Dexter McCluster of Ole Miss is a running back, wide receiver, punt returner, kick returner . . . and the guy likes to play gunner on punt coverage, too.
The only thing he doesn’t do well is size. That alone will likely drop him into the second round because of his 5-foot-8, 172-pound frame. He said the successes of Percy Harvin and Reggie Bush are helping him as he embarks on his NFL career.
Former college teammate Patrick Willis called him “Baby Hester” when McCluster was a freshman. McCluster fondly remembers – though he’d never tell Willis this – a time when he made Willis “look silly” in the open field on a 7-on-7 drill.
“I still talk about it. Not to him. But I talk about it,” McCluster said. “We were in the open field. He was pursuing me at an angle, I was running, and I did sort of a drop step and got underneath him and kind of made him look a little silly.”
–OT Bruce Campbell, as expected, is testing very well at the combine. He has an incredible physique. In speaking with scouts, he is one of those guys that is a top-5 pick based on his height, weight, strength, speed and arm length. But his game film during his 17-game career at Maryland is not nearly as impressive.
–WR Mardy Gilyard of Cincinnati referred to himself in the past tense as a “knucklehead kid.” He lost his scholarship in 2006, was living out of his car after getting evicted, and he worked several odd jobs before landing back on his feet. “I have no shame in my game,” Gilyard said of his openness. Gilyard could be an option in the third round for a team looking for a versatile receiver, as well as a punt and kick returner. When asked how he will run at the combine, he answered, “It’s going to be good.”
–WR Eric Decker of Minnesota is recovering from a Lisfranc foot injury, which required surgery. He expects to be working out with no restrictions in the fall. “I try to emulate my game after Larry Fitzgerald. He’s a Minnesota boy. I got an opportunity to work out with him this past summer. We’re comparable in size. He’s one of those guys that’s a workout freak. He’s going to work harder than anybody. And he’s an elite receiver. He gets his production on the field, and off the field he’s a class act. On and off the field he acts like a professional and that’s the way I want to be when I get to the next level.”
–OLB Brandon Graham was a defensive end at Michigan who projects to a pass-rush outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. He might be an option for the 49ers at No. 17, but generally at that spot in the draft they’d look for someone who’s taller than 6-foot-1. Of course, that has not seemed to hurt Dwight Freeney or Elvis Dumervil, whom Graham tries to pattern his game.
–RB Ben Tate of Auburn is a 5-10, 220-pounder who had some notable plays against Tennessee safety Eric Berry. He was asked about this play. “I think I won that battle,” Tate said. “Tennessee is supposed to have a pretty tough defense. It was very physical. And on a couple occasions we met one on one. He’s a good player, a great athlete and I totally respect him.” OK, so Tate won that one. This one? Not so much. Anyway, Tate is not lacking for confidence. “I would say I’m the most complete running back in this class,” he said. “I think I had a chance to show that in the Senior Bowl and I think I’m going to show that Sunday when we go out and do these drills. I’m definitely going to show them I’m a lot faster than most people think. I’m definitely going to shock some people with that. When it’s all over, I think they’re going to say, ‘Ben Tate is the most complete running back in this draft class.’”
–QB Dan LeFevour of Central Michigan is another player from the spread who is trying to acclimate to taking snaps under center to make it in the NFL. He’s expected to be a mid-round pick. He will only be throwing tomorrow at stationary targets. “I’m throwing,” he said. “I’m doing all the movement and all the stationary targets. With receivers, it’s getting into a rhythm and throwing to guys that I’m used to. I’m doing it so I can put the best product out there on pro day.” When asked if the restrictions he has placed on his workout might create the appearance that he has an “attitude,” LeFevour said, “Hopefully, when teams get to meet me, they’ll see that I don’t have an attitude. I’m just trying to make a rational decision and do what’s best for me.”