Draft Dose: Workout warriors

Posted Feb. 23, 2011 @ 9:30 a.m.
Posted By Andrew Struckmeyer

Every year, someone at the NFL Scouting Combine makes a name for himself based on the numbers that he put up.  Whether it's his 40-time, bench press, or vertical jump, the numbers boost his draft stock, sometimes more than his talent justifies.

The classic case is DE Mike Mamula, whose stock soared after a jaw-dropping Combine workout, where he bench-pressed as many times as some offensive linemen and ran a faster 40-time than some linebackers. The Eagles traded up in the draft to grab Mamula, and the expectations were sky-high for the rookie. Mamula ended up playing five solid but unspectacular seasons before retiring because of injuries.

In the seventh installment of the Draft Dose series we look at some notable players who stood out at the Combine in recent years.

OLT Bruce Campbell (fourth-round pick, 2010)

Drafted by the Raiders — no surprise since Al Davis is known to love players with great measurables — Campbell looked like a freak of nature at the Combine, posting a time of 4.85 seconds in the 40-yard dash, fastest among offensive linemen, as well as putting up 34 repetitions on the bench press, a very respectable number. The video from Campbell's time at Maryland kept his draft stock from soaring, and it appears that might have been more a more accurate predictor than his Combine measurables. Drafted as a tackle, Campbell was quickly moved inside to guard in his first season, and appears destined to stay there.

WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (No. 7 overall pick, 2009)

The tall, athletic wide receiver out of Maryland shot up draft boards after wowing scouts at the Combine. He ran a 4.3 40-time and had a vertical jump of 38½ inches. Always looking for players high on raw athletic talent, the Raiders jumped to select Heyward-Bey over such proven commodities as Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin. Two years later, none of the three has risen to star status, but Crabtree and Maclin clearly have been more productive than Heyward-Bey, who has 35 career catches for 490 yards and only two touchdowns.

OLB Vernon Gholston (No. 6 overall pick, 2008)

Gholston put on a show at the Combine, displaying a chiseled physique and posting impressive numbers in the drills. The Jets believed he would be a terror off the edge, when they selected him with the sixth overall pick. Since that time, however, Gholston has failed to pick up either former coach Eric Mangini's defense or current coach Rex Ryan's scheme, is still searching for his first career sack, and his main contributions have come on special teams. He is Exhibit A in the draft-bust category.

DE Derrick Harvey (No. 8 overall pick, 2008)

Harvey terrorized Ohio State in the 2007 national championship game, earning Defensive MVP honors in Florida's victory. Couple that with his 20½ career sacks and his off-the-charts speed numbers, and Harvey was shooting up teams' draft boards. The Jaguars eventually snagged Harvey with a top-10 pick, but Harvey has yet to live up to those lofty expectations. His career began with a long contract holdout and hasn't ever taken off. He has recorded only eight sacks in 47 career games and lost his starting job last season. Unless Harvey radically turns his career around, he will be labeled a draft bust.

RB Chris Johnson (No. 24 overall pick, 2008)

Johnson was likely going to be selected in the first couple rounds after a productive career at East Carolina, but his Combine performance vaulted him into the first round. Johnson posted the fastest 40-time, running a 4.24. And after Johnson's first three years in the league, selecting him 24th overall was a steal for the Titans. Johnson has rushed for more than 1,000 yards each season, including 2,006 yards in 2009, and is arguably the best back in the NFL.

TE Vernon Davis (No. 6 overall pick, 2006)

After posting 51 catches and six touchdowns as a junior at Maryland, Davis was certainly on the radar for scouts. However, he took the Combine by storm when he posted the fastest 40-time ever for a tight end. Davis performed well in the other drills and became billed as the next great tight end before being selected by the 49ers in the first round. After three disappointing seasons with the Niners, things finally clicked for Davis, who totaled more than 900 receiving yards in both 2009 and '10 and has 20 TD catches over that span. His game could take off even more in new head coach Jim Harbaugh's offense.