Long arms, good leg key for ex-Terp

The Baltimore Sun

INDIANAPOLIS - A 78-inch wingspan and a rehabilitated right lower leg were prominent on Jaimie Thomas' resume when the former Maryland left guard reported to the NFL scouting combine this week.

After four weeks of training in Atlanta, Thomas was finally ready for the next step in his hoped-for transition to the NFL.

"Right now it's pretty intense," Thomas said. "It's basically a job interview. My job is to get my body in the best physical shape I can and perform the best I can."

Thomas is joined at the combine by center Edwin Williams, linebacker Moise Fokou, cornerback Kevin Barnes and wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey from Maryland.

Thomas spent yesterday taking medical examinations and getting X-rays and a magnetic resonance imaging test on his right fibula, which he broke during the 2007 season.

"Teams want to see if they're drafting a liability," said Thomas, adding that he felt he had passed all the medical tests.

Like Williams, Thomas spent the past month in Atlanta at Chip Smith's Competitive Edge Sports camp getting ready to perform here. His lengthy wingspan was a gift, however.

"It helps in pass-blocking more than run-blocking," he said, "me being able to lock onto guys."

The need for speed

Even though the combine counts only as part of the big draft picture, there is a lot to be gained or lost once the timed 40-yard sprints begin tomorrow at Lucas Oil Stadium. Those times can either elevate or deflate the hopes of several high-profile players.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said several players need to show something in the 40 to enhance their draft positions, among them cornerback Malcolm Jenkins (Ohio State), wide receiver Michael Crabtree (Texas Tech), running back Knowshon Moreno (Georgia) and wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (North Carolina).

"Moreno's a good back, but how fast he is will determine a lot," Kiper said recently. "He can block and catch. He has spin moves to be elusive. But if he's faster [than expected], he'll be a top 15 pick."

Kiper also says Jenkins needs to show some speed to be the first defensive back off the board. A poor 40 might allow cornerback Vontae Davis (Illinois) to go first.

Timely statement

Offensive tackle Jason Smith of Baylor sent a ripple through the media workroom yesterday with this statement: "When I'm on the field, I take pride in physically assaulting somebody."

Smith might be the first tackle off the board in April. He described himself as "tough, physical, I have a great attitude, I show up and am willing to work, and I'm productive."

But perhaps the statement the NFL liked best was this one: "I will be in camp on time, whatever team picks me."

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