Indianapolis, IN (UHND) – The NFL Combine wrapped up on Tuesday with defensive backs running through individual drills, and former Notre Dame safety Tom Zbikowski test out pretty well in both the 40 with a speed of 4.52 and the bench press with 24 reps of 225. His performance should help his draft stock and drew some praise from NFL Network’s Deion Sanders and Mike Mayock.
According to the combine results on FFLiveWire.com, the 40 and bench press were the only drills Zbikowski participated in, but they were enough to help his cause. His 4.52 40 is a very respectable time for a safety and had he been able to notch that just a bit higher into the 4.4 range, his stock would have shot up even more than it has already.
During the telecast on NFL Network Tuesday, both Deion Sanders and Mike Mayock said that Zibby is the kind of player you want on a football team with Sanders saying he could play on his team anytime.
Mayock and Sanders’s comments sum up Zbikowski pretty well. He’s not the fastest guy, his deep coverage skills are suspect, and he bites on play action fakes too easily, but at the end of the day, he’s a lunch pail player who will add toughness and attitude to whatever team he is drafted by.
Early on in his career, he will likely be relegated to only special teams where he will have an excellent chance of being a standout. His tenacity and toughness will translate very well to special teams in the NFL both on returns, where he’s been one of the best returners in the country the past few years, and on coverage units.
Despite not having blazing speed, as his 40 time shows, Zbikowski was able to return three punts for touchdowns over the past three seasons with the most memorable coming in the 2005 USC game when the green jersey clad Irish nearly pulled off the upset in an epic battle. Throughout his career as a returner, he used his knack for breaking tackles to compensate for the lack of “sprinter’s speed” and the results speak for themselves.
He even showed a little versatility by playing a couple series on offense in his final home game of his career against Duke this past year. He did not attempt a pass attempt, but he ran a couple options runs as a reward from Charlie Weis for his four years of starting service to the program.
As of now, Zibby is being projected as a 3rd-4th round pick and his 40 time should pretty much cement that status. The 4th round is probably more likely because of the concerns over his coverage skills, but he could sneak into the late first day if he backs up his strong combine performance with a good outing at Notre Dame’s Pro Day on March 19.
Whoever ends up drafting Zbikowski will get themselves a special teams maven and a more than capable punt returner from day one. With some work, he could also turn into a pretty good red zone defensive back and grow into an every down player. They will also get a fan favorite who will leave everything he has on the field.
Zbikowski was the last of the four Notre Dame prospects to complete his drills. Over the weekend John Sullivan and John Carlson worked out and on Monday Trevor Laws turned in a very impressive performance.
Next up for all four, as well as a few other Irish hopefuls, will be the March 19th Pro Day on Notre Dame’s campus. Both Laws and Zibby will be looking to build on their momentum, while Carlson and Sullivan will be working to make up some ground after less than stellar outings. Other former Notre Dame players like Travis Thomas will also be hoping to catch the eye of a few scouts.