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McCluster, other Rebels run good 40 times

3/24/2010

Mississippi and Notre Dame held their pro day workouts on Tuesday, and a few prospects with name value took part. Here's how they fared and how their workouts might affect their draft stock.

Mississippi

RB/WR Dexter McCluster: The best of the seven Rebels players we expect to be drafted, McCluster improved his 40-yard dash time from a disappointing 4.58 seconds at the NFL combine to the mid 4.4s at his pro day. He also posted 6.73 seconds in the three-cone drill, which would have been the fastest of all running backs at the combine.

Those times line up with what we've seen on film from a player who is more quick than fast and confirm the exceptional change-of-direction skills we've seen on tape. At just 5-foot-8¾ and 172 pounds, McCluster needs every bit of shiftiness he can get, and although his size might cause him to fall to the third round, we still rate him as a second-round prospect.

G John Jerry: Jerry's workout was not exceptional, but he was solid during position drills for a player his size (6-5⅜, 328). He also put up 31 repetitions on the standard 225-pound bench press to show good strength. Jerry is moving up in an interior offensive line class that lacks depth, and teams that employ power running schemes could view Jerry as a late-second or early-third-round selection.

DE Greg Hardy: Hardy improved on his combine results more than any Ole Miss prospect. He went from 4.96 to 4.77 in the 40, and his three-cone drill went from 7.25 to 7.14. Hardy has flashed first-round ability throughout his career, and his new numbers are indicative of a player who belongs in the first three rounds. However, inconsistency, huge durability concerns and questions about his football character likely will drop him into the fourth round.

QB Jevan Snead: Snead took part only in passing drills and looked good in a scripted session that showed off his arm strength and ability to throw on the run. However, one scout in attendance noted that it's easy to look accurate throwing against air when there is no pressure. Snead's issues surface when pass-rushers are in his face and he's forced to make decisions on the fly, so this workout did nothing to raise his plummeting stock. The best case for him is coming off the board somewhere on Day 3.

A trio of late-round prospects also ran significantly better 40 times on campus. Wide receiver Shay Hodge (4.64 to mid-4.5s), S Kendrick Lewis (4.75 to 4.65) and CB Marshay Green (4.73 to 4.51) all put good times on record, but many teams will be cautious with the results. With most players improving by at least a tenth of a second, expect NFL draft rooms to go on record with a time somewhere between the two sets of results. That's a tough break for McCluster, who on film looks like he plays in the 4.4s but will end up being viewed somewhere around 4.5.

Notre Dame

Although QB Jimmy Clausen attended the workout, he did not take part, but he is said to be on schedule for his April 9 individual workout after beginning running earlier this week.

With Clausen sidelined, the spotlight fell on WR Golden Tate, who stood on his impressive combine numbers but showed great quickness and hands when catching the ball and getting upfield. Tate is a polished route-runner with good ball skills and run-after-the-catch ability, and he is solidly in the early-to-mid second round at this point.

Watch out for Brown Bears

A pair of off-the-radar prospects from Brown are making some noise in scouting circles and getting into the late-round discussion after their pro day workouts persuaded scouts to do some more research.

Defensive tackle David Howard (6-2⅜, 288) ran 5.02 and put up a 7.55 time in the three-cone drill, which would have been fifth-best among defensive tackles at the combine. Howard showed good quickness and agility during position drills and with his showing is likely to garner interest late in the draft.

Wide receiver Buddy Farnham (5-11⅝, 194) worked out for the second time in March and put up a 4.55 time in the 40. Farnham could have played at bigger schools, but his family has a history at Brown and he ended up getting his name all over the Ivy League record book. He was the league's player of the year in 2009 and ranks in the top 10 all time in receptions (229), receiving yards (2,895) and all-purpose yards (4,813). Several teams already see Farnham as a late-rounder.