Combine Concludes Minus Some Key Defenders


Once projected as the likely top pick in the draft, LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey did not work out this week at the NFL Scouting Combine. Both Virginia DE Chris Long and Ohio State DE Vernon Gholston did participate in Indianapolis and lived up to their advanced billing.

The 6'4", 275-pound Long posted a very respectable 4.75 time in the 40-yard dash and led all defensive linemen with a 4.21 in the 20-yard shuttle. Long, who also recorded a 34-inch vertical and 10'4" broad jump, excelled in drills but chose not to take part in the linebacker activities. He'll do those position-specific drills for scouts when Virginia hosts its pro day.

"I want to work with Coach [Al] Groh a little bit. He is going to help me hone my skills with that because it's something I didn't do much during the season and I want to do well at my pro day," Long said.

Gholston, a 6'4", 258-pounder, was the talk of Indianapolis on Monday. He was disappointed with his 4.67 40-time and he shrugged off his 37 reps of 225 pounds on the bench, a number that tied Michigan T Jake Long for a combine best.

"My attitude is get the top number in all categories," Gholston said. "Jake is a great guy and very strong, but I should have hit that 38."

Last season Gholston racked up 14 sacks for the Buckeyes. He's blessed with incredible athletic ability, leading all D-lineman with a 35.5" vertical and 10'5" broad jump. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock called Gholston "a freakishly athletic kid."

The Jets own the sixth overall selection in April's draft and both Long and Gholston would be good fits at OLB in their 3-4 scheme. Gholston had to please all teams in attendance with his willingness to work in both DE and LB drills.

"They want to see what I can do in both positions — standup and hand on the ground," he said. "I did both today in linebacker drills and defensive line drills. I feel it went well."

Dorsey, a dominant force when healthy, was on hand last weekend to discuss his injury history with interested parties. In 2006 he suffered a stress fracture in his right tibia while at LSU.

"There are no health concerns to my knowledge," Dorsey said. "I haven't missed a game at LSU since I've been there. Everybody gets nicked up. That's the way I look at it. I played every game at LSU my whole four years there so I don't think it's a problem at all."

Despite injuries last season, Dorsey totaled 69 tackles, seven sacks and 12.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage. At 6'2" and 316 pounds, he'll be more effective in a 4-3 than a 3-4 at the next level, many analysts believe.

The linebacking group was marked by a couple of absences. Penn State ILB Dan Connor caught the flu bug and was sent home, while Southern Cal OLB Keith Rivers will wait till his pro day to test an ankle injury he suffered at the Senior Bowl.

Pursuit is one of Ali Highsmith's best qualities, but the former LSU OLB disappointed in the 40. He was clocked in the 5.0-second range and may have been hurt by some additional pounds.

Slowed by dislocated toes at Auburn in '07, Quentin Groves got his feet right at the RCA Dome. Groves, whose 26 sacks tied the Tigers' career record, has some playing experience at OLB and recorded a 4.54 in the 40 and a 10-foot broad jump. The 6'3", 250-pounder can get up the field in a hurry and could be an explosive player.

Fifty-seven defensive backs closed out the combine on getaway day today. Nine corners ran sub-4.4s, including Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. The Tennessee State product, who was clocked at 4.33, led all CBs in the vertical jump (38.5) and 60-yard shuttle (11.06) and tied for the lead in the broad jump (10'11") and the three-cone drill (6.74).

The 2008 Combine may have finished, but the draft process has a long way to go. Scouts will file their reports from Indy and then pro days are on the horizon. A couple of months remain before the draft and rookie minicamps.

"I'm just ready to put on a helmet. It doesn't matter which one," Long said. "I just want to play football —I'm a football player. For a couple of days, I was a combine football player, but my strengths are on the football field and I look forward to showing that."

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