttle, a 10'2'' broad jump, and a 37.5'' vertical, all figures were at or near the top for TE.
Dallas Sartz, OLB USC
Walter: Again, another player I absolutely loved at season's end, but who didn't even get an invite to the Sr. Bowl. Sartz is a big LB at nearly 6'5'', but he showed outstanding quickness in running a 11.34 long shuttle, a 4.13 short shuttle, and a 6.85 3 cone drill. Once again, all were near or at the top of his positional ranking.
John Wendling, S Wyoming
Walter: I hate to say I told you so.......wait a minute, no I don't. I love saying it. Anyways, Wendling is a triangle numbers wet dream after showing up in Indy at 6'1'' and 222 lbs., then proceeding to blister a 4.48 40 and rep 225 lbs. 22 times.