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May 6, 2004EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - With nearly 110 top players together in one place, it's hard to narrow things down to a simple list of the top 15 at the Elite College Combine that was held Wednesday night in New Jersey. However, here are the players that Rivals100.com recruiting analyst Mike Farrell felt stood out the most. Only seniors-to-be are included in this analysis. Look for an article on the sophomores soon.
1) Athlete Derrick Williams - Not a surprise here. The Rivals.com junior of the year has an aura about him, from the time he walked into the bubble at Giants Stadium to gathering his awards for wide receiver and offensive most valuable player. Williams was clearly the top wideout in the one-on-ones, despite working against the best collection of cornerbacks on hand. And how many players do you know who are disappointed in a 4.36-second 40-yard dash? Williams raised the level of play of many of the prospects on hand and certainly staked his claim as the nation's top player. Oh, and he was playing with a groin pull and was at around 85-percent effectiveness.
2) Defensive tackle Callahan Bright - The comparisons to Warren Sapp are becoming more accurate with every time Bright works out. His performance at the NIKE Camp at Charlottesville was apparently just a warmup for a dominant effort on Wednesday night. Bright has excellent quickness and a great burst off the line, but his toughness and strength make him nearly impossible to block one-on-one.
3) Defensive back Michael Ray Garvin - Garvin looks like a bodybuilder, runs like a track star and combines his speed and strength into dominant coverage skills. Garvin insisted on covering Williams one-on-one pretty much the entire combine and certainly held his own. Against lesser receivers, he wasn't challenged. His 4.3-second 40-yard dash came off a 4.22-second 40-yard dash that was thrown out because he wasn't in a track stance. Garvin staked his claim as the nation's fastest player and perhaps the top cornerback in the country as well.
4) Linebacker Brian Cushing - Physically, Cushing looked and tested as good as anyone with his awesome 3.82-second shuttle and 4.51-second 40-yard dash at 216 pounds. His coverages skills were beyond impressive in the one-on-one drills and he showed the ability to play either strong safety or outside linebacker in college. Cushing was the first player to start the whispers of awe on the evening after his shuttle time made the rounds.
5) Defensive end Melvin Alaeze - Fifth is probably an injustice to Alaeze and in any other crowd he'd be head and shoulders above the rest. Alaeze worked one-on-one against the top offensive linemen and beat each at least once with an outside speed move. His 40-yard dash time (4.64) was also the best pound-for-pound at the event. It was clear to see why Southern Cal was one of the first schools to offer the big man from Maryland - he's a potential five-star player.
6) Offensive line Eugene Monroe - Monroe had the not-so-fun task of going one-on-one with Bright, Alaeze and a couple other top, top defensive linemen and won as many battles as he lost. Bright tried to bull rush him and, after some initial success, was forced to use his speed to get around the massive tackle. Alaeze relied on speed and was successful, but when he tried to go inside Monroe was right there to stop him. No other offensive linemen worked as effectively against the duo as Monroe did.
7) Receiver Nyan Boateng - Boateng was a bit of a mystery before this combine, having posted a 40-inch vertical at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Combine, but also a pedestrian 40-yard dash time. All questions were answered as Boateng played higher than any other wideout or defensive back and ran a solid 4.5-second 40-yard dash. The tall, rangy wideout has great ball skills and will get every jump ball thrown his way. A rise to the Rivals100 100 could be coming soon.
8) Linebacker LaMont Robinson - Another player who passed the eyeball test with flying colors, Robinson also showed his ability on the field. His coverage skills in drills were excellent and his read and reaction were among the best at the linebacker position. The South Jersey stud probably earned himself an additional 10-15 offers based on his performance.
9) Defensive tackle James McGillicuddy - Who said Massachusetts football can't keep up with the big boys? McGillicuddy, who ran a 5.07-second 40-yard dash at 285 pounds, is an absolute bull of a tackle and has a non-stop motor. McGillicuddy was clearly disappointed when the one-on-one matchups ended and looked ready to go all night. His aggressive attitude and fearless nature will make some team very happy for four years.
10) Quarterback Dom Natale - Natale was the top quarterback at the event with his combination of accuracy and zip on the football. Throwing bullets to Williams, Boateng and others, Natale also showed excellent touch on the long ball and fit the ball into tight spaces all evening.
11) Offensive line Dennis Landolt - Landolt had only a few offers heading into this event, but he's leaving with many more. Landolt is tall, rangy and has very long arms, all of which he uses to his advantage. He moves very well laterally and showed good leverage. Landolt has a unique style, but does whatever it takes to get the job done.
12) Offensive line Brian Roche - It was clear why Roche received 15 offers in the last three weeks - he's bigger and stronger than ever. Roche excels at pass and run blocking equally, a rarity at this level, and his quickness off the ball and technique were impressive to everyone.
13) Offensive line Marques Slocum - A massive lineman, Slocum showed the quickness and explosiveness to play on the offensive or defensive line. He uses his hands very well and showed excellent balance and footwork.
14) Tight end Jim Dray - Dray had every chance to back out of this combine having injured his ankle just two days before working on his shuttle time. However, the rangy tight end gutted it out and showed the hands and ball skills that make him one of the best in the country at his position. Once Dray fills out a bit, he'll be tough to stop. Right now he has wideout skills in a budding tight end's body.
15) Running back Morgan Green - Green wasn't 100-percent on the evening, but still managed a 10-foot long jump and showed explosive ability in drills and one-on-ones. Green has good hands out the backfield and excellent vision.