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Cornerback Dion Byrum's stock on the rise

By Carlos "Big C" Holmes
Cox News Service

Ohio University CB Dion Byrum has been flying under the radar since playing in the East-West Shrine game in January, but all that is expected to change after an eye-opening performance for NFL scouts at the school on Friday.

The 5-foot-10 1/2 -inch, 190-pound defensive back impressed the scouts with his natural athletic ability, speed and agility. Byrum posted a 3.89 in the short shuttle, a 6.88 in the L-Drill and a 10-foot-7 broad jump. Although he was only able to crank out 12 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press, he made up for his lack of brute strength by running a 4.43 in the 40-yard dash against the wind on field turf.

Simply put, Byrum caught a number of teams who were in attendance (six) off guard with his performance. For example, he had to make three attempts on his vertical jump just to ensure the scouts had the correct readings - 40 inches. That's right, 40 inches on all three attempts. Now, you want to talk about mad hops, Byrum does indeed have them.

Byrum was silky smooth in his back pedal and didn't drop a single ball during position drills. His overall workout was solid and enough to make some teams take notice.

There are at least three teams, Chicago, Indianapolis and Tampa Bay, who could have their eyes on Byrum, and for good reasons. All three teams run some form of Cover2/Zone coverage, which would be perfectly suited for Byrum. In fact, the defensive scheme the Bobcats ran this year was based on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense.

Here's the skinny on Byrum. Byrum possesses outstanding cover skills, reads and reacts well to the ball, is very instinctive and has good vision. He also has good recovery speed which he demonstrated in the East-West Shrine game when he stumbled coming out of his back pedal and let the receiver get behind him. Byrum then made like a bread truck and hauled buns down the field to make the tackle.

He had six interceptions on the season, returning two of those for touchdowns. Whatever team decides to pull the trigger on this player will be getting a renaissance man. Byrum returned kicks, punts and was a gunner on special teams. Some liken him to former Pittsburgh Panther corner, now 49er, Shawntae Spencer.

Let us not forget that this guy was named second-team All-America pick by the Associated Press and first-team All-MAC. So, is this a case of a player being overlooked because of the program in which he played, or is this a case of poor scouting? My guess is a little of both, but when it comes down to it, Byrum's play shall speak for itself.