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    Macklin gains ground .. Jim Thomas

    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    02/22/2009

    INDIANAPOLIS Texas Tech's dazzling wide receiver, Michael Crabtree, dropped in stature Friday at the NFL scouting combine.

    Nearly two inches, in fact. Listed at 6 feet 3 in college, Crabtree officially measured in at 6-1 1/3, which doesn't quite make him as big of a "big" receiver.

    If only that were the worst thing that happened to him in Indy. The exhaustive medical examinations that every player undergoes at the combine revealed that Crabtree has what's known as a Jones fracture in his left foot.

    A Jones fracture involves the fifth metatarsal, the bone on the outside of the "pinky" toe. It's believed to be the same injury that has prevented University of Missouri tight end Chase Coffman from working out at the combine.

    Crabtree didn't plan to run or work out anyway at the combine because of an ankle injury that he aggravated in Texas Tech's Cotton Bowl loss to

    Mississippi. He planned to run at his pro day March 26.

    But now, Crabtree needs surgery to repair the fracture, which involves inserting a screw in the foot. The recovery will take six to 10 weeks. According to league sources, Crabtree still plans to run at the pro day, thus delaying the surgery until after that workout.

    Crabtree arrived at the combine as the hands-down top wide receiver in the draft, and a potential No. 1 overall pick. (And certainly someone the Rams were considering at No. 2 overall.) Missouri's Jeremy Maclin, meanwhile, seemingly was solidly entrenched as the second-best wide receiver in the draft and a potential top 10 pick.

    When he met with reporters Friday, Crabtree sniffed at the notion that there was any kind of competition between him and Maclin to be the first receiver drafted.

    "I pretty much don't even know really too much about Maclin," Crabtree said. "He played at Missouri. But my focus is on me, and how good I can get. That's what I'm focusing on right now."

    Crabtree made those comments apparently before he knew about the fracture. Despite that bravado, undoubtedly the gap has closed between Maclin and Crabtree on many draft boards.

    For one, Crabtree officially stands only a little more than one inch taller than Maclin, who measured in at a shade over 6-0. For another, while Crabtree mulls over surgery options, Maclin will run and do a complete workout Sunday at the combine.

    "I have nothing to hide," Maclin said Friday. "I'm excited about it. It's something that you've done, so there's no reason to get nervous about it. Hopefully, I'll run a personal best, and if I run a personal best that should be really, really low. So we'll see how things go."

    Maclin said his personal best is 4.31 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He wants to run a 4.29 Sunday. Only five players, regardless of position, have run a sub-4.3 in the 40 at the combine in this decade. Even if Maclin doesn't set a personal best, any time in the 4.3s should solidify his status as a potential top 10 pick. The arrow is clearly pointing up on Maclin's draft stock.

    "You try not to get caught up into that stuff too much, because you never know what happens on draft day," Maclin said. "You take Brady Quinn for instance not too long ago."

    Supposedly a lock as a top 10 pick, the Notre Dame quarterback slid to No. 22 overall before being selected by Cleveland in 2007.

    "That's something that I definitely don't want to experience," Maclin said. "I'm trying not to get caught up in too much of that stuff. I'm going to let my numbers and let myself speak for itself."

    Similarly, he doesn't want to get caught up in any comparisons with Crabtree.

    "I can't speak on what he does," Maclin said. "But what I can do is, I return kicks, I'm a good receiver as far as ball skills go, and you're going to get a hard-working guy."

    On the field, Crabtree and Maclin put up staggering numbers in college. Crabtree is a two-time winner of the Biletnikoff Award, as college football's best receiver. He piled up school records of 2,313 yards receiving and 41 touchdowns in just two seasons at Texas Tech.

    Maclin led the nation in all-purpose yards in 2008, averaging 202.4 per game. In two seasons with Mizzou, he piled up 5,609 yards receiving, rushing and returning punts and kickoffs to go along with 33 TDs.

    "Every time I touch the ball, I look for the end zone," Maclin said. "So that's something I feel I can do, whether it be receiving, running, kick returns or punt returns. I definitely look to change the game. I consider myself a game changer."

    So does Crabtree, who appears to have everything you'd want in a receiver except for elite speed. When asked if anyone has questioned his speed, Crabtree replied: "There's always going to be questions. ... It's a question that needs to be answered. So I'm going to answer it."

    Crabtree even went so far as to train at the Michael Johnson Performance Center near Dallas to work on his 40 time. Johnson is the former U.S. Olympic gold medalist sprinter.

    But as a result of the foot injury, any answers that Crabtree has on his speed may not be known until after the draft. Unless he decides to run before the surgery.


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    Re: Macklin gains ground .. Jim Thomas

    Hmmmm, I still can't really see us taking him. I mean, we have more urgent needs at other positions and there are other good wideouts that I think could have good careers in the NFL like Kenny Britt, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Hakeem Nicks, Ramses Barden, or Juaquin Iglesias. With guys like Aaron Curry, Eugene Monroe, and Jason Smith, I really don't know if we should take him.

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