QB: Stephen McGee, Texas A&M: Pat White may have been the "biggest" winner in terms of perception, but only to the NFL fan. After all, anyone who has even seen the West Virginia signal caller play in the past year could see that White was far from just an athlete playing quarterback. The bigger question mark coming into the combine was A&M's McGee however, who like White had to deal with the "athlete" moniker while at the same time being dogged by question's of a bum shoulder (note: not an actual medical diagnosis on my part.) Not only did McGee get a clean bill of health at the combine, but he looked strong throwing the ball. And that's not even taking into account his athletic accomplishments, which included the second fastest 40-yard dash time for a quarterback (4.66), as well as a 33-inch vertical (second highest for QB.) While he may not have earned himself a spot in the always overplayed "top five" for quarterbacks, he solidified his value at the position and then some. Others: Patrick White (West Virginia), Jason Boltus (Hartwick).
RB: Ian Johnson, Boise State: Granted, an aformentioned "yea, duh" pick, but coming into the combine Ian Johnson was being classified as your typical overachiever who benefited from one good year in a "gimmick" offense who in turn would have limited value as an every down back at the next level. While it was difficult to dispute his production as part of the 2006 Boise State Bronco team that won the Fiesta Bowl, scouts were able to successfully question both his straight-line speed and ability to carry the load, two questions which seemed to set him back in a deep running back feild with no shortage of higher profile names. And while combine numbers alone should not project NFL success, Johnson did a lot to silence critics by running the second fastest 40 among running backs (4.46) and putting up 26 reps on the bench press. Others: Cedric Peerman (Virginia), Kory Sheets (Purdue).
TE: John Phillips, Virginia: Media personalities like Todd McShay often fall in love with buzzwords like "stretching the field," but to judge a tight end's performance in the combine soley on the basis of his 40 time is like judging a pitcher's effectiveness only on the velocity of his fastball; in other words it helps, but it doesn't nearly account for his entire body of work. If you ask me the so called experts have been focusing too much on the 40 times for tight ends as of late, and perhaps should be looking more at the vertical jump, 3-cone drill, and short shuttle when evaluating the usefulness of potential tight end prospects in the NFL scheme. Likely to be used in a role as a reliable possession target, today's NFL tight end needs the ability to go up and make the catch while also working quickly and effectively within open holes of a defense. For this particular skill-set I think the player who did the most for his cause was Virginia tight end Jon Phillips, who posted a 33.5' vertical, 6.84 in the 3-cone drill, and a 4.27 in the 20-yard shuttle. Oh yea, and that all important 40 time? A very respectable 4.75. Considering that Virginia has been known to churn out great tight ends in the past, Phillips is likely to become a "hot" name in the coming weeks. Others: Kory Sperry (Colorado State), Dan Gronkowski (Maryland).
WR: 'The Brians,' Ohio State: No, it's not just because I like referring to the two friends and former Buckeye teammates by one collective name, nor is it any closet Big 10 fan coming out in me to dispute the highly acclaimed 40-yard dash times of an otherwise impressive wide receiver field. Yet coming into the combine both Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline were being overshadowed in the wide receiver discussion, with names such as Crabtree, Maclin, and Hayward-Bey garnering most of the discussion. Yet even after a year in which a freshmen quarterback likely derailed their production, both Robiskie and Hartline handled things from the physical side of the game, both running in the low 4.5's at the combine while looking impressive in the position specific drills. Hartline actually ran the fastest 60-yard shuttle among wideouts (10.92), while both placed in the top ten in the 20-yard shuttle and three cone drill. While neither one put up "headline" numbers, they put on a better showing than any other Ohio State prospect at the combine and likely improved their draft status tremendously. Others: Mike Thomas (Arizona), Tiquan Underwood (Rutgers), Marko Mitchell (Nevada).
OL: William Beatty, UConn: Beatty was something of an unknown coming into the combine due to the fact that he really only had one standout season (in 2009) and that he did considerably more run blocking than pass blocking as a tackle. Likewise, he protected a left-handed quarterback at UConn, drawing attention away from his status as the ever chic blindside blocker. Still, he was lights out at the combine, running a very impressive 5.12 at 6'6, 307-lbs, while also posting a 7.62 3-cone drill mark and a 33.5-inch vertical. Just as importantly, he looked smooth enough in position specific drills to answer questions about his viability as a pass blocker. Others: Lydon Murtha (Nebraska), Basically Anyone Not Named Andre Smith