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Robert Griffin III, Stephen Hill Dominate Combine


Andrew Luck is still the No. 1 prospect in the draft, but Robert Griffin III and Matt Kalil made their case at the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 25-26.

Last year's No. 1 pick, the Carolina Panthers' record-breaking Pro Bowl "icon and entertainer" Cam Newton dominated commercial breaks while Luck, Griffin, Kalil and Co. torched the turf running the 40-yard dash, lifting 225 pounds on the bench press, jumping (vertical and broad), and doing various position drills in what some have dubbed the “Underwear Olympics.”

RGIII is so fast, "He would get pulled over in a school zone," according to the NFL Network crew led by Rich Eisen and Mike Mayock. A decorated track star at Baylor, Griffin topped out at 25 MPH — running a 4.41 in the 40. RGIII also reassured teams by measuring in at a solid 6’2 3/8”. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner posted an explosive 39-inch vertical leap and 10-foot broad jump.

Griffin was also caught on tape politicking, talking with Cleveland Browns quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple. With pick Nos. 4 and 22, Cleveland is the team with the best chances of landing RGIII.

Luck’s workout was not as impressive as Griffin’s off-the-charts effort — which included quarterback-best numbers in the 40 and vertical leap. But Luck did stack up well compared to Newton’s performance at last year’s combine. Luck weighed in at 6’4” and 234 pounds, ran a 4.67 in the 40-yard dash, posted a 36-inch vertical leap and a better-than-Griffin 10’4” broad jump; Newton was 6’5” and 248, running a 4.59 in the 40, with a 35-inch vertical leap and 10’6” broad jump in 2011. Unlike Newton, however, neither Luck nor Griffin chose to throw at the Combine.

Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill was unable to work out, due to a broken right foot suffered in January. In his absence, Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins showed off his complete arsenal, with solid footwork, excellent accuracy and enough athleticism (4.93 in the 40). Meanwhile, LSU’s Jordan Jefferson proved he can “rip it,” as Mayock says, with a cannon for a right arm and impressive numbers in the drills — running a 4.65 in the 40, posting a 36.5-inch vertical leap and lifting 225 pounds 14 times on the bench press.

As good as Griffin and Luck were on Sunday, however, it was Georgia Tech receiver Stephen Hill who made the most money. The 6’4”, 215-pounder tied for the fastest 40 time of the weekend with a 4.36 — a time also recorded by Miami’s Travis Benjamin and Stanford’s Chris Owusu. Hill also had a 39.5-inch vertical leap and had sure hands — including one highlight reel diving catch during position drills.

The consensus top-rated wideout, Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon, did not run the 40-yard dash but did display strong, sure hands and the elite body control expected of a top-10 prospect. Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd ran a 4.47 in the 40 but had trouble catching the ball across in the middle (with no defense on the field); Floyd also has lingering injury and character concerns. In a head-scratching move, South Carolina’s Alshon Jeffery chose not to run — after already measuring in shorter (6’2 7/8”) and nearly 20 pounds lighter than advertised.

Among running backs, Alabama’s Trent Richardson has established himself as clearly the top ball-carrier. Unfortunately, minor left knee surgery prevented the Bama bowling ball from working out at the Combine.

As a result, Miami’s Lamar Miller (4.40 in the 40) and Virginia Tech’s David Wilson (4.49 in the 40, RB-best 41-inch vertical, RB-best 11-foot broad jump) maintained their status as the next-best backs, while San Diego State’s Ronnie Hillman (4.45 in the 40, 37-inch vertical), Oregon’s LaMichael James (4.45 in the 40, 10’3” broad jump), Texas A&M’s Cyrus Gray (4.47 in the 40, 21 reps on bench press) and Ohio State’s Dan “Boom” Herron (35-inch vertical, 22 reps on bench press) improved their stock with impressive workouts.

On Saturday, two of the top tight ends did not run the 40-yard dash. Stanford’s Coby Fleener sat out with an ankle injury after posting 27 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. Georgia’s Orson Charles was a controversial healthy scratch in the 40 and both the vertical and broad jumps, but did rip off a position-best 35 reps on the bench press, looked great running routes and had a strong showing running the gauntlet. Clemson’s Dwayne Allen ran a 4.89 in the 40 and had 27 reps on the bench press.

This year’s offensive line class is one of the more impressive in recent memory, with USC’s Matt Kalil — the younger brother of Pro Bowl Panthers center Ryan Kalil — looking like the West Coast version of Joe Thomas or Jake Long. The younger Kalil weighed in at 6’6 1/2” and 306 pounds before running a smooth-as-silk 4.99 in the 40 and slamming out 30 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press despite having 34 1/2” long arms. The franchise left tackle has cemented himself as the best non-QB prospect in 2012.

After Kalil, tackle prospects such as Iowa’s Riley Reiff, Stanford’s Jonathan Martin and Ohio State’s Mike Adams did nothing to hurt their stock, although they did not have Kalil-like standout performances in shorts.

Stanford guard David DeCastro showed his phonebooth strength with 34 reps on the bench press, as did Wisconsin guard Kevin Zeitler (32 reps) and Georgia guard-tackle Cordy Glenn (31 reps). But no one could touch Michigan man David Molk, whose 41 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press were the most among all offensive players. The Rimington Trophy winning center was disappointed, however, that he was unable to reach his goal of 50 reps.

Iowa guard Adam Gettis had the best overall day among O-linemen, with a 5.00 in the 40, a 31.5-inch vertical and 9’4” broad jump. And Midwestern State fast riser Amini Silatolu continued to help himself in the draft process, with 28 reps on the bench press, a 31.5-inch vertical and an 8’11” broad jump.

Pre-Combine 2012 NFL Mock Draft
NFL Combine – Offensive Players (Feb. 25-26)
NFL Combine – Defensive Players (Feb. 27-28)

by Nathan Rush