March 20, 2008

Longhorns show off in front of NFL eyes

When Brandon Foster stepped forward to run his first 40-yard dash time on Wednesday, he did so with the understanding that he was entering a now or never situation.

At a shade over 5-7, Foster knows that he's facing an uphill battle to make an NFL roster, so underperforming in front of 75 NFL coaches and scouts simply wasn't an option.

Neither was a 4.40 40-yard dash. Or 4.30.

In the days before the draft Foster had predicted a sub 4.30 and in what could only be described as the workout of a lifetime, he pulled it off.

Not only did Foster post a 4.28 40-yard dash, a time which represents the second-fastest time of any NFL prospect eligible for this year's draft, but he also posted outstanding numbers in the vertical jump (38 inches), broad jump (10-8) and excelled in position drills.

"I knew that was a big day because I wasn't at the combine and this was an opportunity to try and catch someone's eye," Foster said. "I felt like I had a good workout."

While Foster's show-stopping time in the 40 highlighted the day's event, he wasn't the only Longhorn that helped himself with today's workout.

Wide receiver Limas Sweed, tight end Jermichael Finley, safety Drew Kelson and defensive tackle Derek Lokey were others that helped themselves with their performances.

Most draft experts are projecting Sweed as the top prospect from this year's batch of available Longhorns and after checking in at 6-4, 210 pounds and running times in the mid 4.4's in the 40-yard dash, he seemed to solidify his position in the draft.

"(Sweed) showed us everything we needed to see from him," one AFC scout said after the event. "He's taking all of this very seriously and that's probably more impressive than anything else about him. He's as good as anyone in the draft at his position.

While Sweed strengthened his grip on a first-round slot, Finley and Griffin significantly improved their stock by bettering their performances from the NFL combine in Indianapolis last month.

After posting a 31-inch vertical and a 4.76 time in the 40-yard dash at the combine, Griffin showed incredible improvement with a 37-inch vertical and a 4.53 time in the 40-yard dash.

"I was really impressed with (Griffin's) performance," the same AFC scout said. "He's a guy we'll need to seriously look at because there aren't a lot of plus-safeties in this draft. I wasn't expecting that."

As for Finley, he dropped his 40-yard dash time from the low 4.8's to the low 4.6's, which combined with his position workouts and the rest of his testing from the combine, makes him one of the top tight ends available in the draft. If speed was the question mark before Wednesday, it doesn't appear to be an issue now.

"I would like to have seen him do all of the drills, but he ran well and that was important for him," the AFC scout said. "It's clear that he's a very good athlete and he has a chance to be a good player."

Among the players just trying to open some eyes were Lokey and Kelson, both of whom were left uninvited to the combine.

Lokey lifted 38 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press, ran a 5.18 40-yard dash, a 33.5-inch vertical jump and a 4.37 short-shuttle. Just as impressive was Kelson, who posted an eye-popping 41.5-inch vertical jump and a 4.5 time in the 40-yard dash, while tipping the scales at 6-0 7/8, 216 pounds.

Notes: Texas running back Jamaal Charles decided not to work out today after a strong showing at the combine. Defensive tackle Frank Okam was down to 335 pounds, which is 12 pounds lighter than what he weighed in at the combine.


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