Allen, Cromartie perform damage controlBy Todd McShay Scouts Inc. The final day of this year's scouting combine was highlighted by the performances of two cornerbacks who suffered season-ending injuries in 2005 -- Tennessee's Jason Allen and Florida State's Antonio Cromartie. By posting impressive marks across the board and showing little rust in position drills, both Allen and Cromartie relieved much of the concern regarding their health. Allen, who missed the final six games of the season because of a hip injury, is actually a tweener corner/safety prospect. In addition to answering questions about his hip, Allen also displayed the ability to play the cornerback position in the NFL. He finished near the top of the defensive backs in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump (39½ inches), broad jump 10-11), short shuttle (3.81), long shuttle (11.17) and three-cone (6.75). Once considered a first-round lock, Allen has seen his stock decline dramatically, but the strong showing in Indy will at least get him back into the second-round mix. Cromartie entered this week as an even bigger enigma. Instead of returning to Florida State for his final season of eligibility, he elected to make the NFL leap, despite missing the entire 2005 season with a knee injury. NFL decision-makers were left with very little film to study and lots of stones unturned. Although it wasn't quite the exhibition he hoped for, Cromartie's showing at the combine has to be considered a success. Not only did he pass his physicals and look smooth during coverage drills, Cromartie (6-foot-2, 208 pounds) ran the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds and led all defensive backs with an 11-foot broad jump. It might not be enough to elevate him to the first round, but Cromartie will not last long in Round 2. Defensive backs Allen and Cromartie were certainly not the only defensive backs who ran well on Tuesday. The new surface inside the RCA Dome was set ablaze, as nine defensive backs ran sub-4.4's in the 40-yard dash. Clemson corner Tye Hill (4.30) edged out Florida WR Chad Jackson (4.32) to earn the distinction of being the fastest man at the combine. Cornerbacks Johnathan Joseph (South Carolina) and Tim Jennings (Georgia) and defensive back Michael Huff (Texas) turned in sub-4.35 times, while safety Daniel Bullocks (Nebraska), safety-returner Willie Andrews (Baylor), DB Antoine Bethea (Howard), DB Jason Allen (Tennessee) and CB Kelly Jennings (Miami) all finished in the 4.36-4.39 range. It's safe to say that prospects will no longer fear a slow track in Indy, which means the participation rate should continue to increase in coming years. The defensive backs were divided into two groups -- the first group worked out in the morning and the second in the afternoon. Of the 59 defensive backs in attendance this week, seven chose not to run. USC safety Darnell Bing did not run, but participated in the position drills -- both as a safety and linebacker. Virginia Tech's Jimmy Williams and Ohio State's Ashton Youboty were the most notable players who chose not to run. USC corner Justin Wyatt was medically excused. Bing checked in as the heaviest defensive back at 227 pounds, while Kelly Jennings (178 pounds) was the lightest. Tim Jennings (5-7¾) was the shortest defensive back in Indianapolis. Miami's Devin Hester is a late-Day 1 prospect because of his explosiveness in the return game, but he is a man without a true position. Hester ran the 40-yard dash (4.41 seconds) and worked out with the defensive backs, but he also worked out earlier in the week with the wide receivers. His marginal technique in both areas was obvious, which is the biggest reason I think he made a poor decision in leaving school early. Williams (6-2) checked in as the tallest defensive back at this year's combine. For most of the year, I've graded Williams as a cornerback and Huff as a safety, but my opinion of both is beginning to change, especially after watching Huff run the 40-yard dash in the 4.3s. While Huff's value continues to ascend, Williams has gone in the opposite direction. Williams has reportedly performed horribly in his interviews, seeming emotionally unstable. He admits to not being as sharp or consistent in 2005 as he was in 2004, but has been unable to give any logical explanation as to why. What seems to be bothering teams the most is Williams' apparent lack of discipline, competitiveness and mental toughness -- all three are critical to surviving as a cover corner in the NFL. The big question surrounding Nebraska safety Daniel Bullocks was his speed. After performing very well during the week of the Senior Bowl, Bullocks posted an impressive time in the 40-yard dash (4.38) on Tuesday. He is now one of the fastest rising players in the entire draft. Bullocks could come off the draft board in Round 2, just as his brother, Josh Bullocks (Saints), did last year. Georgia's Greg Blue confirmed Wednesday what I've been saying for months now; his NFL future is at the outside linebacker position. Blue is a big hitter, but simply lacks the speed and change-of-direction