Notes from Combine Training: Settle looks cat-quick

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Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

It's a little less than two weeks before the first of the 325 players invited to the combine take to the turf at Lucas Oil Stadium for testing and workouts. Just about all the invitees are training for their big day. Here's the latest on what we are hearing from combine workouts.

One receiver who will make a big jump up draft boards with a good combine workout is Marcell Ateman of Oklahoma State. Coming off a career campaign, Ateman grades as a third-round selection on our board but could rise into the draft’s initial 45 picks with good testing results in Indianapolis. What exactly does “good” mean?

We’re talking a 40-yard dash under 4.45 -- he was estimated with a 4.6 40 by scouts entering the season -- and a vertical jump over 40 inches. I’m told he can hit 42 inches.

Ateman has been working with former Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson on his speed and 40 starts in Dallas. Johnson has been praising Ateman’s work ethic to teams he’s spoken with. I’m told the receiver-needy San Francisco 49ers are one of several teams high on Ateman.

Korey Robertson of Southern Mississippi has looked very good in training. I’m told he’s been running the 40 under 4.45 at 213 pounds and expects a vertical jump at or near 38 inches.

You should expect good 40 times from the three North Carolina State defensive linemen, all of whom will be drafted in the early rounds.

Defensive tackles B.J. Hill and Justin Jones are expected to run sub-5.0 in the 40, while I’m told pass rusher Bradley Chubb ran in the upper 4.7s last week.

Another ACC defensive lineman to keep an eye on during the combine is Tim Settle of Virginia Tech, who is presently graded as a third-round choice on our board. While he won’t blister in the 40, I’m told Settle’s 10-yard splits have been fast recently, clocking as low as 1.61.

That’s quick for a guy expected to tip the scales around 325 pounds. By comparison, Eddie Vanderdoes of UCLA had the fastest 10-yard split at last year’s combine, timing 1.69. Rams All-Pro tackle Aaron Donald was clocked at 1.63 when he worked out at the combine.

Settle also timed 7.18 in the three-cone last week. Ryan Glasgow was the fastest a year ago at 7.54.

Dane Cruikshank of Arizona, who lined up at the spur position (strong safety) last season and went on to have a great week at cornerback during Shrine Game practices, has looked really good in combine prep.

I’m told there’s a chance that Cruikshank, who measured 6-foot-1 and 204 pounds at the Shrine Game, could run in the 4.3s. If he does, expect him to jump into the early part of Round 4.