Updated: March 14, 2007
Meachem among prospects on the rise
By Todd McShay
As an early entry prospect, Tennessee WR Robert Meachem couldn't strut his stuff in any of the all-star games. The 6-foot-2, 214-pound receiver made up for lost time by running the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds at the recent scouting combine. That sub-4.4 time, along with impressive results in the vertical jump (37½") and three-cone drill (6.97 seconds), should land Meachem a spot in the bottom-half of the first round.
Meachem isn't the only one on the rise. Here's a look at 10 other prospects moving up NFL draft boards thanks to strong postseason showings:
Antwan Barnes, OLB, Florida International
The 6-foot, 240-pound former defensive end ran the fastest 10-yard split of the 33 linebackers who ran at the combine. He also turned heads with a 35-inch vertical leap and 31 reps of the 225-pound bench press. All of a sudden, his 22 career sacks at FIU carry greater weight with NFL scouts. Once considered a fringe late-round prospect, Barnes should now expect to hear his name called early on Day 2 of the draft.
John Beck, QB, BYU
Beck's draft value rose considerably when he cut down on mistakes as a senior at BYU, throwing for 3,885 yards and 32 touchdowns compared to only eight interceptions. He has successfully carried over that momentum to the postseason. Beck stood out as the best quarterback prospect at the East-West Shrine game, before impressing NFL scouts with his strong arm and agility at the combine. As a result, Beck is drawing enough teams' interest to possibly earn a late first-day draft selection.
Adam Carriker, DE, Nebraska
Carriker notched 16½ sacks during his final two seasons at Nebraska, but his draft stock has reached new heights following outstanding performances at the Senior Bowl and combine. At 6-foot-6 and 296 pounds, Carriker can play defensive end in a 3-4 and/or a 4-3 scheme. With so many teams now using hybrid versions of both systems, his versatility is especially appealing. That's why Carriker should be gone in the first 20 picks of the 2007 draft.
Yamon Figurs, WR/RS, Kansas State
Figurs barely registered on the NFL radar six months ago, but now the 6-foot, 174-pound speedster is steadily climbing up the Day 2 draft board. His big-play flair was on display throughout the week of the Hula Bowl. Figurs made an even bigger dent at the combine, where he ran the fastest 40-yard dash time (4.30 seconds) of the week. He's a long-term developmental project as a receiver but Figurs could be a surprise return-game contributor immediately in the NFL.
Chris Henry, RB, Arizona
Henry's questionable decision to declare early for the draft was overshadowed by his stunning performance at the combine. The thickly built running back blazed the fastest 40-yard dash time (4.40) at his position, while also impressing NFL brass with his strength on the bench press (26 reps) and his explosiveness on the vertical jump (36"). Once considered a late-round prospect, NFL teams are now forced to re-evaluate Henry as a possible early Day 2 pick.
Jason Hill, WR, Washington State
When healthy, Hill's production at Washington State was tremendous. However, it seems on film that the 6-foot, 204-pound wideout lacks separation speed and would never amount to more than a sub-package contributor in the NFL. That's why Hill's 40-yard dash results (4.38 seconds on both attempts) were shocking. While track speed doesn't always translate to football speed, there's no question Hill earned money with his effort inside the RCA Dome last week.
Chris Houston, CB, Arkansas
No defensive back at the combine finished with more bench press reps (27) or turned in a faster 40-yard dash time (4.32) than Houston. His outstanding workout helps confirm what NFL scouts are seeing of Houston on film, which is an athletic and aggressive man-to-man cover corner who shut down bigger receivers such as Dwayne Jarrett (USC) and Dwayne Bowe (LSU) as a junior. Houston has worked his way into the first-round cornerback discussions, along with Leon Hall (Michigan), Aaron Ross (Texas) and Darrelle Revis (Pittsburgh).
Greg Olsen, TE, Miami-FL
Olsen and Zach Miller, both underclassmen, were battling it out for the top tight end honors in this year's draft. That was, of course, before Olsen ran a 4.51 40-yard dash at the combine, which was more than three tenths of a second faster than either of Miller's attempts (4.86 and 4.91). Olsen turned in another fine performance at Miami's Pro Day, solidifying his spot as a mid-to-late first-round prospect.
Brian Robison, DE, Texas
Overshadowed by fellow DE Tim Crowder at Texas, the 6-foot-3, 259-pounder got his day in the sun at the combine. Not only did Robison run the fastest 10-yard split of the defensive linemen, he also notched group bests in the three-cone drill (6.89 seconds), vertical jump (40½) and broad jump (10'1").
Tim Shaw, OLB, Penn State
Like Robison, Shaw spent most his career at Penn State in the shadows of OLB Paul Posluszny before stealing the spotlight at the combine. Shaw shocked NFL brass in attendance with his results in the 40-yard dash (4.51), 20-yard shuttle (4.12), vertical jump (36½) and bench press (26 reps). Shaw displayed versatility playing out of position (defensive end) as a senior and also improved his late Day 1 draft stock with a solid showing at the Senior Bowl.
Todd McShay is the director of college football scouting for Scouts Inc. He has been evaluating prospects for the NFL draft since 1998.