INDIANAPOLIS -- In 2000, Brian Urlacher got goaded into running the 40-yard dash. He had agreed with his agent to skip the famous portion of the workouts at the NFL combine, given some promising information about his NFL draft stock. But goaded by former Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Greg Blache -- "I questioned his manhood," says Blache -- Urlacher called his agent and, after a discussion that both concede was a disagreement, said, "I have to do this." Blache says he knew at that moment Chicago would take Urlacher.
What was his time?
"I have no idea," says Blache. "But that really wasn't the point."
Cam Newton is working out in every portion of the combine here in Indianapolis. His first 40 run was just a hair faster than Urlacher's 4.59 and, like the Bears' linebacker, he has also been spurred on by questions about his willingness to prove himself to NFL personnel people. But that's not the only common ground between the two.
"Urlacher is a good comparison," said George Whitfield, who has been working with Newton almost every day for the past few weeks in what he calls a semester of quarterback school. "You're talking about a gift for football."
Urlacher played safety at New Mexico, returned kicks and was, for a brief period, an outside linebacker for Chicago before converting to middle linebacker, where he remains to this day. Given just a bit more seasoning, Whitfield believes Newton could have a similar skill set.
"With 18 months?" Whitfield laughs. "Honestly, [Newton] could be a No. 1 pick at more than quarterback."