Five Pro Day Risers

Prospects are running out of time to impress scouts before the April 28-29 NFL Draft. However, several notable defenders took advantage of their final live performances during their Pro Days.

Patrick Willis, ILB, Mississippi: Willis was considered far and away the draft's top linebacker after earning not only the Butkus Award but the SEC's Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2006. Willis strengthened his position at the Combine, running a 4.51-second 40-yard dash and posting a staggering 39-inch vertical, each the best among the inside linebackers. Willis was confident he could improve on his workout numbers and may have established himself as among the draft's truly elite defensive prospects with a eye-popping 4.37 40 after weighing in at 241 pounds at the Mississippi Pro Day on March 20.

Michael Griffin, SS, Texas: Only twice in the past 20 drafts have three safeties been selected in the first round. With LSU's LaRon Landry and Florida's Reggie Nelson considered locks and Miami's Brandon Meriweather a strong possibility, himself, the odds appear to be against another safety moving into the elite 32. However, Griffin didn't let a little history slow him down at Texas' March 21 Pro Day. In fact, in running a 4.40 40 and posting a 39-inch vertical and 10'7" broad jump, very little seemed to slow down Griffin.

Justin Harrell, DT, Tennessee: Scouts knew Harrell could play -- he started 25 of 35 games for Tennessee over his career, proving to be a standout for much of that time. After tearing his left bicep against Air Force in early September, Harrell gutted through one more game against rival and eventual national champion Florida before undergoing season-ending surgery. Despite Harrell's 6-5, 305-pound frame and past success, the NFL -- the ultimate show-me league -- wanted to see Harrell prove his health before teams were willing to cement their ranking of him among this year's class of defensive tackles. At his March 22 Pro Day, Harrell proved his health with a very solid 31 reps of 225 pounds.

Trent Edwards, QB, Stanford: Scouts have long pointed to Edwards as a potential winner in the race to be the third quarterback selected in the 2007 draft. Though some of his career numbers are less than inspiring (36 touchdowns/33 interceptions, 56 percent completions) Edwards' toughness and strong, accurate arm has made him a favorite among many teams looking to draft a quarterback outside of the first round. Much was expected out of Edwards in 2006, but a broken foot limited him to only seven games and prevented him from competing in the Senior Bowl. At his March 20 Pro Day, Edwards was healthy and showed off his ability as a passer. Despite rainy conditions, Edwards completed 57 of 60 passes -- and did so in front of a scouting contingent that included six quarterback coaches and offensive coordinators Mike Martz (Detroit) and Rick Neuheisel (Baltimore).

Jackie Battle, RB, Houston: Players not invited to the Combine who post eye-popping results are always potential big winners in the Pro Day lottery. Battle, a 6-2, 235 pound running back, posted the kind of workout March 23rd that players dream of. Scouts came to Houston's Pro Day more to watch quarterback Kevin Kolb than anyone else, but were treated to a shocking performance. Battle not only ran fast (4.42, 4.43), his explosiveness, as indicated in the vertical jump (41") and broad jump (10'11") was off the charts, as well. Battle shared the backfield duties throughout his career and was more known for his ability as a short yardage runner (31 career TDs) than a blazer, but his performance here will have scouts re-checking their notes.

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