There was no more surreal moment in Indianapolis than LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery admitting he only gave good effort when it was needed. On the field, teammate Barkevious Mingo helped himself, registering excellent times and answering questions on if he fit as a linebacker in the NFL.
Other head turners included Tavon Austin of West Virginia, Dion Jordan of Oregon, Ezekiel Ansah of BYU and Dee Milliner of Alabama. Their timing numbers were, by and large, expected. The following players are those who helped and hurt themselves.
David Amerson, CB, North Carolina State
At some NFL building today, a scout is firing up the tape on Amerson after his star-making combine showing. After a down season in 2012, Amerson needed a good combine performance and had one of the best. At 6'2, he ran a 4.44 40-yard dash and had one of the longer broad jumps among defensive backs.
Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU
After a year away, Mathieu was welcomed back to football at the combine and helped himself (four bench press reps aside). Mathieu was moving around well and re-established himself as a very good slot corner that can play safety as well. Some teams will have him completely off their board. Others will covet his versatility and playmaking ability.
Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson
Imagine where the two offensive tackles were in the draft process at this time in December. They were firmly behind tackles Jake Matthews of Texas A&M and Taylor Lewan of Michigan. Both went back to school and it pushed Fisher and Johnson up draft boards. Then they were the best players at the Senior Bowl. That pushed them a little further. Then the two left tackles showed well in Indianapolis, becoming top 11 picks. Fisher is even in discussion for the first-overall pick.
Most of the cornerback class
Those fast guys ran fast at Lucas Oil Stadium. Jamar Taylor of Boise State, Sanders Commings of Georgia, Robert Alford of Southeast Louisiana and Desmond Trufant of Washington all had better drill times than expected. Taylor and Trufant in particular elevated their stock. Trufant should now be an early second rounder and Taylor likely pushed himself into the top 100 picks.
Tank Carradine, DE, Florida State
Remember him? It's not Bjoern Werner who is the best pure pass rusher from Florida State, it's Carradine. He had 11 sacks in 12 games last season before tearing his ACL. Carradine is on the Adrian Peterson rehab plan and is set to work out before the draft. Look for that work out to be packed as teams figure out just how high in the first round he can go.
Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans
Pop the champagne, no one broke your 40-yard dash record this year.
Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
Banks didn't have a good day on Tuesday, running the 40-yard dash in 4.61 seconds and bench pressing just 10 reps. If Xavier Rhodes wasn't ahead of him before, he is now. Banks was even overshadowed by former State teammate Darius Slay, who ran a 4.36.
Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
There were plenty of questions about Jones coming into the combine, and he answered almost none of them. Jones decided not to work out in Indianapolis, so issues about his pure athleticism can't be alleviated until his pro day. Teams are also still waiting to hear back on medical reports for Jones. Because of those concerns, Jones is still a top five prospect that could fall in the draft.
Christine Michael, RB, Texas A&M
Somebody forgot to tell Michael that it's the team interviews in Indianapolis that are the most important part of the process. Michael was one of the top performers among running backs, but he may have wasted it all. According to the all-knowing Gil Brandt of NFL.com, Michael slept through interviews with two teams.
Kansas City Chiefs
Offensive tackle Luke Joeckel didn't time well and quarterback Geno Smith didn't stand out in positional drills (yes, he ran fast). The uncertainty about what to do with the No. 1 pick in the draft is no more known now than it was last week. In fact, it's an even cloudier picture. Look for the Chiefs to be debating their pick all the way up to draft day.
Robbie Rouse, RB, Fresno State
He's a 190-pound running back that ran a 4.8 40-yard dash. What more needs to be said?
Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Moore's combine struggles have been well-documented. He ran a 4.95 40-yard dash and bench pressed 225 pounds just 12 times. Certainly during combine prep, Moore had to know he was going to get these type of numbers. Why participate? Either work more until your pro day, or just sit out work outs completely. Now teams are wondering if Moore will be a factor as a pass rusher, or if he's just a base end.
Rontez Miles' tattoo
California (Pa.) safety Rontez Miles is the Reuben Foster of NFL Draft prospects. One of his shoulders features the Pittsburgh Steelers logo, which is probably normal for many Pennsylvania natives. It could be his ticket to a camp tryout with the Steelers if he goes undrafted. But what happens if he gets drafted by the rival Cleveland Browns? Get the lasers.
RANDOM COMBINE NOTES:
Players like Margus Hunt and Marquise Goodwin weren't mentioned because their athletic feats weren't anything out of the ordinary. We knew they'd time well. Hunt, at 6'8, looked really thin. Despite his 38 bench press reps, he needs to pack on bulk.
NFL teams have to be taking pause on Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei after it was determined he needed more testing due to a heart issue. You hope for the best for Lotulelei, but the cold NFL Draft process may knock him down the first round.
Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter may have come in skinny at 196 pounds, but his 4.44 40-yard dash, 39.5-inch vertical and 11'6 broad jump showed he's fully healthy after looking a little off last season after injuring his ACL in 2011.
After Florida safety Matt Elam measured in at 5'9, some wondered if he would drop in the draft. Then he tested out nicely and, more importantly, looked fluid in position drills.
Manti Te'o worked out. He was slow. He was a little undersized. The media swarmed him. I just don't care. Anyone who expected Te'o to do well in drills is foolish. He's still a late first-round or early second-round pick. The combine didn't help or hurt him.
Most highly anticipated pro day coming up? Matt Barkley of Southern California. He talked a big game during his media session, saying there are no arm strength concerns. At his pro day on March 27, he gets to back it up. If he does, someone in the first round will come calling.
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