NFL draft: Bruce Campbell is latest Maryland Terrapins player hoping to parlay scouting combine success into a first-round selection
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
When University of Maryland offensive tackle Bruce Campbell put on a dazzling display for scouts, coaches and general managers at the NFL scouting combine in late February in Indianapolis, he not only renewed the annual pre-draft debate about how much stock teams should put into such a performance with no helmets, pads or anything resembling an actual football game in sight, he also became the latest Maryland Terrapin to be the eye-catching player during the workouts that precede the NFL draft, following linebacker Shawne Merriman, tight end Vernon Davis and wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey.
Campbell's athletic prowess is every bit as attention-grabbing as that of any of those fellow former Terrapins.
"It's very striking," said Tom Brattan, Maryland's offensive line coach. "There aren't a whole lot of people who are 6 [feet] 6, 310 pounds and have abs. It's what you'd want in a left tackle. It's the way you'd draw it up."
Campbell's performance in Indianapolis certainly went as scripted. He had 34 lifts of a 225-pound weight bar and he ran his 40-yard dash in an official time of 4.85 seconds. He was timed unofficially as fast as 4.78 seconds -- a decidedly non-plodding time that his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, declared unprecedented for an offensive lineman, leading Rosenhaus on that day to describe Campbell as a certain top-10 pick in the draft.
Those who saw Campbell on the practice field and in the weight room on a regular basis in College Park weren't the least bit surprised.
"I would have thought he'd test better," Brattan said. "He's run faster here. He's bench-pressed more here. Don't get me wrong, what he did was incredible. But we weren't surprised because we've seen it. It's like when Vernon did what he did, or when Darrius ran like he ran. That's just Bruce."
Campbell didn't seem overwhelmed by the attention he received at the combine. His physique, which is about as far from plump as it gets, was a topic of conversation during his media session in Indianapolis. Campbell was asked just how low his percentage of body fat was. He shrugged and said he didn't know.
"It's genetics," Campbell said.
It's not clear when Campbell, who passed up his final season at Maryland to enter the draft, will come off the board Thursday during an expected first-round run on offensive tackles that is likely to include Oklahoma State's Russell Okung, Oklahoma's Trent Williams, Iowa's Bryan Bulaga and Rutgers's Anthony Davis.
"There was a lot of intrigue early with Bruce Campbell," former San Francisco 49ers guard and center Randy Cross said. "If it were still the pre-Mike Mamula days, I think an unusual performance like that would have been richly rewarded on draft day. But you put in that DVD and see how these guys played, and Okung is ahead of him. Williams is ahead of him. Bulaga is ahead of him. Davis is ahead of him, based on their football.
"Do they look as good coming off the bus? No. Are they as big and perfect? No. But football-wise, yes. But someone will take a chance on him, and by taking a chance I mean probably somewhere in the first round."
Mamula was a defensive end, selected seventh overall by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1995, whose pro career never fulfilled the promise of his pre-draft workout exploits. The mere mention of his name has become a cautionary tale in NFL front offices about the potential peril of becoming enamored with a player's 40-yard dash time or weightlifting totals.
"The film is the most important thing," former NFL coach Dan Reeves said. "It's how the guy plays the game. That falling in love with the workout thing is going to get you in trouble. Now, if a guy is one of those workout wonders, that gets your attention. You'll go back and look at the film again and see if he can play. But when you do that, he'd better be able to play the game."
The NFL results have been mixed for the former Terrapins players who were the headliners of the pre-draft workouts. Merriman was drafted 12th overall by the San Diego Chargers in 2005 and has been one of the league's top pass rushers, averaging just less than 11 sacks per year in the four seasons in which he's been healthy.
Davis's NFL career had its ups and downs for three seasons after he was selected sixth overall by the San Francisco 49ers in 2006. He totaled a relatively modest 103 catches in those three seasons, and he was banished from the sideline to the locker room by Mike Singletary with the game still in progress during Singletary's debut as an NFL head coach in 2008. But Davis broke through last season with 78 catches for 965 yards and 13 touchdowns.
The Oakland Raiders stunned some draft observers by choosing Heyward-Bey seventh overall last year. But Heyward-Bey was a non-factor as a rookie, with only nine catches in his 11 games.
There have been questions raised by some draft analysts about whether Campbell's play last season at Maryland was good enough for an NFL team to use a pick in the upper half of the first round on him Thursday evening. Brattan defended Campbell's performance.
"I think the whole thing about his play last season is colored by the fact that he played hurt all year," Brattan said. "He had turf toe since the first quarter of the Cal game in the opener. He played in a great deal of pain. He didn't always practice. He played very well in some games against some good players. He's got the ability to do that. Is he a polished product? No. I don't think any college lineman is a polished product. But you saw the way he could play."