Five players who impressed at the 2009 NFL scouting combine and how they did as rookies:
1. OLB Aaron Curry, Wake Forest
Called the "safest" pick in the 2009 draft for a profile that offered no real weakness, Curry was considered by the Lions with the first pick. He went, instead, to the Seahawks with the fourth pick and had a solid, although unspectacular rookie season. He showed lots of promise (two sacks, two forced fumbles and six passes defensed) in 12 starts on a bad team. It will be up to new coach Pete Carroll to make Curry a force.
2. OT Jason Smith, Baylor
Rated the best of four offensive tackles taken in the first round, Smith went second to the Rams, but had a frustrating, injury-marred season. He started in the opener, but had an early-season knee injury that hampered his progress. Combined with a concussion later in the year, he missed eight games and started only five for the Rams, playing behind Adam Goldberg and Alex Barron. By year's end, fans were wondering if the Rams hadn't gotten the wrong tackle.
3. OLB Brian Cushing, USC
Cushing was one of three highly-rated USC linebackers in the draft, but he exceeded both Clay Matthews and Rey Maualuga with a Pro Bowl season for the Texans. He started all 16 games and had 133 tackles, four sacks, four interceptions, and two forced fumbles. Not coincidentally, the Texans allowed the fewest points in their history, and Cushing was selected as defensive rookie of the year.
4. DE Connor Barwin, Cincinnati
Barwin was the darling of the combine when he dazzled in workouts for defensive linemen. A classic tweener, he had the best vertical jump (40.5 inches) and the second-best 40-yard dash (4.66 seconds). That got him a place in the second round, going to the Texans. Barwin came off the bench in all 16 games, and had 4½ sacks and four passes defensed.
5. CB Darius Butler, Connecticut
A cousin of the Ravens' Willis McGahee, Butler wowed scouts at the combine with his athleticism and speed, but concerns over his durability dropped him into the second round, where he was taken by the Patriots. He played in 14 games and made five starts, showing he was the real deal. He defensed eight passes and had three interceptions, including a 91-yard touchdown return with a tipped ball in the regular-season finale at Houston.