NFL Combine winners and losers

Mohamed Sanu.

The NFL Combine, a weeklong event held in flyover country, tests football players in nearly every way, but how they perform in pads, the most important part of what makes a player draftable.

Yet, all 32 teams have flocked to Indianapolis this week to poke, prod and ponder over 300 NFL Draft prospects.

The combine opened on Feb. 22 and wrapped up yesterday after six days of interviews, workouts and, of course, the vaunted 40-yard dash.

The Giants went to the combine as conquering heroes, coming off their fourth Super Bowl win in franchise history. The Jets, well, they left their fans wanting.

Some players have emerged as having all the right metrics.

Metro breaks down a few that could be on the radar of the local teams.

A look at the winners and losers in the NFL Combine so far:

DT Dontari Poe, Memphis
Admit it, Poe was not a player you knew coming into the combine, unless you are an avid follower of Conference USA.

But the defensive tackle, who at 346 pounds was among the biggest players to ever attend the combine, clocked in an impressive 4.98-second time in the 40-yard dash and led all defensive linemen in the bench press.

Poe’s mobility in drills moved him up the leaderboard from a late first-round pick to possibly a top-15 selection.

Giants general manager Jerry Reese has never turned down a mobile pass-rusher, but Poe likely won’t last until the Giants select at No. 32. On the other hand, Poe would be a perfect fit in Rex Ryan’s 3-4 defense.

He could be available mid-first round when the Jets draft, but will general manager Mike Tannenbaum really go with him after taking two defensive linemen last year with their top two picks?

It’s not their top need, but it might be tough to ignore him, given the big numbers he put up this week.

WR Mohamed Sanu, Rutgers
It wasn’t a great NFL Combine for the Rutgers wide receiver, who almost surely dropped out of contention for the first round with his plodding 4.67 in the 40.

But Sanu didn’t hurt his status as a second day selection and teams have to like his big hands and his junior year tape with the Scarlet Knights.

The Jets, who surely will lose Plaxico Burress this offseason — perhaps by choice — could do well to grab Sanu if he falls into the middle of the second round.

His versatility on special teams and out of the Wildcat doesn’t hurt either. He played quarterback coming into college and spent much of his first two seasons playing from Rutgers’ Wild Knight package.

Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd is another wide receiver that has been highly touted for years and he was showcased well in Brian Kelly’s pass-happy offense. His 40 time of 4.46 was good and he showed consistency in drills.

The Giants, who will likely lose Mario Manningham, could use a target like Floyd. The only question mark is an arrest for DUI, which could end up causing him to drop to the end of the first round — and the Giants — on draft day.

RB Vick Ballard, Mississippi State
He became a YouTube sensation for his 40 run in the combine, just not the way he was hoping.

The running back out of Mississippi State followed the momentum of a strong Senior Bowl showing by getting off stride, slipping and falling into a camera. The embarrassing moment cements him as a mid-round pick, but there’s no denying that the powerfully built running back can play.

The Jets, who will need to replace LaDainian Tomlinson in their rotation, know running back is a need, especially with Ryan trying to get back to the ground and pound offense.

 The Giants could slot Ballard in for Brandon Jacobs, who may be cut if they can’t restructure his contract for the second straight year.

Some team will forget this slip-up and remember that the kid was an All-SEC selection.

LB Mychal Kendricks, California
The inside linebacker out of Cal was the standout of the bunch, taking top stop among all linebackers in the 40, vertical jump and broad jump. He went from a mid-round prospect to someone who could easily be taken in the first 75 picks of the draft, if not higher.

A team like the Jets, who might be set to trade away Bart Scott, would covet Kendricks athleticism among a group of linebackers who lack speed and showed their age last season.

Height concerns — he is just 6-feet tall — will keep him from the first round, but the three-year starter will make plays for some team.

Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.


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