Showing his stuff

Posted on Monday, February 25, 2008

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INDIANAPOLIS - Darren McFadden charged across the synthetic turf on the RCA Dome sideline Sunday, and before his time was posted on the NFL Network, a ripple went through the massive media room, where reporters were watching on TV.

McFadden's run looked fast.

It was. McFadden's unofficial 40-yard dash time of 4. 27 seconds drew exclamations from NFL Scouting Combine veterans.

"That's the kind of time that most people who go to this event will talk about for years to come,"said Vic Carucci of NFL. com. "I think it exhibits what a lot of us thought he was about - dominance."

McFadden's time later was adjusted to 4. 33, making it the second-fastest of all the running backs, behind the 4. 26 turned in Sunday by East Carolina's Chris Johnson. McFadden, obviously aware of the importance of his run, flashed a big smile to the NFL Network cameras, then slumped down near Arkansas teammate Felix Jones, who posted a 4. 47, tied for the ninth-best time among running backs. A few minutes later, McFadden ran again, posting an unofficial 4. 33.

"He blew it open on everybody today,"one veteran NFL observer said. "And not only that, after the 4. 27, he went back and ran again. There's no way he drops below the No. 3 [pick ] to the Falcons now."

Combine administrators point out that there are no actual "official"40 times in Indianapolis, and that the given times reflect the combined work of two hand-held watches and an electronic timer.

"It's the talk of the day when any talented player runs a 4. 3-ish in the 40,"Sports Illustrated's Peter King said. "If somebody runs that fast, you say he can hit a home run on every play."

Interviewed before the adjustment of McFadden's time and the release of Johnson's 4. 26, NFL Combine administrator Gil Brandt thought the 4. 27 ranked behind only Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders in the history of the Combine.

McFadden, who has been training at the Michael Johnson Performance Center outside Dallas, might need to give some credit to Brandt and Alonzo Highsmith, along with the fivetime Olympic gold medalist Johnson.

Brandt, the longtime vice president of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys (1960-1989 ), said he and Highsmith, the third pick of the 1987 NFL Draft by the Houston Oilers, helped persuade McFadden to run in Indianapolis when the two-time Doak Walker Award winner was having reservations Saturday.

"I knew he'd run well because I've been seeing him work out,"Brandt said. "He just put a few dollars into the back end of that Cadillac with those fancy tires."

McFadden's agent, Ian Greengross, said he wouldn't characterize McFadden's big run in terms of dollars.

"In my mind, he was the best player in this draft anyway,"Greengross said. "But if anybody had any doubts about his talent, this puts them to rest."

Chris Johnson's 4. 26 time is the fastest recorded at the Combine since 2000, based on figures compiled by NFLdraftscout. com, beating the 4. 28 posted by receiver Jerome Mathis of Hampton in 2005. McFadden's 4. 33 is tied for the 19 th-best time at the Combine since 2000, but it trails only Johnson's among running backs.

Arkansas cornerback Chris Houston had a 4. 32 here last year.

NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock would not say if McFadden's performance Sunday would lead him to upgrade McFadden's No. 16 position in his overall ratings. Most other experts list McFadden as a topfive pick.

"[McFadden ] absolutely helped himself today, but he's still what I thought he was,"Mayock said. "He's got a great burst and acceleration.

"I've done so much tape on these running backs, I feel like I know them. I have my opinion on McFadden. If I'm saying he's the No. 16 best kid in the country, I'm telling you I think he's a hell of a player. I just think as a running back, I like [Illinois'Rashard ] Mendenhall better."

Carucci points out that Mc-Fadden still has work to do to solidify one of the top positions in the draft.

"His behavorial questions are still out there, and he'll still have to answer them,"Carucci said. "The next most important thing after that blazing time is showing coaches and GMs he's a good kid. That'll be a lot harder to do than running a 40."

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