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NFL Draft: Five that impressed at the combine

While the draft season continues to unfold, the Arizona Cardinals may have been given the best gift of all from the San Francisco 49ers.

Yes, the 49ers are going to make out like bandits if the reports by Jay Glazer are true, the 34th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft and similar compensation in 2014, but it in turn gives the Cardinals an opportunity to draft the best quarterback in a reportedly “weak” quarterback class in Geno Smith.

If Smith is pushed down the board to the Cardinals, I would hope they would recognize his upside and the new uphill battle they have within the division, and take the chance on getting a franchise passer.

Now for the matter at hand, the five prospects that impressed me the most at the 2013 NFL Combine.

Christine Michael, RB Texas A&M 5-10 220 lbs

If you ignore the fact that he overslept and missed interviews with two different teams, Michael was the man of the workouts for the running backs.

He posted the best numbers of the group in: bench with 27 reps of 225, the same as Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher, a 43 inch vertical jump, a 10.4 foot broad jump, a 6.69 second three cone drill and a 4.02 20-yard shuttle.

He was a day three back and still may be because of injuries that ended his 2010 and 2011 seasons, but he opened up a lot of eyes about how he has healed.

Terron Armstead, OL Arkansas Pine-Bluff 6-5 306 lbs

I wrote about Armstead in my small school prospects to watch at the combine preview, and Armstead took my concern about strength and absolutely obliterated it while also stealing the show in the many of the agility and explosion drills.

Armstead put up 31 reps of 225lbs, ranking exceptionally well versus other top prospects, but what set the combine abuzz, as well as Twitter, was his 4.71 40-yard dash.

Armstead is an outstanding physical specimen that needs some overall refinement work in his technique, but he’s moved up from a day three prospect to a possible third rounder.

Lane Johnson, OL Oklahoma 6-6 303 lbs

The man that I was waiting to see at the combine in terms of offensive line prospects, Johnson delivered more than I could have hoped.

He put up 28 reps on the bench, but also turned heads running a 4.72 40 while moving like a skill player in the 3 cone drill and 20-yard shuttle.

Johnson was definetly an option going into the combine for the Cardinals, and with the reality of Joeckel and Fisher being taken in the top five now even greater (thanks San Francisco), Johnson may be the guy the Cardinals turn to.

Margus Hunt, DE Southern Methodist University 6-8 277 lbs

Remember a couple of years ago when the Cardinals took a shot on an underperforming, massive defensive end? That worked out pretty OK for them and Calais Campbell, and maybe that is an option once again.

Hunt showed that he is an explosive athlete with a 4.6 40, 4.51 20-yard shuttle and 7.07 shuttle, and no one questioned his strength, 38 reps of 225, but he showed nimble feet and the ability to move and change direction.

I have been comparing Hunt to Campbell for some time now, and think he would be a great fit as a player to come in on a rotational basis and learn behind Darnell Dockett and Campbell for a couple of seasons before ultimately taking over for Dockett.

Shamarko Thomas, S Syracuse 5-9 213 lbs

I wrote about Thomas Tuesday as a possible day three safety that could come in and help the Cardinals in the transition from Adrian Wilson, but even I didn’t expect Thomas to do what he did at the combine.

He blazed a 4.41 40-yard dash, put up 28 reps on the bench and showed off a 40.5 inch vertical leap and 11.03 ft. in the standing broad jump.

Thomas showing off that much athleticism to go with the power I knew he had makes his height a little less concerning, as he plays much bigger and faster than what he is listed at.

While the NFL world will be talking about the Alex Smith fleecing trade and the possible ramifications of the 49ers now possessing 15 overall picks in the 2013 NFL Draft — including five within the top 100 — I am still recovering from an outstandingly entertaining combine.

While the workouts at the combine shouldn’t be more than a piece to the scouting puzzle, it is good to get confirmation on players when you have questions, and these five answered my questions.