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Risers & Sliders: Running backs outshine quarterbacks on Day 4

INDIANAPOLIS -- Sunday saw several groups of NFL prospects take to the turf of Lucas Oil Stadium and the running backs were far and away the most impressive. Many improved their draft stock with top performances in front of NFL decision-makers. On the other hand most of the quarterbacks disappointed scouts in attendance.

Ryan Mathews/RB/Fresno State: Mathews looked terrific in weigh-ins, tipping the scales at a muscular 218 pounds before completing 19 reps on the bench. He was swift in the forty, clocking times close to 4.45 seconds on both runs. Mathews finished the day effectively completing his position drills. He practiced fast, displayed solid footwork and caught the ball well. Mathews stated his case to be a top 40 choice.

Anthony Dixon/RB/Mississippi State: Dixon's forty time was unimpressive at 4.70 seconds, but his work handling the football stood out. Dixon practiced much faster than he timed, displaying a burst of speed and solid foot quickness. He also caught the ball well all day. Dixon, who tipped the scales at 233 pounds, is drawing comparisons to Michael Turner of the Falcons.

Jonathan Dwyer/RB/Georgia Tech: Dwyer's performance today will definitely draw a variety of opinions. His forty time was a rather ordinary 4.70 seconds, but his running skills were a pleasant surprise. Dwyer presented himself to be much more than the power runner he was in college. He ran underneath his shoulders, quickly cut back against the grain and immediately changed direction when required. Dwyer also displayed solid hands out of the backfield.

Jahvid Best/RB/California: Best was the fastest of the running backs, timing both his forty's in the mid 4.3-second range. He was also extremely quick in drills, never losing momentum when double-cutting in a single run. Best also displayed himself as a legitimate downfield threat in pass catching drills.

Joe McKnight/RB/USC: McKnight was another Pac-10 ball carrier who displayed incredible elusiveness during the practice session besides top-level pass-catching skills. McKnight's footwork was dizzying as he was able to cut back on a dime without changing speed. His also displayed natural hands catching the ball.

Jarrett Brown/QB/West Virginia: Brown was one of the few signal-callers who displayed NFL caliber talent today. His passes had terrific velocity and Brown's accuracy was better on Sunday than at any point the past eight months. He was effective throwing the deep out, the money pass at the combine.

James Starks/RB/Buffalo: Starks is barely six months removed from the shoulder surgery that shelved him last season. He looked like he never missed a beat Sunday. Starks weighed in at 215 pounds and completed an admirable 15 reps on the bench. He ran his forty times faster then expected, under 4.5-seconds, and looked terrific in the entire practice session.

Darius Marshall/RB/Marshall: Marshall tipped the scale at 190 pounds, then barely broke 4.7-seconds in the forty. He lacked quickness and balance during the drill segment of the workout.

Sean Canfield/QB/Oregon State: Canfield struggled during Senior Bowl week and once again failed to prove he has an NFL-caliber arm. He struggled throwing the outs and his deep passes had little velocity.

Joique Bell/RB/Wayne State: We sang Bell's praises during Senior Bowl week, but Sunday was a different story. He struggled to break 4.7-seconds in the forty, then looked slow in practice. Bell's inability to quickly turn the corner was apparent in drills.

Notes: Zac Robinson looked solid today and was one of the better passers at the combine. Since a good outing in the Senior Bowl game, Robinson has positioned himself as a late round pick teams may consider to use as a backup at the next level.

Ben Tate started his combine workout strong today, running his forty in under 4.5 seconds. His work during the drill session was rather ordinary, which encapsulates Tate. Throughout his career at Auburn, Tate flashed big-time ability yet never pulled all the pieces together.

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