Commentary

What to make of Smith and Crabtree?

The NFL combine provided plenty of answers, but some questions are still unresolved

Originally Published: February 25, 2009
By Todd McShay | Scouts Inc.

INDIANAPOLIS -- The NFL scouting combine is essentially a fact-finding mission for NFL teams. From medical tests to one-on-one interviews to on-field workouts, the goal is to gather as much information as possible on future investments. Uncertainty can lead to unfulfilled draft hopes. That's bad news for these five prospects who departed Indianapolis with more unanswered questions than when they arrived:

1. Alabama OT Andre Smith -- From bowl-game suspension to workout uncertainty to an unannounced early departure from the combine, Smith is pressing all the wrong pre-draft buttons. No first-round talent has more questions left to answer at this point. He now has two months to regain his top-10 draft standing.
2. Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree -- Crabtree needs to take control of the situation surrounding the stress fracture in his left foot. Sure, NFL scouts would like an official 40-yard-dash time on him, but they'd rather Crabtree get surgery on the foot and get a jump on rehabbing the injury.
3. Pittsburgh RB LeSean McCoy -- His decision to skip the combine workouts was a wise one, considering McCoy lost approximately eight pounds during a recent battle with the flu. McCoy now has three weeks to get healthy and prepare for a pressure-packed pro day workout March 17, one that could decide whether he is a first-round pick.
4. Missouri WR Jeremy Maclin -- Scouts were impressed when Maclin ignored a trainer's advice and returned to combine drills after suffering a hyper-extended knee during drills. However, Maclin's time of 4.43 in the 40 was good but not the exceptional time that was expected. Plus, it's never a positive when teams are looking at MRI results a couple of months before the draft.
5. USC ILB Rey Maualuga -- Maualuga endured a double-whammy on his first 40-yard dash attempt at the combine. In addition to suffering a hamstring injury that has an unknown status, the 249-pound inside linebacker ran a marginal time of 4.89 seconds. Scouts can't tell for sure whether the injury played a role in the result. In order to avoid a slip in his stock, Maualuga must recover enough to improve on that time and impress scouts during position-specific workouts, ideally during USC's April 1 pro day workouts.