NFL Combine 2012 Results: Weekend Highlights and Top Performers

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterFebruary 27, 2012

NFL Combine 2012 Results: Weekend Highlights and Top Performers

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    The NFL Scouting Combine is called "the world's longest job interview." Players spend three days in Indianapolis being weighed, measured, evaluated mentally and physically and then tested in every possible way as an athlete. Under immense pressure, who rose to the top?

    Top players Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Morris Claiborne and Matt Kalil were all on display for NFL scouts and general managers this week. It's time to look at the top performances and players who made their mark.

Running Backs Burn Up the Track

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    Fancy a speedy running back to open up your offense? The 2012 NFL draft class has a loaded crop of players ready to take the league by storm.

    The 40-yard dash may be overrated, but it's still one of the most exciting four-second events in sports. The running backs in the 2012 class didn't disappoint when put on the track this morning.

    Player School 40 Time
    Lamar Miller Miami, FL 4.38
    LaMichael James Oregon 4.37
    Ronnie Hillman SD State 4.41
    David Wilson Virginia Tech 4.40
    Chris Polk Washington 4.46

    The running backs above represent a solid crop of first-rounders (Miller, Polk) and speedy second- and third-round prospects who could be immediate contributors as third-down backs and special teams aces.

In Attendance but Not Working Out

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    The names in attendance at the 2012 scouting combine are enough to have draftniks across the country excited—but how would fans feel to learn top players weren't working out on the NFL's big stage?

    Notable top-10 players were opting out of workouts this week, leaving many wondering just how important the combine is if top players aren't participating.

    Player Did Not Participate
    Andrew Luck Throwing, bench
    Robert Griffin III Throwing, bench
    Trent Richardson All workouts
    Matt Kalil Broad jump
    David DeCastro Participated in all
    Alshon Jeffery All workouts
    Justin Blackmon Only did gauntlet, bench

    All players will be working out at their non-televised pro days for NFL scouts.

Stephen Hill Takes Over

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    Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill is known in draft circles as a great athlete but raw technician at the position. Now that he has worked out for scouts, we know he's an elite athlete whose stock is on a serious climb.

    Height Weight Arm Hand 40 Time Bench Vertical Broad 3 Cone Shuttle
    6'4" 215 33 3/8" 9 3/8" 4.30 14 39 1/2" 11'1" 6.88s 4.48s

    Hill's overall athletic ability stole the show among the wide receivers. His height, length and blazing speed will be enough to entice an NFL team to call Hill's name at the end of the first round.

    Much like Demaryius Thomas, a 2010 draftee from Georgia Tech, Hill will need coaching up but has rare ability at the position.

Matt Kalil Beefs Up

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    Matt Kalil came to the NFL scouting combine as the top offensive tackle in the draft. He'll leave here a verified top-five player overall.

    Kalil played at USC as light as 285 lbs at times. Many questioned his strength, as Kalil is a linear body type who doesn't play with a nasty mean streak. To answer those questions, Kalil beefed up.

    Tipping the scales at 306 lbs, Kalil proved he can add good weight and maintain his quickness—he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.99 seconds.

    Kalil told us he expects to gain five more pounds and play at around 310 lbs.

Character Questions Loom over Top Defenders

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    The scouting combine is about more than running a fast 40-yard dash. For many players, this is their first chance to talk with NFL front offices and scouts. It's also the first time NFL teams can ask players about their pasts.

    Defensive players Vontaze Burfict (LB-Arizona State), Cliff Harris (CB-Oregon), Janoris Jenkins (CB-N. Alabama), Donte Paige-Moss (DE-North Carolina) and Dre Kirkpatrick (CB-Alabama) all came to Indianapolis knowing their past transgressions would be a hot topic for NFL front offices and members of the media.

    Based on press conferences sat through by Bleacher Report staff and contacts with NFL scouts, four of the players did not help their cause this week.

    Vontaze Burfict failed to take responsibility for his actions at Arizona State, instead partially blaming his coaches and then saying the referees had targeted him as a problem player. Not the answer anyone wanted to hear.

    Janoris Jenkins was kicked out of Florida after failing drug tests and being arrested three times—but we learned today that he has four children already. Again, more red flags for Jenkins.

    Dre Kirkpatrick, per a source, was respectful and polite, which could help his cause if his demeanor carries over to NFL team meetings.

    Donte-Paige Moss was labeled as "uncoachable" by one team source we talked to this weekend. After leaving North Carolina and lighting the program on fire verbally on his way out, this isn't a stretch. 

    And finally, Cliff Harris. When asked about driving 120 mph and being arrested, Harris said it was "fun" before saying it was also a mistake.

Kirk Cousins Emerges from the Pack

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    There's no question who the top two quarterbacks in the 2012 NFL draft are—Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III have those spots locked down—but ask any scout who the third-best quarterback is, and you're liable to receive five different answers.

    For some it is Ryan Tannehill, a converted wide receiver in a Jake Locker mold. Others prefer Nick Foles or Brock Osweiler, two prototypical passers from the state of Arizona. If you get past his age, Brandon Weeden at 28 years old is the favorite of some. For us it's Michigan State's Kirk Cousins.

    Cousins' command at the podium in front of 50 reporters, his ball placement on the field and his overall athletic ability were a pleasant surprise in Indianapolis. The Spartan quarterback not only looks the part—he's ready to take on the job as a starting quarterback in the NFL.

    Depending on how Peyton Manning's situation plays out and where Matt Flynn plays in 2012, Cousins should be an early second-round option.

Andrew Luck Flashes His Athleticism

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    Andrew Luck is the No. 1 overall prospect in the 2012 NFL draft and one of the best (if not the best) prospects ever. With his status as the top pick sealed, Luck had nothing to gain by working out at the combine. That didn't stop him.

    Luck's numbers were mind-numbing. We knew he was an elite athlete before the workout, but now it's cemented in NFL scouting combine lore.

    Luck's numbers are below.

    Height Weight Arm Hand 40 Time Bench Vertical Broad 3 Cone Shuttle
    6'4" 234 32 5/8" 10" 4.59 DNP 36" 10'4" 6.8s 4.28s

Robert Griffin III Arrives

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    Robert Griffin III made a statement from the moment he arrived in Indianapolis, and he didn't stop impressing during his three days in Indy.

    Griffin kicked off the combine by measuring in at 6'2-3/8", a great height for a quarterback too many pegged as short and too small to play in the NFL. Griffin is in a class with players like Aaron Rodgers at 6'2" and should quiet doubters who thought the Heisman Trophy winner would see a move to wide receiver in the NFL.

    Griffin wasn't done, though. His press conference with the media was among the best seen in Indianapolis—ever. Griffin was funny, commanding and composed. He took control of the stage and had media members rolling with laughter.

    If that wasn't enough, RG3 decided to don his gold Adidas cleats and burn up the track—running an unofficial 4.34 in the 40-yard dash. 

    No player in Indianapolis drew more attention and discussion than Griffin.