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February 25, 2008

Long lives up to hype at Combine

We asked NFL scout and draft partner Frank Coyle of draftinsiders.com to pick out some players who have helped - and hurt - themselves thus far at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

Monday: Helping their cause
DE Chris Long, Virginia
This blue-chip defender ran excellent 4.71 and 4.77 times with a 34-inch vertical leap. His agility drill numbers were equal to any linebacker in an excellent showing. His overall effort was one of the best of the event. He did not lift, but will at the Virginia pro day.
DE/LB Cliff Avril, Purdue
Classic defensive "tweener" hopes to follow the Purdue tradition of turning out top edge pass rushers. He ran fine 4.51 and 4.56 times at 253 pound. He also turned in a very strong 6.91 three cone drill in addition to a 9'2" broad jump and 17 reps in the 225-pound bench press.
DE Vernon Gholston, Ohio State
Gholston had one of the strongest showings at the combine. He ran an outstanding 4.67 time at 266 lbs. He also tied Jake Long with 37 reps for the most reps at the event. He added a good 35.5" vertical leap, which probably guarantees him a top-eight selection.
DE Quentin Groves, Auburn
This fast edge rusher displayed top athleticism with blazing 4.52 and 4.57 sprint times. He added 33 reps in the lifting and had a 10-foot broad jump.
DT Trevor Laws, Notre Dame
Explosive tackle continued his terrific postseason following a strong week at the Senior Bowl. He ran 5.08 and 5.09 times and did 35 reps in the lifting. He performed very well in the agility drills and is the one shining light in a dismal ND football season.
Monday: Hurting their cause
DE Phillip Merling, Clemson
This big, mobile base end came in at 6'4" and 276 pounds, but did not run. He did only 17 reps and needs a big Clemson workout to maintain a top 30-40 draft grade.
DT Letroy Guion, Florida State
This athletic junior has been hyped since he declared in January, but he ran a subpar 5.30 time. He did well with 26 reps in the lifting. Guion needs a big Pro Day in Tallahassee to move into top rounds.
DT Frank Okam, Texas
Okam, a massive tackle, came in at 347 lbs. and was totally out of shape. He ran a poor 5.35 time and looked worse in the agility drills. He may have eaten himself out of the Top 150 prospects.
LB Ali Highsmith, LSU
This outside linebacker ran poor 4.95 and 4.96 times that will hurt his current grade. He did not lift and has to make up some ground at the LSU pro day in March.
LB Jo-lonn Dunbar, Boston College
This savvy senior middle linebacker ran a poor 4.92 time that makes his pro day critical if he expects even a middle-round grade.

Frank Coyle is a nationally known NFL scout who publishes Draft Insiders' Digest and www.draftinsiders.com. In it's 16th season, Draft Insiders' Digest is dedicated to year-round coverage of NFL and NCAA Football. He covers the NFL Draft and free agency extensively with a veteran scouting staff that provides insightful and unique information on players and team potential in the coming seasons. Draft Insiders' Digest is an extensive publication that produces 15 issues throughout the year and a Draft Yearbook with over 450 in-depth scouting reports.

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