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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Henry, Folk shine at NFL Combine”

    The NFL Scouting Combine concluded Tuesday in Indianapolis, and a week of weighing, running, leaping and lifting has shed more light on the draft futures of four Arizona prospects.

    Stock rising

    Chris Henry – running back

    Henry went into the Combine as a wild-card selection. His size and athleticism suggested some team would select him during the April 28-29 event in New York, but his decision to leave Arizona after only three years of sparse experience raised questions.

    Henry answered them with arguably the most complete physical performance of any running back. He tied Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson, the No. 1 prospect at the position, for the top times in the 40-yard dash (4.4 seconds) and the broad jump (10 feet, 7 inches).

    Draft analysts say Henry surpassed his “”best-case scenario”” expectations and now could land as high as the early second round.

    “”He was fantastic,”” said Kyle Trembley, an analyst with “”The numbers basically say it all with Henry.””

    Henry stands a good chance of being drafted on the first day of the draft, consisting of rounds one through three, because his elite speed is coveted in running backs above any other attribute, Trembley said.

    “”In today’s NFL, you need two running backs, because you can’t rely on your main guy,”” he said. “”Even in San Diego, you have LaDainian Tomlinson (the 2006 NFL Most Valuable Player), but you also have Michael Turner, who could start for most teams.””

    Robert Davis, an analyst for, said he anticipated Henry would wow league personnel with his timed running, and that his performance at least cemented a selection.

    Wide receiver Syndric Steptoe, who joined Henry at the Combine, said he was impressed by what he saw.

    “”I was glad for him, because there’s been a lot of people who’ve been downplaying him,”” Steptoe said. “”He showed what he can do.””

    Nick Folk – placekicker

    Folk impressed NFL scouts with his leg power and accuracy at the Jan. 27 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., but nonetheless remained on the fringe of being drafted with so few kickers taken each year.

    Davis said Folk remains behind Colorado’s Mason Crosby, but that he’s likely risen to the sixth or seventh round. At the least, Davis said, Folk cleared up issues with his accuracy.

    “”He didn’t do anything to hurt himself,”” Davis said. “”He put on a good showing.””

    Folk is among four kickers whom teams will likely take more by individual preference than consensus ability, Trembley said.

    “”(Folk) showed he can kick at that level. He showed that he’s in the mix, basically,”” Trembley said. “”When you’re a kicker, all you’re trying to show that you have the leg to be in the NFL. … He warrants a tryout with an NFL team, maybe more.””

    Stock falling

    Michael Johnson – safety

    An injury-plagued senior season put the impetus on Johnson to perform well at the Combine, especially with a few other safeties competing for his predicted first-day selection.

    Johnson failed to create distance from players like Oregon State’s Sabby Piscitelli and Wyoming’s John Wendling, however, and now he’s projected to go in the fourth or fifth round.

    Johnson, who suffered from a thigh bruise among other ailments last season, did not qualify for the top 10 in any timed event. He did only 15 repetitions in the 225-pound bench press, compared to Piscitelli’s 19 and Wendling’s 22.

    “”Overall, I’d say (Johnson) had a mediocre Combine,”” Davis said. “”He didn’t do well in any of the drills.””

    Still, Johnson’s quality size – measured at 6 feet, 2 5/8 inches, he was the tallest free safety – should remain a selling point in April.

    Trembley said Johnson could follow in the footsteps of Florida State’s Pat Watkins, whom Dallas took in the fifth round last year, although Watkins, at 6-foot-5, ran a 4.43 40.

    “”Safety’s such an in-demand position that teams will still draft guys like (Johnson), who don’t work out well, in the second day of the draft,”” Trembley said.

    Steptoe – wide receiver

    Like Henry and Folk, Steptoe faced an uncertain route to the pros entering the Combine, but he had a different obstacle altogether: his size.

    Steptoe, one of Arizona’s most consistent offensive performers the past four seasons, measured at only 5-foot-9 at the Combine and needed to put up fast 40-yard dash times to stand out from his taller, more heralded peers.

    On his first attempt in his first drill Sunday, the vertical leap, Steptoe said he tweaked ligaments in his right knee. The knee hurt afterward when he would bend it, and he ended up running a pair of 40 times between 4.50 and 4.60 seconds.

    Those times are considered slow for wide receivers, and they endanger his chances of being selected.

    Both Davis and Trembley said Steptoe is unlikely to be taken, but that he and Johnson can redeem themselves by performing well at Arizona’s pro day March 10.

    UA strength and conditioning coach Corey Edmond will oversee the event, which will feature all of the Combine drills.

    “”I’m pretty sure I’ll redeem myself real well,”” Steptoe said. “”I just have to run better, and that’s no big thing.””

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