skills to cover enough ground at the safety position. At 6-2, 216 pounds, Davis has the size potential to make the move up to weakside linebacker in the NFL, where his 4.7-speed is deemed far more acceptable. Ohio State safety Donte Whitner improved his value with a terrific all-around performance, which included an impressive 40-yard dash (4.4) and broad jump (11). Others who impressed in the afternoon session of defensive backs included Florida CB Dee Webb, who had a strong 40-yard dash (4.41), Maryland CB Gerrick McPhearson, who performed well in the 40-yard dash (4.42), broad jump (11-1) and vertical jump (41½), and Florida State free safety Pat Watkins who also posted solid numbers in the 40-yard dash (4.42), broad jump (10-9) and vertical jump (41). Linebackers High expectations were met by outstanding results from a linebacker class that also benefited from the surface at the RCA dome. Of the 38 linebackers in attendance, only four opted out of running and four others were unable to run for medical reasons. Four linebackers ran sub-4.5s in the 40-yard dash. Stanford's Jon Alston led the linebackers (4.40), followed by UTEP's Thomas Howard (4.42), Louisville's Brandon Johnson (4.44) and Florida State's Ernie Sims (4.49). The biggest winners at the linebacker position were Alston and Virginia Tech OLB James Anderson. Alston is an undersized linebacker who might be moved to safety or nickel linebacker in the NFL. By working out so well at the combine -- broad jump (11-1) and three-cone (6.9) -- Alston proved he is fast and athletic enough to play multiple roles on defense. Anderson is a little bit bigger and stronger than Alston, which is why he grades out higher as a possible future starter at the weakside linebacker position In addition to his impressive 40-yard dash time (4.58), Anderson turned heads by finishing in the top two of all the linebackers in the vertical jump (41), three-cone (6.67) and short shuttle (4.07). Ohio State outside linebacker A.J. Hawk did not run as well as expected (4.61 and 4.59 in his two 40-yard dash attempts), but it shouldn't affect his draft stock much. Those are still very good times for a linebacker his size (6-1, 241 pounds), and he showed throughout position drills why he is considered the premiere linebacker prospect in this year's draft. Hawk showed impressive quickness and change-of-direction skills in the short shuttle (3.96) and three-cone (6.82). Hawk's vertical jump (40) also helped his cause. Iowa OLB Chad Greenway (6-2½, 242 pounds) was surprisingly weak on the bench press (225 pounds), with only 16 reps. He also ran the 40-yard dash in the 4.7s. On the positive side, Greenway was consistently one of the quickest and most technically sound linebackers during the position-specific drills. He also did some work with the defensive backs, which helped to prove his versatility. Regardless, Greenway entered the draft process as a top-15 prospect, but his poor workout scores could cause him to slip to the latter part of the first round. By bulking up to 231 pounds and still running as fast as he did at the combine, Sims solidified his position as a first-round pick. On top of his impressive time in the 40-yard dash, Sims also showed explosiveness in the vertical jump (41) and broad jump (10-5). Howard (6-3, 239 pounds) confirmed that he's one of the best athletes in this year's draft class with his excellent all-around combine workout. In addition to his blazing time in the 40-yard dash, Howard finished in the top of the linebacker heap in the broad jump (10-4) and short shuttle (4.13). However, his impressive performance still won't make up for his obvious deficiencies in terms of recognition skills and technique, which is why I still refuse to give Howard a first-round grade. On the flip side, Ryans did not finish among the top five linebackers in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, short shuttle, long shuttle or three-cone drill. However, his instincts, toughness and tackling skills help make up for what he lacks in those areas. Despite his underwhelming combine performance, Ryans should still come off the board in the first round. Miami (Ohio) OLB Terna Nande was under a lot of pressure to perform in Indy this week and should feel good about what he accomplished. Nande is a late-round prospect who fell off the map a bit after missing five games with a lacerated liver he suffered against Kent State in 2005. He looked to be back in peak physical condition and impressed NFL brass with 41 reps on the bench press. Nande also did well in the 40-yard dash (4.51) and broad jump (10-4). LSU OLB Cameron Vaughn was the tallest linebacker of the group (6-3¾) and Alabama ILB Freddie Roach was the heaviest (257 pounds). Missing in Action As a final note, Penn State's lack of participation in this year's combine is embarrassing. In what is being dubbed as the "Nittany Lion Boycott," DEs Tamba Hali and Matt Rice, QB/RB Michael Robinson and corners Alan Zemaitis and Anwar Phillips all steered clear of Indianapolis. Somebody is obviously giving these young men advice that is only hurting them.