Sanders measures up under scrutiny
Iowa safety Bob Sanders and Tulane QB J.P. Losman were two winners at the combine.
For some NFL scouts, the curiosity level surrounding Iowa safety Bob Sanders at the annual predraft combine in Indianapolis had mushroomed into an obsession, with talent evaluators admittedly anxious for another chance to eyeball a superb college performer deemed by many as too small but also regarded as too good to ignore.
Most of the questions surrounding Sanders, though, were transformed into exclamation points with his combine workout. Because he plays a position that isn't really considered a premium spot, Sanders still isn't likely to be chosen in the first round, even after being clocked at 4.36 seconds in the 40-yard sprint and posting a 41½-inch vertical jump.
But after University of Miami star Sean Taylor, who is viewed as one of the top safety prospects of the past quarter-century and is the only player at his position guaranteed a spot in the first round, Sanders and Purdue counterpart Stuart Schweigert probably will be the next safeties off the board.
And for Sanders, who also impressed scouts during the Senior Bowl practices last month, there is a sense of reassurance. The "Hit Man," it seems, need not fret any more about the possibility that scouts might see him as the "Hit-Or-Miss-Man."
"People are always saying the combine won't make or break you but, until you feel that you've proven yourself, there's always some concern," Sanders said. "Nothing is ever a sure thing but, all in all, I think I helped myself."
Unlike some "workout warrior" prospects, players who look good in shorts and T-shirts but don't perform well on the field, there isn't much doubt about Sanders' pedigree as a tough, play-making defender who is typically around the ball. His performance in the all-star games convinced most teams that Sanders' lack of vertical stature won't be a major problem in the NFL, and his combine workouts pretty much solidified his standing.
"There have been safeties his size, guys like Blaine Bishop, who excelled in our league," said Tennessee Titans general manager Floyd Reese. "He's a player."
Ditto the much bigger Schweigert, who possesses more prototypical safety size (6-feet-1½ and 210 pounds), and who ran in the mid-4.4s.
Of course, Sanders and Schweigert aren't the only draft prospect who either solidified or raised their stock at the combine sessions. And, as usual, there were some players whose performances might slide them back a round or two. Here are some players, many of them of lesser profile, who fit into the two categories:
Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
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