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Russ Lande

Posted: February 22, 2008

The real meat of the Combine will be served on Saturday, when position players begin to work out. However, there were still plenty of interesting things happening in Indianapolis on Friday to whet one's appetite.

" At least in terms of physique, Illinois' Rashard Mendenhall definitely had the look of a first-rounder at the weigh-in. The junior tailback appeared well-built and muscular.

" Michigan's Jake Long also drew raves at the weigh-in. Not only did have a good build, but he didn't appear to have the fat and flab most offensive linemen do. Long further impressed when he did 37 reps of 225 on the bench press -- and made the accomplishment look easy.

" Northwest Missouri State running back Xavier Omon showed a solid build, but he surprised some evaluators by looking bigger than expected. However, if Omon works out well, no one will care that he looked more like a fullback than a tailback during the weigh-in.

While the offensive players were poked and prodded, the specialists (kickers, punters and snappers) worked out Friday, and the reviews were mixed. Only one punter -- Georgia Tech's Durant Brooks -- had a solid day, while the rest of the punters struggled. Brooks showed the leg strength and consistency that have separated him from most punting prospects this season. Meanwhile, Indiana snapper Tim Bugg had a strong day at the Combine, proving he could perform well enough to hold down a job as long/short snapper for whatever NFL team gets him.

Finally, the kickers turned in mixed results during their workouts.

" Louisville's Art Carmody was 15-of-15 on kick attempts, which definitely showed his accuracy and consistency. In particular, his form looked the same on every attempt. However, the ball did not jump off his foot and Carmody did not show good leg strength. His 50-yard attempts barely made it, despite the fact he was kicking indoors.

" Oregon State's Alexis Serna surprised evaluators with his leg strength. For a tiny kicker -- Serna is 5-6 -- he showed surprising snap and power on his place-kicking attempts, as well as kickoffs. But Serna struggled some with his accuracy, missing four or five attempts.

" St. Xavier's Shane Longest had an interesting day. A punter during his junior season, he chose to work out with the punters before doing place-kicks. He struggled greatly as a punter, and clearly it rattled him a bit, as he missed his first three place-kick attempts. However, Longest recovered to nail the next 12 kick attempts. He intrigued NFL teams by showing a strong leg, both on kick attempts and kickoffs.

" Wisconsin's Taylor Mehlhaff was the best kicker of the day. He showed comparable accuracy to Carmody, hitting 14-of-15 attempts, and also showed a strong leg. Mehlhaff was on his game from start to finish. He showed solid, consistent technique, and the ball jumped off his foot.

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