Greene wows NFL scouts at Pro Day

Scott DochtermanCorrespondent IMarch 24, 2009

Former Iowa running back Shonn Greene blasts through South <a href=Carolina's defense for a touchdown in the 2009 Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla. (Jonathan D. Woods/The Gazette)" title="greene-td" width="500" height="330" />

Former Iowa running back Shonn Greene blasts through South Carolina's defense for a touchdown in the 2009 Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla. (Jonathan D. Woods/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY—Former Iowa running back Shonn Greene wowed NFL scouts at Iowa’s Pro Day on Monday.

Greene, a consensus All-American last fall, sprinted a 40-yard dash in 4.59 seconds at Iowa’s indoor facility. That’s about .06 seconds below his time at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis last month. It could also send him up the draft charts as well.

Scouts from at least 29 NFL teams attended Iowa’s Pro Day and three different NFL scouts—all of whom spoke anonymously—were excited about Greene’s performance. Along with lowering his speed, Greene increased his 225-pound bench press repetitions from 19 at the Combine to 23 on Monday.

“He looked good,” one scout said. “Very good.”

Greene, 23, is projected as a late second-round to early third-round draft choice. Many draft predictions have Greene ranked as low as the fifth running back slated for the draft. That has Greene somewhat agitated.

“My take on that is I think (Ohio State’s) Beanie Wells and (Georgia’s) Knoshown Moreno … I think (they) are great backs, they just had another year whereas I had only had one year to show what I could do,” Green said. “Ohio State gets a lot of publicity but I don’t make that as an excuse. I just do what I can do.

“If you look at the stats and all that, it will tell you that I’m the top back. You look at some of those guys that I went head-to-head with and some of them I faced the same defense, and I did much better. I’m not worried about that. Whoever takes me is going to get a good running back. That’s how it goes.”

Greene said he uses some of the draft projections as motivation.

“It just makes you work harder,” he said. “When people don’t recognize you as much, it makes you want to work harder and do much better.”

Greene earned the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s best running back last fall. He was the only running back to rush for more than 100 yards in every game. He finished the season with 1,850 yards and 20 rushing touchdowns, school records in both categories. Greene also earned the Big Ten’s Most Valuable Player Award.

Greene announced his intentions to enter the NFL draft minutes after Iowa thumped South Carolina 31-10 in the Outback Bowl. He has slimmed down from 235 pounds to 227 and has emphasized strength and speed in his pre-draft training.

“Just being more explosive for the 40, just getting out good and maintaining my speed,” Greene said about his off-season workout. “I’ve been working on my bench a lot, so that improved.”

Greene has stayed in Iowa City to train, except for his combine workout. Several draftniks have downgraded Greene because of character issues. Greene became academically ineligible for the 2007 season and went to Iowa City’s Kirkwood Community College before transferring back to Iowa last fall.

At the combine, Greene said, he repeated the story several times. He told scouts about his part-time job that fall delivering furniture and how it helped mature and re-focus him on football.

“Nobody really asks here,” he said. “I think that’s pretty much under the mat now. I got that story out and everybody knows the deal with that.”

Greene said he plans to keep training in Iowa City for a few more weeks then leave for his hometown of Sicklerville, N.J., shortly before the draft, which takes place April 25-26. He’s unsure who might take him, and he’s not focused on the possibilities right now. He grew up 30 minutes from Philadelphia and often rooted for the Eagles, but he’s not picky.

“I have no idea,” he said. “I’ve been watching (the draft) for the last three years, and it only takes one team. You never know. Hopefully I’ll go as high as I can and just wait for the best.”

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