Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Combine Breakdown: Running Backs

The strength of the Big Ten conference in 2008 was at the running back position. That is why it was interesting to see how the Big Ten backs compared to the other running backs in the country during the 2009 NFL Combine.

Here are the top performers according to NFL.com:

40 Yard Dash:

Cederic Peerman – 4.45
Ian Johnson – 4.46
Kory Sheets – 4.47
Andre Brown - 4.49
Donald Brown – 4.51
Javarris Williams - 4.52
Mike Goodson - 4.54
Scott Bernard - 4.56
Glen Coffee - 4.58
Marlon Lucky - 4.59
Beanie Wells - 4.59

And the bench press:
Tony Fiammetta -30
Rashad Jennings -29
Brannan Southerland -28
Cedric Peerman -27
Ian Johnson -26
Cody Glenn -25
Javarris Williams -25
Beanie Wells -25
Knowshon Moreno -25
Andre Brown -24

As far as the Big Ten goes here are the unofficial results:
Kory Sheets 4.47 40 Yard Dash – 15 Bench Press Reps
Beanie Wells 4.59 25
Javon Ringer 4.60 23
Shonn Greene 4.63 19
Tyrell Sutton 4.66 (DNP in Bench Press)

But what does this all mean, Basil? Well, very little in my mind. There wasn’t one guy who really stood out and this years RB class measured considerably slower than years past. No one ripped off any Chris Johnson-esque 40 times (4.24 in 2008) and none of the marquee running backs turned any head on the bench press.

Naturally, there will be people moving up and down mock draft boards as people begin to breakdown the combine footage. So who gained ground and who lost value in their stock? I was surprised to see Shonn Greene only put up 19 reps on the bench press. No one was expecting Greene to go out and rip off a sub 4.5 40, so his 4.63 probably doesn’t hurt him too much, if at all. He certainly didn’t gain anything from his combine performance, but with the overall lack of eye-popping numbers from the running backs this year at the combine; he probably didn’t lose too much either.

As for RBs who gained some ground at the combine, I look no further than Donald Brown. Brown didn’t participate in the bench press but his 4.51 40 yard dash could be just enough for him to garner some attention. He was considered by many to be among the top five running backs coming off the board (Moreno, Wells, McCoy, Greene, and Brown). Brown may have jumped up a spot or two on that list and made himself some more money.

All in all, it was a less than stellar year at the combine for the 2009 RB class. Only four of them were able to run the 40 somewhere in the 4.4’s and not a single one ran under a 4.45. This means that scouts will have to rely on additional work outs (Pro Day, etc) and more game film to assess this RB class. This is good for the Big Ten backs as they put up some remarkable stats during the season (Greene, Ringer).

My Top 5 RB Performers at the Combine:
1. Cedric Peerman
2. Ian Johnson
3. Donald Brown
4. Andre Brown
5. Javarris Williams

Please note that this list differs vastly from my list of top 5 running backs heading into the NFL Draft (which I will unveil later).
All photos courtesy of Ben Liebenberg/NFL.com

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